California Dreamin’

On 14 August 2015, it was our 5th wedding anniversary, so we decided to go back to where it all started: Los Angeles (yes we are a bit cheesy 😉 ). Since you don’t just pop over for the weekend, we decided to make it our main summer holiday, although it was wedged in between two England trips for weddings of friends who also decided to tie the knot 🙂

Of course we dressed up for the wedding!

First of all, AirBnB is awesome. We got to stay in Venice, within walking distance of the beach, and at the first apartment we stayed at also had some bikes to our disposal. Since we got there on a Friday, Abbot Kinney’s First Fridays helped us stay awake 🙂

On Saturday, I was on a mission. As I had really enjoyed the surfboard I surfed in Portugal, I wanted to get a similar board myself. We went to a bunch of surf shops in Hermosa and Manhattan beach, but the boards there were all quite generic. Online I had found JK Surfboards, and they were selling the boards from a place called “The Swim Guy”, in Redondo beach. The place is not a surf shop, but it sells all the accessories and more for swimming. Luckily they still had a lovely blue soul carver and a leash in stock, so I was super stoked. Without Paul knowing, I had also snuck a wetsuit and towel in the car, so we could go straight to the beach. Luckily he could laugh about it and was happy to find some nice coffee while I tried out my new toy in the gentle Manhattan Beach waves 😉


The rest of the week was a lot of relaxing for me during the day (Paul met up with a colleague a couple of days, since he’s not an academic anymore he has fewer holidays than I do). So I usually surfed in the morning and read a book and we got to hang around our favourite breakfast and lunch places and the beach of course. We also went to see Sheryl Crow and the LA Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl, to which we brought a picnic, as you do. The concert was great, even the short power outage couldn’t kill the party 🙂

On August 14, we started our little roadtrip. We first went to San Diego (with a little stop on the way in Laguna Beach). Paul had booked us this fabulous hotel with a rooftop pool. I ❤ rooftop pools. Especially when they come with watermelon inflatables 🙂


We had dinner at a Vietnamese place where we could sit outside, not very fancy, but very tasty. The next day we popped up to the rooftop and a bunch of photographers and stylists were preparing for a photoshoot there. It was a very hip place 🙂

After breakfast, we took a ferry to Coronado for the day. It’s a beach town with a fancy hotel. It was blazing hot, but I persuaded Paul to walk with me from the ferry harbour to the main hotel. We found some nice shops (also a really cool bookshop!) on the way, and enjoyed the beautiful beach in front of the Del Coronado hotel. Although I’m happy we weren’t staying there, resorts are just not my thing. In the evening, we went to the old town, for Mexican food with some of Paul’s colleagues, which was super fun, much better than the tacky old town in Albuquerque 😉

The next day, we first went for a surf together at La Jolla. We found a parking spot right by the beach, and we were there just before the tide messed up the waves, which was pretty awesome. After lunch it was time to go into the desert! We had initially wanted to go to Joshua tree, but it was simply too hot so we ‘only’ went to Palm Springs. Driving there is spectacular, the vistas are amazing and at some points on the way it’s just completely quiet. Probably because it’s so ridiculously hot, even crickets and birds take siestas.

Palm Springs is really wonderful. Paul had again found a super awesome hotel, called the Saguaro. All the rooms are built around the center courtyard which has a big pool. Of course I went for an evening swim, and the funky thing is that if you close your eyes you’d still think it’s daytime as it’s that hot. In town, a lot of the restaurants and shops have little water sprinkling systems to cool you down while you’re walking.  In the morning we took a yoga lesson, ate at a local diner which wasn’t that amazing and drove off again, this time to Santa Barbara (yes it was a proper roadtrip).


In Santa Barbara, we stayed at an AirBnB again, this one was near Shoreline park, so we could go out for nice evening walks there (OK, I once miscalculated and our walk was a bit longer than intended). We also surfed some great waves at Leadbetter Beach.


Besides hanging out in the super relaxed Santa Barbara city centre (with a great farmer’s market), we also took a day trip to Solvang and wine country. Solvang is a bizarre Danish-like village in the middle of nowhere, fun but not for too long. Then we went to Los Olivos which is very cute. I bought a nice book (about Glamping 😉 ) and we tasted (and bought) some wine.

On the way back to LA, we first stopped at Rincon, which is a famous surf spot, but it was flat as a pancake when we were there. We also had lunch in Malibu, but sadly the nice bookstore that used to be there was gone. Malibu is still great for people watching though 😉

We then spent another week in LA, hanging out with friends, going to awesome restaurants, having pizza with my old roommate, playing tennis, visiting the Getty etc. All the good stuff. One day we did a proper sightseeing tour. We first went to downtown LA to see the Bradbury building which we had heard about on the 99% invisible podcast. We then traipsed around downtown some more, visit the Last Bookstore and found some more fancy coffee places. We also couldn’t leave without going to the Standard Hotel and going for a dip in the rooftop pool 🙂

We then pulled out our Raymond Chandler map of Los Angeles. We went up to one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses: Ennis House. Unfortunately it’s not open to the public, and it’s currently being renovated, but it was quite fun to drive around the Los Feliz area and gawk at the villas. On Sunset Blvd., we stopped at Musso & Frank Grill, which supposedly still looks like it did way back when. It was great to have a cocktail there, listen to the bartender and have a chat with the old couple sitting next to us at the bar who come there regularly :).

On our last day, a friend also took us out surfing on a quiet beach in Malibu. The kind where you need to crawl through some fences to get to. But we shared it with only a seal and later one SUP’er. A great way to end a great holiday!