The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens. WOW!

I’m not much of a gardener. Don’t take me wrong, I love flowers and pretty gardens, but having lived most of my adult life in Washington, D.C., and suffering from terrible allergies to the local vegetation, venturing into gardening would get me into allergy hell. So, it wasn’t until I moved to L.A. that I was able to enjoy being outdoors around plants and flowers without worrying about allergies. Something about the local vegetation, I guess. I was struck by that as much as I was in awe of the amazing succulents and beautiful species of plants and flowers I had never seen. They caught my interest instantly. I had to learn more about them.

When we started landscape work in our house, our designer suggested we check the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, a suburb of Los Angeles, which we did recently. The place is amazing. Among other things, it has 120 acres of landscaped area, with over 14,000 varieties of plants showcased in more than a dozen gardens.

Anyone interested in learning more about flowers and plants should plan to visit the Huntington Botanical Gardens. Kids and adults will enjoy the experience equally. Photographers will have a field day with endless opportunities to make great shots. It’s a blast!

Here are some photos from the Gardens. The first slides are from the Japanese Garden and the second set is from the Desert Garden

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The Walt Disney Concert Hall: A Masterpiece

The Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of LA’s most outstanding landmarks. It is one of four halls that form the Los Angeles Music Center, and is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

The exquisite structure is the work of renowned architect Frank Gehry and Yasuhisa Toyota was responsible for the acoustics of the concert hall. The building and its surrounding grounds are absolutely beautiful and the main concert hall is both esthetically and acoustically perfect.

I’ve only been to one concert there and can’t wait to go again. Here are some images of the stunning structure. Enjoy! But nothing beats seeing it for yourself!

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California Science Center: Endeavour’s Final Home

One of the most exciting things that happened in LA recently was the Shuttle Endeavour‘s flyover the city’s landmarks last September. Like thousands of other LA residents, I went to one of the various sites to witness the historic flyover. It went by very quickly but I managed to snap some pictures for the blog. See post from September 2012.

Unfortunately, I was out of the country last October and missed Endeavour’s incredible journey through the streets of LA, from LAX to the California Science Center in South LA.

Last week, I finally managed to visit the Endeavour in its new home.

IMG_4158The California Science Center is a fun place to visit with children and science geeks of all ages. I went there mainly to see the shuttle and the Endeavour exhibit, on display in the Samuel Oschin Pavilion. This is only its temporary home. By 2017, Endeavour will be the centerpiece of the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center, a new educational facility that will encourage guests to investigate scientific and engineering principles related to atmospheric flight and the exploration of the universe.

Seeing Endeavour up close was quite exciting. It’s also quite unreal to think that it has been in space so many times. Not surprisingly, she looks quite beat up. After all, it completed 25 missions into space! Here she is in her current space.

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And here I am, posing next to her. Go see her too!

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L.A. Marathon

Every March Los Angeles holds its annual marathon. The LA Marathon is a  26.219 mile race that has been held since 1986 and seems to be fully embraced by Angelenos East and West, North and South. It’s a real party that brings together the huge community of LA residents and runners from all over the county, the country and the world.

I happen to live just around the corner from San Vicente Boulevard, where marathoners reach the 22nd mile. That is just four miles away from the finish line on Ocean and California Avenues in Santa Monica. So I made sure I was up early to be at the corner of San Vicente and Montana around 9:00am, as the élite runners were expected to reach the 22nd mile by 9:12am (the women) and 9:17am (the men). I couldn’t believe how accurate this was! I arrived on San Vicente at 9:10 and already could see the helicopters, police escorts and TV trucks coming.

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Aleksandra Dulipa, led all the way to the finish line!

Soon after that, at exactly 9:12am, Belarus’ Aleksandra Duliba, the lead woman runner, appeared and the crowed went wild. She was far ahead of the other women and running beautifully, with no signs of fatigue. She went on to win the marathon. And this was her marathon début! Not bad for a first-timer.

Shortly after the women went by, a pack of élite male runners approached the corner of San Vicente and Montana. Among them were some of the usual Kenyans and Nigerians who dominate the marathon world. I could barely snap some photos of the leading two men as they went by fast. Erick Mose, from Kenya, ended up winning the Marathon. This was his first time running the LA marathon.

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Erick Mose, on the left, was the winner of the men’s marathon.

After the élite runners went by, the party went on with people cheering all runners. The girls from Lululemon were great cheerleaders, singing, dancing and holding signs with words of encouragement.

Lululemon girls cheer marathoners on the 22nd mile.

Lululemon girls cheer marathoners on the 22nd mile.

By 11:00am, while the winners were already enjoying a much-deserved rest, the number of runners started to grow along San Vicente. The cheers and music went on for another couple of hours. I could hear them from my house.

Although some people complain that marathon-related road closings  mess up their plans, the LA marathon is a great event that both runners and residents fully enjoy.  So what if traffic slows down a bit? It’s definitely worth relaxing and joining the fun!