Jeeves and I haven't taken a vacation that was longer than a few days in awhile. Well, I shouldn't say he hasn't - he did go to India for 6 weeks, after all. But I personally have not been away for more than a few days since we went to New Orleans over New Year's 2008-2009. Sure, sure, last October I got to go to Chicago, but that was from a Tuesday night through Saturday morning. Not a long trip. I wish I could tell you that this all changed in June with a blockbuster trip to Los Angeles. But it didn't. Since I'm new to my job, I didn't feel comfortable taking a full week off of work. So, I took three days, and flew out to LA on a Wednesday morning, returning Sunday night. Jeeves, who had plenty of vacation days and needed to use them up lest he lose them, headed out on the previous Friday and went to San Francisco first to visit some old friends.
Jeeves and I have a good friend who moved to LA a couple of years ago. Jase missed his family who live in the Southwest and was tired of NYC. He loved the weather in LA and thought he would give it a try out there. A few months ago, he moved from Marina del Rey (site of the Banana Stand for all you Arrested Development fans) to northern Venice, near the border with Santa Monica. He kindly offered to let us stay at his studio which is one block from the beach. He went to stay at his girlfriend's place, which is just a mile away in Santa Monica.
I had never been to LA before, and based on what I had heard about it, I wasn't necessarily dying to see it. But lately I've had a lot of friends who have made it out there, and raved about it. Plus, we hadn't seen Jase in awhile, and missed him. Now that I have seen it, I can say that I walked away with an appreciation for the sprawling town, but I'm glad I live on the east coast.
My trip started out well - I flew out very early in the morning from JFK and on my flight, we had direct TV, so I was able to watch the US play Algeria. Apparently everyone else on the plane was watching too because when the US scored the only goal of the game, the flight erupted into cheers and applause.
I rented a car when I arrived, since LA is such a car town, and made the very short drive out to Venice. Jase's place was unbelievable - just what I imagined it would be, and you could actually see the ocean as you walked up the block to his place. I was starving, so Jeeves and I went to Lula's, a Mexican restaurant in Santa Monica, where we had some super yummy and fresh enchiladas. Jeeves and I then went for a very long walk from the the restaurant to the fishing pier down by the canals.
And this brings me to one of my first negative comments about LA - the smog. You can't tell from this picture, but there are very beautiful mountains in the distance... almost completely obscured by the famous smog. It's a shame, and it was true of almost every vista we saw, except for Malibu. It's just another issue I have with LA's car dependence.
That evening, Jase picked us up and the three of us went to Father's Office, a well-known bar and restaurant. The tap list was great, and the burgers were exceptional. Nom nom nom.
Speaking of burgers, the next day Jeeves and I went to In-N-Out for lunch. It was my first time there, and I have to say that while it was pretty damn great for a fast food burger - far, far superior to McDonald's, Wendy's or Burger King, it wasn't better than say, Shake Shack. I guess I was expecting a thicker burger, but it was skinny just like the other chains' burgers. Still very tasty. And though I did not get the burger animal style, we did get the fries animal style. Yummy.
Next up, we drove to Burbank for the Warner Bros. studio tour. I had read in my guide book that this was the best and least cheesy of the studio tours. I am a huge movie and TV fan and it seemed silly to come all the way out to LA and not see a studio. The tour was completely fantastic and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Super informative, and you just get to see a ton of cool stuff, like Heath Ledger's Joker costume from The Dark Knight, a Harry Potter museum, and the last standing set from Casablanca. There was a lot of Gilmore Girls stuff too, since that was filmed on the studio lot. That evening we had a big fancy dinner planned to thank Jase for having us, but I'll save that for another post, along with our visit to Griffiths Observatory, Mulholland Drive, Malibu, and my celebrity sighting of the trip.