As a celebration for the big 2-3 birthday, Alex and I decided to head down to Los Angeles for a quick weekend trip to visit our college friend, Lauren. I had never been to LA -- I heard mixed reviews from people I talked to about it as generally, people who live in SF dislike LA and vice versa. However, it would be crazy not to take advantage of a 50-min long flight for a short but fun birthday sojourn.
These are a few of my favorite things I was able to squeeze into the short amount of time I had in the city:
Cafe Gratitude: I had read a lot about Cafe Gratitude before visiting LA and I was dead set on trying it. It did not disappoint -- the cafe serves totally organic and plant-based foods and had a charming interior and patio. All of the menu items are titled with positive words and affirmations and after you order the waitress says "You are... Nourished" or whatever the name of the dish you ordered (soooOOOOOo LA). She also gave us a "Question of the Day" to dicusss while we waited for our food (being Mother's Day it was what are we grateful to our mothers for?). It's both a little bit of an eye-roll and a little bit of pure cheesy (or should I say "cheez-y"...), fun goodness.
I opted for the "Nourished" -- sourdough french toast, housemade tempeh chorizo, sautéed kale, chipotle coconut bacon, cashew cream and maple syrup. Alex and I split the Maple Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Cashew Vanilla Cream afterward. It's pricey and not a great place if you're in a cynical mood but the food is guilt-free heaven.
Griffith Observatory: Because I'm a lame tourist and also because I am obsessive about seeing the cities I'm visiting, I dragged Alex up to the Griffith Observatory, a planetarium/museum and a great spot to see the Hollywood sign (a bit like the Eiffel Tower -- you get glimpses of it everywhere as you drive around LA). I wish I had been able to spend a little more time wandering through the astronomy-based exhibits of the Griffith Observatory but we snapped a few pics with the sign and headed back to pack up for Santa Monica.
Santa Monica: Lauren drove us out to Santa Monica for the rest of Sunday evening -- this was by far my favorite part of the trip. Santa Monica (along with a lot of residential areas of LA) had such a 70s, Joan Didion-esque vibe. All the architecture looked like it hadn't been updated since then which lends itself to a super vintage look throughout the area.
The Bungalow: We met up with friends at The Bungalow, the definition of a scene. The hibiscus-filled courtyard was full of Cali-types dancing and playing ping-poing -- to be honest, it looked a bit like a Spring/Summer Ralph Lauren ad. We sat in the breezy lounge area, sipping sangria and catching up with old friends.
Hotel Erwin (for the spectacular views!): We then bar hopped over the Hotel Erwin, for their rooftop bar which is a fantastic spot to curl up by the outdoor heaters and to catch the sun setting over the water. In a perfect way to wrap up our Los Angeles trip, we drank wine and took in the SoCal views before packing up and heading back to SF the following morning.
Los Angeles is extremely different from San Francisco -- like North and South Florida, it's almost like entering an entirely different state. The heavy influence of the fashion, music, and film industries can contribute to a shallow, contrived attitude that pervades the city, which at times is a well-deserved judgement. However, while I was there I tried to ignore the preconceived idea of the whether or not I was going to like LA, and just soaked up its Southern California charm while I could.