Musings on the Getty Center and Museums in General,

Hello, everyone! Jaja the forever tourist is here again!  Today, I wanna share with you guys one of my favorite places to explore in the city, the Getty Center.

A quick history: The Getty Center is one of two campuses of the Getty Museum. The Center is located in Brentwood, Los Angeles, while the Getty Villa is in the neighborhood of Pacific Palisades. The art collection was started by Jean Paul Getty in his home in Palisades. As the collection grew, he added a wing to his home which became the museum area, displaying his extensive collection. As the collection grew in the now-dubbed Getty Villa, he extended his museum by building another campus. The Villa focuses more on the arts and culture of Greece, Rome, and Etruria, while the Center houses collections from pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts; and 19th- and 20th-century American, Asian, and European photographs.

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Tourist guide: It is free to get in both museums, but you do need to pay a parking fee. But here’s the good thing: If you want to visit both museums in one day, just keep your parking ticket as it is valid for both museums on a same-day visit. That’s a $15 parking ticket you pay once for a two-museum visit. On Saturdays, the Center closes later as well, so if you don’t want to rush from one place to another, I suggest visiting the Villa first, and then drive on over to the Center.

PS: Audio tours are free, and they loan you the listening device AND the headphones. Now, I’m sure they clean their headphones, but if you’re a tad germophobic like me, feel free to bring your own headset.

 

Now, I’ve been to the Center a handful of times, and to the Villa zero times. That’s something that needs to be changed. Haha. The reason why I haven’t visited the very beautiful Villa is because I want to view all the collections at the Center. Some exhibits do change which makes multiple trips reasonable.

Once you get out of the parking structure, a tram takes you to the top of the hill where the magnificent structure of the Getty Museum is located. Whenever I step out of that tram, the view never fails to take my breath away. Right in front of the building, you have a wide open area that lets you take in the view from atop that hill. Overlooking the terrace is the valley, the houses and the rolling hills. The facade of the building is simple yet magnanimous. Clear lines, white finish, and a spacious staircase that leads you at the front door. Even before you enter the Center, you are greeted by marvelous sculptures.

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To the right of the front door is the audio tour desk. All you have to do is leave a form of identification with them and they will hand you your free audio tour listening device. I highly recommend this audio tour. There is no set tour you have to follow, you just go to whatever exhibit you want to check out and enter the number you see next to the exhibit piece into the listening device.

Oh, and if you are visiting with children and have a lot of stuff, took public transportation, or just have a lot of belongings with you, don’t let that hinder you from exploring the Center comfortably. To the left of the open-air lobby, you can find a check-in counter for your coats, bags, etc.

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Whenever I visit the Center, I have a little pattern that I follow. Different exhibits are placed in different buildings, a couple are connected to each other by hallways and stairs. I work my way from the exhibits right out front and wok my way back (I follow the map they give out in front). And then I take a break out in the courtyard, have a snack, a drink, get some fresh air, and then resume my tour. I have NEVER completed the exhibits in one day, hence the multiple visits.

When I feel like I’ve satisfied my museum craving, I walk around the expansive and beautiful garden of the Center. After all that, I usually find a shaded area in their grassy area and join the other visitors just chilling on the grass, laying out, doing their think out in the Center garden. Yes, the garden is open to the visitors, even if they visit the Center specifically just to have a picnic there. Outside in the courtyard/garden, you can marvel at the impressive architecture of the Center. Not only that, it offers a wonderful view of the city. I would take this time to just muse on the art pieces that I’ve seen that day. Sometimes, I’d bring my journal or a book with me and just chill the rest of my visit there.

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I’m one of those people that cherish my solitude from time to time. I’m also part of that group who lavishes on alone time in museums. Whenever I go by myself, I really REALLY take my time and check out each art piece. I stand there and admire the art works, ponder on what the artist had in mind, how it makes me feel, what the impact is in today’s society. It’s an experience of the mind and soul that I feel like I cannot undertake if I’m with another person who does not see museums the way that I do. But hey, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy visiting museums with friends because it is also a shared experience. You and your companions get to share your views with each other, discuss about the art work, and simply just share that experience with each other.

