My second visit to Los Angeles or as the cool kids would call it – L.A. – was somewhat unconventional, taking the road less traveled and as my cousins would say – epic.
I got to visit my Granduncle, the coolest priest on earth, who baptised myself and wedded every family member of mine. And although I don’t consider myself religious, he truly embraces the essence behind the community and inspires me to learn more about religion and spirituality. Quite different to what I’m used to from back home.
This trip proved once again that traveling is indeed the best with locals. Here’s how our week of living in a house full of priests, Los Angeles traveling off the tourist track and not once hitting Hollywood went.
Day 1 – Mount Baldy, Los Angeles
Behind palm trees and blue skies, the backdrop of L.A. depicts a beautiful mountain range. Luckily we were staying in LA Verne, a suburb and authentic American village only a 20 min drive from Mount Baldy. So after a classic American diner breakfast of scrumptious pancakes, bacon and maple syrup and after taking in the first sun rays we headed up the mountain.
Just after a short drive we were met with snow flakes, a mountain range with desert fauna and a unique restaurant tucked into the mountain, with an open fire.
The whole day was an experience and kicked off our trip just right.
Day 2: Temecula Wine Valley, Los Angeles
This was one of my favourite places we visited and took me right back to our last summer trip to Spain. Wine, great food, sun in ma face and cheese platters. What more would you want?
Day 3: Newport Beach, Los Angeles
Since day one I was dying to hit the coast, and spend some time on a sunny beach. Now although we didn’t hit the hottest season in L.A. we did get some lovely sunny days.
For lunch we hit the Crab Cooker restaurant right behind the New Port pier for some clam chowder and scrumptious prawn skewers.
We spent the afternoon walking the beach and enjoyed our first proper coffee since we had arrived (sorry yanks but your brew is way too weak for my swedified coffee tastebuds).
My cousin Finbar, the true Irish lad he is, went for a dip in the freezing (S)Pacific Ocean. I took the dramatic pics.
We stayed until sunset and I took over the drivers seat to meander L.A.’s horrible 6 lane traffic on the way back home. But my Granduncle, better known as P.K.D. was praising my driving skills for days after, so I’m happy, definitely going to heaven.
Day 4: Lasst mass
Believe it or not we actually went to church a couple of times when we were there too. My Granduncle and his fellow priests go every morning so we decided to join in. Turns out mass in L.A. is an experience – one I could take something from.
Now I’m not religious nor am I huge supporter of the Catholic Church but it had us saying ‘we could get into this’. The deep sense of community and everyone welcoming us with open arms made our stay there. The Irish relatives even got a shout out from the priest at our last mass #famous.
The church was cozy, it felt welcoming and analogies told were down to earth and relevant for everyone.
Recently, I’ve gotten into mindfulness, meditation and I’m exploring spirituality. I’m guessing that a few of my fellow millenials are too (or at least you’re going to a yoga class once a week). And while we were going to mass every morning I realised that this is indeed similar to the rituals I practice. Taking time out, being mindful and grateful.
I’m not going to get into the whole religious thing because to be honest I’m not even entirely sure what I think about it, but I’m open to explore it all. I’m even reading a book titled, ‘Conversations with God’ at the moment, which I never thought I would just because of the word God in the title.
Whatever makes one happy and connected to themselves and others, I can learn from. I’ve associated a lot of negative things with the Catholic Church (and still do) but these guys showed me a whole other side to it. A side that is open for discussion, not pushy or judgemental but with their hearts in the right place. God bless em.
Day 5&6: Venice Beach, Los Angeles
Ok ok you got me, this one is definitely not off the tourist track but I’m oh so glad I didn’t miss it. Venice is the hip hobo Beach, with hipsters to your left and street artists to your right and sadly a lot of street livers too along the way too.
This is where the cool kids come to play and we did our best to fit in.
Definitely can’t tell we’re tourists with these hats right? Aw, love this mum and daughter pic though.
I booked us into the Rose Hotel, a lovely quaint, yet hip and cozy place just off the boardwalk and smack bang in the middle of all the action.
We spent the day strolling all the way down the boardwalk and back on the beach. Slipping into shops and picking up trinkets on the way down and just enjoying the sun on our faces, the ocean breeze and the sand -in-toe-feeling on the way back.
In the evening I met an ex Natural Cycles colleague from Stockholm, Paulina, for dinner and drinks with her Husband and his brother and girlfriend. We had a cocktail at the Rose Cafe bar, which (although it came 15 mins late) set the mood just right. The atmosphere reminded me of Stockholm, very chic, stylish people and I’m sure the familiar sound of people speaking Swedish helped too.
We talked about the life we left behind in Stockholm and there it was – the little pit in my stomach that reminded me; I miss it.
Our next stop was a 20 min car ride away accompanied by Drake, right in the heart of L.A.s Korea town. A place I would not in a million years have come across if I hadn’t gone out with Paulina and the gang.
We ate at a Korean open pit fire restaurant, all the food is cooked in front of you, shared amongst everyone. With lovely dishes of salads, kimchi, beans and what not accompanied by Sake our bellies were full and satisfied. What a great night. I definitely recommend checking out the Soot Bull Jeep restaurant if you’re in the area.
The next morning Mum and I rose to enjoy our very last day in the sun.
We were met with wonderful coffee and fresh croissants with jam at the hotel for breakfast, and although the menu wasn’t large it hit the spot just right.
The Rose hotel for me was a highlight, I loved the decor and minimalistic concept, it’s charming yet with imperfections and the sheets were just dreamy.
Unfortunately, we got a room with shared bathrooms, and although they were lovely I would agree with mum to go for one with en-suite for more comfort and privacy.
After breakfast we went boardwalking again and upon the hotel’s recommendation we hit Abbot Kinney Boulevard shortly after. A street full of shops, cafes and where we thoroughly enjoyed a round of people watching.
And that was it. Our trip had ended, and because L.A. traffic makes me nervous we hit the airport early and ended our West Coast experience with a Dunkin Donuts coffee and bagel in hand, prepared for our next Family pit stop visit on the East Coast in Boston.
Have you been to the West Coast? Or hung out with priests? Would love to hear your take on it, drop me a comment.