It’s certainly easy to have mixed feelings about Los Angeles, California but I happened to fall in love enough earlier this year to want to spend an extended amount of time there. I had (and have) spent most of 2016 out of the country thus far, I decided to make a trip out to LA after spending a month in Guatemala and Belize. As disappointed as I am to admit, I needed a break from the ‘third world’ and I had enough miles to see a friend who insisted I make a visit. I have family there, my father and brother were born there, and I had worked there enough to no longer feel obligated to be a tourist – so I experienced a different side. I appreciated it as a local for a few days and convinced myself to commit to living there for six weeks to try it. Six weeks is not enough time to have considered it a former home but for a nomad like myself, that is a long time. I mean, I even announced it on facebook that I was ready to slow down in LA!
I went back to Guatemala for work after my trip there in February and began to plan my move from Texas. I rented out an Airbnb and pack up a car load of stuff from my parent’s garage and began the three day drive. On day one I got the call from my real estate agent in Denver that my sixth offer on a home, very unexpectedly, was accepted and I would soon be a homeowner again. Knowing that I would end up leaving Los Angeles made me appreciate my stay there even more. After an overnight stop in Lake Havasu City, where my father and grandfather live, I rolled into my Aibnb around midnight. The next morning I woke up to a group of male models playing guitar in the living room after going for a morning surf. What world was I living in…
The people are incredibly beautiful, everyone has style, the food is amazing AND healthy, there is so much to do, but not only is the traffic terrible, I managed to pick up more parking tickets than I care to admit (you’re welcome state of California). I’d still do it again and I’d still love to spend more time there. I found the right people and places that vibed with me. Many people are from somewhere else and are always accepting of outsiders and we all had one thing in common, we wanted to live the dream and were willing to work for it. I also, proudly, managed to learn dance moves on more than one occasion from the Venice beach skate dance crew. There is a documentary coming out about them soon and if you’ve ever been to Venice beach on a weekend, you should have been amazed by Terrell’s famous skate spins. I made sure to go to the LACMA, see the Hollywood sign, watch sunset at Griffith Observatory, laugh at a comedy show, and see a show at the Greek Theatre. I mostly spent time working on my computer in Venice, my personal favorite area, in a beach bungalow off Abbott Kinney (which was recently purchased as a knock down for $1.7 million). I am clearly not the only one that fell in love with such a beautiful area making it unfortunately pretty ridiculously expensive but I’ll be back, always – because I do kind of love you Los Angeles.
Top bars I drank at in Venice :
The Townhouse – This was our main bar. Bars are hard to critique, drinks are mostly the same, the decor is often similar, so what makes it good? If I can’t be vague enough, it’s vibe. On the weekend it’s packed of course but during the week it was often perfectly packed (you know, crowded but not too crazy). Sometimes we danced to a DJ upstairs, many times by ourselves, and sometimes we were in the middle of a crowd listening to Ethiopian jazz (true story, they were amazing).
Venice Ale House – They also have decent food but we usually came to watch the sunset and drink a few local beers. The liquor laws are strict in Venice (LA?) so many bars don’t have liquor but instead they have soju or sake which is an adequate substitute.
The Otheroom – We didn’t go to that many bars in Venice, there really aren’t that many considering but we decided to try the Otheroom out for one drink. Four drinks later we realized that we weren’t leaving. Another place that doesn’t serve liquor, we drank champagne and enjoyed the people watching. We really loved the music the DJ was playing, think Odesza style, it’s a shame they don’t allow dancing though. (Seriously, I saw a bouncer stop a group from getting down.)
Top restaurants I ate at in Venice :
Gjelina – Italian style pizzas and otherwise modern cuisine, I knew that this was a place I would eventually want to end up but with my poor planning skills (ie. lack of reservation) I was often faced with a wait time. Eventually I made it in for dinner and happy to say that it lived up to the hype.
Rose Cafe – Made it here on my last trip out to Venice (although it is technically in Santa Monica). I loved the breakfast I had here but it also gets props for being huge & beautiful. They have everything from beer to espresso.
Sunny Spot – I will start by saying that this is not the best food I have ever had (although it is really good) but it’s on the board because this became our sunday brunch pre-skate staple. It’s usually packed but we’d usually slide into the bar around 1pm and fill our bellies with eggs benedict and bottomless mimosas before attempting to skate. Definitely more of a locals spot. (Whatever “local” means in Los Angeles.)
Top places I visited in Los Angeles :
LACMA – The grounds are beautiful and the art is diverse from ancient pottery to modern films. If you book really far in advance you can check out the rain room, I never made it here but it looks like one amazing site to see.
Greek Theatre – I bought tickets to Flight of the Conchords the second they went on sale, so the tickets sell out in advance and very fast, but the venue is legit awesome! Surrounded by Griffith Park it’s one of the coolest concert venues I have ever been to.
Venice Boardwalk – I frequented the boardwalk many many times and while it seems like an obvious stop it is absolutely worth mentioning. It’s crazy, it’s silly, and on weekends it’s packed but it’s quite a damn spectacle.