Last time on Spring Break 2016, we visited the beautiful Griffith Observatory, where I tried to get my fill of starry space stuff before heading to Koreatown to hang out with some friends from the Internet! It was a night of food and karaoke that I am so grateful for.
In case anyone forgot why we were on the west coast to begin with, the day of Don & Megan’s wedding finally arrived! We slept in a little bit on Sunday and then headed out for lunch and photos of the Arts District, since we hadn’t really hung around during daylight hours yet.
We were pretty starving, so we went for Umami Burger for lunch. We don’t have Umami in DC yet, but I’ve had the famous burger in New York before and I liked it there. Maybe it was because I was crazy hungry, because this burger was sooooo satisfying. It was juicy but didn’t make a complete mess, which honestly does ruin my burger experience if I end up having to eat burger remnants off my place with a fork. In shame.
Then time to indulge in my vanity and embarrass Ben by taking a lot of photos with the awesome murals around town. While taking these photos, a man started approaching us, which got Ben really really nervous. I tried to stay calm but we were both pretty scared that a strange man was walking towards us and there was no one else around us. As it turns out, the man was notified of our presence because we set off the alarms at the warehouse where we were taking photos. He was homeless but the company that owned the warehouse was paying him to do security because people had been stealing copper and other scrap metal. His name was Anthony and he was so so kind to us, so friendly, and so appreciative of our time. He told us about how he was an injured vet, offered to introduce us to his pit bulls, and gave us more blessings than we deserved. Ben wanted to take a photo with him to preserve the memory of meeting this kind soul, but I felt weird and exploitative about that so I quietly rejected that idea, gave Anthony a hug and some money so that he could afford to buy into low-income housing, and walked away feeling really good about the whole interaction. It was even better considering how scared we were when he approached us! I hope he’s doing well now.
Oh yeah, we had a wedding to attend! We did our long schlep (just kidding, it was literally 2 blocks away) after primping a little bit for the wedding. The Millwick was such a great venue, very LA, open, organic… And you know what? When we got there, the sun came out. And stayed out. Don and Megan were really worried about having to rent a tent for the ceremony and as it turns out, they didn’t need one. The weather finally cooperated and was perfect for the wedding. Here are a few photos from the lovely evening, provided by Anna Delores Photography.
We tried to go out for karaoke afterwards, but since Ben and I had an early drive out to Anaheim for Disney fun, we left before the newlyweds were able to join the crew. It was a great evening for MegaDon4Ever (Megan + Don) and we were so happy to be there to share this special day with our friends.
Next stop: DISNEYLAND.
We’re wrapping up Spring Break 2016 posts, can you even believe it? What have you been liking about them so far? What do you want to see more/less of?
Last time on Spring Break 2016, I saw my old friend Ran after over a decade apart and explored Santa Monica and Venice Beach with her. She was a much-needed ray of sunshine on the still-overcast day. After eating In-n-Out, we set off for Griffith Park before spending even more time with more friends!
We got to take a “scenic” drive up to Griffith Park to check out the famous observatory, during which we saw many fancy Spanish-style houses. (Really getting that true California experience.) The drive up through the park was gorgeous but long, and as we neared the ridge where the observatory sits, we were faced with a lot of cars trying to do the same thing. We waited in a long conga line of cars for a good 15 minutes, inching up slowly, watching hikers walk by, and passing a lot of parked cars as we got up there. Ben started wondering if we should park also, but we were still a decent distance from the observatory, and it was a steep hike up! I didn’t want us to park only to discover a bounty of great parking nearer to the observatory, but I got really nervous as we climbed closer and closer.
Luckily for us, as the staff were controlling inflow and outflow to parking, while we were directed back down and around the ridge to a farther lot (noooooo), a staff member told us that they had just opened the lot right in front of the observatory and to go back. We did and got a spot REALLY close! So close that we were really sure it was a handicapped spot for a while but I couldn’t see any indication that it was. Several cars in front of us passed the spot, probably also suspecting that it was too good to be true, but we nabbed it and it was one of the luckiest moments in my life hahaha. (Also, parking is free.)
