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Los Angeles has multiple personalities. In a weekend you can meet a few. Try these after you've seen Disney Hall, the Public Library, Union Station and Hollywood Boulevard.
Breakfast on Sunset Strip at the center of one LA scene. Clafoutis is great for hanging out with the trendy "Euro Trash" types, models, actors and wanabes. Sit outside under an umbrella and watch the pretty people go by in their pretty cars. Be sure to eat a croissant. The rest of the food is passable, but the people gazing- unsurpassed.
After breakfast stroll along Sunset Strip. Look in the windows of expensive clothes and eyeglass shops. Visit the Spy Shop and duck into Book Soup for a good book browse. Check out the shack called House of Blues and make note of the other clubs along the Strip. If you are into music you might want to come back tonight.
A little off-beat but buried here, in full view of the Hollywood sign and at the back of Paramount Studios, are some of the most famous and notorious names of "Old Hollywood." Buy a map at the florist shop near the entrance. It shows the location of the graves of the 100 best known people buried here. Walk along the paths, or on the grass, to visit the graves of Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks Sr and Jr., Benny Goodman and others. The little lake in the middle of the park usually has some ducks on it and is a good place to contemplate the fleeting nature of celebrity. If you luckily chance upon a guided tour, take it. There are a lot of stories here-all worth hearing.
By now you are probably hungry, so head to Canter's Deli on Fairfax Avenue for a brisket sandwich with cole slaw and the opportunity to view what is probably the ugliest decor in LA. A while back they closed the restaurant for almost a year to redecorate. When they reopened, it looked just the way it did before the renovation. Now, think "retro." The waitresses are a little feisty--almost like being back in New York.
This street is for strolling and being surprised. It is an off beat mix of ethnic restaurants, vegetable stores, kosher bakeries, vintage clothes and furniture shops, thrift stores and enterprising new businesses drawn to the area by cheap rents. Mingle with Russians, observant Jews, Goths, skateboarders and folks in sagged pants. You can sip South Aftrican tea at Roobus, buy exotic body scrubs at Essentials, get your hair dyed yellow and purple at Goo or, if so inclined, check out high-end skateboards at Supreme. Maybe someone will be skateboarding on the ramp at the back and you can watch on the thin screen in the storefront window. Further down visit The Grove. This shopping mall is an adult Disneyland-with spurting fountains, music (sometimes live), a trolley and good shops. Always busy, it is attached to the Farmer's Market in which you will find produce, cooked food, and a wonderful cook's store. Continue down Fairfax to LACMA.
Situated in a pretty park with tar pits and models of animals caught in the tar, LACMA has a great permanent collection of modern and Chinese art. It has rotating exhibitions. At the moment five Klimt paintings, just recovered from the Viennese government, are on view. The story of their loss and recovery is heartbreaking and a tribute to someone's persistence. The paintings are stunning.
Stop for a drink at the resturant on the main patio, rest and enjoy the LA weather.
A definate keeper. This is one of LA's best restaurants. Serving Cal-Med food in a pretty building that was once Charlie Chaplain's studio. Even though it is noisy, dining here is always a pleasure. The food is unfailingly good and interestingand the service excellent.
Or try Lucques, another up-scale consistently good restaurant. This one has a fireplace to sit next to, if you have to wait for your table. By the by, reservations are probably a must at both restaurants.
Check out the freshest produce in LA. Sample current offerings, right now, strawberries, cherries, blueberries and melons. Buy an ear of roasted corn or a tamale for a snack. Listen to the jazz group or the bongo players while you munch. Check out the stalls with clothes and jewlery. Look at the LA Public Library building on Ivar. It is an early Gehry.
Another breakfast. Bring your dog and you can both sit outside. The dog will get cookies and water, and you can have a tall version of quiche or a scone (toasted with apricot jam on the side) and a great cup of coffee.
No trip to LA is complete without a stop at the beach-and Venice Beach is quintessential LA. Painters, musicians, magic acts, fortune-tellers, peddlers of all types of clothing, perfumes and panhandlers mix with bicyclers and skaters along the boardwalk. if you are up to it rent a bike or skates, but walking is fine. Stop at the skateboard park, continue to Muscle Beach and end at the Marina. If you get hungry there are lots of vendors including Jody Moroni where they give samples as well as sell the well-known (at least in LA) sausages on a roll with fried onion and peppers. A messy treat-take lots of napkins.
For contrast, walk or drive to Shutters Hotel in Santa Monica. Inside it looks like a Maine cottage (albeit a huge one.) Have a drink in the lounge. Look out at the beach, the boardwalk and the ocean. Watch the sun go down. They serve tea and coffee as well as alcoholic drinks, and have small plates of nice snack food and very good potato chips. Linger and relax in one of the comfortable armchairs.
Finish your weekend with dinner in this American-French bistro. Noisy, like most LA restaurants, better to dine early. Good food, excellent desserts. This is Santa Monica, so the local clientele is pretty interesting. If you extend your week-end, Monday nights are prix fixe and a bargain.
Last but not least, take a stroll along the pier. There is a merry-go-round, some shops and restaurants, and there is the sea. Check out the fishermen to see if someone got the big one- enjoy the breeze and the evening air.