The Los Angeles Report

Nov 19, 2009 by

Readers, I just came back from a gorgeous sunny weekend in L.A.  that was filled with all sorts of fun.  Hubby had some frequent flyer miles that had to be used before they expired, and I have a good friend who is finishing graduate school and she and her family offered to host me for a weekend so out I went.  My brother took me to the airport and offered the following advice: Eat Mexican, especially breakfast burritos and sushi, make sure you get some sushi.

I arrived on Friday in early afternoon and we drove to the Westwood area and wandered around a bit and settled in at the Napa Valley Grille a mini-chain for lunch.  They had a nice salad/soup/sandwich combo and outdoor seating which drew us in, and I was rather hungry after my flight so sushi or something light, wouldn’t quite do.  Then we headed up to The Getty.  The Getty is free (ahem), but it does cost $15 to park.  It sits up on top of a hill and the building as a whole is just a remarkable structure in terms of architecture.  The textures, use of light and space make it a lot of fun.  They have some really amazing art ranging from Turner’s with really white/blue skies a departure from his dark ominous stormy skies you normally see, Van Gogh’s, really well put together decorative art rooms with interesting paneled walls, tapestry and furniture, then onto pastels by Toulouse Lautrec and different seasonal exhibits.  Outside the terraced gardens are beautiful with bougainvillea, roses, pomegranate trees all manicured and placed amongst fountains and interesting shaped paths.  There is also a cactus garden which has a beautiful view that extends to the ocean on clear days.  As the sun was setting we headed back down to the parking lot on the tram and headed into Santa Monica.

Santa Monica was a lot of fun with lots of shopping, including the 3rd Street promenade lined with dinosaurs spouting water, bars and restaurants.  Along the promenade there are musicians and it is a nice area to go out for an evening.  I unfortunately was limited by East Coast time so we headed home to our neighborhood of La Canada and grabbed some margaritas and Mexican food at Los Gringos Locos, where I had some fresh and wonderful guacamole and tacos, and let’s not forget a huge margarita.  Had I been up for an all nighter East Coast time- I would have made my way over to Father’s Office for some burgers and brews.  But alas after my margarita I fell pretty fast to a state of California dreaming.

I woke the next morning, enjoyed getting some much needed Vitamin D while reading the papers, and then we headed down to the Huntington Library.  Can I just note for anyone who doesn’t know the Huntington Library is not just a library.  The gardens alone are 120 acres, including rose gardens, cactus gardens, lilly ponds, a Japanese Garden and a Chinese Garden.  Then you have multiple buildings of art including The Huntington Art Gallery and Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art.  The Huntington Art Gallery has notables by Gainsborough such as The Blue Boy to Hooper and more sculpture and decorative art.  The Virginia Steele Scott has some noteable Cassats and Stuarts and they have a really nice collection of Greene and Greene work.

All that working can make you work up an appetite.  Luckily, Old Town Pasadena is right around the corner.  Don’t miss out on some of the neat places back the alleys.  We lunched at Cafe Santorini, a Mediterranean Cafe with a nice view and a really beautiful terrace.  Apparently there is a great noodle shop right by the Cheesecake Factory too.  After a nice lunch of chicken kebabs which were good (but Lebanese Taverna don’t worry) we headed down to check out the shops.  A bit of shopping in November in Old Town really isn’t complete without a trip to STATS (the website doesn’t do the gaudiness justice).  Oh yes, STATS is Christmas galore there are rooms of Christmas trees, Christmas villages, Christmas Ornaments and any other holiday necessities.  It is a huge place that really puts you in the mood for Christmas even in L.A.

Now it would be a shame to go to Pasadena and not go see the Greene and Greene houses in Pasadena.  For those of you who don’t know Greene and Greene was the center of the Arts and Crafts movement and you can tour one of their ultimate bungalows the Gamble House. No dinner out tonight because we had a party at home where I was served some fresh artichokes and spare ribs.  There is nothing better than a dinner made for you with love, this one was especially tasty.

Sunday we were off to Newport Beach, Balboa Island and Seal Beach.  On the way to Newport we stopped at Roger’s Gardens– a plant and decorating mecca.  Their arrangements were lovely and their holiday shop beautiful.  Worth a stop if you like plants even if like me back at home it isn’t the growing season.  We then went on to explore Newport Beach.  We then crossed the bridge onto Balboa Island and walked the perimeter of the island checking out the houses, boats and dogs.  On the way to the car we had to stop at Sugar N’ Spice for a Balboa Bar, which is like a homemade klondike bar on a stick with various toppings.  I got mine with heath bar crunch.  They also have frozen bananas dipped in chocolate.  We also stopped in at the Balboa Candy Shop for some saltwater taffy to bring back to the Hubby.  We then drove up to Seal beach and walked downtown and out to the pier.  We stopped at Ruby’s on the pier for an afternoon snack with a view.  The weather was so nice for a day out on the beach.  The night ended with dinner back in Glendale at Pasta Preziosa with the family.  A nice little Italian restaurant with a love of garlic, and since California is home to the Gilroy Garlic Festival, a love of garlic is only appropriate.

The next day was a late start because I had to pack.  Going home with weather so nice was really hard, especially when I was having so much fun and my friend and her family were so gracious to me.  Sitting out on the balcony in the sun looking at their lovely garden and pool it was hard not to want to stay for weeks while Washington, DC gets cold and wet.  We stopped at Ichiban in La Canada (no website that I can find) for some sushi, and it is amazing that even little neighborhood places like this have sushi that is really fresh and succulent.  Here that type of quality and freshness comes with a high price tag, but it was really reasonably priced.  We then drove down through Beverly Hills before going to the airport and I enjoyed the sunny, palm lined streets of endless designer shops and huge houses.  Now I will have to go back for a trip to the Norton-Simon and breakfast burritos.

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I arrived home and took what will probably be my last trip on the People Movers across Dulles.  My Brother-in-law picked me up from the airport, which was nice since Hubby was out of town.  It is always nice to have a familiar face to greet you at the airport.

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1 Comment

  1. Suzanne

    Sounds like STAT put you in the mood for christmas cookie baking! 😉 Just in time…

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