You went where?? // LA 1

Yes, I was just in LA…

BUT nothing says celebrating the end of finals like a quick little trip! And that’s exactly what I did after finding SUPER cheap flights and making fun plans (stay tuned for details on that).

Thursday morning, I woke and went about my day: ate breakfast, got dressed, went to class, took my last final for summer quarter. After the final, it was go go go because silly old me decided to wait 2 hours before I needed to leave to pack. Typical me. I scrambled around my apartment grabbing clothes and tidying the place while trying to scramble my last egg (and last piece of food in my refrigerator) for lunch with soaking wet hair from a quick shower. Yeah, obviously not the best planning on my part.

It was all fine and dandy. I made it down to the airport and through security in record time. Now it happened to be a full moon, and I don’t know if that had any impact, but man were people weird. Even I was feeling a little off. I usually go to Wendy’s for my preflight vanilla frosty and fries, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I only got the frosty, which tasted funky, and opted for chips and guac instead of fries. On the plane, things got even stranger when someone actually HELPED ME put my bag in the overhead. Usually, other passengers just watch me struggle. People were being rude and inconsiderate on the plane and we got in much later than anticipated. I’m just going to attribute all these quirks to the full moon.

Aunt Caroline was kind enough to pick me up from the mess that is LAX. We, jokingly, call her our uber driver because she's always chauffeuring us around. 

She and I were going back and forth between who was late and early for my arrival/pick up. I landed early and she was running late, but then I ended up taxiing for quite a while and she pulled into the cell phone lot early. Once I finally emerged from the airport, I called her to come get me. Turns out her car battery died and she had to call AAA to help her restart it because no one in the cell phone lot had jumper cables or a willingness to help her; AAA assured her they'd be there within 30 minutes. GREAT. In the mean time I wandered the terminals, trying to find a good pick up spot for a crazy Thursday evening.

45 minutes after I had landed, I heard a car honking nearby and Caroline waving at me to get in the car. I opened the door and yelled “this is already a one star experience” to which she laughed (uber has a 5 star system for drivers where users rate their experience). It was pretty early in the night, and Gina and my mom weren’t flying in until later, so we decided to make a target run.

Let’s just say that this was also a painful experience, mostly because I was tired and still laughing from the battery dying. We wandered Target for a while and I ultimately demoted Caroline’s uber driving to a half a star. Yeah, it was that bad.

I hadn’t had a real dinner yet, so I munched on a 3 Musketeer Bar and almond butter while Caroline bought her assortment of groceries and held up the line.

Well, that stuff wasn’t going to sustain me, and on the way to Aunt Julie’s we stopped by the new-ish Shake Shack to grab a proper meal (okay more substantial meal).

We split a chicken sandwich, cheesy bacon fries, and strawberry limeade lemonade while gawking over how many people were at the restaurant on a Thursday evening at 10:30 pm.

After the ordeal of getting me from the airport to Julie’s, we arrived around 11 pm to which Julie inquired, “What took you guys so long?!”.

I unloaded my luggage, hit the sack and passed out in bed only to be awoken by Gina and mom arriving around 1 am. COOOOOOOL. They got ready for bed, but we ended up staying awake for about an hour exchanging funny stories from the day. Despite being woken up, I will say, that was one of the best nights sleep I’ve gotten in a while and I desperately needed that. I slept like a rock.

As always, we hit the ground running on Friday morning with family brunch at Blu Jam Cafe. With our family meals, there’s always laughter and the taking of funny pictures. Xander and I had a paper straw war and he even tried a little bit of Chris' coffee. For the record he grimaced.

Cousin love!

Gina and I decided to split the signature Eggs Benedict and we were not disappointed. If you ever go here, make sure you get ketchup, it's killer!

We went our separate ways after brunch. The Swiss Family had a slew of things in store for the day. First up was Manhattan Beach. Now, I was super salty about not going surfing that morning. Manhattan Beach definitely made up for it when we arrived. As we drove over the crest of the hill, the road lead directly down to the cutest little pier with prettiest sand and blue ocean water. 

Mom parked the car (on a sketchy hill, thank goodness for parking brakes!) and we strolled the pier while watching the surfers catch some waves and the beach volleyball players go back and forth. Fun fact, Manhattan Beach was where beach volleyball was first started!

To get to the shops, we had to climb the nasty hill, but all was worth it because there were fun shops/boutiques and I got to meet this little cutie named Josie. 

As we wandered, Manhattan Beach Creamery caught our eye and we just had to get some. It was pretty hot out. They had lots of fun flavors and I was having trouble deciding between Cookie Monster and Cookie Dough, and naturally I ordered both. What a dumb idea. It was wayyyyy too much ice cream. I instantly regretted it when the scooper handed me my cone. Oh well, it was delicious. 

We took our ice cream cones down to the beach path and admired the beautiful homes right on the beach. One for sale caught our eye and we seriously considered the idea of a beach house...that was until we looked at the price, $12.9 million. I don't know about you, but I don't have that much money to drop. In all honesty, it was probably 12 million for land and .9 for the house; still a bit out of my budget. 

Itching for more exploration, we made the trek towards downtown and decided to check out the roses at Exposition Park. USC happens to be right across the way and after circling the area, we cut across campus to get to the park. I'll admit, this is a gorgeous campus. Absolutely gorgeous. AND COMPLETELY FLAT, NO HILLS. But it's still USC and ewwww. 

Exposition Park was delightful and perfect for the sunny day. The park is surrounded by a few museums, but we stuck to the pretty flowers. Although, there were lots of large beetles and bees (well duh on this one) and they almost attacked Gina. 

Since we were so close to downtown LA, or as Gina referred to it "DTLA", we drove into the city to check out some rad walls and murals. Before we did our photo op, we fueled up at 85 degrees Bakery for some fresh pastries. Well, sort of pastries; Gina and I picked out garlic bread and a bread/hot dog combination. Sounds weird, but trust me it was SO GOOD. 

We made our way over this Damien Hirst-esque mural by a street artists known as The Most Famous Artist.

I love all of the colors and the sheer magnitude of the mural. There was even a cute little honey bear bottle.

After our picture fun, we braved the first wave of traffic and headed up to Echo Park in Silverlake. As we approached the park, we were worried about parking, but managed to snag a prime spot, right on the outskirts. 

We hopped out and took in the beautiful park with paddle-boats in the water and the downtown skyline in the distance. Such a gorgeous day! On our way out, we spotted a film crew, classic LA. 

On our way out, we took Sunset Boulevard over to the Bates Motel by Vincent Lamouroux. The place is an old motel painted completely white, even the palm trees and fronds were white! Mom being the highly acclaimed art critic remarked "this is it? that's all? we came over here for this?". It was a little anticlimactic, but still pretty cool. 

By this time, traffic was in full force, and we trekked some more towards Playa Vista to meet up with the family for dinner after Xander's football practice. At dinner, we told everyone about our day and they were all mortified. To someone from LA or familiar with the area, this is absolutely insane. We basically went back and forth between the west and east side which is just unheard of because of how bad traffic is.

For this Swiss Family, it's just an average travel day!