In early September, Pat and I traveled to Los Angeles to visit our son Jay and his girlfriend Barbara and then on to San Diego for a conference Pat was attending. I had a great time checking out the sights and taking photos in both locales.
Union Station, the iconic Los Angeles landmark, built in 1939, went through some tough times in the 1990's and early 2000's. Today, it is a vibrant symbol of downtown’s renaissance. It is now a dynamic destination for the arts, entertainment and culture, as well as a bustling transportation hub in the heart of the city. It's a true cultural hub as you will see from the photo above of a passenger sitting, while waiting for his train, and playing the piano in the grand hallway. He played a few jazz and show tunes, including a piece from les Miserables and Count Basie's All of Me.
Pictured b below is the majestic Union Station hall.
In Los Angeles we ate at one of the best new restaurants, La Boucherie on 71, honestly named after the fact that it is located on the 71st floor of the Wilshire Grand. The steaks were fantastic but the star of the eve was the view. Below, you will see the view along with reflection of the bar and Barbara from the 71st floor.
My favorite outing in Los Angeles was to the Last Bookstore, a fabulous bookstore n downtown LA, housing over 100,000 books plus artwork made of books. Check out the Labyrinth Tunnel on the second floor.
This book lover's haven even has a spot that is perfect for framing family and friends for a photo opportunity. Here are Jay and Barbara looking fab!!
We even attended a Dodgers baseball game during the team's sole major losing streak in their amazing season. It was a lovely evening replete with Palm trees in the horizon. Unfortunately, we were unable to will them out of their losing streak. Fret not, despite the losing streak, the Dodgers have already won 100 games this year and are headed to the playoffs.
We then headed to San Diego, home of Old Town and Balboa Park. For this part of the trip, I decided to work with a local photographer, who would help me get out of my comfort zone. Julie Kremen, owner of San Diego Photography Tours, is a wonderful photographer who has had hundreds of her photos published in different magazines all over the world including images and travel stories for National Geographic Traveler. Julie took me to Old Town and Balboa Park, provided great historical perspectives and excellent constructive feedback. She pushed me to try new ways to show viewers a new area. I hope some of her inspirational suggestions, come across below. Thank you Julie for the tour and lesson.
First , we visited Old Town, the historic heart of San Diego. Created in 1769, Old Town San Diego was California’s first settlement with only a mission and a fort. Today, Old Town is a historic park and museum where you can experience life from the early Mexican-American period of 1821-1872 through rich living history programs. In Old Town, I tried to capture the flavor of the locale in a minimalist manner. Wyatt Earp, the gambler and lawman, moved to San Diego when he was 39 years old and spent quite bit of time in Old Town. Here is living proof 😈!
Old Town has great shops and museums. One of the shops had mermaids galore in stock that totally mesmerized me.
Think of Day of the Dead football helmets if you will; someone did! Check out the Steelers Day of the Dead helmet.
A visit to San Diego would not be complete without time in the amazing Balboa Park, the 1,200-acre urban park with plentiful open space areas, natural vegetation zones, gardens and walking paths. It contains museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Thankfully, the park was placed in reserve in 1835 and is enjoyed by millions of individuals every year. I visited the zoo and made friends with one of my ancestors pictured below.
I also loved the giraffes there
Balboa Park's gardens and buildings are simply breathtaking as illustrated below in this pic of the Botanical Building and grounds leading up to it.
I thoroughly enjoyed strolling through the park and checking out all the gardens in the park. I especially loved the roots in this Banyan Tree.
You must spend time in Balboa Park on your next visit to San Diego.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention the tough times Puerto Rico is encountering due to Hurricane Maria. I have lots of family there and have heard from a few that though life has not been easy the past week, they are all safe and managing as well as they can. Please keep Puerto Rico in your thoughts and prayers.