After a boisterous evening Downtown, we enjoyed a slow start in our Echo Park bungalow. A casual breakfast followed and I decided to walk out to the Hollywood Hills along Sunset Boulevard.
Now into our final days of 'holiday mode' before flying to Australia, it was great to saunter up this famous road to watch, hear and smell the neighbourhoods roll by.
From a visitors perspective, LA is a poly-centric city with its areas of interest spread over a wide area. In years gone by this has made the city inaccessible to visitors without a car. Public transport funding has been boosted in the city but the main factor of change in all of this has been the rise of ride-sharing apps. Their ease of use and affordability has opened up parts of the city that we otherwise wouldn't have explored.
Whether it was the beautiful sunshine or my need to blow away some cobwebs, it felt great to subvert the ride sharing trend and get out on my own two feet. And besides which, South America has taught me that the best way to see a city is on foot.
With camera, water and sunscreen in hand, I picked up a 'cold-brew' coffee and wandered the broad suburban streets under the power lines and palm trees.
Six miles in I left the suburbs and began to climb the gravel tracks to the Observatory. Every turn revealed more of the city as well as the haze of its pollution, the likes of which I hadn't seen since Santiago de Chile.
The incline steepened significantly as I neared the top, but the view on arrival was worth it. Few visitors take the path up the hill as there is a road and generous car parking right outside the observatory. So much like Machu Picchu, I found myself sharing the place with coach parties, but thats the name of the game. If something is worth seeing there's a good chance it will be made accessible.
Inexplicably, it felt unacceptable to leave Los Angeles without seeing this sign. A very odd impulse, harking back to a golden era of film. Since then the entertainment industry has boomed but I can't help but feel the core values are nothing but a romanticised illusion. To me it has always seemed a sycophantic and insincere community whose crystalline appearance distracts us from the mess behind the curtain. Add to this the way in which Netflix and YouTube are changing the way we entertain ourselves nowadays, and I wonder if showbiz is on the brink of permanent and irreversible change.
The land surrounding the Griffith Observatory was donated to the City of Los Angeles in 1896 by Griffith J. Griffith (after whom the observatory is named). His donation was followed by a detailed specification for an observatory in his will, stating that the project would make astronomy accessible to everyone. The observatory originally opened in 1935 before closing in 2002 to be reopened in 2006 after extensive refurbishment. It remains free to the public in line with the wishes of its benefactor.
The walking tracks snaked their way all over the lower slopes of the hills with little shade on offer. A handful of brave runners were taking on the heat of the day. Sadly, I forgot my trainers.
As the Sun began to dip I turned for home. The suburban streets surrounding the hills were quiet and affluent but lacked the vibrance of the more central neighbourhoods of Silver Lake and Echo Park. I arrived home in the middle of rush hour, passed by thousands of cars as I walked along Sunset Boulevard. In contrast I saw less than twenty pedestrians on my six mile walk home. Inevitable in a city defined by the automobile.
Later we went to a local Mexican restaurant for fish tacos, a fitting end to our time in Los Angeles.