Los Angeles is a place that needs no formal introduction, most people seem to have their own idea of what it's like and I suppose one doesn't really know unless they've been there in person. Home to a plethora of West Coast beauty bloggers, host to the original IMATS conventions. A place of fame, fortune and Hollywood...right? Well I'll let you mull over that one on your own but today I want to share with you some my memorable moments from last summer's travels.
Having flown into LAX (LA's international airport) in the heat of the late morning, the first reasonable thing to do is seek out lunch and I knew exactly where to go. Orochon Ramen in the Little Toyko District is still by far my favourite ramen to date (and that's considering Vancouver has a healthy dose of Japanese food).
The heavenly rich broth was filled with some familiar ingredients; bamboo shoots, black cloud fungus, boiled egg, bean sprouts and of course noodles. The first bite instantly reaffirmed that this is still the best. That perfectly chewy noodle, with a non-fatty but wonderfully flavoured porky broth is a must try if you are ever in LA. With one standard bowl bigger than my head, it might be a good idea to bring a friend to share too.
Driving across town, you'll soon notice that it's a city spotted with shinning examples of postmodern architecture among remnants of early 20th century brick and stone buildings (as in the downtown photo earlier).
One of the things that immediately took me by surprise was how cold and windy it can become during the night, despite the flaming heat of the day. Classic desert phenomenal as I'm told by National Geographic shows I've been watching recently but still I was a little under dressed.
Talking about being prepared though, I was very smug with myself for cutting down extensively on my beauty packing and during most of my trip, I rocked an easy combination of light brows, false lashes and my beloved Mizon BB Cream.
If you ever get a bit of time after dinner, one of the most beautiful scenes in the Los Angeles area is the drive along Pacific Ocean Highway from the northern tip of the inner city up into Malibu. The road winds precariously around the edge of rolling hills and mountain top homes with backyard vineyards lit aglow in the setting sun.
Our drive took a turn at Dume Cove, where the curve of the coast cuts into a picturesque strip of protected beach...with million dollar houses perched on the edge of course.
(Side note: I'm not trying to be an awkward tourist on purpose but I'm sure everyone gets excited about cacti the first time right? RIGHT? They're just the coolest looking thing and I wish I had one in my yard.)
Another location I quite enjoyed was the zoo which to my surprise hosted an impressive array of animals from around the world, though to be frank I'm not sure if snow leopards belonged in the desert.
I did however discover a new found love for an avian species. Flamingos, from their bright feathered coats to their long necks, were absolutely fascinating!
A short drive from the zoo and my 2nd favourite spot from this trip is the Griffith Observatory, rising high on the hilltop, which not only is free for visitors but also offers a breath of fresh air above the smog that is downtown LA. Gorgeous architecture with art deco elements, this also happens to be the filming location to the end scene of Rebel without a Cause (James Dean anyone?) which I suddenly realized as I stood at the front lawn.
Popular LA destinations are not without it's disappointments. Having dragged everyone excitedly to Rhodeo Drive, the lane of famous fashion houses like Prada, Fendi and Chanel I was completely over it in 20 minutes.
If you aren't holding a black Amex card then a drive by the area will be sufficient, the big imposing buildings have little displayed in the shop fronts even for the window shopper. However if you are an auto fanatic, this might be a great place to check out rides like the Rolls Royce and Bugatti Veyron parked along the streets.
Back to fun, the ultimate day I spent on my trip was my visit to the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades (a drive down from Malibu). Though as man-made as any other thing in this city, this site is truly a time capsule experience. Set against the scene of the sparkling waters and nestled in the mountain top I've never seen anything like it, to describe this museum as breathtaking might even been an understatement and I have a feeling this is one of the best classical exemplars in North America.
Modeled after an ancient Italian villa in Herculaneum, this museum space housed an extensive collection of Grecian, Roman and Etruscan artifacts. Having spent much of my time pouring over books on the subject, I was beyond excited to see them in person and as all things go, no reproduction beats the real thing.
(Note to self: Must at some point in my life own a back yard large enough to build my own faux peristyle yard with a pool. Add to bucket list.)
Not merely serving as a backdrop to the artwork that it houses, the Getty Villa is in itself exquisitely thought out and designed from the intricate ceiling work to the fun trompe l'oeil on the walls. What it would have been to live here!
As I couldn't decide which photo should be my end cap, I suppose I'll leave you both. On top is the plate of lobster noodles I devoured after 5 days of no Chinese food and the bottom (just prior to eating it) my short stop at the Queen Mary ship at Long Beach (south of LA).
Altogether I can say definitively that LA is not a place I could live in permanently (unless you're renting out the Getty, in which I might reconsider) but it's certainly worth a few visits in one's lifetime.