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Entries about sport

Historic Downtown Los Angeles

Chinatown and Olvera Street but first (being a Brit) a visit to the Leo Magnus Cricket Complex

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View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

Los Angeles has a cricket complex! I stumbled upon this little known fact while investigating what I might want to see while I was visiting the city and of course been a cricket fan I was quite keen to go and see it. Trying to explain cricket to my American relatives as like baseball but with two 'bases' (i.e. wickets) moved to the centre of the field with the 'pitcher' (i.e. bowler) bouncing the ball before it reach reaches the batsman was always fun! So we spent the morning of my final full day in Los Angeles making our way down to the Leo Magnus Cricket Complex in Woodley Park in the Van Nuys District of LA to have a look.

Me by the entrance to the Leo Magnus Cricket Complex in Los Angeles

Me by the entrance to the Leo Magnus Cricket Complex in Los Angeles

The first cricket ground in LA opened at Griffiths Park in 1933 but was moved to Woodley Park in 1978. The pitches themselves are quite good and are judged by the former Jamaican test cricketers instrumental in setting them up as amongst the best in the USA. Although there are only small pavilions beside each of the pitches it has had 5,000 spectators in temporary stands for bigger games and the ground has been visited by the New Zealand National Team, the India and Australian A Teams as well as several England counties.

A wicket chalked up ready for a cricket match at the weekend

A wicket chalked up ready for a cricket match at the weekend


A small pavilion beside one of the cricket pitches at Leo Magnus

A small pavilion beside one of the cricket pitches at Leo Magnus


Changing rooms and scoreboard beside one of the cricket pitches at Leo Magnus

Changing rooms and scoreboard beside one of the cricket pitches at Leo Magnus

As we walked around the four pitches and limited facilities at the Leo Magnus Complex we stumbled upon a couple of Pakistani ex-pats practising in the nets. It was great to see the cricket facilities being actively used during a quiet spell in the working week, there's hope for the USA yet!

Bowling and batting practise underway in the nets

Bowling and batting practise underway in the nets


Close up of the batting in the practise nets

Close up of the batting in the practise nets

Next stop was Chinatown in Downtown Los Angeles; or more correctly New Chinatown as the original Chinatown founded in 1852 was moved in 1938 to make way for LA's new main ground transportation hub at Union Station. The 25 feet (7.6 metre) high Twin Dragon Towers Gateway entrance to Chinatown at Cesar Chavez Ave and North Broadway was erected in July 2001 and was designed to symbolize luck, prosperity and longevity.

The Twin Dragon Towers Gateway into Chinatown

The Twin Dragon Towers Gateway into Chinatown


A typical shop in Chinatown

A typical shop in Chinatown

The hub of New Chinatown however is the Central Plaza between North Broadway and North Spring Street with decorative gateways at each end. In the square by the Gate of Filial Piety at the North Spring Street end is a statue erected in the 1960s of Sun Yat-sen, the Chinese revolutionary leader who is considered the "founder of modern (Nationalist) China".

New Chinatown's Gate of Filial Piety and Central Plaza Square

New Chinatown's Gate of Filial Piety and Central Plaza Square


Gateway to New Chinatown Main Plaza from North Broadway

Gateway to New Chinatown Main Plaza from North Broadway


Statute of Sun Yat-sen in the square of Chinatown's Central Plaza

Statute of Sun Yat-sen in the square of Chinatown's Central Plaza

Between the two gateways Chinatown's Main Plaza is a Hollywoodized version of Shanghai designed by Hollywood set designers in the 1930s with Chinese lanterns strung overhead. There is a Wishing Well with saucers labelled with such things as "wealth", "serenity" and "romance" into which passers by are encouraged to toss coins and make a wish. The last major landmark constructed in the Central Plaza was the Hop Louie Restaurant Pagoda (formerly the Golden Pagoda Restaurant) in early 1941.

New Chinatown Main Plaza

New Chinatown Main Plaza


Wishing Well in New Chinatown Central Plaza

Wishing Well in New Chinatown Central Plaza


Hop Louie Restaurant Pagoda in New Chinatown Central Plaza

Hop Louie Restaurant Pagoda in New Chinatown Central Plaza

My final stop in Los Angeles (and one I was particularly looking forward to because of happy memories I have from there in the past) was Olvera Street. This is where El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles was founded in 1782 on land close to the River Porciuncula (aka 'Los Angeles River'). The site was chosen by Felipe de Neve, the Spanish Governor of California, on the orders of King Carlos III of Spain to setup a new pueblo in Alta California. The original Spanish "pobladores" (settlers) consisted of 11 families - 44 men, women, and children, accompanied by a contingent of soldiers - and their names are listed on plaque in the Plaza at the southern end of the street alongside statues of the Governor and the King.

