It’s been a couple of weeks since I came back from California, and I finally have the time to sit and write about it (because, work!). The beautiful memories I made there have been swimming in my brain and I’ve had a hard time shaking them away, nor am I sure I even want to…Where to begin?

I guess the overarching theme of this trip was solo travel. I’d travelled completely alone once before, to Ohio for a work conference, and had had the best time, but it was only for a couple of days. This time, I was a little nervous about being on my own for a whole week, and making my way from San Diego (where I was presenting at a conference) to LA (where I was going for fun). Don’t get me wrong, I love being alone and go off on solo adventures at least once a week, but something about being in a new place, without a car, and with somewhat limited means made me slightly apprehensive.

However, with the help of Lyft, Uber, and parsimoniously-used roaming data on my phone, everything went like a dream! California is obviously beautiful, and the people I met were incredibly kind, relaxed, and friendly (despite having had a very difficult few days with the election results). There is truly so much to love and report back about California, so I will stick to some main highlights and favourites for now.

-Already talked about the Korean spa, such a special experience.

– I was a little miffed about “wasting” 3 hours on the Amtrak train from San Diego to LA, but it turned out to be a magical ride. The train is called the Pacific Surfliner and it basically runs ON THE BEACH for over an hour. It was one dreamy ride looking out the window at surfers, waves, and little beach restaurants. Special thanks to my Lyft driver who advised me to get a seat on the beach side of the train for the view.

– Cactus-loving. I could not get enough of all the cactus and succulent babies growing wild all over LA. My first Airbnb in Silverlake was on top of a little hill and each house (more like each California mansion) had its own collection of cacti growing out front. Hundreds of pictures on my phone ensued.

– A visit to Blockshop Textiles HQ. One of the brands I most love and admire, it was such a pleasure to be welcomed into the beautiful Blockshop space in DTLA. Had a great conversation with the lovely Yvette who was manning the office, and may have picked up a little treat from the archives. Side note- DTLA has some amazing street art and architecture, and is well worth a walking tour.

Blockshop HQ!

 

– Lunch (and snack, and dinner)  at Gjusta… Oh Gjusta. I fell in love. My ideal kind of food: simple but quality ingredients, sandwiches, fresh bread, shrubs and iced teas, amazing pastries, and lots of smoked fish. The olive oil cake was pretty much my idea of perfection, as was my lox sandwich bursting at the seams with all the toppings. I also went to Gjusta’s sister restaurant, Gjelina, for pizza and the best dessert I’ve had all year: sticky date cake with ginger gelato and whiskey toffee sauce. YUMMMMM. I’m getting the cookbook asap.

Pizza at Gjelina, I eat-pray-loved hard on this one

 

 

– Swimming in the Pacific and beachcombing on Venice beach. Also, felt very tempted to learn surfing, must make this happen in the future.

 

 

 

 

-Biking on the boardwalk to the Santa Monica farmers market, and sampling everything there. California citrus is edible sunshine- the meyer lemons and key limes were basically candy, and I tried at least 5 different kinds of organic dates. Also bought some raw almond butter and drank delicious almond milk freshly made by a bearded hippie.

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-Kundalini yoga at the RA MA institute. A yoga class with Guru Jagat was on the top of my list, and RA MA did not disappoint! I ended up getting a 3-class pass for $15, to experience different teachers . Kundalini is a game changer, I felt my magnetic field being charged for hours after class.

-The Los Angeles Flower Market. Okay, I bought bulk seashells there. But the flowers were amazing! 2 whole warehouses filled with flowers and plants, what a delight. There’s one man there selling bulk seashells and crystals, and I convinced him to sell me half a pound of mixed shells for fun and because I recently bought a book on identifying shells and needed practice materials.

Flower Market

 

-The Mexican food!! Sooo good, all day every day. I even ended up eating sope and tacos for breakfast one day on the side of the road because the place looked so good.

– Supermoon watching at Griffith park. I was lucky enough to be able to time my trip with the November supermoon, and decided to do the Griffith park observatory that night. Part of the joy of travelling alone is talking to people you otherwise might not approach, which is how I ended up waiting for the moon rise next to a group of National Geographic photographers, who kindly lent me their lens to get a clear view of Luna, craters and all. A magical experience (even though I then lost cell reception and had to walk 2 km in the dark back to the main road to call a Lyft).

 

Well…. Now I’m dreaming back even harder than before. Any LA highlights I missed and should add to the list for a future trip there?