Sunday, March 10, 2019

California Dreamin' - LA Vacation Part 1

Tall buildings.  Being up high on things.  Being up high on tall buildings looking down. Sunsets. Food.  The Ocean.  Rivers. Mountains.  Natural beauty.  Snow.  More Food.  Walking around cities. Exploring.  Animals.  Dinosaurs.  Fossils.  Flowers.  Blue Sky.  Clouds.  Big cities at night all lit up. I'll stop now, but those are all things that I really like to do, see, experience.  So, no surprise on vacations these are the things that interest me.  I love being in big cities but I also like being the only one as far as I can see on the side of a snow covered mountain, or listening to the waves of the ocean crash against the shore.  Oh and food, of course that, THAT list can go on an on. 

This past November my husband and I went to Los Angeles for 7 days, SEVEN days! That includes travel, but on both day 1 and 7 we were able to get in some great experiences.  I went a couple times as a kid to visit family and Zac also had been once as a kid, but neither of us had been as adults and certainly not together.  I love California.  So diverse - plenty of all those things I listed at the top and more.  It's been 4 months (life happened and I got behind on blogging) but I've enjoyed recounting our trip. Here you are, the McCrary tour of LA!   Zac gets a lot of credit for our itinerary, it was a team effort for sure!  This post will be Day 1 (really a half day) and Day 2 of our trip.  

View from our room of the Hollywood Hills and Bel Air areas

Thanks to all Zac's work travel, we had enough Hilton points to stay for free for 6 nights 7 days at the brand new Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills.  I have never stayed anywhere so swanky, and let me tell you, that is how to do it my friends.  It was A-W-E-S-O-M-E.  I felt like Kevin McAlister in Home Alone 2 when he was at the Plaza.  (Yes we ordered a dessert cart with ice cream sundaes at some point!).  They treated us very well, it was convenient to all we wanted to do, great view from the room (above), awesome rooftop pool with excellent view (remember how I like being up high on things), and would stay there again in a heart beat!  After taking in the awesomeness that was our room, we timed it right to catch our first LA sunset from the rooftop!  

It was a little smoky this first night, after that did not notice the smoke from nearby wildfires. 

Beverly Hilton was next door

Evening drinks and snacks at the rooftop bar

Avocado Toast with pumpkin seeds, poached eggs, chili flakes, lime. 

We were just a couple blocks from the Rodeo Drive area, and headed there first to stretch our legs after all day of traveling.  No, didn't buy anything, too rich for my taste!

Blurry but this pic below is the Beverly Wilshire hotel. Google it, historic and lots of movie star and famous people have lived/stayed here.  Also, Pretty Woman! 

Now time to head to the ocean!! Yes it's dark, but the ocean is cool at night!  Santa Monica Pier was fun, we didn't stay there long, it's like a big fair/amusement park, but glad to have seen it all lit up at night.

The Pacific Ocean!
Ok, time for dinner.  Zac sleuth-ed out a cool looking menu at Tar and Roses in Santa Monica.

Grilled Octopus would be near the top of my all-time favorite things to eat. This did not disappoint. 

Wood Roasted English Peas.  Man these were good.  Messy, but good.  

Crispy pig tails with sriracha, honey, and cilantro.  They were crispy alright! 

Yep, that's Bone Marrow, with red onion marmalade. 

Singaporean Chili Crab Cake 

Fried Cauliflower with lavender spiced honey and ricotta salada.  After the octopus, prob my 2nd fave dish of the night. 

We headed back to the hotel for the night after dinner (it was pretty late local time, still adjusting from Central time).  I could write an entire blog post about how awesome our hotel was, one thing I never got over was the turn down service!  Too bad someone can't come do that at my house every day.  They even coiled our chargers.

Day 2 began with our sleeping in a little bit (it's vacation after all!).  The smoke/clouds had cleared and we had a beautiful day in store!  It was Sunday, which was farmers market day in town, so our plan was to hit a farmers market, get some brunch, walk around a bit / people watch, and by late afternoon have made our way down to Hermosa Beach where we had tickets to see Jay Leno at The Comedy and Magic Club.  

We started out in Brentwood strolling through the Brentwood Farmer's Market.  I love farmers markets, so much cool stuff to see! 


oh, and they have lots of free samples! 

Chicken and waffles and Strawberry-Nutella waffles in one! 

These flowers were all over the place

Next up was the Brentwood Country Mart, lots of movie stars have been seen here, known for good places to eat and shop.

All of these things but the cinnamon roll were vegan!  Never would have known. They were all delicious! 

Should have bought these. 

After Brentwood we Uber'd further up the hills to Pacific Palisades.  First stop there was Gelson's market, Zac had heard various comedians and movie stars mention it.  Check out all the dragon fruit!  Bought some for a snack.  

Palisades Village area, Bay Theater
WE SAW ADAM SANDLER.  That's right, in the flesh, just wandering around the Palisades Village. The area had a lot of restaurants and coffee shops, had lots of activity, and there he was just like any other person going about his business.  Zac made a sort of head gesture hello to him, and he looked at us as he walked by and said "Hey Guys" and did a little wave.  We are BFFs now.

Closer to our hotel we stopped at Eataly LA, and Italian market/restaurant that Mario Batali started, there is one in NYC that we didn't make it to when we went there, so wanted to check this one out. It's in Century City (Die Hard Fans - Nakatomi Plaza is in Century City, you could see a part of the building from our hotel roof!). 

at Eataly
After some afternoon rest, time to go see the ocean again!  Next stop = Manhattan Beach a little sound of Beverly Hills.  The weather was perfect!

Manhattan Beach

on the Manhattan Beach Pier, Malibu way off in the distance

Manhattan Beach sunset.  Perfect! 
The beach along LA shore (there is a lot of it) is very pedestrian (and bike) friendly.  We walked a little over 2 miles down the beach to Hermosa Beach.  A personal side note - this is where my grandmother grew up.  It was neat to see areas that were there (like the pier) when she was there, and just experience the area in general.

Hermosa Beach Pier.  Back in the day my grandmother walked to this Pier to go to the library. 

And now to see Jay Leno!

The puffy shirt! 

Zac snuck this photo, glad we didn't get kicked out! No photos allowed....

After all that, we were hungry again.  We had a late dinner at the rooftop restaurant at our hotel (THE WALDORF REMEMBER), in perfect weather.  Can't describe what a fun thing it was to be on top of a building, outside, eating a great dinner, looking at views of the LA skyline and surrounding areas all lit up, temperature was perfect, dang I'd love to be there now!

Zac's dinner, pasta obviously, it was good! 

Crab cake burger and fries

Hollywood Hills

And that my friends ends day 2, look for the next chapter coming soon!! 

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