Statue of Felipe de Neve, Spanish Governor of California 1775-1782 and founder of Los Angeles

Statue of Felipe de Neve, Spanish Governor of California 1775-1782 and founder of Los Angeles


The top end of Olvera Street as seen from the Plaza

The top end of Olvera Street as seen from the Plaza


Plaque in the Plaza listing the names of the original 44 Spanish pobladores (settlers) of Los Angeles

Plaque in the Plaza listing the names of the original 44 Spanish pobladores (settlers) of Los Angeles

Just across the road from the Plaza is La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles ("The Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels" also known as the "Old Plaza Church") which was founded a couple of years later as an "asistencia" (or "sub-mission") of the nearby Mission San Gabriel Arcángel with the current church constructed 1814-1822. A large cross has been erected at the southern end of Olvera Street where it opens out onto the Plaza, it looks old but is actually a replica of a cross erected in 1929 to commemorate the city's 148th birthday.

La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles (The Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels)

La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles (The Church of Our Lady Queen of the Angels)


Me stood by the large cross erected at the southern end of Olvera Street

Me stood by the large cross erected at the southern end of Olvera Street

Olvera Street itself is only about 500 feet (152.5 metres) long and was originally called Wine Street until it was renamed in 1877 in honour of a senior court judge who was a long time resident there. About half way along its length is the Avila Adobe, the oldest existing house in Los Angeles. It was originally constructed from bricks made primarily of clay and straw about 1818 and then damaged by an earthquake is 1971. It has now been restored to look as it did in the late 1840s, about the time when Commodore Robert F. Stockton of the US Navy used the house as his headquarters during the Mexican-American War of 1847.

Me stood on the steps of the Avila Adobe, the oldest remaining building in LA (circa 1818)

Me stood on the steps of the Avila Adobe, the oldest remaining building in LA (circa 1818)


The courtyard fo the Avila Adobe

The courtyard fo the Avila Adobe


Reconstruction in the courtyard of the Avila Adobe of a wooden 'carretta' as used in the early days of Los Angeles

Reconstruction in the courtyard of the Avila Adobe of a wooden 'carretta' as used in the early days of Los Angeles

Inside we were able to walk around the various rooms in the Avila Adobe; the parlour was only used on special occasions and the kitchen was only used for cooking when the weather was bad preventing cooking outside in the courtyard. The descendants of the Avila family lived in the house until 1868 after which it deteriorated as a rented property until it was condemned by the city in 1928. Mrs Sterling with the help of influential friends then restored the house and created a Mexican style market place on Olvera Street itself which when opened to the public in 1930 quickly became a major tourist attraction in which to experience Los Angeles' Mexican culture and heritage.

The family room in the Avila Adobe where regular meals were eaten

The family room in the Avila Adobe where regular meals were eaten


The Indoor Kitchen in the Avila Adobe

The Indoor Kitchen in the Avila Adobe


The Parlour or Sitting Room in the Avila Adobe

The Parlour or Sitting Room in the Avila Adobe


The parents bedroom in the Avila Adobe

The parents bedroom in the Avila Adobe


The Office in the Avila Adobe were the business affairs of the vineyard and ranch were transacted

The Office in the Avila Adobe were the business affairs of the vineyard and ranch were transacted

As a tourist attraction, Olvera Street has become a living museum paying homage to a romantic vision of old Mexico including a fountain and a water trough. Its sides and centre are lined with small shops and stalls selling colourful dresses, oversized sombreros, serapes, piñatas, pottery, leather goods and a host of other Mexican trinkets to the nearly 2 million tourists that come to visit the street every year.

View south along Olvera Street towards the United Methodist Church

View south along Olvera Street towards the United Methodist Church


The fountain on Olvera Street

The fountain on Olvera Street


Colourful Mexican clothes on display outside a shop in Olvera Street

Colourful Mexican clothes on display outside a shop in Olvera Street


Colourful trinkets on sale in a shop on Olvera Street

Colourful trinkets on sale in a shop on Olvera Street

Olvera Street is also dotted with many Mexican Restaurants which have musicians strolling amongst their guests playing serenades. While Mexican restaurants are as a common in California as Indian Restaurants are in the UK somehow the ones on Olvera Street with all the Mexican culture around them feel like they have the most authentic setting than Mexican restaurants elsewhere.

