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Californication

Compiling this post was something akin to self-flagellation, given that I am now back in rainy London (and thrilled to have missed the apparent heat wave) and gazing longingly at the bounty of Cali4nyah. We spent 8 days in the City of Angels in all, sandwiching the rest of our road trip with a 4 day kick-starter in West Hollywood, staying with friends near Runyon Canyon and suffixed with a dreamy 4 day sojourn in Venice Beach (at an adorable Air BnB artist’s studio, belonging to an Australian artist with a peace sign tattooed on his bicep and a titillating wifi password of ‘monkeyslut’) and Santa Monica at a hotel I have wanted to stay at for a mere 16 years, since I was 10 (you do the math) after I read about it in a novel called Jemima J, by Jane Green. True story.

Whilst there was not one place in the whole of California that we visited, that was not stunning, it was LA which stole my heart – stole my heart, shoved it in it’s gob and sprinkled some sunshine on it. An aorta or two might still be there, you know. I particularly fell for Venice Beach, which smelt like weed, sounded like a tattoo needle and looked like a washed out heaven. I spotted a chica from One Tree Hill as we cycled around the canals and insulted the dog of a 90210 babe, on Abbot Kinney — sorry Gillian Zinser, yes I did think your dog was a pig. Our best meals were around there and the boutiques on Abbot Kinney and Main Street are sick as you like. From Hollywood Boulevard to Silverlake in West Hollywood, to the canyons to the beach — we covered a lot (aided by our jet-lag induced wake up time of 6am.) Herewith, my highlights.

Wearing Le Specs sunnies, H&M shirt, Topshop cami, vintage Levi’s and Brora espadrilles on Hollywood Boulevard

Mexican skulls on Venice Beach Boardwalk

Biking around the Venice Canals wearing a kaftan from DNA Boutique, Brora espadrilles and Mexican woven bag.

Welcome to Venice Beach

Food

Tart, N.Fairfax, West Hollywood — you can order a ‘hug and a poem’ for $35 (“you can’t put a price on love!” chirped the waitress, when I commented that the hug ‘n poem was the most expensive thing on the menu — to which I responded, “well, yes, you can — and you have”) and boasting offbeat American classics such as buttermilk chicken and black eyed peas.

Chateau Marmont, West Hollywood- I’ve included it despite the fact that it gave me such terrible food poisoning, because before I decided to eject all that food, it actually tasted quite good (oh, and they refunded us). Plus, it’s an iconic LA fixture, thanks to stars like Li-Lo taking perma-residency there and Sofia Coppola making rather slow but romantic films about it.

Cafe Gratitude, Rose Avenue, Venice — superfoodicious organic and raw restaurant serving mouth-watering dishes featuring things like zucchini noodles, teriyaki almonds, watermelon smoothies and vegetable ratatouille.

Hal’s on Abbot Kinney, Venice – Gwyneth Paltrow’s favourite restaurant, dontcha know, and our favourite place the whole trip. Turkey burgers and brilliant live jazz, all night.

Gjelina’s, on Abbot Kinney, Venice – renowned (and rightfully so) Venice restaurant, where I ate ricotta-stuffed sweet red peppers, caramelized onion and gruyere pizza and creme caramel – perfection.

Taco Bell, all around – if LA had a local cuisine, it would be Mexican. And a road trip aint complete without a crispy Dorito taco.

Visit

LA’s version of culture is shopping. Harsh, but perhaps true. There are however some must-sees that don’t involve a shit load of dollar:

Hollywood Boulevard for the 6,000+ Hollywood stars and street murals of famous stars of the past.

The John Paul Getty Centre – incredible white-washed architecture, stuffed full of European art and immaculate, beautiful gardens, with killer views.

Hiking in the Canyons – great for star spotting and incredible LA views. We hiked up Runyon, but there are plenty of others good ones such as Topanga, too.

