Tag Archives: Hollywood

Last Days of Summer. Catch’em While You Can!

First day of September…and summer is over. Well, not officially. While the real change of season is still a few weeks away, I am sure you can sense a slight change in the air already, too.

Come Labor Day, and summer is clearly turning into just a warm memory. Schools are back in session, most of us are back at work and beaches are blissfully empty.

Pretty soon it’s Oktoberfest time rather than beach time. Yes, Oktoberfest season starts in California already as early as September 8th!

Before saying good-bye to summer 2017, treasure these last few nights of warmth and sunshine.

Should you spend time at Universal Studios this Labor Day weekend, don’t leave the theme park before you have seen the magical light show at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It is really mesmerizing!

Image & Video Credits: ©CaliforniaGermans



Last Days of Summer


Last Days of Summer – Enjoy them before they’r gone…

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy… Gershwin’s silvery song from his opera Porgy and Bess rings in my ears while my husband and I lounge in pool chairs watching our children having fun in the pool right on the beach. “A pool on the beach?” you might say, “What’s so cool about that?”

Well, it’s a special pool. In fact it’s a historic pool! And it’s not somewhere at a fancy resort or so. No, it’s right here in Los Angeles and open to all!

One of the well guarded insider secrets of L.A. is the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica. We love coming here! Every time we are in Los Angeles either going to the Getty, LACMA, hanging out at the Grand Central Market or just visiting the German Consulate, we make it a point to come here to pay this historic pool by the beach a visit before heading back home.


Built on 5 acres of beach property the Annenberg Beach House features a pool, a splash pad for the little ones, a fun playground and 6 beach volley ball courts right next to the Beach House. But it is also a community center that offers yoga classes, swim lessons and cultural programs and events like poetry readings and much more. You can rent out paddle boards for the day or book a surfing class. Do I need to say more…?

Even if you just come here for a few hours, it’s totally worth the parking fee of $3/hour or $12/day.  The kids can cool off in the water while you relax with a novel in a beach chair or just kick back after a busy day. If you are getting bored by the pool and crave some real ocean water, no problem! Just cross over the bike path along the beach and dive into the waves.


Beautiful Sunsets for Dinner

Oh, and lets not forget about the Back On The Beach Cafe with the most beautiful sunsets ‘for’ dinner! My suggestion is, make it a day at the Annenberg and stay for dinner. You will not regret it!

We love ending a day in L.A. here at this Beach House Cafe. Looking out onto the ocean, the pristine white beach in front us we dig our toes into the warm sand and unwind with a glass of wine. While we are waiting for our dinner to arrive, the kids hang out on the playground next to us, … and the most spectacular sunset is just happening right in front of our eyes!

A perfect day turned into a beautiful memory!


From Private Hollywood Estate to a Community Beach House for All

This beautiful site along Pacific Coast Highway was originally developed during the Gold Coast era of the 1920s by William Hearst, the publishing magnate who also built California’s Hearst Castle. The big estate was a gift to his mistress, actress Marion Davies, and hosted many of Hollywood’s celebrities like “Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Samuel Goldwyn, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable and other stars of the day”. After 1947 the property was converted into “America’s Most Beautiful Hotel” and housed the Sand & Sea Club before it was sold to the State of California in 1959.

A $27.5 million grant by the Annenberg Foundation paved the way for the transformation into today’s Annenberg Community Beach House a year-round public beach facility open to all. It opened to the public in 2009.

Annenberg 3

Today parts of the original historic Marion Davies Estate have been restored and are part of the new Beach House: the original Marion Davies Guest House, which serves as a museum telling the rich history of the Beach House and the historic Beach House Pool, which “features marble around the deck and beautiful tiles that were restored by hand.”

The Annenberg Community Beach House is usually open daily from 8:30am. Summer hours differ from fall hours so check before planning a visit. The pool schedule is seasonal and from October to May special Pop Up Pool Days are offered.

Annenberg Community Beach House
415 Pacific Coast Highway *
Santa Monica, CA, 90402

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Images: ©CaliforniaGermans

Resource: annenbergbeachhouse.com


Universal Studios – Revisiting SoCal’s Famous Theme Park

Universal 1

A visit to Los Angeles is not complete without a visit to Universal Studios, Venice Beach, Sunset and Hollywood Blvd, the Chinese Theatre and of course Disneyland in Orange County. At least that’s how it used to be, a few years back.