Musicians serenading outside their restaurant in Olvera Street

Musicians serenading outside their restaurant in Olvera Street


Market stalls on Olvera Street

Market stalls on Olvera Street


More market stalls on Olvera Street

More market stalls on Olvera Street

The following morning I flew to Denver from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and managed to get a picture of its futuristic icon the googie style "Theme Building" built in 1961 before I took off. The building (which has been heritage listed since 1992) was never intended or used as a control tower and is actually a restaurant suspended beneath two arches that form the legs.

The googie style 'Theme Building' at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

The googie style 'Theme Building' at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged churches museums food markets california sport city chinese missions mexican earthquakes film_locations Comments (0)

Denver and the 'Colorado Rockies'

Sightseeing in Downtown Denver and then it's time to watch some baseball at Coors Field

sunny 28 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

A visit to the US Mint was actually on my bucket list having been unable to have a look around it last time I was in Denver. Sadly I was to be disappointed as it turned out we needed to pre-book the free tours about 3 months ahead! Fortunately tours around the US Mint's other location in Philadelphia don't need to be pre-booked so this item on my bucket list can wait until I get there later during my trip.

The visitor's entrance to the US Mint in Denver

The visitor's entrance to the US Mint in Denver

We then walked across the Civic Center Park in downtown Denver, past a copy of the Liberty Bell (the original is in Philadelphia) to the Colorado State Capitol. The building looks like a copy of the Capitol in Washington although sadly the gold plated dome itself is currently obscured by white sheeting while essential repairs are carried out. Denver has been dubbed the "Mile High City" and sure enough a step leading up to the main entrance is engraved as being precisely "One Mile above Sea Level" and I had the obligatory photograph taken of me standing on it.

Mounted Policeman in the Civic Center Park in front of the State Capitol Denver

Mounted Policeman in the Civic Center Park in front of the State Capitol Denver


A copy of the Liberty Bell in Lincoln Park outside the State Capitol Denver

A copy of the Liberty Bell in Lincoln Park outside the State Capitol Denver


The Civil War Memorial in front of the steps of the State Capitol in Denver

The Civil War Memorial in front of the steps of the State Capitol in Denver


Me stood on the 'One Mile above Sea Level' step leading up into the State Capitol in Denver

Me stood on the 'One Mile above Sea Level' step leading up into the State Capitol in Denver

A short distance from the Capitol is the History Colorado Center, an innovative new museum that first opened in April 2012. Their headline temporary attraction while I was there (and about the only exhibit we weren't allowed to photograph) was the Jefferson Bible borrowed from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. This bible is in effect a personal scrapbook of selected verses from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John pasted together in chronological order by Thomas Jefferson (principle author of the USA 1776 Declaration of Independence) to create a single narrative and then duplicated side by side in four languages (English, French, Latin and Greek).

The star of the museum for me however was the Anschutz Hamilton Hall with a map of Colorado for its floor on which we were able to push around a pair of seven foot high "steam punk" time machines to various hot spots on the map. The clocks on the time machines would then wind back and the video screens would tell quirky stories from the history of the location.

Moving the time machines around the Map of Colorado on the ground floor of the History Colorado Center

Moving the time machines around the Map of Colorado on the ground floor of the History Colorado Center


Close up of one the time machines in the History Colorado Center

Close up of one the time machines in the History Colorado Center

On the same floor as the time machines was Destination Colorado, a hands on recreation of life on the Colorado prairies in the 1920s. Here you could milk a virtual cow (the bucket lights up as you squeeze the teat!), drive a Model T Ford or visit a General Store - really something aimed more at school children than ourselves so surprisingly we didn't stay there long. A lot more interesting though was Colorado Stories on the top floor.

Me milking a cow in 'Destination Colorado' at the History Colorado Center

Me milking a cow in 'Destination Colorado' at the History Colorado Center

Colorado Stories contained galleries highlighting aspects of the history of about 8 localities around the state. I found the gallery on Bent's Fort, a prairie trading post from the mid nineteenth century, particularly interesting as included amongst the sample of goods from around the world it traded with local Indians was Stroud Scarlet from back home in Gloucestershire in the UK (Stroud Scarlet was the red cloth used historically for British Army redcoats).

Bent's Fort in 'Colorado Stories' - and amongst the goods being traded is Stroud Scarlet Cloth from back home in Gloucestershire!

Bent's Fort in 'Colorado Stories' - and amongst the goods being traded is Stroud Scarlet Cloth from back home in Gloucestershire!

Amongst the other exhibits in Colorado Stories were galleries on silver mining in Silverton (which reminded me of my trip down the Lebanon Mine a few days earlier), life in the WWII Amache Relocation Center for people of Japanese ancestry and the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre of Indians by local militia (probably one of the more tragic stories from Colorado's history).

