Lucie Loves... Travel // California Road Trip ~ part five: Welcome to Los Angeles aka La La Land

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I’ve two more posts (including this one) to share from our 2016 California road trip, before I head off on my tour of the Deep South! Eek! Did you read the last travel post I wrote? About our stay at The Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo – it’s the most flamboyant hotel I’ve stayed in EVER!

Ok, so LA.. here goes…

Day 10 - Tuesday // SLO to LA

Having had quite a chilled few days in SLO, I knew that our next stop meant that it was time for me to take over the driving… The drive from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles was pretty hairy. It takes approximately 3 to 3.5 hours to travel the 300km from the pretty seaside location (and home of Zac Efron), down to the hustle and bustle of LA. 

Nerves set in. Partly due to the fact that it had been a few months since I’d last driven (and that was in a Peugeot 108), but largely due to the fact that I was about to get behind the wheel of a powerful, bright orange Ford Mustang convertible – faster than any car I’d ever had the responsibility of driving before – on the freeway! Flip!

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We finished our last breakfast at The Madonna Inn and set off to our Airbnb in Silver Lake – a light-drenched bungalow with garden, and hammock! We paid £327 for two nights accommodation in LA for the three of us, which works out at £163.50 per night or £54.50 per person, per night – for the whole place to ourselves! 

So how did we find a good place to stay in LA? Well, I’m a true believe in that if you do as the local hipsters do, you’ll be in for a decent cup of coffee, quirky bars and cafe, an arts and music scene and a cool (if still a little ‘up and coming’) neighbourhood. I’d searched for LA’s hipsterville and was presented with Silver Lake as an option. The fact that we fell in love with this pretty 1920s Scandi style place too on Airbnb sealed the deal for us. It was the perfect base for exploring LA – clean, light and airy – without being located anywhere too crazy or dodgy.

Top tip: use an Airbnb discount code

We got an £18 off our LA accommodation for using an Airbnb discount code – use my Airbnb code to get money off your first trip – code is valid for any Airbnb accommodation: www.airbnb.co.uk/c/lkerley1

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After arriving at the Airbnb and parking our car down the extremely narrow drive, we then drove into Downtown LA to find an ACNE Studio (stands for: Ambition to Create Novel Expression) – as Marcos wanted a new white t-shirt. 

However, the only problem with driving into LA to do any shopping is that you have to find somewhere to park… and parking is an absolute rip off! We had a bit of a run in with a car park attendant who wanted to charge us an arm and a leg to park for 10 minutes. 

Top tip: read the small print guys before choosing a carpark in LA! It’s not always as cheap as it seems. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

 So, after a bit of back and forth, we set a timer for 10 minutes and Marcos legged it to ACNE, with me in the driver’s seat – just incase we needed to move the car. 

We were a bit peckish then and so headed to West Hollywood to have some dinner at Sushiya, on Sunset Boulevard. Great for a bit of people watching for wannabe actresses and models, as you sip on a few beers. 

In hindsight, at $80pp, it was probably the most expensive Sushi we’d ever eaten – and I was still hungry afterwards! Oh dear! Let that be a lesson to you, sushi-craving LA tourists!

We then went home to get changed for the evening and got an Uber back to West Hollywood, to Soho House, for drinks. Sipping on super strong Negronis and peering through the sophisticated gloom, we spotted John Mayer sat having a drink with a friend, a few tables away from us. How exciting!

LA has some fantastic gay clubs. There’s a fabulous story of Roz being twirled around by a man dressed as Pocahontas wearing tiny red shorts, and lots of straight couples grinding against one another in darkened corners. A few drunken gay guys thought Roz was Adele (this happens a lot) – so Roz offered them free tickets to her next concert.

Day 11 - Wednesday // LA

The next day, a little hungover – but ready to enjoy one full day in Los Angeles – we headed for breakfast at Millie’s in Silver Lake, and then made our way to explore the Hollywood Walk of Fame– spotting the stars dedicated to Michael Jackson and Joan Collins, and many more icons.

