Los Angeles: City of Angels, palm trees, Ryan Gosling and green juice. I didn’t find Ryan in LA but I did drink my weight in juice. Admittedly less of the virtuous kale sort and more of the fermented grape variety…
We dropped the car off at LAX and spent the next four days navigating the sprawling city by way of Lyft (LA’s answer to Uber). Our West Hollywood Airbnb was the perfect base, located directly opposite The Larder
where we had many an avocado toast and picked up vegan chocolate supplies for the road home… check out the Compartes
bars, the whiskey one
is to die for
. Our Airbnb itself was weird: huge light and airy bedroom with massive his ‘n’ hers wardrobes but the rest of the flat was barely furnished, and not in a cool minimalist sort of way. We also had a fun time when we came in to find the upstairs’ neighbour’s pipe had burst and water was pouring through the kitchen ceiling!
Flooding aside, over four starry days we had a fabulous time exploring (or in Pete’s case, revisiting) all the major districts, my predictable favourite being:
While Venice Beach was as crazy and intense as I’d expected, I really fell head over heels in love with the surrounding streets. Not just Abbot Kinney, but the residential roads around it with their pick ‘n’ mix houses, each one seemingly pulled from a different era and country and plonked down completely at random. We wandered up and down, imagining the incredible swimming pools and backyard terraces and dreamed of life in a balmy place by the sea.
So what else did we do in Venice?
- We got wanky, wanky pizza in Gjelina (waiter: “you can’t have that one with chorizo because the chef is a purist and he can’t disturb the perfect balance of the ingredients” Pete: “the chef is a cunt”)
- We walked from Santa Monica to Venice Beach, stopping for vegan food at the incredible Venice Ale House and to watch the beefcakes pumping iron on Muscle Beach.
- Meandered along Abbot Kinney shopping for Pixi beauty products at their flagship US store, and candles that smell like the sea at Tumbleweed & Dandelion.
…where we blagged the best seat in the house on the outside terrace, and people watched/ munched our way through a stack of delicious vegan pastries.
Like every other person in the world, if I could live anywhere in LA it would be Beverly Hills. On our second day we walked from our apartment (I know right, who walks
in LA? Apparently we do) past the rows of insane houses and through the Beverly Civic Center
. This was Art Deco instaporn with vistas of palm trees popping up against cobalt blue skies.
Grabbing iced coffee at Urth Caffè
, we window-shopped along Melrose Avenue and Rodeo Drive, popping into & Other Stories to check out the new LA Design Atelier
. But that wasn’t the best bit of window shopping we did…
Huddled inconspicuously on La Cienega Boulevard, on our direct route back (fate!) we happened upon Saving Spot Rescue
centre and lost a good hour cuddling tiny stray pups. Then we went back the next day for more. If we hadn’t been a 9-hour flight away from home, there’s no way we wouldn’t own at least five new dogs…
Saving Spot wasn’t the only dog rescue centre within walking distance of our apartment (this should really be part of the Airbnb sales pitch). On the way back from the Original Farmer’s Market
by The Grove we dropped into Bark n Bitches
, a slightly camper and glossier operation but just as happy to let visitors get hands-on with the dogs. We lost hours… perhaps days.
Our Hollywood experience began in style: romantic nights drinking expensive whiskey cocktails on the rooftops of Skybar
and Sunset Tower Hotel
, followed by breakfast mimosas at Chateau Marmon
It ended in a golf buggy at Universal Studios, where Pete’s friends Lisa and Andrew gave us an insider’s tour: just as glamorous, if in a very different way! Lisa also treated us to a fantastic brunch at Sqirl
, which is well worth the queue; the ricotta and jam brioche almost broke my vegan resolutions (but crispy rice bowls from heaven kept me on the straight and narrow).
Another Hollywood highlight was the obligatory trek up to the Griffith Observatory, where we obviously pretended to be Emma and Ryan (but in sweaty t-shirts and trainers). When I saw pics of people up here in full-on sports gear I was massively cynical; like, how hard can it be to walk up a hill? But that was before I realised that a) everyone in LA wears workout gear all the time and b) it’s really fucking hard. Especially in the midday heat with a thumping hangover.
We almost forgot about the Walk of Fame and missed it altogether, but luckily Andrew reminded us about that not-at-all-famous part of the Hollywood experience and we squeezed it in just before the flight home!
When Pete was in LA some ten years ago, Downtown was a very different place so this part of our trip was a real highlight for him – and for me, as I got to meet one of my favourite and most exciting authors, Clifford Johnson
, Physicist extraordinaire and science adviser on various Hollywood movies. Clifford was working on the most incredible project; a graphic novel explaining the physics of how our world works, through people’s conversations and dialogue. You can read more on his blog
– and buy the book when it’s published by MIT Press at the end of October! Anyway, pitch over with, Clifford and his wife Amy (who I now have a huge girl crush on – a producer and actress, she really deserves a blurb of her own) took us up to the rooftop at Perch
where we sipped cocktails and watched one of the famous LA sunsets turn the sky red.
Then it was off for dinner at Baco Mercat
but not before popping into The Last Bookstore
. Words can’t do this place justice (ironically?) but if you like books, this place is unmissable! A proper rabbit hole of literary goodness, and I wish I’d taken better pics.
Other things we got up to Downtown:
- Margaritas and guac at Bar Ama (and incredible vegan cheese enchiladas – everywhere has vegan cheese in LA!) We met up with Pete’s friend Dyan, who founded and runs the food agency Soda Pop PR so you can imagine she had the best dinner recommendations… Malibu Beach in my previous post was one of those. Thanks Dyan!
- Decided three margaritas weren’t enough so headed to Love Song Bar for too many G&Ts and more reunions (hi Anita!)
- Did some Blade Runner geeking out at the Bradbury Building.
- Had our minds blown by the architecture – most notably the Walt Disney Concert Hall, below…
So that was kind of a whistle-stop tour of our LA adventures, but in all honesty it felt a bit like that at the time too! Ever felt like you needed a holiday to recover from your holiday?
Now, five weeks later, I’m flying off to Washington DC for a conference tomorrow and Pete’s joining me for four days in NYC afterwards. Let’s see if the East Coast can offer us as good a time as California did!