Explosives ready to be set in the Silverton Mine gallery of 'Colorado Stories'

Explosives ready to be set in the Silverton Mine gallery of 'Colorado Stories'


Re-creation inside 'Colorado Stories' of a WWII relocation center for people of Japanese ancestry

Re-creation inside 'Colorado Stories' of a WWII relocation center for people of Japanese ancestry

We then escaped the museum and went for afternoon tea at the Brown Palace Hotel which is considered the landmark hotel in Denver. Originally opened in 1892, my guidebook describes it as an "Italian Renaissance-style structure with elegant dining rooms and a common area based around a sunlit eight story atrium lobby with tiers of iron railings." Famous former guests at the hotel include the Beatles, various US presidents and the 'unsinkable' Molly Brown from the Titanic. Before making our way home we had afternoon tea with scones and finger sandwiches served on a 3 tier silver pedestal tray washed down with Earl Grey and Kir Royale - cousins that lunch!

The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver

The Brown Palace Hotel in Denver


The eight story atrium lobby inside the Brown Palace Hotel

The eight story atrium lobby inside the Brown Palace Hotel


Afternoon tea being served in the lobby of the Brown Palace Hotel

Afternoon tea being served in the lobby of the Brown Palace Hotel


Sidewalk plaque commemorating the Beatles getting struck in a lift at the Brown Palace Hotel in 1964

Sidewalk plaque commemorating the Beatles getting struck in a lift at the Brown Palace Hotel in 1964

I do enjoy watching live baseball and have been kindly taken to games on my last two visits to the USA. Earlier in my trip I had seen the LA Dodgers beat the Milwaukee Brewers in double quick time while in Los Angeles but it was now time to see if I was going to be a good luck charm for the Colorado Rockies as well. So the following day we returned to downtown Denver to Coors Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies Baseball Team, with me dressed in a purple Rockies "Dexter Fowler 24" shirt (Dexter is a Rockies centerfielder) to watch them play the San Francisco Giants.

Coors Field - home of the Colorado Rockies Baseball Team

Coors Field - home of the Colorado Rockies Baseball Team


Dexter Fowler at the plate for the Colorado Rockies

Dexter Fowler at the plate for the Colorado Rockies

The game started well with the Rockies taking a 5 run lead including a grand slam home run (i.e. a home run with all 3 bases loaded) but then the Giants came back with the Rockies eventually winning 10-9 in a nail biting finish (am I beginning to sound like I know what I'm talking about?). After the game we went looking for an Irish Bar in Lower Downtown (universally known as LoDo by the locals) to celebrate and found Scruffy Murphys, coincidentally exactly the same name (although no connection) as the Irish Bar I found in Sydney, Australia.

Grand Slam Home Run for the Colorado Rockies <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Grand Slam Home Run for the Colorado Rockies :)


Pablo Sandoval (aka Panda) at the plate for the San Francisco Giants

Pablo Sandoval (aka Panda) at the plate for the San Francisco Giants

Scruffy Murphys Irish Bar in Denver where we went to celebrate (didn't I visit its namesake in Sydney?)

Scruffy Murphys Irish Bar in Denver where we went to celebrate (didn't I visit its namesake in Sydney?)

Three days later I had another opportunity to see the Colorado Rockies play at home, this time against the Arizona Diamondbacks. By now it had dawned on me that US baseball fixtures are described the other way round to sports fixtures back home i.e. away team @ home team rather than home team v away team; trust the Americans to be different!

Me posing with my ticket by the player statue outside the stadium before the game

Me posing with my ticket by the player statue outside the stadium before the game


Everyone stands as the USA National Anthem is played before the game

Everyone stands as the USA National Anthem is played before the game


Me enjoying a 'Rockie Dog' while watching the baseball

Me enjoying a 'Rockie Dog' while watching the baseball

Although the Arizona Diamondbacks attracted a smaller crowd than the San Francisco Giants a few days previously it was no less exciting and I witnessed my first Major League Baseball game go into extra innings with the two teams tied at 4-4 after the usual 9 innings. We had to leave but listened to the game on the radio on the way back as the Rockies went on to win 5-4 in the 'bottom' (i.e. while the 2nd team is batting) of the 10th.

Another Home Run for the Rockies - perhaps I am a lucky charm at the baseball after all?

Another Home Run for the Rockies - perhaps I am a lucky charm at the baseball after all?


