Holidays in the Sun

Howdy folks!  Long time no blog, huh?!  Well, autumn went by way too quickly, and winter seems to be zipping past as well (not that I’m complaining: I’m super sick of dreary grey skies, dry skin, sinus infections, and bundling up under layers and layers, anyway.)  We didn’t do much in the way of Christmas celebrations this year, we couldn’t even clear any space in our minuscule apartment to put up our mini-Christmas tree.  Boo.  Anyhow, moaning aside, we did take a most excellent adventure across the Pacific to visit a city I’ve been dreaming of venturing to ever since I was a hair metal-obsessed teen…


…Los Angeles, of course!



I’ve seen countless photos and films of LA’s pink clouds and ombrè sunsets, but seeing these wide, palm tree-peppered skies for real was something else.  It’s no surprise why so many people fantasize about moving to this city.


And yes, there really were palm trees EVERYWHERE!


This was my first time back in my home country in about three years, and, it was nice being back in the ole land of the free!  We were blown away by how friendly everybody was, how great customer service everywhere was, how big the food portions were, how dogs of all sizes accompanied their people EVERYWHERE (restaurants, stores, hotels, etc.) and, most of all, how cars actually obeyed traffic laws!  It was nice being able to use a pedestrian crossing without worrying about cars, buses, and scooters flying through the red light.

Oh, and BRUNCH.


SO MANY glorious, entirely plant-based restaurants, and nearly all of them served daily brunch!  Wahh!


These heaping plates of goodness were from Real Food Daily in Santa Monica.  Oh, and I didn’t even mention that it’s all organic, too!


Incredible meatball subs, maple sausages, and chicken and waffles from Crossroads Kitchen.  I’m so happy to be living in a time when cruelty-free fried chicken (that genuinely tastes just like fried chicken) exists.

These bountiful brunches were delicious, but my stomach and I had forgotten just how overly sweet, starchy, and salty American food is.  I wanted to keep eating but my body was like ‘NO!!’  Thank goodness I had an appetite again when we visited the gem of our vegan restaurant tour, Gracias Madre on Melrose.  This all-vegan, all-organic Mexican restaurant was one of the best places I’ve ever eaten at, anywhere!


Plus, this heaping bowl of nachos was only $5 since we arrived during Happy Hour.  What??!!


Crab cakes.  Omg.  Eoin had never had real crab cakes before so he couldn’t really appreciate just how amazing these were.


Sweet potato and black bean flautas.  OHHH.  With real, bright orange, American sweet potatoes.  I’d forgotten how good they tasted!  Anyways, how about some more palm trees and sunshine?!


We were overwhelmed by just how expansive LA is, especially since we’re hardcore pedestrians.  The only areas we were able to walk around were Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Melrose.  I can totally see why everyone in LA drives.


Venice was just as trashy and crazy as we’d expected it would be.  It was packed with tourists during the day, but literally as soon as the sun went down, it became pretty much deserted aside from heaps of homeless people.  We even saw a beach party getting busted by the LAPD (with a police helicopter and everything!)  And a 10-foot-tall tree man appeared out of nowhere and silently strode past us one night.


While there certainly were ‘good’ and ‘bad’ areas of LA (venturing through Skid Row into the Arts District on our first night was a big mistake…), I liked how the seedy and sophisticated seemed to overlap in many places.  For example, this rather neglected looking strip club was just a block down from the posh part of Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood.




Hollywood Boulevard was by far the tackiest area we visited, just a total tourist trap nightmare!  Though, it was cool to check out the Hollywood Hard Rock Cafe with its Mötley Crüe memorabilia in the window, and to stroll past the legendary Roosevelt Hotel.


They really should’ve put the Crüe’s star upside down, no?!  So, our impetus for visiting the City of Angels wasn’t just to soak up some vitamin D and gaze at palm trees, but to catch one of my all-time favorite bands perform one of the final shows of their career, in their home city.  I was super sad that we’d missed the Crüe when they played in Tokyo, so, Eoin made the wild suggestion that we see them in LA for Christmas!  I’m a lucky girl, I know!


Sorry for the blurry phone photos, I definitely regret not bringing my camera to the show, wahh!  It was my third time seeing the Crüe (Eoin’s first!)  Of course, they didn’t disappoint!  The show was filled with fireworks, flamethrowers, and emotion.  Nikki has always been the heart and glue of the Crüe, and it was easy to see how thankful he was for his fans’ love and support.  He took every chance he could to get as close to the crowd as possible, and made a heartfelt speech about catching a Greyhound bus to LA in the 70s and starting the Crüe in 1981 (well before I was even born, durr!)  Anyhow, I feel incredibly grateful that I got the chance to see them on their final tour!

I never thought I’d find as much cute stuff in LA as I always manage to find in Japan, but, then this shop happened:


I’ve been following Japan LA online for a while now, so visiting the store in person was really like stepping into dreamland.  Stores this cute don’t even exist in Korea!


There’s so much more of LA I’d liked to have seen, but I’m glad to have experienced as much as I did during our short trip.  We’ll be back again soon, for sure!



2 thoughts on “Holidays in the Sun

  1. I love LA so much!! Thanks for the pics – it’s made me miss it (and have extreme weather jealousy)! Sounds like a great trip 🙂

  2. This blog is so good and the pictures of your trip are just amazing. So glad you got to take this adventure.The pictures of food alone made me drool. You should be a food writer as I have said before. Just wonderful work Amanda.Take it to the next step. You write and photograph in a way that will make anyone want to travel to the places you go and want to eat the food you write about.

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