As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I went to California over Christmas. I spent a couple of days in San Francisco before flying out to Los Angeles. I had no real expectations of LA, and to be honest it felt a bit surreal going out there. Most of my friends had raved about it prior to my trip there, but I just thought it was... Big. Massive. And because it's so big, and with limited public transport, it's quite tricky to get a grip of. I certainly didn't in the week I spent there. At the same time, it was pretty fascinating how it felt completely natural to hang out at places like Santa Monica and Venice Beach, although I've never before been and although it's located about 15 hours away from the small town I grew up in in Sweden. Again, pretty sure it's got to do with popular culture. After all, one of my favourite songs growing up was Johnossi's Santa Monica Bay (still a great song).
We'd rented a little houseboat in Marina del Rey which sounded great, until we realised that it didn't really come with a shower... Classic us. We spent one night there before Hotel Tonight-ing and eventually checking in to an AirBnb in West Hollywood instead, only a fifteen minute walk from Hollywood Walk of Fame (which is probably the most underwhelming experience ever).
So what did we actually do in LA? We went for long walks along Venice Beach, where I tried to get to grips with the beach bum phenomenon and was amazed by street performers, who, to be fair, were really fucking funny and delivered as impressive dance moves as they did political analyses. We had drinks at the top of The Standard and exquisite puddings at BonaVista Lounge, a hotel with a rotating restaurant floor and a 360 view of LA.
We celebrated New Years Eve in Hollywood Hills at a friend's friend's house as we basically found ourselves in a scene from the OC. We had exquisite cocktails at a bar just off Santa Monica Boulevard, served by a Welshman from Aberystwyth(!). We went shopping at Abbott Kinney Boulevard (and by shopping I mean buying ludicrously expensive but really pretty pens, and essentially emptying the Aesop store) and had delicious burgers at Umami.
We went to LACMA to enjoy a bit of art, and we managed to fit in an outdoor shopping mall which is probably the most American experience I've had to date. We also went to Walmart which I LOVED. Love Walmart. Always though I would and I definitely did. There's probably not a single thing you could think of that isn't to be found at Walmart? And the best part of going to Walmart was realising that adults can do (almost) whatever they want at Walmart, including playing with all the toys... Hehe.
But our most LA experience was probably Gratitude Cafe. It's obviously all vegan, gluten free, organic, locally sourced etc etc, but beyond that every single meal is called something along the lines of grateful/content/outstanding etc, the idea being that rather than ordering food by saying "could I please have a French toast", you make your order by saying "I am grateful and content". Yep. All done without the slightest hint of sarcasm. All the lols I suppose, but a pretty interesting experience. Very LA indeed.
The best part of the trip, however, was probably when we rented a little car to take us all the way from LA to SF. It's a nine hour insanely beautiful drive, and it was me and my two best people in a car talking about every little single thing in life you could think of. We also did the 36 questions that went viral early last year, though we only managed to do about six of them due to long and interesting conversations around each and every question. And we made a pit stop for a cheeky little skinny dip on January 1st in the Pacific Ocean (which resulted in me being dubbed "The Queen of Skinny Dipping").
And so even though we had a glorious and pretty indulgent week in terms of food, drinks, leisure activities and what not else, the best time during the entire stay was still when I got to hang out with my best people and just chat locked inside a little metal box. Just as well we really like hanging out as we're all meeting up in NYC later this week. I can't wait.