Sunday, April 24, 2016

My Day in LA (... with Eugene!) - Part One

"I live in New York, and I love New York as well, but I think Los Angeles is a place where, if you have the right person with you, there are all these little worlds that you would never guess by just looking at the exterior of what the city is."
-- Greta Gerwig

Helloooooooo friends! It just occurred to me a few weeks ago how badly I have neglected this little blog of mine. Most of you are my friends, so you probably noticed I updated this blog via Facebook. For those of you who actually subscribed - thanks for sticking around! I will try to be better at updating this thing. I tried for a very brief time to maintain this blog simultaneously with my other blog, but I seemed to favor that one for the last year (and I haven't even been that good about updating that one either). Anyway, I digress... I recently went on a staycation with my friend Eugene (pictured above), and figured I may as well blog about it. I posted most of these pictures on Facebook, but since a lot of my friends asked for addresses and websites for some of the places we went, I figured I could cover the same information in a blog post. There's too much for one post, so here's the first of two!

Since Eugene was only able to sneak away for one weekend, we did our best to make good use of our time. Eugene and I met in Houston, but we now live on opposite coasts. While he has generously visited me twice (first in 2013), I have yet to make it to his neck of the woods. Here's hoping I can swing through when I go to Florida to run the Wine & Dine Half at Walt Disney World in November! What follows is a rundown of a thirteen hour day in Los Angeles - his first day in California. We covered a lot of ground in a short time - I recommend breaking itinerary into a couple of days if you wish to maintain your sanity :)

Breakfast at Urth Caffeé - WeHo
8565 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA

Despite Eugene's late arrival the night before, we were both surprised when we woke up within minutes of each other just after 6:30am. A little jet-lagged and hungry, we decided to head to one of my favorite West Hollywood cafés for breakfast. Specializing in health conscious coffee, Urth Caffeé first opened its doors in 1991 in Manhattan Beach. The WeHo location is my second favorite (second to Pasadena's), but is a great location for people watching. It also happened to be fairly close to our Airbnb cottage, located in nearby Westwood. Eugene chose a tea latté, while I stuck with my usual honey vanilla latté. During breakfast, I mentioned that we weren't far at all from the final resting place of Marilyn Monroe. While we had originally planned to go directly downtown from breakfast, we instead decided to meander our way across town... starting first to pay our respects to Marilyn.

Westwood Village Memorial Park
1218 Glendon Ave, Los Angeles, CA

Westwood Village Memorial Park (aka Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary) is located randomly behind the high rise buildings on Wilshire Blvd in Westwood. It's the final resting place for many Hollywood legends, including Marilyn Monroe, Rodney Dangerfield, Merv Griffin, Betty Page, Farrah Fawcett, Don Knotts, Dean Martin, Natalie Wood, Donna Reed, and so forth. It is also the final home for several musicians, authors, and notable businessmen. The best website for locating the graves of the famous/infamous in this cemetery is, but you don't really need to use it. It's pretty quick to cover ground in the tiny graveyard, so you will see a lot of famous names pretty quickly. 

The Spadena House, aka the "Witch's House"
516 Walden Dr, Beverly Hills, CA

We headed to Beverly Hills next since it was the next logical neighborhood. I was eager to show Eugene some of the cool houses I had recently seen on a Dearly Departed Tragical History Tour that I took with another friend. (Note: Dearly Departed tours are easily the best in Los Angeles, albeit a bit on the morbid side. You can read more about their offerings here.) One of our stops here was to see the Spadena House. Commonly referred to as "The Witch's House," the Spadena House was originally built on a silent film studio lot to be used as a set and office space. It was purchased and saved from demolition sometime thereafter, and moved from its original location in Culver City to where it sits today. While it was featured in several silent films, it has also been in a number of other films since its relocation to Beverly Hills. Fans of Clueless should notice it as one of the houses Cher walks by during the movie. Shout out to Lindsay Blake ("THE" movie location expert) for the address of this place. She did a great write-up on it here if you're interested. 

Nightmare on Elm Street houses
1428 and 1419 Genesee Ave, Hollywood, CA

As we continued to meander from west to east, Eugene and I made another stop off the Sunset Strip to check out the original Nightmare on Elm Street. Yes, the houses from the classic horror film are real, although they are located quite a distance away from the midwest here in Hollywood, California. While Los Angeles is known for destroying tearing down old houses to make room for new, the houses from Nightmare look today just as they did in 1984. It's hard to imagine them filming the movie so close to Sunset, but I also imagine that Sunset Blvd was quite different from what it is today. :) While I have to thank both Dearly Departed and Lindsay for telling me about this location, it was Lindsay's blog again that provided the address. She did a very fun writeup about it here. (PS - Lindsay, tell Blaze that people absolutely DO love your blog!)

Pizza for two at Bottega Louie
700 S. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA

By the time we finished creeping out the neighborhoods of Hollywood, Eugene and I were starving again. It should come as no surprise to my friends that I recommended Bottega Louie in downtown Los Angeles for lunch - it's not only home to the most beautiful desserts in the world, but it's also within walking distance to my favorite museum (and our next destination). Surprisingly, however, we did not partake in the desserts that day. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs - by the time we had finished our Red Crush cocktails and scarfed down our salad and pizza, we were stuffed! It was so good!

FIDM Museum - 24th Annual Art in Motion Picture Costume Design
919 S. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA

After we finished lunch, Eugene and I rolled walked two blocks south to visit the FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) Museum. While I will visit the FIDM Museum for any exhibit, their Annual Art in Motion Picture Costume Design is always a favorite for me. This year's exhibit featured costumes from 24 of the biggest films of 2015, including all of the Best Costume Design Academy Award Nominees. If you haven't been to the museum before, note that it's a little difficult to find. I always recommend that people find the park on Hope Street (parallel to Grand Ave on the west side), and find the entrance from there. Street parking can be hard to come by, so I always park at one of the lots between Hope and Grand closer to 8th Street. 

Does FIDM look or sound familiar? Good eye! FIDM was also the school that Lauren and her friends attended on The Hills! Lucky girls!

As you can see, we really packed it in! My next post will take you on part two of our ambitious day as we explored more of Hollywood and movie lore! I hope you're enjoying these posts so far, and I hope to write more posts as I have time. In the meantime, take care of yourselves and enjoy your day!

Until next time...


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