Weekend Series: New York City

Wednesday 23 March 2016

I'm a city girl and even I find New York City slightly overwhelming. The city is on a frequency that I haven't experienced anywhere else, nor do I care to, as I'm certain NYC is the only place on earth that can pull it off without its population spontaneously combusting from being permanently on overdrive. I should have prefaced this post with the obvious statement: I can't image myself living in New York City, I'm not a robust enough human for life in the super-fast lane; however, on the flip side, I cherish every {temporary} trip to the Big Apple and fall slowly more in love with the city a little more every time I go. My sister moved there 5 months ago, and given Austin to NYC is considerably closer than Brussels to Perth, it's safe to say I plan on making regular visits to see her in the City. Thus, assuming this won't be my last trip {based on the hopes that my big sister will indeed have me as a lodger in her home} I've decided to start a NYC mini-series on here for all the delightful spots I encounter on each visit. Starting with this post, I hope to grow this little series with every trip to NYC and share how I spend my time wandering the city like a local with locals. 

Brunch in Nolita
Oficina Latina, 24 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012

Williamsburg Bridge

 Drinks at the dog-friendly Luck Dog in Williamsburg
Lucky Dog, 303 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Kinfolk Coffee
Kinfolk, 90Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY, 11211

Strolls through Washington Square Park

Gasoline Alley Coffee
Gasoline Alley Coffee, 325 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012

Grand Central

Weekend City Guide: Los Angeles

Thursday 10 March 2016

Someone once told me that L.A was a place to live and not visit. I must say, I disagree. Behind all the flashing Hollywood lights and tourist-trap t-shirt stands, L.A has a youthful energy with so many little gems waiting to be discovered in each of its different neighrhoods. One thing I would recommend is to make sure you've updated your itunes with some new tracks because it will take a tad longer to get around than you're probaly used to #LAtraffic. 

I've put together an itinerary of our long weekend in L.A a few weeks ago. I felt that we needed more time to get a real sense of everything the city has to offer and I hope to return before too long. 

Friday: Dinner at Lucques
These images were not captured by me, found on Lucques gallery. 

We arrived into L.A quite late on the Friday after a busy week of work and wanted to enjoy a nice dinner with a few cocktails in a cool neighbourhood not far from the hotel. After receiving an epic list of recommendations from a few friends, I made a reservation at Lucques which was exactly what we were looking for. A dimly-lit, exposed brick, foodie heaven is what comes to mind when I think of Lucques - dining here was the perfect kick off to a wonderful weekend. The servers were warm and attentive, they refilled our bread basket three-times which is probably a massive faux pax in this part of L.A but, whatever, I eat bread and I have no regrets about it. I ordered the pan roasted ling cod and Matt ordered the braised beef short ribs which he described as 'the best ribs he's ever had'.

Morning: my other half doesn't function without a strong coffee in the morning, so we ventured out on foot from our West Hollywood hotel, to find a caffeine fix and stumbled upon Coffee Commissary. Coffee #1 and Matt was already thrilled that coffee in L.A ranks higher than coffee in Austin. First win of the day.

Late morning/afternoon: Santa Monica
After breakfast, we spent a few hours walking along the iconic Santa Monica pier embracing all the tacky tourist stalls and food vendors. A day by the sea is not complete without a traditional hot-dog, or veggie-dog in my case, and I was overjoyed Jappa-Dog offered a veggie option for those plant-based foodies wanting to get in on the yumminess. We walked off our veggie-dog induced coma by walking along Third Street Promenade. Note to self: don't go shopping after scarfing down a hot-dog and then attemt to fit into small items of clothing. 

Evening: We had a very "L.A moment' on Saturday evening. I won't bore you with the detail but essentially, we waited in traffic for 3 hours in a failed attempt to make it to Griffith Observatory for sunset. When we finally made it to the entrance we realised the park was closed and had wasted an entire evening stuck in traffic. What does one do in moments of such despair? Eat pizza.
DeSano Pizza Bakery, 4959 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, 90029

Morning / early afternoon: Parts of L.A are known for its creativity, we felt those quirky, eclectic creative vibes {which reminded me of Austin} while exploring Venice beach and Abbot Kinney Blvd. I've mentioned this before on a previous post, but whenever I explore a new city, I try to image which neighbourhood I would live in if I were to move, and for me, it would be this one. I could have spent an entire day moseying in and out of each boutiqe, admiring the residential streets and walking along the wonderfully hectic Ocean Font Walk. The top of my list, for breakfast, would be Gjelina, an ultra cool, Cali style cafe which serves seriously dreamy and delicious food. Since our internal clocks were still running on Central Time, we arrived here at 9am, and not long afterwards there was a line out the door. This is a spot for early risers, unless you're willing to wait up to 45 mins for breakky and coffee, which, unfortunately, my body can't handle. 
Gjelina, 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Los Angeles, 90291 
Blue Bottle Coffee, 1103 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice CA, 90291

Late afternoon / evening: head over to Downtown's Grand Central Market for a late lunch/early dinner. The market was an instant hit as soon as we walked in, there are a variety of vendors selling every kind of food. I went for the vegan Ramen Hood option which was delicious, even the egg from the ramen dish below was molded with vegan ingredients to look real. We couldn't leave L.A. without paying a visit to the iconic Hollywood Hall of Fame, so we headed there after Grand Central Market to walk off dinner and play the tourist.
Ramen Hood, Grand Central Market, 317 S Broadway, Los Angeles 90013
{RIP David Bowie}

Morning: There are few things I love more than a beautiful sunrise, and even fewer things worth getting out of bed at 5am for. Watching the sun slowly rise over the mountains onto the sprawling city from Griffith Park was a magical moment. The view from Griffith park has the best views of the downtown skyline and the iconic Hollywood sign, and to see the soft, peachy tones of morning's first light shine on both sights made my trip to L.A feel complete. I truly think you can see any city in a new light when you wake up early enough to see the sunrise over it.

After sunrise we took a ride along Rodeo drive and stopped to grab a coffee, we were hoping that since it was still so early we might have spotted some celebs on their early morning coffee runs, but alas it was not meant to be.
Among L.A's  many awesome breakfast spots is The Hart and the Hunter which happened to be located within the hotel we stayed in, the Pali Hotel. We came back here for breakfast and to pack up our stuff before 11am check out. Oh, and of course we found a bright pink wall and jumped in front of it.
The Hart and the Hunter, Pali Hotel Melrose, 7950 Melrose Avenue, L.A 90046

To finish off, we spent the rest of the afternoon at Manhattan Beach as logistically, it's close enough to the airport so we could make out 5:30pm flight without fear of getting stuck in insane L.A traffic. Once we arrived at Manhattan beach, I felt this place was a best kept secret no-one had told me about. I wished we had spent more time here as it reminded me of Australia in so many wonderful ways. This is definitely a neighbourhood I will be exploring during my next visit.

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