We had planned to stop off at a beautiful national reserve park on the Californian coast near Carmel called Point Lobos. As we are both huge lovers of nature and animals we were told this would be a fantastic place to visit on his road trip down the west coast, and we were not disappointed. However as soon as we arrived in the park we were warned instantly by both visitors and workers to keep our eyes peeled for Poison Oak/Poison Ivy. However as we are European we had absolutely no idea what the plant looks like and so tried our best to identify it from the very little information we possessed, basically just the name! We then walked down the coast a bit, passed some painters having a lovely day painting the coves and spots crabs, sealife and birds, before finding what we were really looking for……the seals!
We spotted two mother seals lying on the beach and then slowly starts to realise that there are baby seals cavorting in the sea enjoying themselves. As we tried to find a better viewpoint we walked past a colony of birds who were building their nests on the rocks. Finally we got to a point where we can see the the baby seals swimming and playing in the water. We deemed this part of the trip a huge success before heading back to the car to start the drive back down the coast again. On the way we bumped into more staff from the park and they informed us that we just missed seeing the humpback whales breaching 30 minutes earlier. We checked the horizon for a little while but the Whales had sadly moved on. In fact we spent the rest of the days driving down the coast with our eyes on the ocean hoping to see a fin and even once excitedly pulled over mistaking a rock for a whale. Before starting the drive further down the coast though we managed to find an organic cafe called Earthbound farm to stop off at and devoured a made to order organic sandwich and smoothie sitting outside in their garden in the most fabulous countryside. Even though we just wanted to have a nap in the sun we decided to test their organic salted caramel ice cream before setting off on the drive. I can’t explain how delicious it was but then the clue is in the name!
As a little side note we had wanted to book a special ranch in Carmel, that is owned by Clint Eastwood, to stay in but it was sold out. As it looked so cute we thought we would drive past it quickly for some pics and as we pulled into the car park we noticed a wrinkly old man about to get into his car. I was looking at him thinking I know that guy and of course it was Clint himself. We were both too starstruck to speak to him or to ask for a picture which I now regret as I love his films even if I disagree with him nearly entirely on his political outlook.
So after setting off from there, and not taking any pics as the ranch wasn’t as cute as the pics we had seen of it, we literally got about 30 minutes down the coast before having to stop off numerous times because of the plethora of spectacular views: The Bixby Creek Bridge, A Californian Condor, Houses perched on the cliffs, Mountain ranges and more. Then as the sun started to come down we realised we needed to speed up but there was one stop off we couldn’t resist……the Elephant Seal colony at San Simeon. We just managed to get a few shots in the really low light of the males sparring, their coats moulting and the females getting frustrated by one another before it was pitch dark. We made a pact right there and then to drive back in the early morning to get better shots as we both knew we would probably never see something like this again in our lives.
Once up nice and early again we made our return to check out the Elephant Seals in San Simeon in the bright morning light. We watched them partake in their favourite past times of sparring, vocalising, sleeping, flipping sand and moulting. Although we really didn’t want to leave them we then set off down the coast again on Highway one for the next stop off point that is Santa Barbara. ‘Surprisingly’ the first thing on the agenda is some food so it’s off to a Mexican restaurant that we were highly recommended (which sadly didn’t live up to the reputed acclaim). Then as its is getting late again it’s a quick stop off at the beach to check out all the locals taking full advantage of the fantastic weather and location. People were jogging, skateboarding, playing volleyball and a whole host of other activities even including yoga on the beach. It seemed like such an idyllic place to live and so healthy being able to be outdoors all the time and exercising in the fantastic weather.
So after a good night sleep we awoke in Santa Barbara and after all those days slumming it I really needed a blow dry. My boyfriend went off for a quick run around of the town while I was given the worst, geriatric housewife blow dry I have ever had the misfortune to experience. I am usually far too polite to say anything in situations like that and I just never return but it was so bad I had to insist that she re do it and make me look less than double my actual age! Once this ordeal had ended I met up with my boyfriend who had been checking out the architecture, trainer shops and was waxing lyrical about spotting one of his dream cars for sale, a 1956 Porsche 356 speedster. After I saw the pictures and videos he took I have to admit it might be one of my dream cars too now! So after my ordeal I needed a coffee and we went on a search for what was touted as the best coffee shop in Santa Barbara, Handlebar Coffee. The owner kindly showed us his hand roasting technique that he undertakes for every single cup of coffee they produce. I guess it’s this love and attention to detail that makes their coffee so good. Before setting off down the coast we just had time to check out the wonderful building that is the Santa Barbara courthouse and had to have a look around. Finally we set off down Highway One again and made our way into Malibu and of course had to stop off at the first beach we finds. After getting our feet soaking wet, having a wander along the beach and admiring the architecture it was back in the car to finish the last leg of the journey into LA.
