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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

SOME NEW LOS ANGELES SIGHTS


Previous visits to LA gave us the opportunity to see most of the sights for which the city is famous, so it was especially nice to come back to take the time to see the often overlooked but nonetheless intriguing sights of Los Angeles. Let’s call it the B list.

One of the more famous B list places is the Farmer's Market. Operating since 1934, the market is bustling. Beautiful produce, spectacular looking cuts of meat, a wide variety of fish, other delicacies and an array of shops make this a place of color and display. If one is in the mood for fruit, most of the vendors sell fruit plates or fruit salads beautifully arranged and incredibly tempting. In addition to food vendors, there are feng shui, candle, and the usual assortment of souvenir shops tempting shoppers to pause and buy. In that way, the Market is similar to Seattle's Pike Place Market, only far smaller, or Boston's Faneuill Hall.

Farmer’s Market is a meeting place for “regulars.” There were many tables surrounded by men--the breakfast club groups—speaking in different languages and noshing from the variety of food available: Mexican, Middle Eastern, Italian, Brazilian, Argentinean, Cajun, regional fare such as New Orleans’ mufallettos and gumbo, fish and all types of chowders, Chinese, Japanese, Korean Barbecue, Texas style ribs, and corned beef and pastrami reminiscent of New York Deli.

It appears to us that most people visit Farmer's Market to eat, and so we go with the flow. At Tusquellas Fish and Oyster Bar we each have a bowl of clam chowder served with huge hunks of Italian bread. The chowder is rich with clams, and the soup is substantial and hardy. The clam chowder is a no brainer. Rob and I try it wherever we go! The chowder has such eye appeal that several people stop to ask where we’d bought it!

Then we walk around trying to select something from the many choices we'd already seen. Such decisions. After the filling chowder we are going to share one thing, and I wish I could report that we go for a beautiful fruit salad platter. NOT! We share a hot corned beef on rye, and it is superb. As I said, it reminded us of New York, and there isn't any higher compliment. Visit LA’s Farmer's Market, and come ready to eat.

Adjacent to the Farmer's Market is The Grove. It's like going from the ridiculous to the sublime. It is a shopping area—upscale--with plazas, restaurants, fountains and stores like Nordstroms. LA tourist guides suggest going there to mingle, shop, and dine with the beautiful people. Quite a contrast to the Men’s Club boys at the Farmer’s Market. No kidding. The Grove is a lovely place—open air, shooting fountains, lovely gardens, restaurants, movie theaters, and lots of high end stores. Yes, and beautiful people. One store we visit is Pure Pop Culture, and inside is original item after item of games, clothing, and moments long gone. It’s like a Baby Boomer Youth Museum. We stay for about half an hour, paying homage to our childhood. The Grove is very pretty, but we're not shoppers, and so we decide to do something we've never done before. If you look at Grove reviews on City Search, you’ll find a lot of negatives—but the place was crowded. It’s the kind of place no one likes to admit they like.

We head back to Anaheim and Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum. Now don't laugh (too hard). Truth be told, we've never been; you can't knock it 'till you try it. There are a lot of really weird things in this world, and Ripley's seems to have cornered the market.

The museum is designed as a pathway where the visitor can stop and read about the world's craziness! Five minutes into the museum and we smirk at everything we see. Then we began seeing things that were incredibly freaky--like the Chinese man who was born with two irises in each eye. He so intrigued the Empress that he became heir to the empire. There are strange, to say the least, religious rites. Sometimes there are films of the world's peculiarities filmed by Ripley himself. Speaking of weird, he was one strange dude! He really traveled the globe looking for, photographing and collecting many of the things we see. We actually spend a little more than an hour in the museum. Do I recommend it? It is very interesting, but I'm not sure, believe it or not.


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