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x,
Jaja (IG:@theforevertourist)

Jolibee – Chicago

Happy National Fried Chicken Day everyone!

I’ll admit, I was taken surprise by this day. I was totally off the ball and haven’t been keeping up with the ever important “Foodie Days”. You may think I’m being sarcastic, but I’m actually kind of disappointed in myself! These random days are so light-hearted and fun, they make for decent potluck days, and they sometimes make me think outside the box.

And by outside the box, I mean this time I’m referencing a Filipino CHAIN to celebrate.

20161008_150844Enter…. JOLIBEE. For Filipinos, specifically in the Chicagoland area, this was a huge freaking deal when the ‘bee first arrived. I’m talking, Six Flags-style lines, Black Friday-esque impatience… ya’ll really wanted your Chickenjoy.

And if you didn’t catch what I said, this is a CHAIN. With that said, I will drive the 30 minutes, passing yellow archs, crowns, and ivory towers to get my fix. At first, I was such a hater – mainly because I hate crowds and for the first several months, that’s all I saw when passing by. But now that the hype has died down, I managed to finally get my order in. Let’s focus on the chicken – I love fried chicken, and they’re doing it and doing it and doing it well.

And in case you haven’t gone in yourself, make sure to pick up their *peach mango pie* too. Better yet, get yourself like, 5. And hide that stash from your kids because they WILL steal them. And you will regret the things you say & do to your kids for being innocently drawn to sweet, sugary, beautiful things.

Photowalk: Venice Beach at Night

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In my previous post, I shared a video montage of Venice Beach in the daytime. One of my favorite beaches, Venice Beach is home to a diversity of people and culture. The walls are filled with color, the people all beautiful in their own ways, the streets crowded with the hustle and bustle of vendors, tourists, and residents alike. Music is usually heard in the background, from the stalls that line the boardwalk or from street performers trying to get you attention.

But Venice Beach at night? It is a whole different world when the sun goes down.

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The streets that are usually filled by people are empty, with a few stragglers here and there. Shops and restaurants are closed, lacking in color and life. The boardwalk is illuminated only be street lamps that keep people from hiding in entire darkness. Occasionally, a cop car would drive past, keeping peace and quiet at bay for everyone.

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The exact night I went to Venice Beach with my friend MB, California had legalized weed. So you bet yourself supporters are low-key celebrating themselves that night. At one point, I had walked past a group of teenage kids with a cardboard sign that read “We need Weed.”

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If you’ve frequented Venice Beach as much as I had, being in that same place at night time is an eerily interesting concept. You know what you should expect, yet your senses are warning you that there is something lacking: the life, the vibe, the soul that keeps Venice Beach alive.

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MB and I walked up and down the street that separated the buildings from the beach. We found interesting alley ways and took a gander to see what we’d find. We walked past one restroom building and overheard a few men about to start a fight, one side provoking the other. When the cop rolled past, every one was forced to keep their cool. But other than that, everyone just minded their own business. A couple of late night musicians still played music into the night, a handful of couples walking hand in hand maybe trying to walk off the dinner and drinks they just had.

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While I am not going to suggest one explores Venice Beach at night by themselves, I do encourage seeing it at night, bring a few friends, make an adventure out of it. Even though you know it’s the same Venice Beach, the stark contract between night and day is very much noticeable.

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Happy Summer everyone!

 

xo,
Jaja, the forever tourist (IG: @theforevertourist, #theforevertourist)

Good morning from Newport Beach! [VIDEO at end of post]

There are a handful of things I cherish and hold so close to my heart. One of those things is my constant need for alone time. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends (that includes my cat Max). I love going out and doing things with the people I hold dear. But I get so caught up in my head and my thoughts that I have this constant need to have some alone time.

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The best place for me to get that solitude is by going to the beach.. right before sunrise. I love both sunset and sunrise but they give me different kinds of peace of mind and calm.. if that even makes sense. My go-to sanctuary is Newport Beach. It’s a small strip of beach in the Balboa peninsula, and the area has a small community surrounding it, which makes it perfect because it doesn’t get as crowded as the more touristy destinations like Santa Monica, Venice, etc.

