As always, when my trips involve seeing old friends in new locations, nothing about the new place beats catching up. Not that good weather isn’t a big plus. I’ve never really thought of LA beyond the glamour of Hollywood & Beverly Hills and the 1992 riots. What better way to explore than with college roommates who’ve lived there for years now?

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(c) 2015 Kathryn Pharr

One of the most unique sites to see is next to Hollywood but far from it: La Brea Tar Pits. Pre-historic tar pits have preserved the Ice Age skeletons of saber-tooth cats, birds (a rare find), dire wolves, and mammoths. It was pretty amazing! Right next to the tar pits and Page Museum, is the Los Angeles County Museum of the Arts (LACMA). I wish I had found the exhibit on the 1920s German cinema earlier than just before I had to leave; it was amazing. I was surprised to find part of the Berlin Wall across from LACMA (but not surprised about the great food trucks).

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(c) 2015 Kathryn Pharr

 However, the food trucks had nothing on Pie Hole, located in the arts district. We did a pie tasting of the Earl Grey, the Mexican chocolate, the lonely pie, and a chocolate crostata. All of it was amazing!

One thing I really enjoyed about LA was how distinct each neighborhood is. My friends leave on the east edge of town in Boyle Heights, which is 22 miles from the west edge that touches the coast. The view of the Santa Monica mountains and palm trees from the freeway made the small bits of traffic seem worthwhile. I had no idea I could see the famous Hollywood sign from Franklin Hills. We attended an arts auction in West Hollywood as a fundraiser for Em’s roller derby: too cool!

The view from Griffith Park of Los Angeles was amazing. I only wish the observatory had been open when we went through the park. Even though it was too cold to get in the water, Malibou beach was great. I was in awe of the Getty Villa: a recreation of the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy. Its classical art collection is truly stunning. The conversation institute for the museum and the restorative work they have accomplished is equally impressive. Next time I’m going to go to the Getty Center to see the rest of the art collection.

Sunday brunch in the charming neighborhood of Atwater Village began with a tour of the Farmer’s Market (complete with bluegrass music for Kate and me) and ended with Canele. Everything we shared from the shrimp ‘n grits to the French toast with poached prunes and mascarpone was beyond incredible. Don’t believe me? See our smiles!

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