Los Angeles – San Diego Trip
On the last few days before leaving the USA to New Zealand my husband and I ended up stopping in Los Angeles. I, myself growing up in California have never visited/seen LA, until now, only because we had a layover in LA before leaving to NZ anyways. I’m not a big fan of the busy lifestyle, but having visit LA I can now say I’ve been there. In this post I’ll be reviewing the places/services that we used while traveling in California, some good and bad. It may be a long post.. Just warning you.
Although our time was short, we crammed as much as we could into the trip. The itinerary wasn’t planned at all because I know it’ll disappoint me if I had to follow the itinerary to every second/hour. So what I did was before hand create a list of what we could do/would like to do while there. Once we got there we just went with the flow and randomly chose from the list and we went from there.
After leaving family in Minnesota, we flew off to LA, California. Still sick we thought maybe we should change our flights now and just fly all the way back to New Zealand.. but we didn’t.. We decided to wait off on paying extra to change our flights back home and just deal with the sickness and make the most out of what we got. While staying in LA, we decided not to go with AirBnB, only because it was already a bit last minute. So we decided to book a hotel instead. We ended up staying at the Hilton Hotel for the 3 days, and 3 nights.
Hilton Hotel LAX – Review
The room we got was with a king sized bed, everything was wonderful in this room! EXCEPT for one thing… the pressure/plumbing for the shower.. Kill. Me. Now. If I could have bathed/showered with a garden hose outside, I would have done that instead. The pressure was horrible! It dribbled, even if you turned the water to it’s maximum capacity.. You know, after a long LONG day being in the scorching weather the only thing you look forward to is taking a nice cool/steamy (to which you prefer) shower and fall into a soft cloud like bed. Don’t get me wrong, the bed was wonderful! I knocked out in a few minutes of just laying down! But!! Throughout the night you can hear the water in the bathtub gargling with the water still! Like someone’s used mouth wash and kept gargling away… We didn’t end up saying anything about it because we couldn’t be bothered to, both of us being sick and me plus being pregnant, we didn’t have the energy to complain and move again if they did end up moving us to a different room. So we just stuck it out. That was our only complaint. Everything else was great. The staff there were beyond pleasant, no doubt about it.
Turo – Rental Vehicle Review
While staying in LA, we ended up renting a car through Turo. It was great to have the chance to drive around ourselves and run on our own time, rather than having to worry about catching public transportation and working around those times. I would say that’s one thing that I would recommend if you ever end up traveling. Having some sort of vehicle/transportation that you can use on your own time can help save you grief. The only issue about having a vehicle is always finding parking but in this day and age, no matter where you go, parking will always be an issue. This was our only biggest expense. Unless you’re staying in the area where you plan to travel/move throughout the day, walking is your best friend. So make sure to wear comfy shoes/sandals. Your feet will thank you for it later that night!
The night we landed in LA we went to pick up the vehicle over by Customs Hotel. The vehicle my husband wanted us to drive throughout our stay was a Jaguar F-type. I’m not a fan of sports car, nor do I care for it but I wanted to make sure he had his fun. I found the vehicle to be too small, not enough space when you have luggage to worry about, and a little bit too shaky when you reach a certain high speed (which scares me). Once we got rid of our luggage at the hotel we didn’t have to worry about storage for the rest of the time in LA. Driving the vehicle was fun and had it’s moments. The only thing we dreaded with having a vehicle was parking… Whenever we got valet for parking the attendants were all so surprised that I got out of the Jaguar with little effort (being 31+weeks pregnant) “WOAH, you’re pregnant! How’d you get out of there?!” (as they struggled to get in and out of the car). I would say those were the funniest comments. The vehicle was great, it did it’s job from taking us from destination A to destination B and back, just like how you’d expect any car to do it’s job. Would I buy one personally? No. It just wouldn’t be the vehicle for me, but hey, if you like it, go for it. My husband and I decided that we had our fun, and next time we’d get a vehicle that would have a bit more space. The easy use of Turo was great, I would recommend using them again if I ever needed to check for rentals around LA again.
Little Tokyo, Los Angeles
The next morning we made our way around the main touristy attractions around LA. I personally didn’t want to be in the areas where I knew it’ll be extremely crowded and busy, but I told myself to check out the places so that even if I didn’t like it, I can say I’ve been. First we visited Little Tokyo. We made our way to the Japanese Village Plaza to find some food. We stopped at this little bakery (didn’t get the name, or get a photo of the delicious buns) to grab some custard buns and melonpan. While having brunch a random stranger came up to my husband and I and asked us if we were expecting, he started giving us advice on how to raise kids, and told us that his favorite bun from the bakery was also the custard bun. He told us he was Arthur Nakane (also known as the 1-man band, he told us he was on AGT a couple of years ago). He was a lovely fellow.
Orochon Ramen – Review
After our chat with Arthur my husband and I made our way to find us some ramen for lunch at Orochon Ramen. The ramen was great, it reminds me of the same taste I got when we had ramen in Japan. One thing I didn’t like was the proportion sizes. Living in New Zealand now for the past few years the proportion size was a bit too much for me. I wanted a kid sized bowl, however, at Orochon Ramen they won’t let you order a kid sized bowl if you’re an adult. I hate wasting food. Being pregnant I find that if I eat to the point were I am comfortably full. I get heartburn and indigestion which was why I asked for a kid’s sized bowl. But because they won’t let adults order kids size, I ordered my bowl and only ate a quarter of the proportion.
