Mon. Mar. 18, 2013:
I awoke early again, but not because of the sun (really, there was a lack of bright sun in the mornings) but because I had yet another nightmare about my vacation ending early. We took a cab, courtesy of Manulife, out to Santa Monica. Brent had a work meeting there (it is the real reason we were out in Los Angeles to begin with) and I had tagged along for the ride.
I wandered around on the Santa Monica Pier while Brent was at his meeting. My wandering quickly turned to circling the coffee shop, waiting for it to open; yet another morning that did not start with a cup of coffee. For a while I watched some guys fishing at the end of the pier, but this quickly got boring, except for the helicopter that flew close by. There really was not that much to do, as everything was still closed and half the pier was being used to film a TV pilot. There was some Route 66 stuff, including an information booth (that wasn’t open yet). I got distracted from trying to sneak a peek of the set by some starfish desperately clinging to the bottom of the pier as waves crashed over them.
I decided to risk my feet freezing (it was still really cold and the sun was nowhere to be found) and head down to the beach. Cold toes are much more bearable than sand in your shoes for the rest of the week. The beach proved to be much more interesting. There was a seagull who had hit the jackpot: a dead stingray! He was closely guarding it but too afraid to eat it, lest another seagull sneak up from behind. Between being paranoid about rival seagulls and scared of my shutter, the seagull was almost doing a little dance, a little shuffle back and forth: about to peck at the sting ray, off goes my shutter and he gives me a cock-eyed look, other seagull moves in, he screams at it. And repeat. For a while I pretended to be interested in another seagull sitting atop a giant pile of seaweed, I swiveled (here is where I probably hurt my knee) and got it: photograph of the seagull pecking at the poor dead sting ray. Look out National Geographic!
Slowly but surely I made my way closer to the ocean’s edge. No walk along the beach (especially when barefoot) is completely without dipping at least one toe. Or in my case ending up in the ocean up to your ankles because a wave came in. My ankles remained frozen for a long while after. It turns out that the Pacific Ocean is cold in March. I soon forgot about my cold ankles when I saw the funniest little birds. They had long legs and pointy long beaks. They would walk along the shore, waiting for the wave to break and they would poke holes in the sand. I found this far too amusing, and took to following them back up the beach. Everything about them was hilarious, especially when they tried to run, their long thin legs and awkward gait, the temptation to poke the sand. On my way back I saw that the seagull had lost his lunch. Another seagull had taken over, and she had no competition, the others had given up.
I changed into my flip flops and headed back to the Pier. My feet were freezing cold, but there was no way I was going to let even a grain of sand get inside my running shoe- it would be stuck there forever. And finally, finally the coffee shop was open! In retrospect, I am not so sure it was a good thing. The coffee was pretty bad and their smallest size was the equivalent of a regular large. I was stuck with a giant cup of bad (and expensive) coffee that I had to finish before getting to Macy’s. On our way in I had noticed what I thought was a Macy’s and having run out of stuff to do on the Pier I figured why not go shopping. Turns out it was a Bloomingdale’s. Thankfully it was part of a mall; however the only store where I bought something was Hot Topic (some Gir earrings). In my defense my only other options were ritzy expensive boutiques, with which Hot Topic does not fit.
On my way back to the Pier I was tempted by McDonald’s. I went in to see if they had the Cadbury crème egg McFlurry. They did not; they did have the horribly gross sounding McFish bites though. I was getting hungry and impatient, sitting on a bench waiting for Brent. The sun had finally come out, just in time to get Brent. I went to Pier Burger for lunch, a cheese dog (no time wasted applying condiments) and a concrete (the dessert of Route 66) aptly named Route 66. The concrete was not a concrete, it was more of a sludge. It was not frozen enough and the toppings were just sheer overkill (chocolate chunks, M&Ms, Oreos). We couldn’t ride the Ferris wheel, as it was closed by the film set. I had seen a sign saying that there was an aquarium at the Pier, except it was under the carousel, not the Ferris wheel as I had thought. I had walked a few times by and around, trying to figure out how it could be under it, somehow under the Pier? I re-read the sign and saw that it said carousel. We went down there to see it, discovering that there is a whole second part to the Pier mainly consisting of little tourist shops by the aquarium and a boardwalk. Walking along the boardwalk we came across Muscle Beach, surprisingly there were people actually working out there, but no Larry the Lobster (from Spongebob Squarepants). I had seen a girl eating Pinkberry frozen yogurt earlier, and I only now realized I had forgotten about my plans to go there for dessert. I could have been eating Pinkberry instead of that gross concrete, which I could not even finish it was so bad.