I love that beach so much, even though it’s quite a drive from home. But in the morning? It’s so quiet and homey. As soon as I get there, I go buy my donut and coffee at Seaside Donuts, a tradition I’ve set for myself. And then I go sit at “my bench” and set up my camera, my book, and then I get comfortable while I wait for the sun to rise.

There are times when it’s too cloudy that you won’t see the actual sun go up. But just being in that place, in that time, warms my heart.

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As I walk around the pier and then down to the shoe, you see people greeting each other – most likely neighbors who do the same routine every morning. Most weekends, you’ll find a long line coming out from Dory Fishing Fleet Market. People flock there even before dawn breaks to catch the freshest seafood for that weekend. You also get your community of surfers, starting their days by catching some waves.

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I stay for maybe 3 or 4 hours, depending on how fast it gets crowded or warm. You might think, “Well that’s quite some time to kill huh.” I only go there when I have no plans for the day. I’m not a big fan of rushing, that’s why I always plan my day accordingly.

On this particular day, I noticed a group of people doing some huge and beautiful sand art. The artists are called Low Tide Aliens (IG: @lowtidealiens), and it look like a fun activity they were having. They had kids and other family members and friends helping them out. Check out their Instagram account to have their beautiful sand art take your breath away!

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I’ve visited Newport Beach more times than I can remember, from every “season” California can offer. I love the sense of community in that place, I love the peace and quiet it brings. I love that it doesn’t get too crowded, and I especially love that it’s open so early in the morning. It doesn’t matter if I wanna go there and catch up with a friend, or I want to de-stress my mind and my soul. This piece of the world will always be my mind’s sanctuary.

I wanna share one this video I made in Newport Beach back in December of 2015. I remember I had an 11hr work day the night before ( I think I came home 2am) and I was restless and tired from all the emotional and mental stress from my old job. I knew I just had to go to the beach that morning. I shot a time lapse video of the sunrise, and while I was sitting there, Ed Sheeran’s Lego House popped into my mind. So as soon as I got home, I stitched together the videos I shot while listening to the song. Here it is, guys. It’s not much, but the visuals pretty much reflected how I was feeling that day.

 

 

 

 

Wanderlust Wednesday: Venice Beach

I want to change things up a little bit here at Eat Play Chicago LA. Instead of writing a blog post about the very beautiful Venice Beach, I decided to make a little photo montage. Instead of writing about the uniqueness of Venice Beach , and describing the different kinds of people from different walks of life that visit, I wanted to show in video format instead. I paired my video with a funky background music that I think will set the tone of the whole scene. Please enjoy!

-Jaja (@theforevertourist)

Wanderlust Wednesday: California Missions Series: #7 Mission San Juan Capistrano

Today, we feature the 7th California Mission: Mission San Juan Capistrano

 

Hello everyone! For the second mission in this series, I’m going to share my trip to Mission San Juan Capistrano, about 60 miles south of Los Angeles. Located in 26801 Ortega Hwy., San Juan Capistrano, CA., this mission is the 7th mission built by the Spaniards, and 19th mission geographically from the north.

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The mission was founded in November 01, 1776. It will celebrate its 240th year in Nov 1, 2016. It was named after Italian saint, St. Giovanni da Capistrano. San Juan Capistrano is also home to the oldest building in California still being used today – Father Serra’s Church built in 1782. Serra established 9 missions and The goal of the mission was to be self-sufficient, that is why livelihood was taught. Farming was the main industry, and animals were raised as well.

Mission San Juan Capistrano is known all over the world for the legend of the return of the Cliff Swallows, told by Father O’Sullivan from the 1920s. Every year, the mission celebrates the legend on Swallows Day on March 19th.

Here is an excerpt of the story of the Cliff Swallows from Chapter 10 of Capistrano Nights: Tales of a Mission Town.

