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Archive for December, 2010

California Girls

What a perfect vacation we had. From the moment the limousine driver arrived at my house (early even!) to take us to JFK , I had a good feeling about this trip. He got us to the airport in under an hour. ¬†If anyone in the CT / NYC metro area needs a limousine company I highly recommend Colonial. They were fantastic coming and going! Ask for Tony. ūüôā

Upon arrival at JFK , we were flying Virgin America, I was greeted with one of the many “hello beautiful” I was to hear during our 2 weeks away. If that’s not a guaranteed spirit lifter, I don’t know what is. Check in was the usual cattle drive that airport security has become. My advice, wear clothes and shoes that slip on and off easily. Leave the belts and heavy jewelry for when you get there. Have laptops packed so they are easily accessible. Dont bother taking any 3oz bottles of liquids. Most of the people who got held up was because they had either packed them wrong or were trying to take a larger bottle with a smaller amount in it. Why bother? You can always pick something up at the hotel of your destination. That said it will help to make your travel experience a lot nicer.

Met a woman from Brazil killing time at our gate taking iphone pictures of herself. She was lovely. Had a nice chat and the time passed by quickly. Landed at LAX before I knew it. My fears of flying were completely banished. Had nary a panic attack nor heart palpitation. Never once looked for my Xanax. LOL. The rental car company had sent a driver to pick us up, Louis and he was wonderful. Funny too. Even let me take his picture upon which he suggested he hold up the sign with my name.  Adorable. I tipped him $20.  Got the black cooper mini convertible as requested, loaded in our luggage set up the GPS ( the one & only time I used it) and we were off on the 405.

I maneuvered my way on the freeway and all around LA like I’d lived there for years. The Thompson Beverly Hills is a gorgeous hotel. The only problem is all the rooms have little outside balconies. The sliding glass doors do little to dim the sound of traffic on Wilshire. That and the roof top bar & pool don’t help either. So if you’re looking for a quiet room (always) this not the hotel for you. The bathrooms I must say were a revelation in themselves. But you dont sleep in the bathroom. ¬†Though the food in the restaurant Bond St. was simply delicious and the best sushi we had in LA was there. It is well worth the price. ¬†Parked the car and walked around Beverly Hills. La was smiling already, but she just looked at me and said ‘I love it here”. So did I. ¬†We discovered a little neighbourhood on Charlieville Street. ¬†The houses were perfect. Not to big. Not to small. Whole foods/ BH post office/ Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and numerous other shops all within walking distance. ¬†Yup, it felt like home.

After a restless night trying sleep, we left and went to The Mosaic Hotel. This was my original choice of hotel, and after a quick trip there it was obvious it was much more my style. Lush, elegant, private & quiet. The hotel has its own little ” garage” and you park yourself. Means you can come & go as you please without waiting (or having to tip) valets to retrieve or take away your car. Our room was on the top floor, which only has 3 by the way, looking down into the courtyard & pool below. Stunning. ¬†Had a true Beverly Hills “moment” one day coming back from shopping and the beach and in the garage was an enormous SVU and exiting it were 2 women. One had obviously just returned from having plastic surgery. She had on a hat, huge sunglasses and her face was swathed in bandages. They nodded and trotted off up the stairs to one of the outside pool / cabana suites. I almost asked the front desk if she was somebody famous or just a rich Beverly Hills housewife there to recuperate in private for a few days. I refrained. Haha.

The concerts were great. The Avalon where we saw A Perfect Circle is a wonderful funky place. Met a really nice couple whom gave me all sorts of foodie advice (for good mexican) turns out he is the drummer for a band called “DayZero” and they have opened for Puddle of Mudd and have relatives in Brewster, NY. Small world. But by far the best show was Stars at the Wiltern. What a gorgeous venue¬†built in 1931! Very very art deco. They were simply fantastic. Played for 2 1/2 hours and really gave it their all. ¬†Watched the sunset at the Santa Monica pier. ¬†Munched parmesan truffled french fries at the Mosaic’s bar ¬†in the lobby while candlelight¬†flickered poolside. Shopped endlessly. Had a great breakfast at The Farm of Beverly Hills. At lunch at the Nosh listened in on a power deal at the next table.¬†¬†Went to the La Brea Tar Pits. Drove down Melrose & Sunset Blvds. Walked the Hollywood walk of fame. Saw a movie being filmed ¬†downtown. Had an incredible¬†dinner at the Urth Cafe. Found a gem of a french cafe Champange on Charlieville Street. Slept. Slept. And ultimately did not want to leave. Ever. We decided to return as soon as we could.

