Newstalk Goes To LA on The Hard Shoulder

Newstalk Los Angeles on The Hard Shoulder March 4th 2020

This week we are off to Los Angeles home of LALAland and Beverley Hills and Santa Monica but I’m taking us off the beaten track on her tour of Downtown LA. Listen to the Podcast here

Los Angeles is a huge sprawling city -: It covers an area of over 50km square and has a population of almost 4 million being america’s second largest city.

Before you go to LA is there’s a website which I really recommend anyone going to LA should look at –

I was interested in Downtown LA because I heard that the art scene is developing and I wanted to revisit a part that I didn’t know – most Irish people know Santa Monica and visit Hollywood Boulevard and places such as Melrose place and Rodeo Drive in Beverley Hills but I wanted to get down and dirty with the city which has seen a huge rise in population moving into the financial and arts districts over the last five years – they are cleaning it up!

To get around, although LA has a cheap metro system, most people use Uber – just download the app and away you go- there is a metro system with underground and lightrail system but I would go for Uber as it’s cheap and safe and you don’t need to use cash – but you must check that the drivers know where they are going – we went to a gorgeous restaurant in the arts district which is hidden in old warehouse and you couldn’t get to it any other way.

The Weather’s a gorgeous climate fluctuating between 20’c-30’c year round from lowest to highest being 24′ C in February when I was there – it can get very hot in the summer but it rarely dips below 20′

I flew direct with Aer Lingus which has really opened up possibilities for travel. Aer Lingus, Ireland’s only 4 Star airline, operates up to 7 flights a week from Dublin direct to Los Angeles, California with fares starting from €229 each-way including taxes and charges, when booked as a return trip.

Travelling with Aer Lingus  guests can benefit from US-preclearance at Dublin Airport and onboard can enjoy 10kg cabin baggage at no extra charge, complimentary meals and drinks plus the very latest inflight entertainment system boasting latest blockbusters, box sets and more. Guests can also avail of Wi-Fi onboard. Visit

Flying from Dublin means you have pre-clearance…We are very lucky in Ireland to have pre-clearance which means that when we arrive in the USA we are brought to a domestic terminal and don’t have to go through the rigours of emigration which can an add an hour or more on to your arrival time. Also I would recommend treating yourself to the 51st and Green facility at Dublin airport. Its a relaxing lounge – costs €35 when you pre-book online and you get a lovely lunch and as much as you’d like to drink – newspapers and magazines and you’d spend that anyway hanging around the terminal.

51st and Green lounge


LA is the gateway to so many places and states near the west coast and a good connecting hub for destinations such as Hawaii and pacific islands such a FIJI which I’ll be chatting about again. And it’s a more direct route to New Zealand than if you decide to travel East. I’d recommend getting to know California and The PAcific Coast Highway is an iconic drive – I’ve a lovely sample package from Platinum travel for anyone thinking of exploring this area.

The California Coast

11 Nights From €1429 (Per Person) Platinum Travel +353 1853 5000

Coastlines and Castles

In a high-profile state like California that boasts the likes of Los Angeles and Hollywood, attractions have to be major to stand out from the crowd.  Count on seeing plenty of things on this trip that are spectacular, second to none, and more glorious than the bright lights of the city.

Along the Pacific Coast Highway, considered by some to be the most scenic road in the United States, seals bark, waves crash and the mountains plunge into the sea.  Most everyone gets a thrill driving across Bixby Bridge, which appears to levitate freely.  The Big Sur coastline is lush with redwoods, dotted with state parks and remote enough to offer world-class hikes.  Monterey is a classic California coastal town, as close to perfect as you can get.  Yosemite National Park is considered America’s premier National Park, on a par with the Grand Canyon.  Spectacular mountains jut straight up from the earth, crashing waterfalls tumble down massive rock faces and giant redwood trees stand majestically nearby.  All of these can vie with Hollywood any day.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Downtown LA

I had two days and I wanted to explore Downtown which has been in revival for the last five years. The Nomad Hotel – great location for downtown LA/ On the vibrant corner of 7th and Olive Street in Downtown L.A., the NoMad Los Angeles continues in the spirit of the original NoMad Hotel in New York taking residence in the historical Giannini Building which was an Italian bank and the toilets are set down in the old vault which has been restored beautifully. The NoMad Los Angeles offers 241 rooms and suites, plus 10,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including a rooftop pool and gathering space overlooking Downtown which has hosted parties for musicians and actors such a John Legend. Check out

This is a premium hotel well located close to staples stadium if you’d like to catch up on a lakers basketball game….rates start at $360 for a room including  breakfast

There was a memorial ceremony on the day we were there February 24th and there have been incredible murals painted in homage to him all around the city. I came across a superb one which was being painted while I went for lunch at Grand Central Market which is a very cool place to dine with many stalls and artisan food hubs.

While there I got to meet Tristan Daoussis who was set locator for LALAland and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and he’s worked on Madmen and other well known TV series. I met up with him in Grand Central Market and Tristan told us the biggest challenge in his career was filming the freeway scene where everyone is dancing at the beginning of LALA land and this was done over a weekend but the road had to be shut down.

He is good pals with the owner of Sarita’s Papuseria where Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone sit at a diner and the spot is marked with a poster of LALAland. I got to meet the owner Paul from El Salvadore who has been working the stall for over twenty years. His son now runs a jewellery stall across the aisle and he explained that being in the film has made his diner stand out.

Many of the dishes were wrapped in banana leaves and it was spicy like Mexican but there was a twist to how they used vegetables such a plantin and they roast pork in amazing spices. Rice is a main ingredient with beans and as Tristran is a vegetarian there are lots of options as there needs to be as so many in LA are turning Veggie.

