Oooh, I’ve been so busy with life but I’m happy to have found some time to cover Hollywood’s biggest event of the year: the Oscars!! The weeks leading to the award ceremony are filled with excitement you can breathe and see materialized in every store and cafe’ window, restaurant and party. This town swells up with celebrities, foreign and domestic press, designers and of course, tourists it is hard not to notice it. If you’re accidentally visiting town during this time, take a deep breath, cope with worse traffic and madness than usual and enjoy the show! If you’re purposely here to get the most out of it, then I suggest to start from the very beginning of the Academy Awards and go for a tour that will bring you back in time. The Oscars have been held in many different venues, but the ones that I recommend visiting are the very first ones; the Roosevelt Hotel (1929) and the Biltmore Hotel (1930s and 1940s.) You will be charmed by the old Hollywood architecture of the Roosevelt and by the sophisticated elegance of the Biltmore, which also features a rich gallery of pictures from all the ceremonies that took place in the Crystal Ballroom.
The Roosevelt Lobby
You might also want to dine at Musso and Frank; opened in 1919, this restaurant is steeped in Hollywood history, having been the hideout of a host of famous Hollywood celebrities from days gone by. It is named for original owners Joseph Musso and Frank Toulet. As Hollywood’s oldest eatery, Musso & Frank is the paragon of Old Hollywood grillrooms. In Hollywood’s boom years it was a prime destination for Hollywood’s movers and shakers, including, directors, movie stars, producers and noted writers.
If you want to have a close look at the modern day Hollywood, then I suggest taking a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard. By now, the blocks between Orange and La Brea are closed and decked out with larger than life Oscar statues, red carpets, flowers, bleachers and lights, but you can still get a great view if you actually go to the Hollywood & Highland complex, home of the Dolby Theatre (Former Kodak Theatre) where Sunday’s ceremony will take place. You will literally rub elbows with all things Oscars and this is the closest you will get to the action. There is a stairway leading to the theatre with the names of all the best movie winners since the very beginning, the next one will be revealed tomorrow; I bet ‘Lincoln’ will win, but anything is possible on Academy Awards night and who knows? Maybe you will end up rubbing elbows with the winners at an after party
In this day and age it’s so easy to be falling in the vanity trap. Our celebrity obsessed culture has conditioned beauty standards and fueled the expectations to be pretty and young forever!! To escape the Hollywood pressure, one might think that a short trip to the LA Arboretum could cure any insecurity for a while. After all, being immersed in nature is the most poetic and soothing remedy to any languish or vanity obsession…but what if you have a close encounter with the king of vanity, the Peacock himself? Then, there is really no escape!! What a character this bird is!! He has the most magnificent electric blue you will ever see (almost as glorious as my stiletto pumps!); the most elegant walk and the legendary super elongated larger than life feathers. Did I mention that he also wears a crown? How royal is that?!?
There are dozens of them at the Arboretum; at first, I thought I got so lucky to see one and shot many pictures, afraid that I would not see another one for the rest of my walk through the park. But a loud noise right behind my back (that scared me to death), assured me that there were many more to see; they were screaming cheerfully from the trees, the bushes and the grassy grounds by the water as if to say “Look at me folks!! Aren’t we pretty?”
With different gardens and landscapes fit for kings, the Arboretum, is the perfect habitat for them. I loved walking through the Australian and English gardens.The waterfalls were pretty impressive and the little pond at the very top of the hill could have easily come out from a Monet painting, but the exquisite Herb garden, with its geometrical precision, tops my list.
The big revelation of the Arboretum, though, is the Queen Anne Cottage! Constructed in 1885, this building is an ornate example of Victorian extravagance. It is set in a lakeside landscape featuring prennial color and huge Blue Gum Trees (Eucalyptus globulus). It is truly romantic and so old world. Perfect for a sunset stroll.
I had lots of fun visiting the Santa Anita Depot. A typical half-passenger, half- freight depot with living quarters upstairs for the agent and family, the Santa Anita Depot was an active local station stop. If you peak through the windows, you can see all turn-of-the-century housewares and period railroad equipment that recreate the ambiance of the bustling station stop it once was.