The Venice Canals – as built by architect Abbot Kinney, who tried to turn Venice Beach into yep, you’ve guessed it, another Venice. The undulating bridges and houses lining the canals are gorgeous.

The Venice Boardwalk – full of trinkets such as painted ceramic Mexican skulls and featuring weed-saturated oddities such as the world-famous Muscle Beach gym, the Venice Freakshow and plenty of other pay-per-view spectacles, it’s best to meander the full length.

Silverlake, East Hollywood – Shoreditch-esque area of Hollywood with expensively cool boutiques, great street art and grafitti and fun coffee bars.

Shopping

LA is famous for it’s super-sized malls – the Grove, The Beverly Hills Centre, Neiman Marcus, Nordstroms, Macy’s, Bloomingdales…. but I’m much more of a boutique girl. Luckily, boutiques are to LA what ducks are to the pond.

The Reformation, on Melrose – the unofficial uniform of the SoCal bloggers such as Sincerely Jules and Rumi Neely, this is one of my absolute favourite and super-hip American labels (Karlie Kloss is a big fan) with tons of backless mini dresses, floaty playsuits and sexi plunging camis. Has a brilliant vintage selection and awesome neon pink shop signage, too.

Verameat on S Beverly Drive – the queens of funky stacking rings, featuring miniature cats, hands, teeth, crosses, lips and more.

Reform School, Silverlake – original, off-beat boutique with lots of great (expensive) artisinal gifts and a good vintage section.

Skylark, Abbot Kinney – affordable boutique with great selection of Replay, vintage Levi’s and tons of very cheap stacking rings.

Satine, Abbot Kinney – famous boutique stocking cool young labels such as Anine Bing and Shakuhachi, as well as pretty bracelets and funky Kenzo bags.

Scotch Soda, Abbot Kinney – smells like a dream and it’s Marant-esque collection of clothing is covetable, too.

Planet Blue, Main Street, Santa Monica – boho deeeelite, with lots of beachy labels such as Blu Moon and Free People and a great selection of lacy undies, Missoni home wear and delicate but affordable jewellery.

Goodwill, Silverlake – if only England had the Goodwill. It puts Oxfam to shame. The Silverlake location of the ridiculously cheap Goodwill chain is a great one as it’s huge – my boyfriend got t-shirts for $2 and I got a silk shirt for $4. Score.

Opening Ceremony, N La Cienega Boulevard, West Hollywood – this shop is literally a dream. It’s actually a compilation of shops and showrooms, with awesomely ‘funky offish’ stock, feat. plenty of Christopher Kane, Kenzo and own label O.C. stuff. Very expensive, but worth a wander just to soak it all up.

Way We Wore, La Brea Avenue – an education in thrift.


Rodeo Drive


Flying the flag with my feet – at Reform School, Silver Lake

Shutters on the Beach, wearing a blouse from Planet Blue


Silverlake, East Hollywood


Skateboarding on Venice Beach


Filth Mart, a thrift store on N.Fairfax, West Hollywood


Finding peep holes at the John Paul Getty Center, wearing a vintage dress by The Reformation and sandals by Jeffrey Campbell


Paul Smith store, Merose Avenue, West Hollywood


Wearing a bikini from Zara Home and RayBan Clubmasters, on Venice Beach


Venice Beach

John Paul Getty Center


Venice Beach


Freak Show on Venice Beach Boardwalk


Venice Beach street art


On Abbot Kinney, Venice Beach, wearing a Juliet Dunn sundress and Vans.


Venice Beach


Venice Beach, wearing an H&M bikini top and Chloe bottoms


Santa Monica Beach


Santa Monica Pier


Santa Monica Beach, wearing a top by Replay, vintage Levi’s shorts and Vans


Our Air BnB apartment on Santa Clara Avenue, Venice Beach


Lovemaking on Venice Beach


Sunset on Santa Monica Beach


Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica


Biking down Santa Clara Avenue wearing a kaftan from DNA Boutique, Brora espadrilles and a Mexican woven bag

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