Los Angeles is a place I have visited 4 times in my life and always loved.
I went first when I was 23 with Sideline productions as part of a reality series called Hollywood Trials for RTE for a month. I went back another time when a TV Show I had been on (Dan and Becs) was bought by Fox and a US agent had seen it and wanted to meet me. I went over for a week of meetings. The culmination of that trip was that said agent would represent me but I needed to make myself available and be in LA for a minimum of 3 months. At 27 I packed up and went to LA with all the hopes and dreams possible. Three months was stretched to 6 months of meetings galore with all the big wigs, (E!, VH1, MTV, Freemantle, Discovery Network, and so many online networks). If I am honest as glamorous as it sounds in reality I found myself eking out a living babysitting, occasionally writing for The Evening Herald back home, and waiting and waiting for things to happen. Everyone was ever optimistic but eventually I got exhausted and a little demoralised by it all.
I came home and settled back into Ireland at least knowing I had given LA and the prospect of working there my very best shot, time to flourish if it was going to, and all my life savings, and my overdraft.
Last year at age 31 I had met Andrew and he had a holiday in California booked before he met me. I went out to meet him for 5 days of his trip and we planned to enjoy LA for a day or 2 but I really wanted to explore the West Coast and see Big Sur.
The trip was booked in and on an extremely wet and windy December day last year I flew into LAX for the fourth time. Initially we stayed in an incredible Air Bn'B The host Darrell has a modern home on the Hollywood Hills and you get to see an authentic part of the Hollywood that sums up LA to me in a way no hotel could. I highly highly recommend going the Air BnB route if you can.
The view from the room is magnificent.
LA is a place where you can slide into day to day life very easily. One of my favourite spots for lunch was Hugos on Sunset so we went there on the first day.
After 2 days catching up in LA we got on the road for Big Sur.
The Pacific Coast Highway is legendary and has been filmed and photographed endlessly. It's quite simply stunning. Driving along there in a convertible car is a memory I will hold dear for the rest of my life.
In Big Sur we stayed in The Ventana Inn and Spa which is rustic and calm. It feels extremely close to nature and the wooden cabins are beautiful with a rustic edge. There were a lot of people there on honeymoon and it's a very romantic peaceful place.
I had heard of Esalen from a producer friend who had made a movie called 'Big Sur' filmed in Big Sur so took it in good authority he knew the good spots. Esalen is a cliffside retreat with natural sulphur rich hot springs. About 20 people nightly can book in to use the hot spring pools (which are warm) on the edge of the cliffs at 2 am. We booked in. I had serious doubts and became quite nervous leading up to it because it sounded so strange. Once there I immediately relaxed. At 2 am under the light of the moon swimming in the warm pools with the waves crashing below is near enough to both magical and spiritual.
I think it was about $20 each but places are very limited so you have to be quick to book. Sulphur is supposed to be very healing and detoxing so some people go for medical reasons. One thing to note is that the sulphur smells quite gross. Were it not such a lovely experience the smell alone would put you off.
After one night we were onto our next stop.
A few weeks before we went away I was doing some temp work as secretary for my dad and a client came in. Said client used to work with U2 and when it came up that I was going back to LA he said 'You must check out the Madonna Inn, Edge loves it'
Assuming Edge's taste would be extremely expensive I looked up The Madonna Inn. Surprisingly it was an extremely quirky looking 3 star hotel. If you think of what Elvis's Graceland would be like on speed you come close to the pseudo Swiss Alp wonder that actually greeted us.
I think Andrew actually found it all a bit too pink, and too weird and wonderful but he eventually settled in. The place is whacky. It also has an amazing bakery on site and the cakes and homemade chocolates would throw any diet intentions out the window in a glance.
On the side of a motorway this is a family owned business that has that cheesy, oh so eager to please service you get so used to in America. Nothing is a problem, everyone has a smile on their face and in short this place is like a perpetual pink hug. Each of the rooms is themed and decorated differently. We stayed in The Barrel of Fun. It's kitsch and very Adam's Family-esque.
Back in LA on my last night we asked for recommendations. LA does sushi so well and you can literally get it at every price point. One place we had walked by was Katana which overlooks the Sunset Strip lit brightly up with neon. My sister-in-law also rated it.
We booked in. Although there is no denying it is expensive, the people watching somewhere like this is thoroughly enjoyable. Casually sitting beside you could be a model on the cover of Vogue or a musician who has a billion plays on Youtube. Be it fickle or not I love a little bit of that kind of glam. I'm well aware so much is superficial but for someone creative who has from time to time felt a little out of place in Dublin, being in a place where creativity is king and regarded as highly and as importantly as Medicine or Accountancy as a career, it's stunningly refreshing.
I look forward to being back in LA. And if you ever go there you must check out Big Sur!
x x x