Sunday, February 20, 2011

Birthday Vacation: First Stop Venice Beach/Santa Monica

I've been so crazy busy that I have not had time to blog since Wednesday! And it has made me crazy. Because I blog every day. Sometimes several times a day. And that is even when I don't have much going on. But right now I have a lot going on and I have a lot to write about.

We are in Los Angeles! Well right now we are actually in Santa Monica, staying with a friend, and last night we were in Venice Beach staying at a very cool little hotel. But this is such a big deal for me because...THIS IS MY FIRST TIME EVER VISITING THE WHOLE LOS ANGELES AREA!

People, including myself, find it strange that with all the places I have traveled in the US and around the world, some how I never made it to Los Angeles. I just didn't. I didn't have friends or family here. I never came here for work. I just never really had a strong desire to come here. Until now. I am finally here, thanks to my husband, who is awesome and planned this incredible vacation for us to celebrate my birthday on Monday - a few days in the Los Angeles area, then a few days in Palm Springs, then a few days in Yucca Valley/Pioneertown, then back to LA. Seeing sites, visiting friends, staying in some cool hotels, and getting around to all of these places in a convertible. Awesome birthday vacation surprise. Awesomely fantastic husband. He rocks. He lived in Venice Beach for many years and worked in LA for many more and still has a lot of friends here, some I've met and some who I have not yet met, so this trip is very special as it is his opportunity to show me and share with me his world. I get to see his LA. It is a wonderful way to see a place for the first time.

Yesterday (Friday), we flew into John Wayne airport in Orange county...rented a convertible and drove up to Venice.

Venice Beach is such a cool place. All of these funky little old houses. And the canals. I want a house on one of those canals.

Of course I don't get your typical warm sunny southern California weather...I get rain and colder temperatures. Sigh. We were going to head out to watch some surfing before going up to Venice, but the weather wasn't good and neither was the surf, so we tabled that for a future trip.

We walked the beach in the rain from Venice up to the Santa Monica pier. Beautiful, but wet. We didn't care. It was great to walk along the boardwalk and have a rare moment of there being practically nobody out on that famous walkway. We met friends for drinks at The Lobster (fantastic), then went to the Hotel Casa Del Mar (incredible) for more drinks in the lounge. As we were hanging out in this awesome hotel lounge, live music started up and I loved it. And then suddenly Paul and I were looking at each other and saying, wait a minute, we know this song...what is this, who is this performing? It was the Leftover Cuties, who are awesome, and we know them because they do the theme song for The Big C on Showtime. Laura Linney. Cancer. Its a funny show about a painful situation. If you don't know the Leftover Cuties, check them out. They are so good. Described as..."Imagine Billie Holiday playing ukulele under a palm-thatched hut in 1930's Waikiki and you'll get a taste of the soothing sound of the Leftover Cuties." It was a great night. My only complaint is that I drank too much wine, did not drink enough water and did not eat enough food. Trust me when I say - I am paying for it big, big, big time today....

But we still managed to wake up fairly early today on Venice Beach to a glorious morning and it was nice until the afternoon when it started to rain. We stayed at a fantastic hotel that I highly recommend - The Cadillac Hotel. It sits right on the Venice Beach boardwalk. Built in 1914. Summer home of Charlie Chaplin. All rooms recently renovated. Make sure you get a room that looks out onto the ocean.

The view from our hotel room this morning...
In addition to highly recommending all the places above, we had a fantastic lunch on Friday and then breakfast today at the FigTree Cafe. It is a great place to sit and people watch. And man oh man oh man the Venice Beach boardwalk is THE BEST, and I mean, the best, people watching I have ever seen. I love people watching and I love great people watching places, and this beats everything I have seen anywhere. And it was kind of chilly today out there, and I didn't even make it over to the Muscle Beach section, so I realize I was barely seeing the tip of the iceburg. All walks of life. All kinds of people. Doing all kinds of things. And riding all kinds of contraptions. A super, beautiful, fascinating freak show. My words here, trying to describe what I saw today on that boardwalk, would not do the reality justice. So just take my word for it. Better yet, go see it for yourself if you never have. I can't wait to get back there.

Tomorrow...Hollywood. Stay tuned...

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