Santa Monica

It took me about 4 hours to get there. I think it should have only taken two. But I eventually got there, to where my husband was and we had a great weekend! Santa Monica is that place that you see in the intro to private practice. It’s always seemed like a far away paradise, so unobtainable. Maybe because ever since moving to CA, I’ve avoided the drive to, through or anywhere near LA like the plague. And for good reason, but I’m happy I finally did it. Conversations to a great friend back in Atlanta helped pass the drive while I sat in traffic at hour 1.5, going only 15mph.

After quick hellos, James, Gordon and I headed out to meet a friend and his mother at a local hot spot, La Grande Orange, for some fun conversation over happy hour. This trendy little spot was happening and alive with people recovering from their weeks and unwinding for the weekend!

We enjoyed red and white sangrias, both very tasty….

…and soon headed down the main street to peek inside restaurants and bars before settling into a local seafood joint.

The next day, we hopped up and ran like little kids to the beach. We laughed and giggled as we tried to climb up ropes and reflected in our childhood while on the swings. But this playground with balance beams, swings, monkey bars and rings was all grown up!

From there we wandered over to the much talked about 3rd Street Promenade. Lots of shopping and people watching, musicians trying to make a name for themselves and homeless people hopeful you will spare some change. A weekend farmers markets blocked off one of the streets as locals came out for fresh local fruits, veggies, meats and beautiful flowers.

We soaked up the sights and yummy smells before finding our breakfast spot, Barney’s Beanery. Sitting at a table along the promenade, the sun beating down on our faces, we enjoyed a Bloody Mary (me) and coffee (him) just as a local artist started singing Blackbird. It was the perfect complement t to our relaxing morning and breakfast. I couldn’t have asked for more.

We headed back to Gordon’s and picked him up before driving up the PCH toward Malibu for a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains, the Solstice Canyon Trail.

The drive north was breathtaking as we passed house after ginormius magnificent house sitting on the edge of the hills with its tip toes on the beach.

We hiked our way to the ruins of a home that once sat among mountains and waterfalls.

Old chimneys and bits of Spanish stone were all that remain.

Back at the car, we take in the view before heading home.

Sitting on the roof of Shangri La, drinking gin and tonics as the sun creeps down between the mountains and the clouds, popping out for a final farewell for the evening.

Leaving us for the day as we now embrace the fire pit as our only source of warmth. Soon enough we are surrounded by new friends and great conversation.

We bid adieu to a new favorite spot and venture out to explore new places and gain new experiences in this city that I am still in awe of.  Taking the recommendation from a foodie, we head to Gjelina, only to put our name on the bottom of an hour and a half wait list at 8:30! Yikes!

I love this light fixture at Gjelina.

Patient, we are not, so we head across the street to discover an amazing Sushi restaurant. We have our favorites and this definitely ranks among them!

Shima on Abbot Kinney Blvd was amazingly fresh! We sat at the Sushi Bar, while these men made sushi like an art form, handling each piece of fish like they are doing brain surgery. Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t relate food to major surgery, but it was incredible to watch; we fully enjoyed it.

To make up for passing on the high profile restaurant, we head back across the street to pick up our reservation where we left off and catch it in time for dessert and the not to be missed celebrity sighting, Kim Raver! Too cool!

Ending a wonderful evening, we head over to some great friends of James’, Rudy and Kendall, much later than we would like. They are kind enough to put us up for the night in their beautiful home. The next morning we enjoy some time catching up with Rudy, while Kendall is taking on the Surf City Half Marathon! Props to her!

We caught a quite enjoyable breakfast at a neighborhood joint called Bake and Broil.

For a brief moment in time, we feel like locals as we enjoy our coffee at the counter and chat with our server about the super bowl game that evening. It’s as though we are there every Sunday morning.

With full, happy tummies, we take the 405 North to check out the highly recommended Getty Museum.

The place was beyond incredible. The architecture by Richard Meier was breathtaking. Each curve and corner created a different piece of art depending on your vantage point.

I wanted to look at each building on this campus 100 different ways from every perspective possible to gain all I could from the beauty of this place. The artwork inside was inspiring as well, but my eye enjoyed the beauty of the strong stone columns and walls and the gently sweeping curves.

After exhausting our minds and legs, we took the tram back to our car and headed over to Venice Beach for a different kind of view.

I’ve heard many interesting comments about this supposed seedy yet colorful town and wanted to experience it for myself. Our time there was short and sweet, but not nearly as sketchy as I had expected. Perhaps I will need to spend more time there to see it in all its glory, but there might be other places higher in my list before I return.

We made our way to Trader Joe’s to pick up some fun snacks for the Super Bowl, before settling in at Rudy and Kendalls to watch the Packers take on the Steelers. We took pleasure in the beautiful warm California sun as we sat outside and enjoyed one another before the game started. So close to LA, yet we felt tucked away in cozy neighborhood.

Before we knew it, we were saying goodbye and planning our reunion in Las Vegas!  We headed back home, but this time without traffic.  And while we had an amazing time exploring these incredible parts of California, we are happy to call the much slower paced San Diego home and very thankful for great friends who let us crash at their places!  Thanks Gordon, Rudy and Kendall!

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