Pasadena – Photos with Narration – In a Perfect World

Pasadena is a beautiful little town very convenient to Los Angeles due to being well-serviced by the metro. With less than 150 thousand residents, it maintains a quiet, pretty, relaxed lifestyle even with it’s proximity to America’s second largest city, ten miles South West.

Pasadena seems to have a good amount of cultural activities for locals to enjoy. The only disappointment I found was the dominance of multi-nationals in the lovely shopping district, a 21 block area of downtown known as Old Town Pasadena. I had expected to find more interesting independent stores and boutiques, instead I found all the major players found in every North American shopping complex with just a few home-grown shops in the mix. People want what they know so I guess it’s impossible to escape the supply that follows demand. There were many great independent coffee shops and restaurants though, which is always a delight to see. And taste. Frequent your local-owned businesses Pasadenans, don’t let the chains entirely take-over and remove the remaining local flavour!

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Beautiful trees and flowers seem to be everywhere in Pasadena.

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Clean and well-organized. Easy to find your way with these tasteful direction signs.

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I do love tree-covered streets.

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The central shopping district of Old Town was very pleasant, although sadly you will find many of your favourite stores here.

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This was one thing I found funny in Pasadena after spending some months in busy cities. Traffic was very quiet on the weekday I visited this town. Watching some pedestrians waiting at a red traffic light downtown, standing patiently waiting for their walk light, I could not even hear a car let alone see one in either direction. This I witnessed several times and I found the patient orderliness to be comedic, almost to be from a bygone era. I’m just so used to seeing people rush everywhere, and ignoring walk lights when there are no cars coming. I should have taken a photo of that. (I later was told there are very strict J-walking fines.)

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A little map sign outside one of the metro stations.

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I forget what this is. But, I also forgot to mention above that Pasadena is most famous as being the annual site of the Rose Bowl. Very fitting for such a pretty town to have such a pretty parade.

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Glorious mountain views crown this little haven.

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I guess I should have taken some photos of picture-perfect houses, but I was feeling anxious to get back to a bit more diverse chaos. Pasadena is mostly an affluent, up-scale residential area, not the kind of place I generally travel to see. But, it is very easy to get to from Downtown LA so it’s worth a trip to take a walk around, have some lunch and grab a real coffee.

If you enjoy my postings, please share them with your friends! http://www.PersonalTravelStories.wordpress.com Cheers everyone! Darren

Hollywood – Photos with Narration – A LA Neighbourhood

Hollywood has such a distinct identity that it is easy to forget that it is actually a neighbourhood of Los Angeles. It’s most Iconic sight, like the Eiffel Tower and the London Eye, was originally a temporary display. It was part of a marketing campaign for a new housing development, Hollywoodland, but it caught the attention of all who visited and became a necessary sight that represented larger-than-life Hollywood.

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Look closely to see the Hollywood sign.

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Located in the largest urban park of the USA, the Hollywood sign is visible from many vantage points throughout Hollywood. Griffith Park is a beautiful, well-used park that covers five times the area of Central Park in Manhattan. (If you’ve every walked the dimension of Central Park, you will know that it is really quite large.)

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Views of Los Angeles from the vantage point of the hills of Griffith Park.

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The Griffith Observatory.

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Sidewalk celebrity prints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

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El Capitan Theare

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Make sure to visit the strip after dark too! Same theatre lit-up Vegas style.

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The Pantages Theatre.

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The usual tourist adventures.

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The famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

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Street art around Hollywood Boulevard.

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The Walk of Fame along Hollywood Boulevard.

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The tall palms seem to tower most of the side streets in Hollywood.

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On this particular day Hollywood Boulevard was blocked off for a march for women’s rights.

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Quite a few Thai restaurants and legitimate massage parlours comprised Little Thailand in Hollywood. Don’t miss getting a massage here, I had one hour for $25 and it was shockingly good. I tipped $20 bringing the total to half the cost of what I’m used to paying. I had to tip, it was so cheap that I actually felt guilty paying so little, especially in an expensive city.

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A hanging mobile of cut-metal discs at the W Hotel.

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I think these studios were on LaBrae South of Hollywood Bvld.

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Building or Oil Pump cover? I was told by a local that oil pumps located within LA are concealed by fake buildings. This one seemed to have no purpose or actual interior, so I was just wondering. . . . maybe?

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Such a pretty museum

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of Death.

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I hope you found this posting on Hollywood sights interesting. If you did, please share it with your friends! Click on the facebook button below to share a link on on your fb. To follow by email, click the “follow” at the bottom right of your screen. Posts will arrive by email and you can cancel with a click anytime you like. Thanks for reading! Darren.