So we had finally arrived in Los Angeles and after finding our flat that we were staying in, and doing a little work, we set off to explore the local area of Melrose. We stopped continually to check out loads of the graffiti, street art, architecture, design and shops as we made our way for lunch at Blu Jam Cafe. We ordered eggs Florentine each followed by their signature crunchy French Toast. This in hindsight was a mistake as we should have shared the eggs as by the time we got to the french toast we were already pretty full. This didn’t seem to hamper my boyfriend much but I was having severe difficulties with the portion sizes. I will say the french toast was delicious though! As we set off again we spotted Karrueche Tran on set with a film crew preparing to film her. Always fun to see a celebrity or two! We popped into Urban Outfitters to check out their range of beauty products. Next we wanted to quickly grab some snaps in front of the infamous Paul Smith Pink Wall so we stopped off and took a few shots (along with every blogger in the world) before needing a little caffeine boost with a quick pit stop in coffee shop Alfreds. I then had to check out a shop I had wanted to visit for ages, The Detox Market which had an amazing array of products you can’t get in Europe. I think my boyfriend wanted to kill himself now as I spent about 2 hours in there and he ended up standing in the street and spotting cars to try and amuse himself! I got some brilliant buys in that shop but I spent way too much money and still feeling the pangs of guilt now. If you want to see some of the haul then go to my post here.
Even though my boyfriend had a few missions for work we decided to try and spend some of our second day in Los Angeles doing the tourist trail. We headed to Hollywood Boulevard to check out the Walk of Fame spotted a few celebrity stars and quickly headed to see the famous TCL Chinese Theatre and Dolby cinema where they hold the film premieres. Even this amount of time in this area was too much for both of us, we felt so hugely underwhelmed by the whole experience and in fact just wanted to get away and experience more of the beauty that California has to offer instead. He quickly exited the not before stopping to watch the worst street performer we had ever seen and walking across the street crossing with a billion other people. We then, possibly foolishly, headed to another tourist mecca, the Hollywood sign, to get a few shots. This again was quite underwhelming but what was nicer was driving back through the scenic and beautiful Hollywood hills which had tiny winding roads covered in Aloe Vera and looked more like you were in Mallorca or Rhodes that LA. Next to my boyfriends displeasure we had to head to The Grove mall as I really wanted to go to Honest Beauty’s shop there. You can see all the amazing products I picked up on my blog post for that haul here and then I quickly dashed into the Sephora. I had left my boyfriend to fend for himself at this point and he ended up seeing presidential candidate Bernie Sanders while I was obsessing over beauty products!
Next we decided to visit the Venice area of LA and after having a little look around at the shops, street art and design we grabbed brunch at a restaurant called The Butcher’s Daughter. After finishing our nice lunch but a less than mediocre vegan tiramisu we had a quick tour around a small artisan market before the allure of caffeine became too strong for me to resist. I decided to test out a coffee place I had been told about called Blue Bottle and was slightly surprised when they said they didn’t do Soya Latte’s. However the waitress persuaded me to try their specially produced almond milk latte and I have to tell you, I think i may be a convert. It was so creamy and delicious but I can’t find any almond milk to match theirs anywhere since. We then headed down to check out the canals (I know, it’s still freaking me out how to say Venice Canals……and not think of……well……Venice…….and its canals??) where there were people enjoying messing about on the water. It was so chilled and nice there that it felt like a different world, much more up my street than the teeming areas around the city that everyone else seems to love. After taking in this very pretty and chilled part of Los Angeles it was then down to famous Venice Beach and onto the pier. After spotting the obligatory lifeguards, body boarders, surfers and even helicopters we then wandered up the beach through the thousands of people to the infamous Muscle Beach, which was pretty boring, so we watched some Basketball on the courts before continuing onward. Our journey along Venice Beach took us to a huge crowd that had gathered and stopped to watch what was billed as the greatest show on Venice beach filled with acrobatics, tumbling, break dancing and body popping. Then after checking out some more street art we were so thirsty and had read about a place that sells amazing Lemonade with a rather uninspired name, Lemonade. As time was catching up on us we decided to head off and do a quick drive through of Rodeo Drive to check out the shops before heading up to Bel Air to see all of the houses. By the time we had done this it had become quite dark and grown late and, as my boyfriend had work to do, we decided to get some takeaway Ramen from a wicked little place called Tatsu and head to the apartment.
After these two weeks of driving, meetings, filming, work and tourist exploits we had both agreed we needed to schedule two days out to recuperate. So we booked this time in the infamous desert town of Palm Springs, home to Coachella music festival and film stars past and present. It’s only 2 hours drive from LA to Palm Springs so we set off and when we arrived we checked into the coolest hotel in the area, The Ace Hotel & Swim Club, only to realise that half of the west coast have done the same things as it was memorial day and they all wanted to party! Being so exhausted we just crashed out in their lovely room and chilled that evening hiding from the crazy pool party that was going on outside. The uber hip hotel itself was great with their shabby chic interior! Once the party had ended we really got to really enjoy our stay and to chill out in the sun and their pools, commune, spa and in the fantastic room. I felt so well recuperated after these two days chilling in the sun by the pool, eating well and sleeping in the most fantastically large bed with the softest sheets. Even the shower was amazing and made us feel revived again. I can only say that we had a wonderful experience which was then ruined by having to get to LAX and squeeze back into our economy seats to fly home on the red eye without a wink of sleep…….oh was worth every second to experience such a spectacular place!
I really want to go back soon and do another road trip in California, perhaps this time to see grand canyon and death valley. If you guys have any places you would recommend please tell me so I can start preparing now. I think the one and only drawback of the trip was that we didn’t have long enough to prepare and must have missed so many fantastic things. I really look forward to hearing what you all think and to start planning my next Californian adventure!