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As you walk down this strip, you’ll pass a number of shops – some decent ones, like American Apparel and then some full of complete tatt – like this crazy touristy hat shop that we popped into, after Roz realised that she needed a hat for Coachella. You’ll always be approached by people in fancy dress trying to sell you excursions – so be prepared to beat them off with a verbal (and ever so politely British) “No, thank you” stick.

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Our next stop was the Griffith Observatory. It really is a MUST-SEE when you’re in LA. Located high up on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood, it has great views of the famous Hollywood sign, and it’s free to visit. Since we went in April 2016, it’s been made even more famous by that scene in La La Land, where Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian ( the swoon-worthy Ryan Gosling) strut their stuff, against a backdrop of the twinkling city of LA below.

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After spending a couple of hours at Griffith Observatory, taking in their free exhibitions (and enjoying the air conditioned interior) we drove to Venice Beach  aka Muscle Beach, for a ogle at the outdoor gym bunnies, and to feel the sand between our toes. It’s a lovely stretch of beach, and draws tons of surfers. However, one of the problems with road trips – especially in hot places, is that there isn’t really much time to actually rest (read as: do any sunbathing or to actually get a tan.)

I think it’s really important to plan some down-time on a trip like this, and literally spend a few days relaxing (and topping your tan up – if you’re into that sort of thing. Always slathered in SPF 30 for me, nowadays to protect my skin from the ageing effects of the sun!) 

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Ray-Ban Clubround’s are essential road trip wardrobe accessories!

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The light in LA is bloody beautiful, it’s perfect for shooting a few portraits, I took these of my friend Roz Brabner, because she looked like an absolute beach babe!

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For dinner we headed to Blue Plate Taco in Santa Monica, a short drive from Venice Beach, and parked in an underground carpark nearby. The tacos are delicious – try a combination of lobster, steak and pork belly with a salad to share, and wash it down with a classic margarita! We didn’t have time to stroll along Santa Monica Pier, but I hear it’s quite pretty! 

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It had been quite a long, hot day and Marcos wasn’t feeling to well, so I drove us back to our Airbnb in Silver Lake. That night I went for drinks at Davey Wayne’s– a funky 70′s retro bar with a dress code that encourages comfy and casual (where you clamber through a big fridge door and up some stairs to get into the heart of the place. It’s literally like stepping back in time!) There’s usually a band playing live 70′s music, plenty of bourbon, and a yard outside with an Airstream trailer, serving drinks to a swarm of young, hip and beautiful people. Definitely worth checking out!

Day 12 - Thursday // LA to Indio (Coachella)

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We had our final breakfast at Millie’s – found out that music legend, Prince, had sadly passed away, said our good byes to Marcos and then went to get our nails done at Moon Nails, in preparation for Coachella festival – the final stop on our big California road trip.

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We’d heard the thrift shops and vintage stores were a big deal in LA, so spent a good hour or so driving around and trying to find one. We discovered a place called Jet Rag Vintage, 825 N La Brea Ave. It’s huge! I took this stealthy shot below, before being told that we couldn’t take any photos. Oops! I don’t think they’ve quite understood the power of Instagram UGC as a marketing tool… 

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In the end, having salivated over many a cowboy boot and hat, I bought a 70′s summer maxi dress in cream, with pretty floral embroidery. See pics here from a photoshoot I did wearing the dress in Germany.

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It was finally time to get back on the road, put the roof down on our Mustang, and make our way to Indio, for Coachella festival… See you later LA! It’s been a pleasure and I’m sure we’ll be back again.

Stay tuned for the final instalment of our California road trip itinerary, where we lose our Coachella virginity and stay in an un-swanky, over-priced motel.

To read all of the posts together, head to lucieloves.co.uk/tagged/california

Photography © Lucie Kerley