Category Archives: Weekend Getaways

Girlfriend Getaway

Carrie and Christy needed to get away from it all, so they headed over to Los Angeles for some fun in the sun (and to visit me)! I welcomed them to L.A. with hugs, some of the hottest weather of the year and raging wildfires.

From the airport, we headed straight to the Getty Center. (I wanted to prove that L.A. does, in fact, have culture.) We drove in circles for a while as I attempted to chat with the girls, watch the road and listen to the GPS. I’m pretty good at doing two things at a time. Three? Not so much. I can drive and talk or drive and listen – but put all three together, and well…the GPS lost most of the time. After a lovely tour of Inglewood and some other pleasant areas in L.A., I finally managed to figure out where we were going. At the Getty, we saw some art, took in the amazing views (complete with added fire-smog) and strolled the gardens.

I made the girls starve because we were supposed to meet Steven for lunch. By the time we got back to Pasadena, Steven forgot and already ate. But we made him come to the Novel Cafe and watch us eat anyhow.

That evening we headed out to Malibu to watch the sunset from a beautiful beach. Chloe Sue (the GPS) helped us avoid rush hour traffic. Translation: she sent us all around town and managed to make what would have been an hour and half drive (traffic included) turn into a two and a half hour drive.  But hey, we never hit traffic, right? Of course, we also never made it to the beach for that sunset. Christy did take some lovely pictures through the car windows as the sun crept below the horizon. Luckily, we happened upon a cute 50’s diner at the Malibu pier, and thanks to Carrie’s ability to carry cash, they allowed us to park.

Saturday was hot, hot, hot. Instead of the planned Runyon Canyon hike (with no shade), we were off to Santa Monica. We clowned around on the pier, wandered the Third Street Promenade and did some shopping (Christy made an emergency curtain purchase). Since it was so fun the day before, we decided again to starve and wait until we got back to Pasadena to eat. We had lunch at an Italian restaurant in Old Town called Mia Piace.  Yes, it was worth the wait. Yum-O.  (Carrie even made us stay extra to ensure we received our second order of bread.)

That night, we headed to the Pantages Theater in Hollywood to see Legally Blonde the musical. Seriously, what’s a girl’s getaway without an overdose of pink? The show was fab-u-lous. I laughed the whole time and couldn’t stop uttering, “Omigod you guys!”

Then, suddenly, it was Sunday. Was the end of the weekend already here? We had planned a classy brunch at my house (complete with mushroom frittata, French toast, warm bagels and fresh juice) and a tour through one of the stunning botanical gardens nearby. However, Pasadena totally smoked us out. We opted instead for lunch at the Beverly Center, house hunting in Beverly Hills (scary realtor an extra perk) and shopping on Rodeo Drive. (I may have insulted the jeweler at Tiffany’s by exclaiming his $43,000 engagement ring was tacky.)

It was fabulous, it was fun, and it was totally girlie. I can’t wait for the next trip!

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Coastal Getaway: Monterey

Last week Steven and I took a trip up the coast to Monterey (a beach town on California’s central coast). It was so much fun! I can’t believe this is the first time we’ve actually travelled up there! For any of you who are jaded with southern California and think that us people have pretty much ruined all the natural beauty California has to offer – I’m very happy to report that not all is lost.

So here’s what we did:

On the way up, we stopped in a little city called Solvang. It’s a town that celebrates all things Danish. The town theme is Denmark…it would seem that if you are going to build something there, it’s a requirement that it look Danish; if you open a bakery, it’s a requirement that you bake Danishes; if you start a restaurant, it’s a requirement that you serve lots of sausage and such. How this came to be, I’m not sure…but those are the rules. Anyhow, we stopped at a Danish Café for waffles and later wandered around the town square. It was a very cute, sleepy little place. Definitely worth the stop if you are travelling through.

After Solvang, we headed straight to Monterey. It’s such a difference going from insanely busy L.A. County to a town of just 30,000. I loved the quiet. I don’t exactly know how to explain it…I mean, the city is full of people and cars and all the usual stuff of a city – but the air is quiet. Coming from a place where even the birds near my home manage to mimic the sounds of car alarms, it’s a great reprieve. We spent a day walking all around town – wandering Fisherman’s Wharf, sampling clam chowder and strolling the beach. Later we did the obligatory 17-mile drive at Pebble Beach (stunning). Sadly, it was then that we realized the camera battery was dying and we left our charger at home. After a handful of shots at the first few stops, it was officially dead. And wouldn’t you know – that’s right about when the landscape got pretty amazing. Oh well, that will just give us another reason to go back! We also stopped at the beach in Carmel. We parked atop a hill and wandered down sand dunes to reach the ocean. The sand was powdery white – just like ash tray sand (assuming you’re old enough to remember that). On the way back to the car, Steven and I had this crazy idea to race up the dunes. Just as we almost reached the top, I had to call a stop to the race for fear of having a heart attack…lol. Whose crazy idea was it to race up a sand dune anyway? Haha.

After Monterey, we drove down Highway 1 on the coast and took in the absolutely amazing scenery. I think this part of the coastline may just be some of the most beautiful landscape on the planet. It’s honestly breathtaking (and if you’re afraid of heights like me, a little scary!). I wish so much I had pictures to share…such a bummer. We stopped to visit the Elephant Seals near San Lois Obispo and had a late lunch at Morro Bay.

All in all – it was a fabulous weekend! I highly recommend the trip (and I’ve now got a great handful of ideas for our girlfriend getaways!). I’m already ready for my next trip…where shall we go?

