One Week in Santa Monica

That’s where I’ve been the past week, con las hermanitas. West LA being the delightfully surreal place that it was, I came back feeling ebullient but slightly shell-shocked–hence the dearth of posts.

I’ll try to sum up the trip here, and add pictures (taken on real live film) when I get them back.

Day One
Adjust to the fact that you have just gone from the mid nineties to the mid-sixties in roughly an hour. I brought my Baby Ull cardigan as a just-in-case and ended up wearing it.

Take lots of pictures of the absolutely outrageous plants.

Day Two
Take the bus to see Son of Rambow (terrific, terrific movie) at the Landmark. The theatre specializes in art films, and has all sorts of little perks, like specialty chocolate at the concessions stand and leather seats. My favorite part is that you actually reserve where you will sit when you order tickets.

Note on the bus: it is the only inexpensive thing you will find in Santa Monica, and it takes you everywhere.

For instance, we decided to go to Century City after the movie, and all we did was walk down the street a ways and hop another bus. Century city is outdoors, not a problem when it’s still only in the mid-sixties, and all very exclusive. Needless to say, we didn’t buy very much. We did, however, indulge in the Pinkberry phenomenon. It’s frozen yogurt with toppings (fruit, chocolate chips, cereal, etc), that is all the rage in LA. I can see why–it’s really good, and after a lunch of Clif bars, apples, and movie popcorn, the perfect snack (if you find yourself inside a store, I recommend raspberries, chocolate chips, and rice candy).

Day Three
The Promenade. Read it with a film noir orchestra in the background: this is one of the most formidable shopping locations to attempt. Do not, I repeat, do not go at night if you value your safety or the contents of your purse. And don’t be put off by all the chain stores there. The Starbucks has a music bar inside. The Forever 21 has three floors. These locations blow all the dinky little chain installations at our malls out of the water–if we even have them. Century City had the first Container Store I’d seen in eons, and on the west side of the Promenade is a Panera, the pinnacle of all bakery-cafés and also absent from all shopping centers at home.

If you manage to escape the clutches of the Promenade, check out the “recycled clothing” (secondhand) stores nearby. Crossroads arranged its racks by color, Wasteland by approximate size (designers cannot be bothered to calibrate their masterpieces to what the masses wear, dahling). Both have great selections, we made purchases at both, but Wasteland wins hands down because Luke of Colour fame works there (he’s still way cool).

Day Four
The beach and Main street.

Begin with breakfast at the Omelette Parlor. We discovered this one a few summers ago because it was near the hotel we were staying in. On vacations we largely subsist on health bars, bagels, and late dinners, and when we first tried this, it was like dying and going to heaven. The food is crazy good, and comes in huge portions. You can either share to cut costs, or attempt the Herculean task of finishing a plate by yourself. The latter option saves you the trouble of scavenging for lunch.

Hit the beach off Ocean Park. We learned by trial and error that anything too far north or south of this just gets icky. Early weekday mornings, it’s empty, just some joggers and surfers. And, as we discovered, dolphins. We didn’t get any pictures–they were just too amazing to stop watching. Another amazing experience: I didn’t get sunburnt.

Main street is largely window shopping as well, but we always hit the bead shop and ZJ Boarding House (the “Ladies’ Lounge”), and often surface with purchases.

Forget Starbucks–a block north is Amelia’s, and their lattes are far superior.

At this point, we were seriously losing steam, but managed to drag ourselves into the California Heritage Museum, which turned out to be a neat little place, perfect for decompressing.

Day Five
Montana Avenue. Oodles of posh posh posh little boutiques, cafés where the rich and famous eat, and one overpriced yarn store with unfriendly personnel. We won’t name names. Do coffee at Peet’s and get your snack at Grateful Bread.

Day Six

Everyone was getting tired and cranky (and the temperature had maxed at a slightly sticky 92), but we pulled it together, braved the Pico bus (that’s the view from the stop above), and rode down to the holy grail: the Beverlywood Bakery. This is an old-fashioned, back-east style bakery, where the babka is to die for and the workers wear smocks. Ignore the cranky lady who is always working, and go for the cookies with the chocolate dollop on top.

One absolutely over-the-top week that I hope to repeat next summer. There was knitting, most of it KIPping, all of which will be chronicled in the next post.

P.S. That post never made it. In sum, it was fun. There was time for knitting on the bus every day (Hermanita was the navigator this time), and in the afternoons and evenings when we were all too burnt out to move. I saw my very first knitter-on-the-bus (besides me, I mean) going down to Main Street. Can you believe? I’d seen beaders and cross-stitchers, but never a knitter. She was making a very clean-looking white item with dainty pink stripes–part of a little girl’s sweater, I believe. Another first–all my projects were in tune with the pace of the vacation, all small, portable, and engaging without requiring too much attention.

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