Travel Journal // 3 Days in Los Angeles

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“I don’t even notice that anymore.”

Strolling down the sunny streets of Los Angeles, my friend - a now one-year California resident and my hospitable host for the weekend - told me this as I enthusiastically pointed out the mountains surrounding us and just how absurdly skinny and tall the palm trees were (“Just like the people,” he noted).

“I don’t even notice that anymore.”

Another friend told me this same thing once as I was describing an Arizona sunset I had witnessed; as someone who had grown up there, he no longer noticed the way the browns of the desert soak in the stains of the sinking sun, the mountains a canvas to the pinks and oranges.

“I don’t even notice that anymore.”

I once had a college friend from southern California joyfully marvel at her first experience with a thunderstorm upon moving to Tennessee. As a native Southerner, the frequent thunderstorms were hardly a novel to me; my only notice of them was as an inconvenience when caught outside in a downpour.

“I don’t even notice that anymore.”

I wonder how often I’ve said or thought that before, how often I’ve completely overlooked the beauty of my own Tennessee home. How often do I ignore the delight of a rainstorm in the night, the way the thunder rolls slowly through, the lightning flashing across the darkness as I remain warm under my covers? How often do I fail to notice the way the mist hangs low over the lush green Nashville hills after a summer’s rain? How often do I not take note of a cool, fall morning, the flash of a cardinal’s plume in the golden-leaved trees? 

Routine so easily mutes the wonders that we encounter daily, doesn’t it?

This is the necessity of travel: We need to explore unfamiliar locales, be charmed by different delights - not only to open our eyes to the magic of destinations far-off - but also to remind ourselves just how marvelous this world we live in really is, even at home.

California was this reminder for me. Below are some photos and notes from my first adventure to the West Coast.

EXPLORE.

Rooftop view in Koreatown.

El Matador Beach, Malibu. One of my favorite places I visited, this beach is the incarnation of all my California imaginings.

Hiking in Zuma Canyon, Malibu. I'm all about a good hike. This was a good hike.

Point Dume. This was my first experience watching the sunset over the Pacific and it was DOPE/SICK/LIT/WICKED (pick your regional adjective of choice).

Palm Trees. THEY ARE SO TALL!!!

God bless America slash the U.K.

The Cahuenga Peak HikeThis you-WILL-sweat hike in Griffith Park takes you up and up and up a mountain trail, past the Wisdom Tree and to the Hollywood sign, with views of the Hollywood Reservoir and San Fernando Valley along the way. The sights are worth the physical exertion, especially at sunset. Do what we ignorantly did not do and take water with you.

The Original Farmer's Market at The Grove. So much food. So much practicing self-control to not purchase and consume all the food. Restaurants, a movie theater, and shopping (featuring major chain retailers) are found at The Grove. This is a good way to spend an overcast day and nearly all your money on jeans that actually fit well from Top Shop.

DINE.

GrubMy first stop after landing jet-lagged from an early morning flight west, this cozy restaurant had some of the best sangria I've ever enjoyed; the food - eggs, bacon and garlic and herb roasted potatoes for me - was also oh-so-so-SO tasty. It's a good thing I live 2,000 miles away, otherwise I would likely spend 87% of my bi-weekly paycheck on brunching here at every opportunity. (And then I would be poor.) For those attempting to budget their hard-earned funds, brunch and a 1/2 carafe of sangria split between two costs a bit more than $22 with tip.

Kitchen24Found in Hollywood, this place is open 24 hours/7 days a week (hence its name). I enjoyed the mocha you see pictured above and an omelette that filled half the plate, leaving me enough for leftovers the following morning. The roasted potatoes on the side were the best I've ever had, and that's not just an exaggeration haphazardly tossed around but a very real fact of life. The waitstaff was also exceptionally friendly, and it should be noted that it was at this establishment I learned I'm not the only one who loves Mumford and Sons' Wilder Mind album, a fellow diner patron appreciates it subtle glory just as much as I do. Cost-wise, my meal and coffee cost $20 with tip.

INDULGE.

Marmalade Cafe. This cafe is found next to the Farmer's Market; we only stopped in for a drink, so I can't provide any opinion on the food, but the Peach Madness cocktail seen above was everything I've ever wanted in an alcoholic beverage. It may have cost me $10.50 for this one drink but WHO CARES!

MONEY STUFF.

I was able to find a direct roundtrip flight from Nashville to Los Angeles for $233 on American Airlines, a personal victory given that when I had looked at flights last year, they were closer to $400. A friend flew roundtrip from Dallas to L.A. on budget airline Spirit for under $100 recently, and Frontier, another budget airline, also features low-cost flights to L.A. out of select airports. (For instance, you can find flights on Frontier for as low as $49 each way out of Chicago O'Hare in February.) The trick for finding affordable flights to L.A. is to keep an eye on fares and catch them when they dip.

I've written more about traveling on entry-level wages in How to Travel on a Post-Grad Budget, Part I and Part II.

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NEW TO AIRBNB?

While I didn't stay in an Airbnb during this trip, I stayed in THE most delightful Studio City Airbnb when I came back to Los Angeles in April 2018. If you haven't given it a try yet, get $40 off your first stay with my referral code!


NOW PLAYING

"The Sound" // The 1975

Here's the thing. I'm really obsessed with The 1975 and have been for a solid two years now. I understand the word "obsessed" has unhealthy connotations to it, and I'm willing to accept - without hesitation! - this word as a description of my love for this band, connotations and all.

"The Sound" is the band's latest single from their forthcoming album, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it (I may be obsessed but I'm rational enough to be able to acknowledge how RIDICULOUS of an album title this is), out February 26 (SO SOON!!!!!). I listen to this song an average of 13 times per day, including throughout the entirety of my trip to California; my friend and I may or may not have jammed to this on repeat for an entire LA-traffic-filled drive. It's a pop song, yes, but a smart one, sporting lines like "A sycophantic, prophetic, Socratic junkie wannabe" which leaves faint my vocab-loving heart.

I CAN'T WAIT TO DANCE TO THIS LIVE.