It was still fairly overcast when we finally got out of the car and looked upon the still-beautiful Griffith Observatory. One of the ulterior motives we had for visiting, aside from visiting the observatory itself in all its free admission glory, was because it has an amazing view of the Hollywood sign.
Not only did we not have to hike to see this iconic LA landmark, the most magical thing happened: the sun started to come out. I have seen the sun before, of course, but you wouldn’t know it from how I almost cried at the sight of golden light through the clouds and how many photos I took.
I basically was too scared to actually enter the observatory, for fear that I would squander the few precious hours of sunlight that we had, but I finally did go inside.
The Griffith Observatory is really amazing. Again, it’s totally free to go in and explore all the cool exhibits, like the Tesla coil, a working camera obscura room, scales that you can use to see how much you’d weigh on different planets. We acted too late to see the last planetarium show, which I am quite sad about and would recommend you not hesitate so much to try to catch it. It is kind of the signature thing to catch at an observatory with a planetarium, but we got confused in the mayhem of ticketing and the deluge of people at the front. We also watched the documentary, The Once and Future Griffith Observatory, about the observatory itself in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater, narrated and presented by the late and great Nimoy. I really loved learning about the history of this iconic landmark and how it fit into what was going on with astronomy and Southern California’s history as well.
We also caught a really cute marriage proposal outside as got ready to leave! I wasn’t sure if they were hoping to catch the girl when she came out or if she was in the camera obscura room that was showing the outside of the observatory, but it was very sweet and had us in a great mood as we left to see some friends.
We headed for Koreatown to gorge on friendship and AYCE (all you can eat) Korean BBQ. First I met up with some friends from Xanga! I had met Sonlay and Alex before, although I hadn’t seen Alex in a few years, but it was my first time meeting Lily, who I’d been talking to for a few years now, and Sonlay’s roommate Mark. It was great to get to see again / meet for the first time some high-quality Xangans. It still blows my mind a little that I made friends through a blogging platform I’d been using for over a decade during the last 2 years of Xanga being around. I actually didn’t even realize that I was meeting Lily and Mark for the first time, because I’ve talked to them so much over the years and met all these mutual Xanga friends that it didn’t occur to me that I hadn’t met them before. Especially because I was so nervous to meet the other friends who were joining us.
Unfortunately, they were running late because of subway stuff (a coast-to-coast issue) and we had to relocate to Star BBQ (I mean, honestly, I can’t be too mad about relocating to a place with “Star” in the name) but I was finally able to meet Adam and Briana! Don’t tell them I told you guys this (shh!) (if either of you two read this, shh!), but I was extreeeeemely nervous to meet them. I got to know Briana through Disneybounding, and I am going to talk about her amazing bounds another day on this blog, but she was always so sweet and funny and kind of amazing with her Disneybounds and cosplays. Through Briana, I got to know her boyfriend Adam, who is hilarious and was also SUPREMELY helpful when I was planning our LA and Disneyland days. Honestly, I don’t know what I would’ve done without his tips and advice. But basically, Adam and Briana were always Internet celebrity-type people to me that I never thought I would actually get to meet, so the fact that they had so happily agreed to see me when I was in town totally blew my mind.
Star BBQ was fun because a) it was actually Adam and Briana’s first time having Korean BBQ! and b) we were only served “water”. Briana noticed when we walked in that the fridge of Korean beers had a sign saying that they were not currently serving alcohol. My Xanga friends were immediately like, “What do you mean you’re not serving alcohol? At a Korean restaurant???” Our server apologized for alcohol not being available but did let us know that we could have flavored water if we were interested. (The flavored water was soju!) We actually got several different flavors of flavored water, but because I was only given a flavored water cup for my regular water, I did get the different types of water confused once. Still, it was a fun time, despite me having to reign in my stomach so that I wasn’t the last person stuffing my face at an AYCE joint. Again.