Today we have a Disneyland theme park not only on the East and the West Coast of the USA, but also one in Europe (Paris). Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai can call one their own as well.  Visiting Disneyland therefor in the U.S might have lost some of its appeal compared to other theme parks and other famous sites unique to the USA.  While you can find a Universal Studios also in Japan and Singapore it has not yet made its way to the European continent.

Universal 2After many years living here in California but not having been back to Universal Studios for quite a while, our family decided to check it out again and I found that quite a bit has changed, or …have I changed? In my view Universal Studios has lost some of its magic vibe that had lured me in so many years ago. Then it seemed like the gateway to the secret world of movie making and movie stars. The actual machinery behind Hollywood’s magic.

Visiting Universal Studios this summer I sadly realized that it was  just another theme park competing with Disneyland in new ride attractions. And while the original “Hollywood Studio Tour“, a behind-the-scenes tour, still exists updated with modern attractions like the world’s largest 3D experience, as we were told, to me it has lost a bit of its intimate charm of the earlier days.

Instead of the small trolley train, that had room only for three people in each of its rows, was riding low and put you close to the action, today you’ll find big trolly buses that hold double the number of people and put you high above the action. On the other hand these robust and technically equipped trolley buses let you experience the latest attractions like the award-winning King Kong 360 3-D sensation created by Peter Jackson with an all around intensity that would not have been possible with the fragile little tour trains of the old days.

Universal 3Hollywood’s magic toolbox that makes unbelievable things happen in movies, has evolved and has become much more versatile thanks to modern computer simulation technology. While torrential rains and a flood took away your breath some 20 years ago, and the masses of water that burst down a hill right towards you sitting in your little tour car made you feel threatened to get swept away along with the flood; today you are part of a thrilling fight in 3-D between a scary T-rex and King Kong. In fact you are right in the middle of this spectacle getting splashed with dinosaur saliva and pushed around by KingKong, who is trying to step onto your tour bus.
The tour crowd was mesmerized and thoroughly enjoyed the experience from what I could tell by their screams and beaming faces.

Universal 4The previously mentioned torrential rains by the way still exist and still turn into a flood, but the experience is quite a different one these days so high above the action and boxed-in into your sturdy tour bus. The famous shark attack in the shark lagoon lacks some fright appeal as well. These wonderful, former attractions have lost some of its intensity and enjoyable thrill.  They now seem like a remnant of an aged Hollywood and stand in strong contrast to the modern attractions of the Hollywood Studio Tour that immerses you in a much more emotional experience.

Universal 5Part of the “Hollywood Studio Tour” is also driving by staged settings for certain TV shows and movies. As you are passing by the various small bungalows that once had been used as temporary housing for famous Hollywood icons like Doris Day, you get a glimpse into the fantastic world of Hollywood’s entertainment industry, a world that still has its home right here in the midst of Los Angeles but is impacting millions of people around the world.

I personally think that the Hollywood Studio Tour is the first ride one should engage in when visiting Universal Studios. It sets the mood for your overall experience and makes you remember what Universal Studios Park was originally all about – giving you a peek behind the scenes of famed Hollywood movie making.

Universal 6Today’s Universal Studios theme park offers an array of fun rides.  Some of them are not your usual roller coaster but rather its virtual counterpart, which can be just as wild as the real ride. The Despicable Me -Minion ride that my son and husband were looking forward to was fun but in their opinion way too short after the nearly one hour wait and therefore a bitUniversal 7 disappointing. Instead they enjoyed the Transformers-Ride much more.  And… we were terribly excited to see that Harry Potter’s Wizard World is coming to the park by spring next year! Behind some fences we could already make out the towers of Hogwarts and the crooked chimneys of Hogsmeade!

Aside of the ride attractions, which are quite different to the ones at Disneyland, and therefore not really comparable, my personal opinion is that Disneyland
Universal 8offers a more fulfilling experience than Universal Studios. In fact, just walking around Disneyland’s various theme sections is entertaining by itself.  Food options inside Universal Studios are also much more limited than at Disneyland, but there is always the Universal City Walk right outside the official theme park gates that comes to the rescue with quite a variety of restaurants that are sure to please any palate.

Overall, we will be back, and be it only to check out Hogwarts and Harry Potter’s Wizard World!


Images: © Copyright 2015 NH Fuertes. All Rights Reserved.


In the Mood for German Cinema – October is German Film Festival Time

Friends of German Cinema will be given a treat in the month of October. It’s German Film Fest Time!

Up and down the coast one can indulge in the latest movies from Germany.

While the San Francisco Festival ” Berlin & Beyond” will have its last ‘movie day’ on October 4th, German Currents of Los Angeles  and San Diego are just starting out with opening celebrations and their showing of award winning screenings.

