Bare chests and lively tops

As I hiked Runyon Canyon Park and the Hollywood Hills, I felt overdressed and under-muscled.

I was wearing t-shirt and shorts. But this was too much. Many men were bare-chested with well-developed muscles. Some women wore low-cut, and lively, tops.

The area is popular with people in the film industry and, if you’re eagle-eyed, you’ll spot celebrities here. Aspiring actors and actresses come here to be discovered.

You can do some good hiking (by city standards) in Los Angeles. The views are good.

Runyon Canyon Park and the Hollywood Hills are reachable straight from Hollywood Boulevard. The park is popular with dog-walkers, runners and walkers.

You can get some good exercise here. I ascended several peaks in the park and hills, the highest being about 250m. The paths vary; some require a bit of scrambling. You’re rewarded with scenic panoramic views of Los Angeles.

On the highest peak, you’re also greeted by a defibrillator! Initially, you might think this is an example of overreaching in a country renowned for being litigious. However, whilst here I’ve found not many safety considerations or barriers, especially near steep drops where the general public might go. There were more warning signs and barriers in India. Someone I met in San Francisco made a similar observation on the rocky hills overlooking Golden Gate Bridge.

The following day, my second hike was the green space surrounding the Griffith Observatory. A popular hike is to the famous Hollywood Sign.

When I got to the Griffith Observatory (a bus ride from my hostel), I saw there was a show in the planetarium starting in 10 minutes. I got in the line (queue). Generally, I’m optimistic by nature. But on this occasion, despite not being one to catastrophise, I thought it would be annoying if all the remaining tickets were sold to those in front of me. I’ve never had this thought before. Almost to spite me, this is exactly what happened. The two people in front of me bought the ten remaining tickets between them! I got tickets for the following show, which was an hour later.

There was plenty to do in an hour. I took photos around the observatory and read about the solar system in the exhibitions.

I was excited to finally get into the planetarium. I think my last visit to one was many years ago in the planetarium next to London’s Madame Tussauds.

I settled down in the seat, which partially reclined to give you a good view of the ceiling, where the show was projected. Before the show began, a woman appeared in the aisle and said a few introductory words. It then went dark and a star-covered sky appeared on the ceiling. My next memory was the woman in the aisle saying, “…and that’s why we’re made of stardust” and the auditorium’s lights came on. I had slept through the whole show.

That was not the best way to spend $7.

I left the planetarium and headed for the Hollywood Sign. This was a gentle climb through lowland mountains. There were a few other tourists. The famous Hollywood Sign turns out to be quite big. You also have the option to climb further and see the rear view of the Sign.

When I finished at the Hollywood Sign, my original plan was to head towards Hollywood Boulevard. When I saw the time, I realised that I could return to the observatory and use the large telescope, which was open to the public between 7.30pm and 9.30pm.

There was a 20 minute queue for the telescope. I joined it. As the queue moved forward, a resident astronomer answered questions and told us that we would be able to see Jupiter. When it was my turn, I eagerly climbed the stairs to the eyepiece of the telescope. I put my eye to it and saw a bright dot about three millimeters in diameter.

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