From there, we tried to head to a karaoke place that said they could accommodate our group of 8 people without a reservation (always make reservations, folks!) but when we arrived, they said NOPE and we went back to Star BBQ which was underneath a place called Star Karaoke. (!!!) We had to wait about half an hour, but it was a nice time for me to get to know Adam and Briana better without meat sizzling between us, since I had that luxury before we went to barbecue with my Xanga buddies.
THEN KARAOKE. I mean, I will never not have fun at karaoke, I think. At first, I was too shy to put down any of my favorite Disney hits because Adam and Briana are such a Disney power couple, but Lily – unencumbered by the star-strucked-ness that I was feeling – was not going to be held back from singing her favorite Disney songs. This emboldened me to pick some really out there songs (“Careless Whisper”, “I’m On a Boat”, to name a few…) that, gratefully, Adam and Ben sang along with me.
The karaoke joint closed and we walked back to our car, which had been moved from the lot where we valet parked it so that was a small scare ahahaha. We bid our farewells and headed back to our AirBnB, pretty exhausted but really glad to have been able to meet friends for the first time in years or ever!
What did I miss at the Griffith Observatory and Koreatown?
Have you met friends from the Internet in person and been really nervous and/or starstruck by it?
Last time on Spring Break 2016, Ben and I packed a lot of sightseeing into our first day in LA. We got a lot of rain while visiting several art museums and Hollywood, and it didn’t let up on Saturday as we eased up on sightseeing (just a little) and were lucky enough to see some friends!
Santa Monica + Venice
The first friend we saw was my old friend Ran. I attended Chinese school with Ran for a few years before she moved away, but she was one of my most cherished Chinese school friends, easily. My mom remembers her fondly because Ran was great at hamming it up at assemblies as the emcee. We were gunners in our class, striving to beat each other with our test scores and encouraging each other to be better while doing it. At the time, I remember being really jealous of Ran but she was so kind and positive that I could never really resent her. She was a great friend to have.
I hadn’t seen Ran in something like 15 years. Really. We’ve been in close-enough proximity, living in neighboring counties in New Jersey and attending college in the same metropolitan area. She recently moved to Los Angeles and I was living vicariously through her Instagram photos documenting her adventures. When I booked my own trip to LA, I went back to see where she had been visiting and having fun, and I decided to leave a little comment on one of them:
So, we headed out to Santa Monica on Saturday morning and walked around a little bit before it was time to see Ran again for the first time in 15 years. I’m always really nervous seeing people after a long time, and Ran and I hadn’t even kept in particularly good touch since we last saw each other. Would we have nothing to talk about? Would Ben feel uncomfortable, or vice versa? What if the coffee shop I looked up was terrible, all because I decided I no longer needed to visit Philz now that they have a DC location?
(The coffee shop we visited was actually great! We went to The Refinery, where I enjoyed a nice cold brew and sipped some of the toasted lavender cappuccino that I got for Ben. I did have to wait a decent bit for my cold brew, because the handsome barista was doing latte art for the customers before me. He made them a little teddy bear, it was pretty cute.)
Toasted lavender cappuccino
But it was great and amazing. Ran is still as bubbly and contagiously positive as I remember her being, maybe more. We talked and talked and talked, and then I refilled our parking meter, and then we talked and talked some more. Then we went down to Venice Beach and just walked around enjoying another iconic LA spot.
I was really grateful that we were able to spend time laughing and smiling with Ran after all this time, and it really kicked me off to be nice and extroverted for the rest of the day. (I was actually concerned that I wasn’t going to be in a people mood, especially considering that the friends I would meet later in the day didn’t all know each other, but more on that soon!)