Screenings for the German Currents Festival in San Diego will take place at the Museum of Photographic Arts | 1649 El Prado | San Diego, CA 92101 | Oct6-Oct7 www.mopa.org

German Currents in Los Angeles will showcase its festival movies at the Egyptian Theatre in the heart of Los Angeles. Please find more information on this particular festival below:

Save the dates and mark your calendar !

6th Annual GERMAN CURRENTS Festival of New Films from Germany, October 5th through 7th, 2012 at the Egyptian Theatre 

Presented in collaboration with Lufthansa, ELMA, the American Cinematheque, and German World Magazine .

The Goethe-Institut Los Angeles is pleased to announce the dates for the 6th annual German Currents Festival of New Film from Germany. Bringing the best of this and last year’s German films to California, German Currents 2012 will take place exclusively at the historic Egyptian Theatre in the heart of Hollywood.

Meet internationally acclaimed shooting star Alina Levshin in person on October 5 or director Marten Persiel on October 7. Enjoy great acting by Corinne Harfouch in “Home for the Weekend” and Nina Hoss in “Summer Window”.

This year’s selection of five films, screened over three days, includes David Wnendt’s Kriegerin (2011), an intense drama about a young women struggling to break free from her neo-nazi past, and Marten Persiel’s This Ain’t California (2012), a ground-breaking documentary on skateboarders in the GDR. Both films are quickly receiving international critical and popular acclaim.


Friday 10/05/2012 8:0pm
KRIEGERIN (Combat Girls) / includes a Festival Post-Screening Party at 10 PM  (Movie ticket holders only)

Tickets > 

Saturday 10/06/ 2012 5:00pm/ 7:30pm
Double Feature: DIE UNSICHTBARE (Cracks in the shell), WAS BLEIBT (Home for the weekend)

Tickets >

Sunday 10/07/2012 5:30pm/ 7:30pm
Double Feature: FENSTER ZUM SOMMER (Summer Window), THIS AIN’T CALIFORNIA / includes Closing Night Reception (Movie ticket holders only)

Tickets >

Egyptian Theatre
6712 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Newport Beach Filmfest – Eco Spotlight “This Is Your Ocean : Sharks”

On Thursday , May 28, the Newport Beach Film Festival started; the festival that brings a bit of Hollywood glamour to Orange County. Aside of the eye-catching  movies, the Filmfest offers several spotlights. 

Last Friday before the the movie “Lucky” the Eco Spotlight featured the documentary  “This is Your Ocean: Sharks”. Since we were on a family outing we decided on the Eco Spotlight, that we expected should also be attractive to our 7-year old. 

George C. Schellenger, Jim Abernethy, Shawn Heinrichs

In the perfect setting , at the Lido Theater, with ocean frescos on the walls, the world premier was introduced to a very welcoming audience. A bit skeptical about the movie when reading that director George C.  Schellenger would take us “into the world of sharks through the eyes of Wyland, Guy Harvey and Jim Abernethy“, we witnessed some beautiful images, but I must say that our first skepticism proofed to be right. The movie oftentimes appeared to be more a promotional piece for the artists, especially Wyland, than a movie that would give the audience a deeper understanding of the world of sharks and on how they lived.

The movie did draw attention to the overfishing and therefore destruction of shark communities that are so important for the ocean’s eco system and many of us are not aware of. Unfortunately that seemed to have been the only deeper topic aside of the very touching subject of Jim Abernethy’s relationship to one very particular shark “Emma”. These pictures indeed were quite unusual and impressive, since we usually picture sharks as not very affectionate animals. Shark Emma though “knows” Abernethy and feels when he is in the water and comes by to see him! 

My family, especially my little shark expert, was expecting to see and learn of some groundbreaking new facts on sharks’ lives. But there were barely any scientific details in the movie. I guess, we expected some kind of Planet Earth experience and were somewhat disturbed to be taken out of the beautiful crystal clear waters of the Bahamas only to watch Wyland paint his majestic underwater worlds on big walls. I wouldn’t have minded to see more of  shark expert Jim Abernethy’s beautiful underwater photography work, which complemented the movie much better.

All together the movie is a great attempt to draw attention solely on to sharks and their need for protection. Besides one can experience some fascinating images of underwater scenery, and … should you want to learn more about Wyland’s and Guy Harvey’s painting style and drive for painting underwater worlds, then this is definitely  a must see.

If you would like to get involved in saving our oceans, a good start is joining the movement  “One World, One Ocean“.