Monthly Archives: August 2015
Continued from California – Part 1 – San Francisco
Arriving on a late evening flight into LA, we headed straight down to our hotel on Santa Monica Boulevard (which you apparently cant actually say without singing it in your best Sheryl Crow impersonation). With a slightly later start the next morning we headed into Beverly Hills to kick off our LA trip in celeb style for brunch at The Ivy. The neighbourhood is all that you would expect from Beverly Hills with boutiques upon boutiques like Kitson and Madison all along Robertson Boulevard and most likely where Us Weekly photos are born.
The Ivy itself is actually curiously a very quaint bright little place with romantic garden style décor, strewn with vast numbers of vases with luscious smelling roses. It was very quiet that morning and we were able to relax over poached eggs and Bloody Mary’s. I must admit I was thrilled that they offer a glass of champagne upon arrival even before you’ve been shown to your seat.
We decided to forego any tourist style transport – which allowed our young traveler to lounge in her car seat and nap whilst the parents took in the various sights of the city. We planned to drive past some of the key tourist attractions like the Hollywood walk of fame, Sunset Boulevard and Chinese Theatre. Not being one for elbowing my way past tourists yet being one, I was happy to skip the throng of sweaty people on Hollywood Boulevard and head into the hills to Beachwood Canyon drive. Beachwood Canyon drive takes you through some stylish neighbourhoods in the Hollywood Hills with properties to die for, and headed up towards the Observatory where there are scenic views of the Hollywood sign, you inevitably get stuck behind some tour busses headed the same way. On a positive note, I was astonished to see many interesting hikes along the canyons where locals clad in Lululemon were headed, which reminded me of my treks up Table Mountain and Lions head with the Cape Town crew. If I lived there, it would definetly be a favourite pastime of mine sans the weird drum beating and humming one could hear from just over the rise.
After having our fill of tourists we decided to head back to Santa Monica taking the scenic route down Rodeo drive which as expected had every designer store you can name with extravagant window displays much the same as Fifth Avenue NYC but with many more palm trees framing the entrances.
Our final tourist drive by was the famous Mulholland Drive, a long winding road high up in the Santa Monica Mountains which boasts houses (read palaces) that were owned by Jack Nicolson, Demi Moore & Bruce Willis, Marlon Brando, John Lennon, Faye Dunaway, and Madonna to name a few, although many of the estates have extensive gated entrances with security to guard against prying eyes (i.e mine).
Back in Santa Monica we took a sunset stroll onto Venice Beach and the canal walkways. I must have watched some dodgy rerun of CSI based at the canals once and had a very seedy impression, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the walkways, houses and canals, are not only pristine, but absolutely beautiful with small private jetty’s and boats moored along the canals. Having been to Venice, the connection to why this place was called Venice beach makes total sense. The canals are one road away from the beach and form a maze of walkways and bridges and its easy to get lost without making landmarks for your turns (cross the bridge at the yellow boat and turn left at the red gate). Back along Venice Beach Boardwalk itself, you immediately get engulfed by the surf and skate culture. The throngs of skaters, blonde honey toned scruffions and the medical marijuana guy feels like you could have just walked onto the set of Lords of DogTown. Not surprising though since this sub culture has been thriving in the area since the 70’s when surfers turned to skateboarding when the swell wasn’t good for catching waves. Skaters such as Tony Alva, Stacy Peralta, and Jay Adams hailed from this hood and there is an enormous concrete skatepark that sort of looks like a few empty swimming pools melted together and a hive of activity for both skaters and bystanders. Also to be found along this stretch of hedonism, you will find Muscle Beach, the location of the birthplace of the physical fitness boom in the US during the 20th century but was originally a meeting place for gymnasts in the 1930’s. Mr Universe himself frequented this area pre Terminator and being California Governor (Arnold Schwarzenegger).
DAY 2 was all about the beach and no better place to experience LA coastline than Malibu. Driving into Malibu along the Pacific coast highway, you half expect The Hoff to come running up the beach in his red trunks and you are certainly struck with the exclusivity of the beach houses. Much like Clifton in Cape Town, the houses are set against and into the rock face overlooking the ocean, and the fact that there is hardly any road parking nor walkways down to the beach would mean that the average joe wouldn’t be frequenting the strip of beach in front of the houses. We headed to Zuma beach, a large expanse of pristine white beach sand overlooked by some Baywatch style lifeguards huts. Apparently Pamela Anderson lives right there too. My husband being an avid surfer was keen to hit the waves, so we headed back to Malibu Pier which is a hotspot for surfing and headed to the beach. We saw someone famous that we both instantly recognised, he was very friendly and said Hi, but for the life of me I cant remember his name, perhaps one day I will update this blog post with his name when I accidentally watch a movie and he pops up! You can lunch on the Pier over looking the surfers or head across the way to a great little Mexican place which is less crowded.
Our afternoon was filled up with a stroll down Santa Monica pier and boardwalk. It is here were the fitness fanaticism of LAers truly hit home. Everyone was either doing yoga, walking on tightropes (yes I said tightropes), climbing rope ladders, jogging, cycling, roller bladeing, skating or doing gymnastics. The Pier itself has a year round amusement park and hosts twilight concerts.
Next stop San Diego!