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)

Wanderlust Wednesday: Washington D.C. (Part 1)

Though I have lived here all my life and traveled to a number of places, I still haven’t been to D.C. (what?!!)  So my family and I decided to remedy that and take a road trip to America’s Capital this past April.  It would be for an extended weekend (four to five days), and I knew that I wouldn’t even begin to scratch the surface on visiting everything DC had to offer.  However, we will make an effort to make a dent!

Pro Tip:  The White House, the Capital Building, the Pentagon, and the Supreme Court offer tours by staff or volunteers.  Some of them are arranged through your local Congress Representative or through the website.  When I looked into getting tours four months before our trip, there were none available (already booked?).  We did manage to get a tour of the Capital Building weeks before our trip after placing our names on standby with Tammy Duckworth’s office.  That being said, if you know for certain that you will be wanting to tour any of these places, look into them ASAP!

The Family on Our Fantastic Journey

We decided to drive there, which is about 12 hours one way.  Our first day, we drove halfway and stopped in Toledo, OH.  BTW, I really like the rest stops on the Ohio Turnpike over Indiana and Pennsylvania (at least on the route we took).

The next day, we completed the journey.  We did this because we had an AirBnB reservation – our FIRST AirBnB reservation ever – and we had to get the key from them OR the lockbox.  I didn’t want to chance having to get the key from them at a late hour.

Usually I am able to get a decent price on hotel rooms, but in the DC area, the hotel rooms were running at least $200/night.  I decided to try AirBnB for our trip.  For five days, for a 1BR apartment with parking, with taxes and cleaning charges, it was $550.

Anyway, we arrived in the area through Virginia.  We were still early for check-in, so we decided to stop at Arlington Cemetery first.   Some of the oldest resting places there date back to before the Civil War.

 

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View of the Washington Memorial from Arlington
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United States Air Force Memorial

 

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The Grave of Robert Peary, who was a US Navy Officer that made several expeditions to the North Pole.

 

View of the Pentagon from Arlington Cemetary

 

McClellan Gate – for Major General George B. McClellan

We then headed to our AirBnB to rest for the night.  We were in an area called Columbia Heights.  I noticed a couple of Greek (ie Fraternity/Sorority) houses on our drive up 11th Street.  I then found out we were near Howard University.  I did a quick Wiki search on them and found out this:  Howard University originally opened shortly after the Civil War, originally to be a theological seminary for African-American Clergymen.  Now, it offers a diverse array of undergraduate programs and graduate programs (ie Business,  Education, Law, Medicine, Nursing, etc).  Also, they had produced Fulbright Scholars, Rhodes Scholars, Truman Scholars, Pickering Fellows and a Marshall Scholar.  In 2015 it ranked in the top 75 in the Bloomberg Businessweek college rankings.  It also produces the most black doctorate recipients of any university.

In other words, there are a lot of smart people at Howard University!  Kudos!

We have only been in the area for a few hours and I’m already learning a lot!

For dinner, we ate at a nearby restaurant called “The Coupe” and it was recommended to us by our AirBnB hosts.

 

Grilled Hangar Steak

 

 

Mac and Cheese
Cuban Sandwich with House Made Chips

 

Getting back to our AirBnB, our apartment was spotless (thanks to the professional cleaning service they hire) and the hosts were very thorough and accessible.  If you are ever in the D.C. area, and don’t mind a short commute, look up Host Alper under “Cozy 1BD apt steps away from metro with parking.”

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Peary

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_University

http://www.thecoupedc.com/

https://www.airbnb.com

 

 

 

 

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,