As great as it was to see Ran, we were staaaaarving and immediately set out to get our first…
We weren’t sure when we’d be able to get In-n-Out without purposely going out of our way to go. There weren’t any near our AirBnB and we weren’t doing sightseeing near any. So, despite locals’ insistence that we don’t make a special trip to eat In-n-Out, we did just that because we wouldn’t have been able to eat the iconic West Coast fast food otherwise!
Our biggest mistake was maybe choosing to eat at an In-n-Out that shared a parking lot with a Costco. On a Saturday. Early afternoon. Yes, we spent about 10 minutes just trying to move through the parking lot to see more filled parking spaces. It was very painful. We gave up on trying to get a parking spot and decided we’d just go through the drive-through and find another parking lot to eat our food in so that we could keep going with our sightseeing without losing any more time.
Luckily! we found a spot right after leaving the drive-through as someone pulled out of his spot. It was great digging into our food next to a car in which the driver was doing the same. My animal-style hamburger really hit the spot given how absolutely starving we were. It’s not an amazing burger by any means, and I really don’t understand the comparison with Shake Shack, which I think is equally overhyped but a different category of burger joint, but it was definitely very tasty. I’ve had a lot of mediocre to meh burgers, so I’m glad it was just solid and good and cheap. Our car smelled of fries as we drove off to the Griffith Observatory.
I’ll leave off here for now, because this post will get too long otherwise, and I’ll let you know about the Griffith Observatory and my night out in Koreatown with some Internet friends (!!!) next time!
What do you think of In-n-Out?
Do you have friends from Chinese school, etc. that you still keep in touch with?
Last time on Spring Break 2016, we began exploring Los Angeles with pie and a some culture at the Getty Center. It was rainy the whole day, so we relished our time indoors and still marveled at how beautiful the museum was. But the day wasn’t over yet, and we had more art to take in at the Getty Villa.
Tip: If you are planning on visiting the Getty Villa, you will need to register ahead of time online to get your FREE tickets. Yes, you need tickets, but yes, they are free. I actually had gotten tickets for 2 different times, with one being the last slot available so that we weren’t as rushed to leave the Getty Center. (Very sorry to anyone who wanted tickets for the slot I didn’t use and was unable to register.) Make sure to reserve your ticket and then either have your ticket saved on a mobile device or printed to show at the gate.
If you’d like to visit the Getty Center and the Getty Villa in one day, you can use your parking voucher from one at the other! (Aka free parking at your second Getty destination!) Since we went from the Getty Center to the Getty Villa, we had to first let the Getty Center parking folks know that we were headed to the Getty Villa so that they could give us a voucher to bring over to the Getty Villa. This worked out pretty well for us because the Getty Center has a ticketed garage and we were able to present our voucher to the guard at the Getty Villa, but I’m not sure how it works if you go from Villa to Center.
The Getty Villa is a gorgeous, stunning estate that is near Malibu but not quite there, despite what the museum itself advertises. (And I’m pretty sure their social media team is mad that I called them out on that. The truth will set you free, Getty Villa.) The estate was originally the residence for J. Paul Getty and slowly transformed into what it is today as he kept running out of room for displaying his antiquities. Not only did he want to display his really impressive collection, he wanted to display them in a way that reflected their time and how they would have been displayed in their time. The estate’s architectural design (oh, did you think you had escaped me talking about Getty architecture, guess again) is based on the Villa of the Papyri, which was destroyed by the volcanic eruption that rendered Herculaneum to ruins. Not only is Getty Villa a pretty spectacular re-creation of a Greco/Roman antiquity villa, the entire estate is also modeled to be reminiscent of an archaeological dig, with some of the structures intentionally built to resemble half-uncovered ruins. And while the Getty Villa was the original and sole site of the Getty Museum, it now houses only the antiquities in the way they were meant to be displayed, so the pieces have a lot of room for admiration.
Also, the estate itself is art. The gardens were just beautiful and featured beautiful fountains. Also, just look at how obsessed I became with the beautiful tile work on the floors…Read More »