“Protect the kitties! Warn the shops in Chinatown! Miss Mona has her ticket!” That’s the email I received from my friend, Mona, in Anchorage. She was coming to Hollywood for a visit and we had a month to get ready!
It’s pretty exciting when a dear friend is coming to visit. There’s a lot of preparation to make sure everything is ready to go each day and tour Hollywood together. We discussed ideas of some of the places that she might be interested in seeing and some things to do. We could visit Chinatown; Olvera Street, LA’s original Spanish settlement; Hollywood Boulevard, Walk of Fame; Hollywood Sign; Griffith Observatory; Farmers Market; Venice Beach; 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica; and the Self Realization Center in Pacific Palisades. We hoped to fill the weekend with a lot of fun!
There was one problem the day Mona was arriving. Several weeks prior, we bought a new refrigerator and after only two weeks it stopped working. It would be two weeks before it could be replaced. Another new refrigerator was due to be delivered on the day of Mona’s arrival. We had no groceries. My son stayed home to wait for the refrigerator and I was on my way alone for first time to drive to LAX to pick up Mona!
After picking her up, we went to breakfast at the Farmers Market. Later we walked around so Mona could do some shopping. The Farmers Market is a historical landmark in Los Angeles and opened in 1934. It’s a favorite of locals and a great place for tourists to visit. It’s made up of many shops, ethnic food vendors, fresh produce, fresh meat and fish stalls. You can meander around the market on pathways between small shops and around tables and chairs where people meet, sit and enjoy each others’ company while eating and drinking. Just the month before, I met another friend from Anchorage at the Farmers Market for breakfast as she was passing through Los Angeles.
Mona and I were on our way to the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard after dropping off her suitcase. It was fun seeing the names of all the celebrities in the stars on the sidewalks–Don Ameche, Eve Arden, Jennifer Aniston, Tim Allen, Louis Armstrong, Gene Autry–just to name a few of the many stars on the sidewalk.
As we walked along Hollywood Boulevard, we came across Madame Tussauds’ Hollywood, a wax museum The museum shares the glamour of Hollywood. It is interesting to see how authentic the wax figures are. They take on the essence of the people they represent; like they’re right there with you. If you are interested in old Hollywood, you can meet Charlie Chaplin, George Burns, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, or Bob Hope. If you have a favorite, I’m sure you can find their wax figure at Madame Tussaud’s. My personal favorite is Jackie Chan. You can stand next to your favorite figure and have your picture taken with them. When I saw Conan O’Brien, I sat down next to him. One of Mona’s favorites was George Clooney. She sat beside him in a chair by a glass table, while grabbing his knee affectionately. What woman wouldn’t want to do that in real life?? Mona leaned on his arm so I could take a picture of her with George. We spent at least 3 hours taking our time and walking through the museum, enjoying our visit.
We saw Hollywood icons such as Elvis Presley, James Dean and Vivien Leigh. Movie characters such as ET, the Extra Terrestrial, and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine–another one of my favorites. We visited Johnny Depp and Jennifer Lopez and television stars, George Lopez and Betty White. We spent time with the Hollywood directors who’ve brought so many interesting and many great movies to the big screen: Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino. There are even pop stars too like Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake. There are so many wax celebrities–Jack Nicholson, Elizabeth Taylor, Raquel Welch, John Wayne, Peter O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia and two of my all time favorites–Robert Redford and Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
We had a full first day and ended with dinner at Traktir, a Russian restaurant in West Hollywood. Since we’re both of Russian descent, it was a nice treat for us.
Mona’s visit was a whirlwind. The next day, with my son, we drove up the Hollywood Hills to take pictures of the Hollywood sign. From there we went to the Griffith Observatory. We attended a presentation about comets in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon presentation theater. It was interesting to learn that Leonard Nimoy donated $1 million to the observatory to build the theater. He had one request: no one will ever pay to attend any event in the theater. If you are interested in seeing the stars, astronomy, and learning about the moon, or our solar system, then you will want to visit Griffith Observatory when you are in Los Angeles. As the day came to a close, we watched the sun set from the Observatory before heading to Torung in Thai Town for dinner (sorry but they don’t have a website). Torung is one of my son’s favorite Thai restaurants and the food was delicious–and cheap! I’ve returned there several times with my son again since the food was so tasty.
Saturday we attended the Renegade Craft Fair at the Los Angeles State Historic Park (The Cornfield) with my son and one of his friends. It’s an event for independent makers, artists and designers to display and sell their work. The first Renegade Fair was in 2003 in Chicago. Renegade Fairs are known as indie craft marketplaces. They are held in San Francsico, Austin, Brooklyn, London, Chicago and Los Angeles. We strolled down the aisles visiting the vendor booths looking at jewelry, perfume, custom clothing, pottery and art.
The fair was across from Chinatown where my daughter was waiting to meet us at her favorite restaurant, Via Cafe. After a nice dessert, we shopped in several stores where Mona was interested in finding jeweled butterfly clips for her hair. That night, Mona and I went to the Arclight Movie Theater in Hollywood to catch the last show. I wanted to take Mona to see a Hollywood movie in a Hollywood theater.
On Sunday, Mona’s last day in Hollywood, we wrapped up her shopping. Afterward, we went to Cafe Gratitude in Larchmont for a delicious and healthy dinner. I wanted to share the experience of Cafe Gratitude with Mona, just like the experience my daughter and I had the first time we went to the cafe. And then it was finally time to go home and relax.
Mona is a dear friend with whom I have shared so many unique excursions and experiences and now I am left with cherished memories of our time well spent in friendship not only in Anchorage, but here in Los Angeles too. We didn’t go to Olvera Street or Venice Beach or 3rd Street Promenade or even the Self Realization Center, but these are places to visit the next time Miss Mona comes to Hollywood.