Next stop San Francisco. Got to LAX and the flight to SF was delayed. Only by an hour so not so bad. Got into the city with ease and there our woes began. Now we have been here many times and always enjoyed ourselves. Walking into the lobby of the Hotel Abri, I thought score! This is spectacular. The buck stopped there. This used to be the Monticello and was a Kimpton property. No longer. The suite they gave  me was across the hall from the elevator bay. I had specifically asked for a quiet, inside room. Upon entering it was obvious that the renovations had been half assed. It was sort of like a bad imitation of Mad Men. The DVD player was in the bedroom. Where the only place to sit was on  the King sized bed. One would think that should have been in the living room where the couch and arm-chair were. Wrong.  The desk was directly under the flat screen TV so if someone was sitting there you would be blocking the view of the one trying to watch TV. The selection was pathetic. The whole suite smelled. Like bad food. The window air-conditioners were loud, ugly and if you wanted to close the curtains, you would then render the AC useless. It was humid and stuffy. One would think with a major renovation they would have installed a central system. Tacky. I was not amused. Not at $300 a night. Before SF taxes. I complained. They offered a smaller room, no deal.

Lovey & I took a walk up the street to a Kimpton property, the Sir Francis Drake. Gentile stately old hotel. They showed me a suite. I booked it for the next day. This was before I saw the “creature”. Back at the Abri¬†¬†we went to the hotels restaurant Puccini & Punetti¬†and had dinner. Not stellar, just okay. ¬†Back in our room we watched a movie and ¬†went to bed early. Got up in the middle of the night and saw a bug on the floor of the bathroom. Not one either. A little family. Of cockroaches.¬†Lovey told me she had seen them to. Totally skeezed out I took a picture of the little bugger on the wall with my iPhone. Called the front desk to inform them we would be checking out. Then I showed them why. The hotels general manager seemed non plussed, shrugged and still had the balls to present me with a full nights bill. I looked at him in shock. He offered to take off half. I have since ¬†written to The Larkspur Corporations headquarters, detailed my entire stay and included photos of the house guest. Since the GM merely stated he would have to call his exterminator, I can only assume they were / are aware of this problem. In a flea bag cheap hotel maybe. For $350 plus change a night, not acceptable. No way.

Sort of set the tone for our stay in SF. I found people to be rude, snotty even. Unlike LA where everyone was nice. Everyone! The Sir Francis Drake was, a meh. Also expensive another $300 plus a night, but old and dated. At least the rooms were huge. Lots of space. The production of Coraline was an experience I’ll not ¬†soon forget. My heart breaks for Neil Gaiman. They spelt his name Neal on the playbill. Now while ¬†the homeless population of San Francisco has always been a problem, it seems to have tripled since my last visit.¬†¬†They are everywhere. So is the mess they create. The city was filthy. The few really nice people we met were from out-of-town. LOL. ¬†Not all was lost. There were some good moments. The Birthday Massacre were of course excellent. Slim’s was not. Best experience was the Onigilly ¬†Truck on Ferry Plaza. Little Japanese street food snack. Yum. Amobea records in the haight where I scored a veritable cache of music. Lunch at Chez Panisse and breakfast at Dottie’s True Blue Cafe were outstanding.

We wished we had stayed in LA. Though the main purpose of the trip was to have a good time, it was also to see the 2 cities side by side and see if we thought we could live in either one. LA won hands down. By a landslide. While we love the east coast, we think its time for a change. I know I wrote that we were staying firmly planted here. Well upon reflection we need a new vista. Different view. Sunny horizon. I lived in California as a girl. Its time to go back. New York wont be going anywhere any time soon, and if and when I’m ready to return, I will. Not now. Walking the theatre district reminds me of my parents and the countless on & off broadway plays they saw. Restaurants we ate at. Shopping. Etc. My parents adored New York. I do to. For now though I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. Watch the sun setting into the ocean. Drive the pacific coast highway with the top down. Buy a hot pink Christmas tree next year. Wander Melrose and Robertson and Wilshire Blvd. Have a killer sandwich at Nancy Silverton’s La Brea Bakery. Hit the street food trucks. Just bask in the glow of the California sunshine and the smile on my daughters face. Its time. Build new ¬†memories. Happy memories. Me & La, and of course the little man. Gordie comes too. We couldn’t do this with out him.

Peace Out & Stay Tuned,

Victoria

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