Back at the hotel I fell asleep while reading my book. We had a giant chunk of time before our dinner at Spago Beverly Hills that evening. After my nap we went to the gas station to get some snacks to hold us over until dinner, as well as breakfast for the next day. The lady laughed at how much junk food we were buying, saying it will last us forever. It lasted us less than two days.
We had to walk down to Wilshire Blvd. to catch a bus to take us to Rodeo Drive. We were dressed up super fancy and we looked ridiculous walking through UCLA campus. Even moreso because I was wearing flipflops (no way would I walk more than a few steps in my heels) and an athletic jacket (my top was sleeveless). I changed into my heels on the bus, which was awkward and uncomfortable to say the least. As we walked along Rodeo Drive, two women with long black hair and fancy-casual outfits walked by, followed by two guys with video cameras and a boom mike. I suggested that it seemed to be a reality TV show, Brent didn’t believe me. We would Google it later that night. We stopped at Guess (there is no Kate Spade on Rodeo Drive, where I would have much preferred to shop) because I had found a bracelet online that I really liked and simply had to have. Plus now I could say I had been shopping on Rodeo Drive.
As we walked back through the fancier part of Rodeo Drive, we saw those same two women being filmed, I had called it! I was right! I cheered and rejoiced.
We were having dinner at Spago because that is where California pizza (flatbread pizza) was invented, by Wolfgang Puck no less. However pizza is not on the dinner menu. Spago is much fancier than Puck’s restaurant at the Bel-Air hotel. We were seated at the back. Brent sat in the booth, behind which there was no wall, just giant windows- into the kitchen. Brent would be talking to me and my eyes would start to wander and get all big and he would turn around to see what I was watching. Usually it was fire, controlled fire in a frying pan. The best dish of the night was the appetizer we split, which was a smaller version of the most expensive main on the menu. It was fancy little pieces of steak and they were absolutely delicious, even though they are served cold. For the main I decided to order the chicken because I was curious to see what they could do with chicken. Turns out they are rather creative with such an everyday staple meat. They seasoned it like a prosciutto and it was so juicy. Brent had the tuna steak which was also good, but nowhere near as good as the chicken. Dinner is never complete without drinks. I got to try two different California red wines, the Cabernet was way better than the Merlot (insert fancy wine talk here). Dessert consisted of a beignet split between the two of us, basically a fancy donut that Brent (hilariously) tried to pronounce, much to my amusement. When the dish came to our table it had a thin piece of chocolate resting on top and the waiter poured really hot chocolate over it to melt it into the ice cream that was in the middle of the donut, sorry, beignet.
Thankfully the wait for the bus was not that long, I was freezing cold. I was now wearing two sweaters (Brent had given me his) and my legs were bare, add in the flip flops and I was a hilarious sight to see. As we walked to the hotel I was sort of tempted by In N Out burger, but decided against it. I was comfortably satiated and that would have been overkill, and I would not have enjoyed it. Can you believe not enjoying In N Out burger? Back at the hotel Brent mentioned a reality TV show about rich Persians in LA, we Googled it and lo and behold: the two women from before!
Day 4 celebrity sightings: two if you count the Shahs of Sunset, with a possible third. As we walked to Rodeo Drive some people came out of a fancy boutique and locked it up. The TMZ tour drove by and the guy pointed the group out. The fanciest dressed of the three (nice suit, stylish glasses) waved and said something. We Googled the location to get the name of the boutique to look up the designer and we are fairly certain we had seen the designer Canali.