“One day several years ago,” He said (Father O’Sullvian), “I was passing the new hotel at the west side of the town plaza, and there was the proprietor out with a long pole smashing the swallows’ nest that were under the eaves. The poor birds were in a terrible panic, darting hither and thither flying and screaming about their demolished homes.

“What in the world are you doing,” I asked.

“Why,” said he, “these dirty birds are a nuisance, and I am getting rid of them.”

“But where can they go?” I continued.

“I don’t know and I don’t care,” He replied slashing away with his pole, “but they’ve no business here, destroying my property.”

“Then come on swallows,” I cried, “I’ll give you shelter. Come to the Mission, there is room enough there for all.”

“Sure enough they all took me at my word, and the very next morning they were busy building under the newly built sacristy of Father Serra’s church.

(Credit: Website)

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Entrance to the Sacred Garden
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The four Mission Bells

 

 

Bells were crucial to everyday life at the mission. They signal meal times, start of work and religious services, births, funerals, etc. Fun fact: These four bells were all named. Biggest to smallest: San Vicente, San Juan, San Antonio, San Rafael. Not everyone can ring the bells at the mission. Only a privileged and chosen few were assigned this task. On this bell wall, the two smaller ones are still the original ones used from the past. The two larger bells are replicas of the original bells. The two bells fell and cracked when it fell from the 1812 earthquake.

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These two large bells hanging low are the original of the large bells. Since its restoration after the earthquake damage, neither gave out clear tones. They currently sit at the footprint of the ruined bell tower.

img_6206Pictured is an area inside Serra’s Chapel, also known as Father Serra’s Church. This chapel is the only existing structure to date where it has been documented that Father Serra celebrated mass.

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The mission desperately needed a bigger church for everyone that lived at the mission. For ten years, they used the adobe chapel and it no longer served the purpose as there was not enough space. It took nine years to complete the Great Stone Church. But sadly, only six short years after its completion, the tragic earthquake on December 08, 1812 fell to shambles, killing 40 people that attended mass that tragic day. The church was never rebuilt, the priests made no attempt at rebuilding and the ruins from then on served as a symbol to remember the loss of their community.

 

Each mission has their own rich history, their own personality, and that makes me certain that as I go through visiting each one of them, I know that it will really be a learning and enjoyable experience. As much as I enjoy capturing the beautiful scenery of the missions, I also enjoy the reading and the research that I do, because I learn more about their rich history and all the fun facts in between. Go visit a California Mission today and tell us about it!

-Jaja (IG: @theforevertourist)

Resources: Mission San Juan Capistrano, Mission San Juan Capistrano,

Arts and Entertainment Tuesday: LACMA’s Urban Light

Check out the beautiful glow these vintage lights give off along the street of downtown Los Angeles.

 

First off, I wasn’t sure whether to put this post in our Arts and Entertainment Tuesday or in our Wanderlust Wednesday section. But seeing as the Urban Light is an iconic LA landmark, I figured that it would be better off in our Arts section.

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Chris Burden is the artist behind Urban Light, an art installation that is composed of 202 restored vintage street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s. Housed just outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the installation has become a staple destination for locals when it comes to photo shoots, music videos, and the like. Visitors from around the country has also made a stop to check out the bright lights that this art work provides along the street of Wilshire Blvd.

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Burden started his collection of street lamps in 2000. He bought his first two lamps at a flea market for the price of $800 each. At first he had no direction as to how he was going to turn this collection into an artwork. He found a contractor and fellow collector to help him acquire more lamps, repainting them, rewiring, etc., basically bringing the lamps back to life.

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The lamps are solar-powered and are turned on at dusk. Most of his lamp collection came from Southern California, some from Portland, OR. There are 17 distinct designs, or looks, and they all depend on which area they came from. Outside the museum, these gorgeous street lamps are arranged in a beautiful pattern on a grid, with the shorter ones on the outside, and towering lights in the middle.

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Burden talked to several possible locations for the lamps to be housed, sometimes even sending a small set to different locations, but he much preferred to keep his collection together. Eventually, LACMA’s director that time, Michael Govan, saw the lights in Burden’s studio and thought that the collection would be a perfect fit at the entrance of the museum.