For lunch next day we went to The Butcher’s Daughter on Abbott Kinney Boulevard and there we had the most amazing veggie menu – my other half had a burger as like many Irish men he likes meat and two veg but he said he didn’t miss the meat in it – they used adzuki bacon and beef made from beans.

The iconic Abbott Kinney Boulevard is a must-see for any visitor to Venice. Luxury boutiques, quaint cafes, dining hotspots and trendy galleries line the stretch. Highlights include Aviator Nation, Heist, Kreation Juicery, Little Room Portraits, Toms and Urbanic.

Well before I finished with Tristran we went over to the Bradbury building which is an office block but was also a location for bladerunnner the original movie. Then he took us on the shortest train ride in the world on Angels Flight which costs €1 and it really is a long flight of stairs but leads up to Grand Avenue where the Museum of Contemporary Art is located and has now opened it s doors for free. It is a big year for the arts with The Broad celebrating five years since opening and here I got to see some of the most iconic art in the city – it has rooms of several pop artists such a Roy Lictenstein –

He painted the famous cartoon style images in the sixties and andy Warhol – but the big room where some of the most Instagramable artists in the world is Jeff Koons/he’s an American artist whose work has sold for the highest prices of any living artist- he recently sold a stainless steel ballon rabbit for may 2019 for 91 million dollars. You can see a copy in the broad and there are porcelain sculptures of Michael Jackson and bubbles –

His image of a big blue ballon dog in stainless and finished in mirror paint is popular with all Instagrammers who come to the broad. He also created the giant puppy which is at the door of the Guggenheim in Bilbao.

The broad museum is free but you must book tickets on line or expect a two hour wait outside. One of the highlights is the Inifinity Room by Yayoi Kusama. You queue up to go into this room of mirrors and tiny fairy lights which flicker and you get 45 seconds to consider yourself and infinity – fun experience and it was wonderful to see so many young people visiting on a Sunday afternoon.

I went on a tour of street art with Kevin Flynn Graffiti tour of LA Art Tours specializes in small group guided walking tours that go off the beaten path. We take out guests outside the galleries and mainstream museums, and into the artist lofts, creative warehouses, mural filled alleys and unique spaces where the Los Angeles art community lives, works and thrives.

After we ate at The Butchers Daughter we walked down via The Venice Canals which pay tribute to the canals of Venice, Italy. Stretching 12 acres, these man-made canals were built in 1905 by famed developer Abbot Kinney and is currently home to some of the most sought-after properties in Los Angeles. I never saw them before but they are worth checking out for an alternative stroll to Venice Beach – and of course the Marina del Rey isn’t far away which is a gorgeous space where you can go paddleboarding or have a sailing lesson or a harbour cruise – there are poolside cabanas where you can relax for the day there too.

Anything else you shouldn’t miss in downtown LA?

Well the OUE space gives some of the best views of the city and I recommend going there at sunset to really get the spectacular mood of the city. OUE Skyspace is the tallest open-air observation deck in California and the top destination for panoramic, 360-degree views of Los Angeles. This interactive experience gives visitors unobstructed views of city and allows visitors looking for adventure to take a 45 feet long journey down the glass Skyslide connecting the 70th and 69th floors of the US Bank Tower. One of the street artists Collette Miller has painted a pair of angel wings on the viewing deck and you can take the Instagram picture with the city behind for any one wanting a good photo. Tickets can be booked online and they are $21 adults and $18 for kids – you can pay extra if you want to go on the slide.

For Booklovers the Last Bookstore is a great place tos eek out

The Last Bookstore is California’s largest used and new book and record store. Currently in our third incarnation, we began in 2005 in a downtown Los Angeles loft.

That’s when owner Josh Spencer took his decade of experience selling everything from cars to clothes online and focused instead on his first love: books. During the revitalization of downtown LA, we grew quickly to our current 22,000 sq. ft. space in the Spring Arts Tower at 5th & Spring. The name was chosen with irony, but seems more appropriate with each passing day as physical bookstores die out like dinosaurs from the meteoric impact of Amazon and e-books. We continue to BUY, SELL, and TRADE like we have from day one. In addition to over 250,000 NEW and USED books on two floors, including our new Arts & Rare Book Annex, our shared space includes tens of thousands of VINYL RECORDS and GRAPHIC NOVELS, a huge mezzanine level that includes the Labyrinth Above the Last Bookstore, Gather Yarn Shop, and the Spring Arts Collective gallery shops.  Truly something for everyone. Somehow we became one of the largest independent bookstores in the world still standing. We continue to be amazed at how we got here. It’s ALL thanks to people like you who want to keep actual books and records existing in the world. Join the cause — visit us soon!

If you are into sport and you want to catch a Lakers game what can you do?

I picked up tickets on line but they were expensive – I don’t regret it now however as we got to see Kobi Bryant play and Will Ferrel and Sylverster Stallone were in the audience. The dodgers stadium is in the same downtown district and to go to a game in America is really a totally different experience as it’s not all about the sport it’s as much about the spectacles and dancing and food.
Los Angeles is doable as a city break? A bit longer than new York in a flight and greater time difference but what about four days?

I would say that but really when you are going so far take time out to explore and my favourite road trip is from San Francisco to LA down the pacific coast highway where you get to see lovely wine country and iconic towns such as Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo along the way.

California is wonderful and of course with aer lingus you’ve the choice of direct flights to San Fran or Los Angeles for your California adventure.


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