'Dinger' - the Colorado Rockies Mascot - up to no good again outside the away team's dugout

'Dinger' - the Colorado Rockies Mascot - up to no good again outside the away team's dugout

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged museums hotels beer colorado sport city videos mints external_links Comments (0)

Blue Moon rising over the Yankee Stadium

I get to see my soccer team Manchester City play against Chelsea in New York and then experience the 2013 Cicada swarm in New Jersey

overcast 12 °C
View 2013 Round the World Trip on FrancisRTW's travel map.

I have supported Manchester City since I was kid, at the time they had a striker called Francis Lee and as my namesake he became my hero and City my team after I got teased at school that my name Francis was a girl's name. I knew City were in the USA playing a series of exhibition games against Chelsea but never in my wildest dreams expected a chance to see them. So when my cousin announced his fiancée had managed to get us tickets for their game against Chelsea at New York's Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx I was over the moon.

Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx, New York

Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx, New York


Joining the queue at Gate 6 outside the Yankee Stadium

Joining the queue at Gate 6 outside the Yankee Stadium

When we got to our seats the two teams were warming up on the pitch with their club anthems playing as background music, "Blue is the Colour" for Chelsea and "Blue Moon" for Manchester City. Unfortunately in all the rush to get to the stadium from Philadelphia in time I did not have a chance to change into my City shirt that I had brought with me on my round the world trip.

Our first view of the pitch with the teams warming up

Our first view of the pitch with the teams warming up


Close up of the City players warming up

Close up of the City players warming up

Before kick off there was a moving minute's silence for Lee Rigby, the British Soldier murdered on the street in Woolwich South London, and the 23 victims of the Oklahoma Tornado. Both tragedies had happened only a few days previously and were still very much at the top of all the news bulletins.

Scoreboard tribute to the British Soldier murdered in Woolwich

Scoreboard tribute to the British Soldier murdered in Woolwich


Scoreboard tribute to the victims of the Oklahoma Tornado

Scoreboard tribute to the victims of the Oklahoma Tornado

The two teams then lined up for the American National Anthem before kick-off. During the line-up the Manchester City team wore dark blue shirts with light blue "New York City FC" moons on the front to advertise their link-up announced only a few days before with the Yankees to create a new MLS ('Major League Soccer') franchise from 2015. I was actually quite surprised and pleased how strong the squads both teams were putting out were and they each started the first half with what was virtually their entire first team on the pitch.

The two teams line-up before the start of the match

The two teams line-up before the start of the match


The Manchester City line-up for the first half on the Scoreboard

The Manchester City line-up for the first half on the Scoreboard


The Chelsea line-up for the first half on the Scoreboard

The Chelsea line-up for the first half on the Scoreboard

The game then got underway, Manchester City had beaten Chelsea 4-3 (after being 3-0 down) in their previous match in St Louis a few days before so I had my fingers crossed that we would witness a similar result in New York as well. I wasn't to be disappointed, at the end of the first half Manchester City were comfortably winning 2-0.

The game between Chelsea and Manchester City gets underway at the Yankee Stadium

The game between Chelsea and Manchester City gets underway at the Yankee Stadium


The City players huddle to congratulate Samir Nasri while his 1st goal is replayed on the Stadium Scoreboard

The City players huddle to congratulate Samir Nasri while his 1st goal is replayed on the Stadium Scoreboard


Samir Nasri's 1st goal (City's 2nd) is announced on the Stadium Scoreboard

Samir Nasri's 1st goal (City's 2nd) is announced on the Stadium Scoreboard

Both sides made a lot of changes at half time (including goalkeeper Petr Cech for Chelsea which prompted a particularly load cheer from their supporters) which gave Chelsea a chance to get back into the game but Manchester City still went on to win 5-3 so I went home very happy!

The players come off the field at the end of the first half

The players come off the field at the end of the first half


On the night Manchester City beat Chelsea 5-3, I was rather happy <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

On the night Manchester City beat Chelsea 5-3, I was rather happy :)


The West Concourse inside Yankee Stadium

The West Concourse inside Yankee Stadium

Back in Summit where I was staying there was the little matter of the Cicada Beetle swarm of 2013. These 2 inch long red eyed beetles come out of the ground in northern New Jersey only once every 17 years to breed creating a deafening din as they sing themselves to death for a few weeks while they try to attract a mate. The ground was covered with them, it was like a plague out of the Bible!

Me with a Cicada Beetle from the swarm of 2013

Me with a Cicada Beetle from the swarm of 2013


Close up of a Cicada Beetle

Close up of a Cicada Beetle

Posted by FrancisRTW 03:00 Archived in USA Tagged animals new_york sport videos us_east_coast Comments (0)

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