Friday, March 8, 2013

Weekend In Los Angeles


A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend three days in Los Angeles. My husband had scheduled a business meeting for a Friday and asked if I would like to make a long weekend out of it? Sure, why not. As a SF Bay Area girl born and raised I had some doubts as to how enjoyable a trip this would become. Los Angeles is surrounded by many cliches regarding its people and lifestyle, I know you've heard them all: silicone-laden, phoney, trendy, drugs, fashion desert, etc. I have to admit with a little shame in my prior beliefs that my weekend was completely enjoyable. So inspired was I in the retelling of my weekend stories that two co-workers and one cashier at my local market have penciled in some of the details of my trip to discover on their own.

It begins with a vibrant boutique hotel 'Shade' in Manhattan Beach (click video)  5 miles from Los Angeles International Airport and 3 blocks from the beach. Only 38 well appointed rooms with Cyclone fireplace, spa bathtub for two under ever-changing colored lights, lounge in the sun  on their Skydeck with large Jacuzzi  complimentary wi-fi, seasonally fresh breakfast and bicycles to ride around the village for the day. Saturday night we visited their Zinc bar for a before dinner cocktail. My martini was served in a glass made of ice, refreshing does not begin to describe the unique experience on my lips.



We made plans to visit the J Paul Getty Museum of Art (click) in Pacific Palisades and see how $1 billion dollars in private money was spent. The grounds are stunning, once you park your car, you enter a tramway to shuttle you up to the top of the mountain to breathtaking views of the LA Basin, open to the public for free. Several massive stone buildings styled in neo-classical and modern greet you surrounded by rolling lawns for child's play and water features.  I made several attempts to photograph the entire site within one frame but the grand scale was too much for any camera.





Lisa Lyon by Mapplethorpe

To our delight the photographs from Robert Mapplethorpe (click) was being exhibited, open until March 24, 2013. If you are familiar with this controversial artist you will immediately understand how special our day would be at the Getty. Hint: many would say Mapplethorpe's photographs are pornographic.

We then made our way to the South Coast Plaza Mall in Costa Mesa (click). Hundreds of shops, restaurants and kiosks will take up half your day to visit them all. There are numerous luxury fashion houses represented not found in many other shopping districts, a bit lacking the depth of inventory to a stand alone boutique but a treat just the same. For those in the know, there is even a rare Patek Philippe boutique.



Now I must spend some time talking about the ocean side village of Manhattan Beach where we stayed. It is this small community that changed my mind on the mystique that surrounds LA. This place just says "Ahhhhhhh": cute, clean, friendly, casual, walk-able, bike-able, fresh air, sight-seeing, active lifestyle, surfing, good food, neighborhoody, and family oriented. Our hotel room was luxurious and comfortable but I just wanted to spend all my time outdoors soaking in everything offered to me. Dinner with friends nearby on Friday night was a treat as we walked to the restaurant in the ocean air, walked to the famous Comedy & Magic Club where Jay Leno plays every Sunday night and has hosted names such as Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, George Wallace and Gabriel Iglesias, Saturday night we dined at a French Bistro a block from the hotel "Cafe Pierre" (click). Some of their menu items include, rabbit, octopus, housemade merguez sausage, and roasted bone marrow. Our server was friendly and helpful navigating the menu and food preparations, and the restaurant host wonderfully accommodating finding for us the table of our choice. We'll be back!

On Sunday morning we took a walk onto the pier and watched the surfers in the water strut their stuff, families at play on the sand and we were lucky to photograph two dolphins swimming so close the the pier.

Travelling by car was never an exercise in frustration, we brought our Tom Tom GPS driving partner pre-programmed with all the sites we planned to visit. Los Angeles basin is a basket weave of large freeways, just be forewarned to stay off them between 2:30pm and 7:00pm. L A as a region has many personalities and most of them good ones, but always gets a bad rap. I will make another list of places to visit, and restaurants to try and promise to plan another 3-day trip in the near future.

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