This morning I indulged in the luxury of sleeping in. I was able to sleep really well despite this being a busy hostel. Even after being awake, I waited for everyone to leave before getting ready because for some reason, spending a week traveling by myself has made me even more of an antisocial “fraidy cat” than usual.
Coffee and day-plotting
I ate my breakfast in the lobby and then set off to find a coffee shop for my morning pick-me-up. I found this cute little place called Verve on google maps, and it was so nice, plants are growing from the ceiling, the walls, everywhere! It’s very trendy, which I’m starting to learn is an L.A. staple. Every place seems to have such an intentional aesthetic. They specialize in their nitro cold brews, so I tried one and while I was waiting, they gave me some cute stickers! Nitro cold brew just isn’t my thing I’ve decided, just a little too tangy for my taste.
While sipping I figured out what to do with my day, Griffith observatory only open Friday to Sunday! So if I wanted to go, it had to be today.
I took the metro and then a bus to get to the Griffith Observatory. The bus was nice since the observatory is on a massive hill. Pretty uneventful. Except for the guy selling tasers?! That was a first.
The Griffith Observatory
My first impression of the Griffith Observatory is that it’s in an amazing location. It’s got excellent views of the Hollywood sign on one side, and then the downtown LA skyline on the other side. It makes sense, then, that tons of people from all over the world come to visit. In front of the observatory stands a monument commemorating astronomers throughout time. It reminded me of Yellowstone a bit because everywhere I walked, I felt like I was getting in the way of someone’s photo. So it took a minute to get to the front gate.
The Griffith Observatory is totally free! Woohoo! Though they are pretty strict when it comes to entry requirements. You need your vax card, driver’s license/identification, and a mask to get inside. Thankfully, I had all those things with me today. Whew!
Upon crossing the entry way, I immediately felt chills.
A swinging metal ball suspended from the ceiling shows what time it is through it’s swinging due to the earth’s axis. It’s called a foucault pendulum. Surrounding it on the ceiling is a mural of legends about the sky from around the world.
There’s Atlas holding the world, and angel holding the star of Bethlehem, Jupiter doing something, and a guy with a bowl screaming. On the sides, each civilization is researching the stars.
In the Hall of the Eye, they talk about how we study the sky. Starting all the way in the beginning with tools like a replica of Galileo’s telescope for viewing Jupiter’s moons and showing where we are now, creating massive telescopes and using different types of electromagnetic light rays to portray stars in different ways.
There’s also Tesla’s coil, a machine that throws lightning around the room. Tesla wanted to be able to transport electricity without wires, and while that didn’t happen, he gave us so much knowledge. Then is the Hall of the Sky, which has a bunch of exhibits explaining sky phenomena like seasons, tides, and eclipses. There’s also info about the elemental side of outer space, you can use an interactive exhibit to see which elements make up the Big Bang, planets, atmospheres, and stars!
On the outside deck, there are two small domes. One is a big mirror that collects the light, the other houses the actual telescope. It’s amazing to see the actual telescope used at the world’s most visited observatory.
Downstairs is a huge map of a small portion of the sky (small being relative, of course given that space is infinite), a theater that shows a short documentary about the renovation, and a station about each of our solar system’s planets.
I got lucky enough to be there right when they had the Meridian local-noon celebration. There’s this huge “clock”/“calendar” thing that when the sun passes over it at noon, it reveals the exact date without fail, and no matter what time of year.
I also learned that the actual star/planetary alignments aren’t the exact same as how the Babylonians recorded them when creating the zodiac calendar. This means I’m actually an Aquarius based on today’s standards and my whole life is a lie.
You can watch the celebration by clicking here! Since my ‘youtube embed” feature is still not working :/
Hiking to the summit of Mt. Hollywood
After leaving the observatory, I decided to hike one of the many trails leading from it.
You can actually hike to the top of Mt. Hollywood, it’s only about a mile and a half to the summit. It is uphill, but not terribly steep. It’s the perfect way to enjoy LA’s mountainous desert, with flowers growing and birds singing everywhere. In early may, it was just perfect. There are also tons of great views of the Hollywood sign from the trail, though this doesn’t translate to the camera very well.
Having a picnic at one of the many trailside picnic tables with the Hollywood sign in full view felt like free luxury.
I also passed Dante’s view. It’s basically a whole botanical garden built into the side of the trail, I’ve never seen anything like it!
Be sure to look for lizards on the trail, they love the sunny rocks and cliffs.
At the summit of Mt. Hollywood, the views over LA and the surrounding mountains are panoramic. You can allegedly even see the ocean on clear days, though it was pretty hazy today. There are maps at the top so you can get a good bearing on what’s around.
Now to be clear, Mt. Hollywood isn’t the mountain that the Hollywood sign is on. You can get to that one, but it’s a 0.7 mile hike to the trailhead from Mt. Hollywood, and then a 3 mile hike from there. By this time it was 4pm and I didn’t have it in me to hike 7.5 miles, so I simply did not.
I walked thru Griffith park and the bird sanctuary on the way out. The bird sanctuary is a little decrepit but still full of trees, flowers, and tons of birds. The park is huge and it’s very nice, it’d be a perfect picnic spot I think.
Early evening eats
The bus and metro ride back to the hostel was fine, uneventful. I was starving and my belly is now happy and full of chicken shawarma. I’ll try and be vegan tomorrow. Food in LA is really too expensive but I’ve gotta eat somehow.
Now just watching TV and planning out tomorrow. Very boring, I know.
Tomorrow I will try and get a drink and watch the sunset from the fabulous rooftop bar since it’ll be Monday and will probably way less crowded than it is now. Just gotta talk myself into buying the way-too-expensive-drink hehe.
Stay tuned to read about tomorrow events. Until next time!