A Vacation with Friends-Santa Monica

When we disembarked from the cruise on Friday morning, we had a slight hiccup with our shuttle service.  They arranged a voucher with the taxi company.  Our taxi driver was a fellow with a big laugh and a great smile.

We picked up a rental car at the Burbank airport and headed for an afternoon of exploring.  Cindy loves James Dean and since Rebel without a Cause was filmed at the Griffith Observatory, we decide to make a side trip.

The observatory exhibits are free but you have to pay for parking.  We found a spot and went to pay, a gentleman approached us and said, “I have 2 hours left on our parking, take my spot”. What a kind gesture, Cindy hugged him.  The views from the observatory are wonderful of the valley as well as the Hollywood sign.

You need to plan for at least half a day to explore everything.  We didn’t have that much time so did as much as possible.  The observatory is named for Griffith J. Griffith who donated the land and left the money for its construction.  It opened in May of 1935 and is the most visited public observatory in the World.

In front of the observatory is a monument to astronomers as well as a sun dial.

We walked up to the roof top for an up close look at the Zeiss Telescope. On clear nights, this area is open to the public to look through the lens.  Over 8 million people have looked through the telescope lens since 1935.

We went inside and enjoyed some of the exhibits on the first floor known as the Historic level.  Everything to do with astronomy is covered, it is excellent information.

We enjoyed a presentation about the Foucault Pendulum.  It is a 240 pound bronze ball suspended on a 40 foot cable from the observatory ceiling.  It swings in a constant direction while the Earth turns beneath it. The cable is attached to a bearing in the ceiling that does not turn with the building.  A ring magnet at the bearing gives a gentle tug with each swing to keep it in motion.  Every 7 minutes, the ball knocks over a peg in the pit, indicating the earth’s progress.

We had very much enjoyed our visit to the observatory…the views, exhibits, and the pendulum.  It was onto to Beverly Hills, Wilshire, and Rodeo Drive.  A quick trip through and a stop for pictures, was all we could afford…lol.

Next we stopped at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints temple, which was dedicated in 1956.  We met 2 very nice ladies walking the grounds and loved that the flowers were still in bloom.

We had reserved a hotel in Santa Monica and after checking in we decided to eat at a funky local favorite called the Galley.  It was awesome food and a very fun atmosphere.

After dinner we found a unique Christmas tree made from grocery carts.  It is fun to travel during the holidays!!

Saturday morning came and it was Happy Birthday Ellie!!!! We wanted it to be a great day so we headed to Hollywood and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.  It opened in 1927 and is the most celebrated theatre in the motion picture era. It has been and still is, the sight of numerous movie premieres.

In front of the theatre there are nearly 200 hand-prints, footprints, and signatures in the concrete.  It started when someone accidentally walked in wet cement.

We stood in some of our favorite actors footprints…John Wayne and Sandra Bullock

We walked next door to the Dolby Theatre which has hosted the Academy Awards since it opened in 2001.  We walked the “red carpet” and thought we were pretty special.

Outside the Theatre, on the sidewalks of 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard is the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  There are more than 2600 stars.  On each star there is one of the following that indicates which category the star is for… camera(motion pictures), TV(broadcast television), record(audio or music), radio microphone(radio broadcasting), comedy masks(theatre)

Our next stop was the Original Farmers Market which opened in 1934.  There are over 100 merchants, restaurants, and vendors.  It is a fun and delicious place to eat lunch.

Our last stop was the Santa Monica Pier.  The pier is famous as the ceremonial end of the Route 66 highway.  The current pier opened in September of 1909

It also has the iconic Ferris wheel

It is as close as you can get to the sunset festival in Key West, Florida.  There is an assortment of people dancing, singing, and preforming.

But it is the sunsets that captures the moment…

Jim and Cindy walked out on the beach, as you need to have a heart in the sand.

We ended Ellie’s birthday, with dinner at Red O, a wonderful Mexican restaurant across from the pier.

And one final birthday wish for Ellie.

What a great way to end our Friend’s Vacation.  So many memories, laughs, smiles, awesome moments, and wonderful friends.