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Be a Tourist in Your Own Town

I was reminded last weekend how fun it can be to explore where I live as if I were a tourist. And I think everyone should do this! I mean, unless you live in a tiny town, every decent size city has so much to offer…and all sorts of things you wouldn’t even think about doing unless someone was in town visiting. It’s the…’I can do that anytime’ syndrome – where you say you’ll do something one of these days, but you never do because you live there, and you know it’ll always be there. So this weekend, I made plans with a friend coming to town for a visit, and we decided to go to those places I still haven’t gone after living in Los Angeles almost six years.

As I mentioned in a prior post, my sister-in-law, Angela came for a few days to see Steven and I. Being the planner that I am, I started thinking about things we could do a few weeks back. I wanted to do touristy stuff – but not necessarily the same things everyone does when they came to Los Angeles (aka…no movie star home tours), and I wanted to find things that weren’t crazy expensive (as L.A. has a way of sucking you dry of your money). Friday night we didn’t exactly take the cheap route. After all, we did go see a musical at the Pantages. But I must say, they do have some very reasonably priced seats, and the theater layout is such that there really aren’t bad seats. You can buy cheap tickets and still have a great time watching the show. Then, on Saturday, we hit the Getty Villa in Malibu and went to Dockweiler Beach to bonfire and watch the sunset.

First…the Getty Villa: The Villa is a re-creation of a first century Roman country house in Italy. The house is beautiful, the grounds are perfectly manicured and the art is pretty amazing. Inside the house is a museum, displaying Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities dating back thousands of years. These items themselves are worth the visit. But, honestly, my favorite part was the gardens. They were absolutely beautiful…I wanted to take them home and transplant them into my own backyard (not that I have one). And what’s better? The Villa is free! I love free stuff. And here’s a tip (we totally did this by accident, but it worked out well): You have to make reservations to visit the Villa. We reserved our space for 3pm on Saturday (I figured we might want to sleep in and not have to rush out the door). But, of course, we were running late. We arrived about 3:45pm. Parking is generally $10 per car, which I figured was ok since we were all entering for free. But because we were late, and it was the last reservation of the day, they gave us free parking also! Yeah (again, I love free stuff)! The Villa is just small enough that a little over an hour was enough time to visit everything and not feel too rushed. They do have free tours of the gardens and such, which we missed because we were late. But we were able to take the garden tour on our own, which probably worked out better since we found it important to stop and take silly ‘statue’ pictures along the way.

After visiting the Getty Villa, our plan was to head to the beach, grab some take out and settle in with a bonfire to watch the sunset. This didn’t work out exactly as planned but was loads of fun none-the-less. The traffic getting out of Malibu was pretty horrendous. So instead of heading straight out, we stopped to eat dinner, hoping the traffic would die down. That didn’t happen. We found a different way out, which had much less traffic…but was pretty far out, so it still took forever. Then we stopped at the grocery store for drinks, ice cream, firewood and all that good stuff. By the time we made it to the beach, it was 8pm. We didn’t miss the sunset. But maybe that’s because the sky was so thickly covered with fog and clouds that there was no sunset. lol. Of course, by 8pm all the fire pits were taken. Scratch the bonfire idea. Instead, we headed toward a semi-private spot on the beach, laid out our blankets and got comfortable. Thanks to the cloud cover, we were okay without a fire…it stayed fairly warm (well…I was cold, but then I’m always cold). We talked, laughed, drank, ate ice cream and even had time for a well-pitched karaoke session. I particularly loved the planes flying out of LAX overhead – their ominous presence as they flew above added perfectly to the eerie ambiance as we struggled to see any glimpse of their lights through the clouds. The beach was great. I absolutely love the ocean and the sound of the waves. If we had more blankets (and no cops trying to write us parking tickets for staying too long), I could have slept right there.

So in one weekend, I did three things I’ve never done in Los Angeles before. I went to a musical, saw the Getty Villa and vegged on the beach at night with a blanket, some drinks and the perfect company. What a great weekend.

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Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner

Having grown up in the 80’s, it almost seems a right of passage to have watched Dirty Dancing. It’s one of those movies that I saw when I was young and then continued watching through the years every time it came on TV. I imagined myself as Baby, learning all the dances and showing off my new-found moves at the end (perhaps this is why I’m addicted to Dancing with the Stars). So…when I heard Dirty Dancing, the musical, was coming to Los Angeles, I knew I had to twirl myself down to the Pantages Theater to watch.

My sister-in-law, Angela, was in town for the weekend – a perfect opportunity to see the show. We went on Friday night, and watched with a packed audience. This was the first time I’d been at the Pantages, and I must say, the inside was really beautiful…what a great theater – a true throw back to old Hollywood style. And the show was fabulous! Admittedly, this was my first musical (I know, I know), so I don’t have much to compare it to – but I loved it! The show followed the movie incredibly well and was able to move from scene to scene realistically and with ease (with added comic relief for extra flair). I loved the dancing and the singing…the final act, like the movie, being my favorite. ‘Cause, you know, nobody puts baby in a corner.

My one complaint…an annoying couple that felt the need to check cell phone messages in the middle of the show and talk during every intended silent moment. I considered elbowing the woman next to me (what better way to get my point across?), but I opted, instead, to throw her a few dirty looks and ignore her the best I could.

Other than that, the show was great! I would definitely recommend checking it out. Next, I want to see Legally Blonde, the musical, coming in August. Any takers?

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