Once we were done eating we decided to leave Little Tokyo and quickly went to visit Hollywood Boulevard. I’m not a person for being in crowds. I personally didn’t want to wonder around the area as well, but we were looking for some specific shoes, and the only DSW that we found was around this area so we decided to quickly walk through. We couldn’t find what we needed. I knew the boulevard was just as I expected, crowded and full of people trying to sell you everything they have on themselves. I couldn’t stand it, so we quickly made our way out.
Venice, California – Venice Canal Historic District & the Famous Muscle Beach
I got bored of Hollywood and told my husband if we could head over to Venice instead to get away from the busy city. My love for bodies of water and the sound of the ocean is what made me want to head over to this place. Also the thought of this place being the closest thing to Venice, Italy itself was the main reason to visit. Until I can visit Italy one day, this will do~ Just look at the photos! As you walk your way around the canal district every house you pass has their own little personality. The houses ranged from funky to cute, to modern and futuristic. It was beautiful and full of surprises like a box of chocolates. As we made our way around, we saw couples rowing and families out and about playing around the canals. If you’re looking for a place to sort of have a “romantic getaway”, I would recommend coming here for a stroll.
After wandering through the canals, we made our way through the neighborhoods to Venice Beach for some food. The walk from the canal to the beach front was about 10 minutes+, it can be longer if you’re slow like me but the walk was well worth it. There’s a variety of shops/restaurants around the area so if you’re indecisive make your way here!
Griffith Observatory – Review
After a long hot afternoon wandering around the canals and walking through the beach front boardwalk we started our drive back to the Griffith Observatory to catch the sunset. One advice I would say if you’re wanting to watch the stars is in peace is to go to a different observatory. That’s my opinion though. But if you’re still wanting to go to the Griffith Observatory, for more information visit their website here.
I would recommend if you do visit, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to find closer parking/and or catch the shuttle bus, or time to walk/run up the hills to the top of the mountain to where the observatory is, and be sure to expect a lot of people. If you’re not up for the walk, there’s a shuttle bus that will pick you up from the parking lots (at certain locations) and take you to the observatory for $0.50 per person. Once the bus got to the observatory, we walked into crowds of people EVERYWHERE. I would say I spent most of my time people watching, trying to navigate between crowds, and walking past lots of lines trying to get a turn at using the telescope.
As the night got darker we noticed the lines for the shuttle buses got longer and longer, the parking lots became more and more compact with vehicles, and crowds of people started swarming around the observatory.. I was hoping for a nice quite time at the observatory, but if you’re here for that.. This would NOT be the place. Although the views were beautiful from outside and around the building, e.g. you can see the beautiful skyline of LA and the Hollywood sign, etc. I found that the atmosphere of wanting to be in a serene place was gone. I know the profits may be good for the observatory and may be great for getting people to support what they do.. but I feel like the vibe has been lost for it’s true purpose and it has now become a “trendy” place to visit so people can brag about being there..
I’m a bit disappointed to say that although the building and the purpose the observatory has is beautiful, but my experience wasn’t as great. I’ve always wanted to view the cosmos/galaxy but not in that kind of atmosphere. Like I said, if I could have gone to view the cosmos/galaxy again I would have gone somewhere else.
Overall, the visits to the many places took place all in one day and I don’t regret it. I saw as much as I wanted, and even if I didn’t get to try all the awesome food places that I wanted. I was okay with it. I was still under the weather and my sinuses were too stuffed to let me taste anything anyways. I crammed as much as I could into one day because we wanted to be done with LA and head out from LA to San Diego.
San Diego Trip
The day before we left California we drove all the way to San Diego. What we decided to do was go to the San Diego Zoo! You can find more information on their website here. Although caged animals makes me sad, I like to hope that this home is still better than no home for the animals. We left after rush hour ended and drove all the way down. Driving about more than 2+ hours felt like nothing. With the amount of driving my husband does for work, and me tagging along with him sometimes the hour went by fast! We spent the whole afternoon there. There was so much to see, and so much to do that once I saw what I wanted and got tired of walking we took a final ride on the guided bus tours and the skyfari/gondola.
As the sun was starting to set we decided to walk back to where we parked the car and we went to check out Balboa Park. The park was massive! Because it was already getting late and we still had to drive back to the hotel, we only briefly walked around what was near the car parking lot. The buildings and structures around the area was breath taking! We only got to see small sections of Casa de Balboa in Balboa Park but from the sections we were able to see it was enough.
My feet were starting to hurt and I knew we got sun burned. Our energy had been drained and we were ready to have dinner/sleep. Instead of finding somewhere to eat in San Diego we decided to go back towards the hotel and find food closer to where we were staying. After a busy day we couldn’t be bothered to do much that night so, after some fast food we crashed for the night.
The next day in the early hours before we had to leave California we went to Korea town. Although we wanted to have some Korean BBQ the night before (after driving back from San Diego) we were too tired. So to compensate we ended up looking for some good restaurants that may have dim sum/yum char. We could have gone to China Town, but Korea town looked closer on our map hence why we went there instead. Unfortunately because of time we quickly grabbed some dumplings and shumai from Golden Pouch. The restaurant/shop is set up right at the corner of the crossing with seating’s outdoor. The wait wasn’t long at all, and when the food arrived it was well worth the wait. Every bite was oozing with flavor. Too bad we didn’t have more time to grab some more flavors to try!
We next went to grab some boba/bubble tea and some shaved ice called, bingsu from It’s Boba Time. The drinks were refreshing to have on this hot morning after that it was time to drop off the car. After dropping the car off at the Turo location they called us an Uber cab to the airport and took an 11+ hour flight back home to New Zealand.
Until the next adventure!
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All photos taken with Fujifilm X100T, 6-7 August 2017.