Santa Monica and the Getty Center
Our first excursion upon arriving in LA was naturally down to the beach. We chose Santa Monica. Having jet lag we were up and ready for breakfast as soon as it was served at 6am. It would have been a "short" drive but the LA freeways are infernally complicated and we ended up driving down Wilshire Boulevard instead of the Santa Monica Freeway. Lots of traffic lights. However we got to drive through a small part of Beverly Hills. We were in Santa Monica at 8.30 and on the beach by 9, down by the pier. Nice and quiet! We were done, and almost sunburned, by lunchtime. I haven't tanned so quickly since I fell asleep on the Côte d'Azur one afternoon in 1993 and got so badly burned on one side that I could hardly sleep for several days.
We had lunch at a Chinese fast food place in a shopping mall, reminding us how good fast food can be in the US. Then we walked up and down 3rd Street Promenade, with its ivy-covered metal dinosaur sculptures.
On the way home we decided to visit the Getty Center, which is perched up on a hill on the western side of LA. You travel up there from the gigantic underground parking lot using a small driverless train. The building itself is truly magnificent, a modern Californian architectural dream with breathtaking views over downtown LA.
The art contained in the buildings was also fairly interesting but it was rather overwhelmed by the buildings! There were beautiful geometric gardens too. Saskia had a great time playing an "art detective" game where she had to identify certain motifs in the artworks.