Los Angeles – Photos with Narration – So Many Prisons

As I mentioned in a previous post, the first thing I noticed when visiting the city of Los Angeles was the number of homes and businesses that had their windows and doors protected with metal bars.
Please do not take this posting out of context, I think LA is a great city and this post is one of several. This was just a local uniqueness that I could not ignore, it stood-out as being more common here than other places I am familiar with. I felt completely safe everywhere I went in LA, which is probably why seeing these little prisons everywhere seemed so odd.

I don’t want to be a hypocrite, after experiencing a home invasion in Winnipeg, Manitoba a few years ago, I myself had window bars installed. But these bars were much less intrusive than the ones I saw around me in LA. I will do a posting of my former home and you will be able to see them for yourself. I was never comfortable in that home again and I did eventually escape my own “prison” when I moved back to Toronto in 2012.

When asked about my first LA impression I mentioned to two different local Los Angelers my surprise of seeing so many imprisioned-looking homes and businesses. “What bars? Oh, you only find those in certain neighbourhoods, ” they both suggested, separately. Really? My camera and I, we didn’t agree. I guess locals just don’t notice them but I could not help but notice that they dominate many neighbourhoods South of Downtown, and North of Downtown, and on many side streets of Hollywood, and in little pockets pretty much everywhere I wandered. And the one apartment I visited, it had a metal bar door in addition to an exterior door, which I had never seen before. (True, I am yet to visit Brazil.)

It could be that bars are like monitored alarm systems. If you live in a crime-prone neighbourhood, a criminal will look for the weakest link to penetrate. If most homes have monitored alarms and one house doesn’t, it will be the easiest and most likely target. Same with bars. If some of your neighbours have barred-windows and you don’t, you will be a more likely target for a break-in, a weak link. So if a few neighbours install bars, it is very likely to spread.

If someone moves from a dangerous neighbourhood to a safer, more upscale one, they may feel more comfortable having bars installed in the new home, even if not really needed. Its a security measure they are used to having. Once one home has bars, whether needed or not . . . US media does not exactly promote a feeling of safety and comfort in ones home, news stations dramatize stories to get the most attention making them more exciting to compete with other entertainment. (Yes, news has become entertainment.) “Could you be in danger of being raped and killed in your sleep? Tune in at eleven for . . . . .” Yeah, right. Perfect pre-bed focus. Exaggerated, hyped violent news stories. Thanks for the window bars.

Whatever the cause and whatever the current situation is, I noticed the prison-looking windows and doors throughout the city because they are something I am not used to seeing.

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White metal looks so much friendlier than black. These are nicely designed too.

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This is a church parking lot.

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This is a pre-school.

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Churches were clearly not immune.

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This independent fast food restaurant seemed to need to protect the built-in outdoor seating.

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My local LA friends could be right, that there are only a few homes in Los Angeles that have barred windows. It is not impossible that I just happened to wander through neighbourhoods that did not reflect the norm. This is just what I saw, what I noticed, and what for me was unique.

My next posting will show some sights of Hollywood.

If you find my blog interesting, please share it with your friends! http://www.PersonalTravelStories.wordpress.com Thanks for reading! Darren

Exploring Los Angeles

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At just under 4 million residents, the city of Los Angeles is America’s second largest. Most famous for the area of Hollywood and all the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, LA also has some negative reputation hang-over that really should be dispelled. In my brief one-week visit, I spent my time wandering through neighbourhoods and enjoying the local sights.

I found the people of Los Angeles to be friendly and helpful, quite unlike the reputation of being shallow, fake, and self-centered. Certainly this reputation has been earned by a few, but I do not feel it represents the general population whatsoever.

Also, the smog that made international news so often in the past has been remedied by California’s very strong anti-pollution laws. Testing facilities can be noticed throughout the city as every car must pass a pollution emission test every year. LA’s cleaner air never made the international news, “Today the air in Los Angeles is fine!” does not make an exciting story. Many people hold a picture in their head of the citizens of LA choking under a cloud of car exhaust, and this is no longer true.

This city seemed to me clean, modern, and comfortable. My personal preference is towards higher-density urban living and the liveliness that comes with it, so the suburban flavour of LA was not something I appreciated. However, there seem to be many people who actually prefer the segregated lifestyles of suburban neighbourhoods of which LA offers in spades, so for them this aspect would be an asset.

The final red flags that most visitors hold for this city is fear of violence and crime. It was notable to me the number of homes and buildings throughout the city that looked like little prisons (the windows and doors very barred), but I felt completely comfortable everywhere I wandered, even in these areas of high-security. I did make a point to not join any gangs while visiting the city though, so that could partially explain how I did not find myself in the middle of dangerous situations. Additionally, I completely avoided purchasing any illegal substances and I would advise readers to do the same.