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Since it’s installation in 2008, Urban Light’s popularity has soared, and  rapidly became a much photographed location, making it one of many iconic Los Angeles views.

So the next time you guys ever find yourself in downtown Los Angeles, make sure to stop by and pose in front of this beautiful installation of the late Chris Burden in front of LACMA.

-Jaja (@theforevertourist)

 

 

Supper Club Saturday: How To Eat Shabu-Shabu @ Yojie Japanese Fondue

Cold weather is just right around the corner. What perfect way to embrace that than with hot, delicious soup! Read about how to eat shabu-shabu in this post of Supper Club Saturday!

My first experience with shabu-shabu is at Yojie Japanese Fondue. They have multiple locations, but my first visit was in the Artesia location. It was very intimidating, to say the least. It was my first time coming across this type of dining, having just learned how to eat at a Korean BBQ place, this shabu-shabu thing was a feat.

Shabu-shabu is a Japanese hotpot dish where you dip your thinly-sliced meat into the boiling (and seasoned/flavored water). The word shabu-shabu is an onomatopoeia that translates to “swish swish”. The slices of meat and vegetables that come with your meal is cooked piece by piece and then dipped in the sauces they serve you. 

Now that I’m a little bit more comfortable going to a shabu-shabu restaurant, I want to share with you guys how to eat shabu-shabu – the way that I learned at Yojie anyway.

They have a variety of meat to choose from, and most of them come in 3 sizes: Geisha (5 oz), Samurai (8 0z), and Sumo (10 oz). 

Step One: Select the meat

 

They have a variety of meat options on the menu. Don’t fret, because rice and a veggie/udon bowl come with any order. I usually just get the more popular Yojie Cut, which is their handpicked angus beef.

Step Two: Select cooking style


They have five options of cooking your food. Shabu-shabu is where you cook your meat and veggies in a pot of boiling water. Don’t worry about the flavors because the server will be glad to assist you. Another one is the Sukiyaki sauce that is served in this really cute shallow pot with a wooden (or maybe bamboo?) lid. They also have Tonkatsu which is their ramen broth. Yakiniku is a flat-top grill style of cooking your meats. My personal favorite is the Spicy Miso broth because I prefer my soups with a little bit of kick to it.

Step Three: Get to swishing


The plate of meat is served in this elevated tray and the server will pretty much set up for you. After they’ve given you your rice, your veggies, seasonings, and dipping sauces, they bring out the meat. Since the meat is thinly sliced, you just grab it with your chopsticks and swish them around your broth for a few minutes. 


If you leave the meat in for two long, you might overcook it. Same goes for your vegetables. You can leave them in for a little bit longer than the meat. It is almost customary to use your chopsticks for grabbing the meat, dipping them into the broth, and use them for eating as well.

Step Four: Dip this here, dip that there


You are given two dipping sauce that you can customize to your liking. You have the goma sauce (or sesame seed sauce) for your veggies, and the ponzu sauce (or a citrus-based dark brown sauce) for the meat.


 My personal preference is I use the goma for both the meat and the veggies because I love the taste of that sauce so much. You can dip one on the other, but it is highly suggested you don’t dip your food in both sauces at the same time as the flavors would clash.

Step Five: Rice, rice away

 

You place your dipped meat or veggie on top of your rice so it’ll soak up all the yummy sauces. After that, eat away and enjoy! 

Step Six: Repeat steps three to five until full

 

Step Seven: What about the broth?

With the rest of your broth, you can put them in your bowl together with the udon and the rest of your vegetables, and if you have any more leftover meat and rice. The soup bowl portion of my shabu-shabu experience is always the perfect way to end my meal.

 

Bonus Step: Get dessert!!

