Where do I begin… I LOVE California. Me and my Smythson had one of the best trips of our lives.
We covered some serious ground work; from the desert in Palm Springs (Coachella!) back to The City of Angels (LA) then heading over to the delights of Santa Barbara, to sample the most delicious wines. We had a blast.
Here’s my diary from eight epic days doing all-things-Cali.
So, we did it, we went to Coachella!
Look at this bevy of beauties; I have so much love for these girls. We went to mark their 30th Birthdays (I’m 30 too, with three years experience) and we had the BEST time.
Meet the girls! The lovely Sarah, Emma, Ashley, Hayley, me!, and Jen – starting out on day 1.
Where we stayed/how we got to the festival: No camping for us (sand storms and 40°C heat are for festival champions) – instead the Riviera Palm Springs Resort & Spa hotel, with Stuart the Swan (he’s a good bird) was the perfect place for us.
The hotel was lush, and a shuttle bus (as part of our Coachella ticket and shuttle combo) would pick us up from the around the corner and drop us off in exactly the same spot every night. The buses would come/go frequently and you weren’t set to any specific times. We never needed to queue or wait too long either. Result.
Pre-Coachella food: My first ihop experience, one of the best things that’s happened to me.
Favourite bands: Ellie Goulding (of course, have you seen my t-shirt? 🙂 ), Years & Years, James Bay (he deserved to be on the main stage, the overflow went on for MILES), Guns & Roses, Disclosure, Chvrches and Sia (she takes the crown for the most captivating performance – she and her dancers were incredible – and brought the crowd to a stand-still).
- Cupcake Vineyard’s stall/truck offering $1 wine shots. They were top-notch.
- Gourmet food stalls which didn’t break the bank. Nothing seemed to be outrageously expensive (or have I been living in London for too long?)
- The desert, which we presumed would be sandy-mayhem; in fact it was very welcoming, and rather pleasurable, grass. Super sandal-friendly *feeling like a winner*
- We didn’t have to wait more than 10mins to queue for anything, even the toilet. Miraculous.
Photo credits: @coachellaeats on Instagram (mouthwateringly good) // shoes are my own – I think it’s remarkable how well they coordinate with all the food, don’t you think? 😉
The outfits: Check out all the deets and what I wore on my Coachella Style File, here.
Wow, SO GOOD. I loved every moment; the vibe, the people, everyone and everything was awesome – and the organisation of the event was impeccable. Organised fun at it’s greatest. I’m already planning my return trip next year…
Next up, LA.
After Coachella, me and the girls parted ways; as they were taking a road trip to San Diego, while I was heading to LA for a special reunion.
Let me introduce you to my darling, Christine. She is a dream.
We met under the most crazy and amazing circumstances, almost 10 years ago… We worked on a project together – and were room-mates – on a reality show in New York called: “The Glow After Dark Show” to celebrate the launch of Jennifer Lopez’s then-new perfume. True story.
Guaranteed she will blush when she reads this (not even sorry), but she has got to be one of the most gracious, gorgeous, beautiful (inside and out) and inspirational women I’ve met. She moved to LA six years ago, with just $200 in her pocket, on a quest to pursue her modelling career. She’s now established, and incredibly hard-working may I add, and stays forever grateful.
Whilst I was there, I had the honour of going to six auditions with her. Can you IMAGINE the people-watching? Yep, it was pretty spectacular… Christine would finish her thing and say to me: “Right Woo, we’re good, ready to go?” I would be like: “No I’m OK just here, thank you.” I’m so blessed, everyone needs a Christine in their life 😉
I also have a nickname for Christine: “My Spanish disco ball,” for her Latino roots and epic dance moves (trust me, I try to keep up). And talking of keeping up, Christine asked me if I’d like to see the skyline of LA. “Absolutely,” I said ecstatically, not realising it was an actual HIKE up Griffith Observatory. A few pit-stops for me, and Christine hasn’t even broke into a sweat, it was well worth the uphill struggle (and using muscles I don’t think I’ve used in a very long time) to see the magnificent, and utterly breathtaking, view.
We toured the hotspots including the Hollywood strip, Beverley Hills, Melrose and Malibu.
HOW teeny tiny are Marilyn Monroe’s feet (compared to my UK size 6s)? – or she was wearing super killer heels when she made her stamp. Yeah, she was probably wearing the killer heels 🙂
And my favourite, window shopping on Rodeo Drive. Swooooon.
LA hangouts/cool things to do:
- Head where the locals go; hang at Urth Cafe for organic juices, healthy eating/clean eating goodness
- M Street Coffee for the best coffee and quirky art in Sherman Oakes
- Have an 8oz Poke – yes, it’s a real thing – for raw fish/sushi amazingness (it was that good, we went twice)
- Go shopping at The Grove, it’s magical. I stood next to a GIANT Ryan Gosling, went to Nordstrom for the very first time, and drank coffee out of waffle cones in their farmer’s market – what’s not to love?
- Visit the LACMA to swing round lamp posts and digest stunning and mind-blowing art
- Hang out on Sarah Street, just for lols
- Eat an In-N-Out Burger, the first ever drive-through in California – yes, even before McDonalds
- Discover the hidden gem, which is the MacLeods bar in a converted garage. Drink the finest ales (I had a pint of ‘Lost in London’) play board games and throw your peanut shells on the floor, just like Five Guys
- Trader Joes (supermarket) is my new favourite place; try their organic dark chocolate, coconut and almond balls and you’ll understand why
- Cycling along Venice Beach up to Santa Monica Pier. Hire your bike from The Bicycle Whisperer
Wine county: Hey, Santa Barbara.
Wine time. We took a beautiful costal road-trip, tunes blasting (soundtrack included Roxette, Nat King Cole and Calvin Harris *Coachella flashback* – all the music), to Santa Barbara – to discover SO MANY GRAPES.
This glorious wine region did not disappoint. We visited the fabulous Deep Sea Tasting Room on the pier before heading inland to the divine and scenic Sunstone Winery, and finishing the day with a quick bite at the exquisite Petros Greek restaurant.
Deepest regret, not buying this wine eye-test board (top right). I’ve been saying I’ve needed glasses for ages too, this just confirmed it 😉 I must go back immediately…
So there we go. I must admit, I got quite accustomed to living the LA lifestyle. The sunshine, how friendly, upbeat and cheery the Americans are. The keep-fit culture (get me, one hike and I’m a new woman), the pace of life over there and being able to say: “Heeeeeey,” for a good 3-secs when I greet someone. I absolutely loved it. Oh, and the free coffee refills are pretty mega too 🙂
Thank you Cali, you were stunning. See you soon!
May the adventures continue…