I am a driver and I stayed in a very suburban area in LA (very much of the city is suburban), but I did not rent a car. Although I at first avoided use of the bus, it proved essential due to a nearly complete lack of taxis available to hail. The people on the bus mostly represented a lower-economic cross section of the community for sure, but the only stories I conjured during this week came from friendly passengers who I rode alongside for an hour or more going into Hollywood and connecting to the Metro.

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Beautiful trees and iconic tall palms tower above homes and businesses throughout Los Angeles.

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A partial map of public transportation. I thought the buses and metro were quite good, although the distances are unusually far due to the predominant low-density housing everywhere.

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A square in rejuvenated Downtown LA.

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This is considered a sketchy area, South East of Culver City bordering Inglewood. Still, it’s clean and pleasant. I did notice a lot of heavily-barred windows and doors here and throughout much of the city though.

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I always like to take pics of local dogs.

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I saw a few of these fantastic retro car washes around the city. Check out the low retro-price! In Toronto the two hand car washes I visit cost $23 and $25 for their basic service (and there are no cheaper automated car washes in these areas). It was suggested to me by a local that this low price could be in part due to the low-cost “immigrant” labourers who are many, and who often do not have “immigrant” status.

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Usually the graffiti added some life to buildings. Perhaps not in this case.

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The Hollywood sign, high above in Griffith Park, is viewable from many vantage points.

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Having arrived to LA from Calcutta, India, I could not help but notice these signs advertising “Indian Hair”. In many temples throughout India, hair is given as a sacrifice to specific Gods. This hair is then sold to create a monetary donation to the temple/God. I was told that the givers of their hair don’t actually realize that the temple will be selling it to raise funds, I’m not sure what they believe the purpose of their hair donation is.

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Too good to be true, make sure to read the small print before barging in to claim your free Indian hair.

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Where do you think the Bohemian hair comes from? How can they tell it’s Bohemian?

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Gorgeous Griffith Park.

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A downtown market.

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A neighbourhood North of Downtown, view from the Metro (train).

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Rules for using the Metro. Their enforcement is probably part of why the system was so comfortable to use. Even though alcohol and pot were strongly present in the air at nighttime whenever I took a bus, the passengers were still well-behaved and pleasant and I felt perfectly safe.

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Most of the city was quite green with trees and flowers.

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In highly-secured areas, even the churches had bars. This topic will have it’s own future posting.

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The Thai neighbourhood of LA in Hollywood.

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I just thought Dirty Dave had an amusing sign.

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If you have kids, COME GET YOUR MONEY!!!

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Loving the street art throughout LA!

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Often the prettiest views involve looking straight up. Walking around the city opens so much more than other modes of locomotion.

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It’s fun to compare soles.

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Sitting outside in West Hollywood. Poor guy, I noticed his hygiene products and then figured he’s probably homeless. He sure was polite.

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Fantastic sign. India needs to buy some of these signs, even if they made the fine $1. In the movie, “The Fantastic Marigold Hotel” set in Dehli, India, the only thing I found unrealistic was that they completely cleaned-up every scene before filming. I never saw clean streets as shown in that otherwise fantastic film. No doubt it was a stipulation for getting a film permit in India, although everywhere, they do not like to see pics or films of their rubbish.

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Some artwork inside a metro station.

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Although the landscaper might not be talented, I loved how these shrubs turned-out.

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What have American Banks learned about giving mortgages too easily? Anything?

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Somewhere South of Downtown. Before I discovered the joys of bus use, I went walking towards the Metro with plans of hailing a taxi whenever I came upon one. THREE HOURS later, I arrived at the Metro station having never seen a taxi. The next morning, I googled the bus schedules and maps before stepping out of my home.

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Some hand-made perhaps not professionally-done signage.

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I forgot to make note of what this store actually was. Perhaps an African hat store?

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They probably do know that cuts usually starts with “c”, but the look of this sign does leave some doubt.

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Where I came upon this sign, I would not be tempted to live. Or visit. Or walk slowly.

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I loved this feature on the long bus rides. Although often just a map of our location was on display, there were also short programs. I learned some sign language enroute and apart from passing the time I thought that was really cool.

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LA’s subway is called the Metro. Some trains run mostly overground. This made for much more interesting journeys.

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This building in Downtown LA will be in my Downtown Post, coming soon.

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Thanks for reading my Intro to Los Angeles! Upcoming postings will include Downtown LA (amazing architecture), Hollywood (which is central in LA), and nearby Pasedena.

If you have enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends! Share it on facebook by clicking on the “facebook” button below or by posting the blog address, it is http://www.PersonalTravelStories.wordpress.com Thanks for reading! Cheers! Darren

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