 

Yojie Japanese Fondue has paired with Raindrop Cake to give you a dessert experience like no other. You’ve probably heard about this unique dessert all over the internet. So of course, I had to give it a try. This cute little set-up is almost similar to Taho, a soy-based Filipino delicacy. But raindrop cake is different in a way that it takes your mouth through all these textures with just one bite of the raindrop cake. The raindrop is made of seaweed, believe it or not, and has no taste by itself. To add flavor, you mix the roasted soy powder and a sweet syrup called kuromitsu. You can either mix them together to get the mixtures of flavor and texture as a whole. But I preferred taking a scoop out of the delicate gelatinous raindrop, mix in some soy powder, and then adding the syrup. It is very ming-boggling to say the least, only because my mind actually thought the raindrop shape of the dessert will pop once I put the spoon into it haha. Over all, the raindrop cake is a must-try unique dessert. It’s is not too sweet and just perfect for the palate.

 

I hope that this little post of mine helps people who are intimidated to try new things, especially with shabu-shabu, go out there and give it a try. It is seriously the best experience. Not to mention the awesome food and company you’ll experience when you and your friends try this on your next night out. I especially recommend visiting Yojie Japanese Fondue in Cerritos, or visiting their other locations. Their staff is simply the best, being really nice about teaching you the ways of the shabu-shabu. Who knows, the next time you crave Japanese fondue, you’ll be the one sharing your swishing skills with your friends.

 

If you guys happen to try this type of dining, do let us know what you think here at Eat Play Chicago LA. Happy Weekend!

 

xo, Jaja

 

(Disclaimer: Eat Play Chicago LA did not receive compensation for this post.)

 

 

 

Wanderlust Wednesday: California Missions Series: #18 Mission San Luis Rey de Francia

Today Wanderlust Wednesday introduces the beginning of the California Mission series.

 

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| Photo |

Usually, when we come across the word wanderlust, some of us think of these amazing, exotic, breath-taking places that are worthy to be in a bucket list. There’s France, Japan, the Bahamas, Hawaii, what have you. One (or should I say 21) of the places that I wanderlust for is the California Missions.

The California missions are 21 outposts, or settlements, that the Spaniards had built along the West Coast, mainly to spread Christianity to the indigenous people in the region. Aside from religion, they taught the locals to grow their own food, raise animals and become more civilized.

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| My friend A |

2012 was when I first heard of the missions. It was really intrigued. Elementary students here are required to do a diorama project and a presentation on a mission of their choice. I looked up the history and the background of these missions, and from then on, I have tried to visit one whenever I can.

I know that this is not specifically Los Angeles, but I thought that I would share my touristy trips to the missions that I go to. Let’s just call this, the California Missions series of Wanderlust Wednesday. If you also happen to be a history buff, and enjoy exploring historical places like the missions, I hope that my posts encourage you into visiting the missions as well.

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Bronze rendition of the Fourth Station of the Cross

For the first in the series, I will share with my trip to Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, located almost 90 miles south of Los Angeles. Located in 4050 Mission Ave., San Luis Rey, CA., this mission is the 18th mission built by the Spaniards, and 20th mission geographically from the north.

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First and oldest pepper tree in California, planted in 1830.

The mission was founded in June 13, 1798 by Father Fermin de Lasuen. It was named for King Louis IX of France and was nicknamed the “King of the Missions”, being the largest mission at 35 acres. The California Pepper Tree (originally Peruvian Pepper Tree, first of its kind planted in the state) was planted in the mission, and a very iconic sight to see.4

The mission is fully functional to this day, and provides services through community programs. One of their facilities include a Retreat Center with day and overnight programs. Even the historic church is still used for early Sunday mass, weddings, and funerals.

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Peyri Court: The court is an inner garden dedicated to Padre Antonio Peyri who guided the development of the Mission from founding through secularization.
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Inner sacred garden, where the public is not allowed to venture into.

If you’re a history fan a road trip fan, I think that the missions will definitely pique your interest. Since I live in the West Coast, I’m taking my time visiting them. But if you’re in town for a week, or intentionally want to make a missions road trip vacation, I think that that’s a great way to see the state of California, close to the coast at least.

Thank you for reading my first mission post of the series! Let me know what you think, and go and check out the rest of the California Missions.

-Jaja

For more information about the history of the California Missions and this particular one, click the links below:
California Missions
Mission San Luis Rey de Francia
Visit Oceanside
Mission Tour