Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 17: San Diego, CA to Solvang, CA

We left our hotel at around 8 AM to head towards Solvang, CA.  We drove through Los Angeles on I-5 and then I-405 with significant traffic, but were able to maintain the speed limit (65) or above (70-80) for most of the drive.  We were only ground to a halt once, and this was fleeting at best.  The driving conditions certainly took a toll however; by the time we exited the 405, I felt exhausted, having spent the previous 2 hours 5-10 lanes of heavy traffic.  

Upon exiting the freeway, we noticed a sign to Venice Beach, which, according to Chad at work was somewhere we had to stop.  We did; but it wasn't very interesting.  We were one of maybe 15 people in a quarter-mile vicinity along the beach.  Fortunately, one of our beach companions was a woman of undetermined age doing aerobics with a hula-hoop, clapping and, it appeared, singing.  If this description sounds rather boring, believe me, it was not.  I have never seen someone so singularly affixed on what appeared to everyone else to be extremely exaggerated and nonsensical gyrations.  Worth the price of admission (parking $10)?  No.  But interesting none the less.  We departed a mere 15 minutes after arriving and drove down Santa Monica Boulevard towards the Getty Museum.  

The Getty Museum, situated atop the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking Los Angeles and the 405, contains pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts, and 19th- and 20th-century American and European photographs.  The complex, known as the Getty Center, is made up of 4 directionally-named sections of 2-3 stories.  Aside from the smog looking back towards downtown L.A., the day was magnificent, with temperatures in the low 70s.  To visit the museum, one parks at the bottom of the mountain on 1 of 7 parking garage levels.  From here, a tram is accessed from the top of the parking garage which takes passengers up to the Getty Center.  This museum is truly a testament to philanthropic vision and the interests of one man in bringing art to the public.  We spent around 2 hours at the center viewing a number of things, including Van Gogh's Irises.

Next, we proceeded to Solvang, which was around 3 hours drive to the north of L.A.  We drove Highway 1 along the Malibu coastline to Santa Barbara and took Highway 101 from there.  Solvang, founded in 1911 by Dutch educators, is home to a number of wineries.  Unfortunately, all of these close at 5 PM and we had arrived at around 5:50.  In lieu of this, we headed back to the ocean to view the sunset and peruse the beach.  We finally settled in to the hotel (Hadsten House) at around 9 PM after eating a tasty, but slowly and inattentively served filet mignon at the hotel's eponymous restaurant.  

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