Monday, September 05, 2011

Los Angeles Trip - Day 1

Reposted from my old blogsite...
September 20, 2008, Saturday
Ate and Roy took me to Tito Mon and Tita Isa’s house Friday evening after our dinner with Sir Mike.  Tito Mon and Tita Isa were driving to LA early Saturday morning.  It was best that I slept over at their house so they won’t have to pick me up at Ate’s.

I had a good night’s sleep at Fielding Court Inn.  The bed was comfy, facilities were adequate, and there even was complimentary breakfast of toasted pandesal, scrambled eggs and coffee.  We were ready to go at 6:30 am.
Dawn was breaking as we hit Highway 5, the long stretch of road leading from northern to southern Califonia.  After about two hours of driving, it was time to take a break.  We exited and went to MacDonald’s to grab some breakfast.  I was still full with the breakfast I had at Fielding Court so I didn’t order any.  Tito and Tita shared a big breakfast and got some senior coffee.  We gassed up at Arco at the Wasco exit and soon we were on the road again.

 We were meeting cousins Elle and Elai in LA for lunch.  Elle asked us to call her when we reach Magic Mountain so she could start getting ready to meet us.  We arrived in downtown LA at half past twelve and picked up Elle at her apartment.  We met Elai at Tofu House, a Korean restaurant on Wilshire Blvd.  There was a queue at the entrance, looks like this place is popular on the weekends.  We were lucky to get a corner table beside huge glass panes.
We got the BBQ Rib and Beef Bulgogi with Tofu Soup Combos and three additional Tofu soups.  Appetizers came first.  It was an assortment of seafood and vegetables.  There was a mini fried fish, kimchi, something that looked like kimchi diluted in a bowl of water (lol), seaweed sprinkled with sesame, pickled cucumbers on ice, and spicy clams.  We each got a set of these appetizers, so a lot was on the table even before the entrees came.  We updated each other with what’s been happening with our lives in between bites of tasty appetizers. 
The last time I had been to LA was a couple of years ago and I really didn’t have much time to spend with my cousins then.  So this time, I decided I would sleep over at Elle’s apartment so we can chat more.  Tito Mon and Tita Isa were staying at cousin Joey’s house for the weekend.  They had to attend a wedding anniversary on Sunday morning, while I would spend my time with Elle, then we would meet up for lunch and do a downtown LA walking tour in the afternoon.
Our entrees came to the table steaming.  Our server started scooping steamed rice into our bowls and then she poured water into the container she scooped the rice from.  I looked inquiringly at Elai.  She explained that something special will be done with that later, raising her brows with a naughty look.  Getting back to our food, the BBQ ribs were really tender and tasty, the bulgogi too.  The tofu soup was really enticing, warming and delicious.  Everything went well with the tofu soup.  I even added a bit more spice to mine coz I love spicy food.
A few minutes later, our server came back and started scraping the rice container with the water in it and poured the contents into another bowl and served it to us.  Again, I look inquiringly at Elai.  “Try it,” she says.  It tasted like watery champorado without the chocolate and sugar… hmmm, interesting… a taste of Korean frugality.
One by one the ribs and beef disappeared from the table.  Our tofu soups gradually diminished from our bowls.  That lunch was one of the best I’ve ever eaten.  Coupled with good company, it would be difficult to top that.  Our server even gave us two complimentary tofu soups to take away.  One other server had made a mistake earlier with our order and this was their way of apologizing.  What a treat!

We headed back to Elle’s apartment to rest a bit before embarking on the next item on our itinerary.  Tito Mon and Tita Isa snoozed while Elle, Elai and I chatted the afternoon away.  We had a lot of catching up to do coz it had been a while since we were together.
Elle’s cellphone rang while she went to the restroom and it was flashing the name of Ly as the caller.  Ly is a cousin who was also vacationing in LA.  Well not exactly on vacation, coz their family are immigrants, but Ly still had business to attend to in Manila so I know that she plans to fly back to the Philippines.  I answered Elle’s phone to Ly’s surprise.  She thought she had misdialed and called me instead long distance, lol.  We also haven’t seen each other in a while, though we usually phone each other when she was in Manila.  We started making arrangements to meet after church the following day.

When Tito and Tita woke from their nap we started planning our afternoon and evening activities.  But they begged off saying they wanted to head off to cousin Joey’s house before it gets dark.  They still had to locate the place since Kuya Joey and Tita Gloria recently moved to a new housing complex for seniors.  Kuya Joey is my second cousin on my dad’s side, while his wife Tita Gloria is my mom’s first cousin.  Mel and I have visited them several times on our previous LA trips.
So it was just Elle, Elai and I who were off to ourselves for the rest of the afternoon and evening, and knowing them, I knew it was going to be a lot of fun.  We first went to Griffith Observatory.  We couldn’t find a parking space at the lot near the observatory so we had to head back down the hill and park by the roadside.  It was an uphill trek to the observatory, but the weather was cool so it didn’t seem as tiring.  Griffith Observatory, one of southern California’s most popular attractions, is located at the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park.  According to it’s website, it is 1,134 feet above sea level and is visible from many parts of the Los Angeles basin.  The famous “HOLLYWOOD” sign could be seen from the observatory grounds.
We toured the grounds first, then went up to the upper terraces to look at the telescopes and the magnificent views of the Los Angeles area.  Then we went inside the observatory to view the exhibits.  At the Hall of the Sky exhibit, I was able to peek through the spectrohelioscope, a special telescope that can observe any wavelength of sunlight.  As it’s poster indicated, this one was tuned to let you see only red light from hydrogen atoms and allows observers to study activity above the Sun’s surface.  It was pretty amazing to be able to see the sun thru a spectrohelioscope.  I was already wishing my kids were with me, they would really have loved that.
At the central rotunda was the Foucault Pendulum, a pendulum suspended from a long wire from the ceiling and demonstrates that the earth indeed rotates on it’s axis.  Also interesting to see was the Camera Obscura, which uses mirrors and lenses and reflects images from outside onto a table inside the observatory.  With its continuously rotating tube, the Camera Obscura provides a spectacular 360°- field view of Los Angeles vistas and reminds visitors that they have reached an observational junction of earth and sky.  We breezed through the other exhibits, just stopping long enough to take pictures.  I bought a ref magnet at the store to remind me of my trip here to Griffith Observatory.
Next stop, The Grove and Farmer’s Market.  Elai parked the car at The Grove even though we intended to eat at Farmer’s Market.  These are two adjacent complexes offering shopping, dining and theater experience to LA residents and visitors alike.  We decided we wanted to have Greek fare for dinner so we went and got a patio table at Ulysses Voyage.  The Lamb Gyro appealed to me, so that’s what I ordered.  We also ordered greek appetizers and a salad with grilled squid.  We were served by a tall handsome waiter.  Too bad my camera run out of batteries so I wasn’t able to take pictures of the food or the waiter.  But I’m sure Elle and Elai would back me up when I say that he was really good-looking, lol.  We enjoyed dinner, telling stories in between bites of our delicious meal. 

When we were finally done, we decided to take a stroll around and take in the sights and sounds of the market plaza.  There was energy in the air with lots of people walking around and shops all lit up like there was a fiesta.  It was an altogether lovely evening with clear skies, cool weather and the company of my two dear cousins.  What more can I ask?

Next feature: my LA Trip – Day Two…


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