California Dreaming

By the beginning of March I was absolutely sick of the winter.  It didn’t help that I was surrounded by mounds of snow in sub-zero Montana. Don’t get me wrong, I adore winter in Montana, but sometimes enough is enough.  The perfect remedy for the winter blues…a weekend in sunny Southern California!


I was grateful that the flight looked to be on-time, and was anxious to transport myself from snow, to sun.


3 quick hours later, Voilà!  United runs daily service from Bozeman airport to Los Angeles, which is terrific.

I was visiting family in LA, so we had lots on the agenda.  I called an Uber, found the remote pick-up spot for ride- shares at LAX, and prepared myself for a some traffic. 45 minutes later I arrived in West Hollywood, which would be my base this trip.  After unloading my bags, I headed out along with my dad for a lengthy walk.  Since shopping is always on my to-do list, I couldn’t help but take a quick look at the new Real Real shop on Melrose.  It is HUGE!  I am addicted to the Real Real , and while it is fun to peruse the curated selections in the store, there is a bigger thrill in looking online.


Next stop- Coffee! Verve on Melrose was definitely hopping.  We settled in for a caffeine fix and some good people watching.


We were tempted by the pastries, but managed to resist.


The coffee though was another story.  Delicious.


One of the best activities in Los Angeles is walking and admiring the street art.  It is everywhere, and the ample sunshine creates loads of photographic opportunities.  It is a major onslaught of visual stimulation.


I was careful to follow the traffic signals while capturing this shot.


This is literally a fraction of what is on display.  It is like one massive gallery.


A touch more retail therapy at fabulous Fred Segal  .


As we left, the timing was perfect to capture this shot of an actual sunset on Sunset Blvd!


We had walked about 3 miles, and it was fast approaching dinner time.  We went home, washed up, and headed to one of our favorite spots, Toscana in Brentwood. Toscana is always where we go on our first night in town.  The food is great, the service outstanding, and we invariably run in to friends.


Frankly we were too busy eating, drinking, and visiting for me to take photos, so I will rely on these stock photos from the internet.


We did enjoy pizza, pastas, grilled chicken and several desserts.  I would heartily recommend it.

We made our way home at around 10:30 pm, and I happily fell sound asleep.

Saturday morning we went to another favorite, République.


République has a cult following.  There is always a massive line for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, but we have learned that the early bird gets the worm.  We walked right in at 8:30, and placed our extensive order.  The choices are always a bit dizzying.


Chocolate babka and a cinnamon puff were the pastry choices today.


Of course, you must get a freshly made baguette with homemade butter and jam.


I managed to stay (somehwhat) healthy- housemade granola and yogurt along with strong coffee.


I think first prize though went to the Burrata Toast with a fried egg on top.


When we rolled out of there at about 10 am, a large line had formed.  Whatever time you arrive, it is worth the wait.  It is really that good.


We were fueled up and ready to go.  First stop- LACMA!  Lacma is a massive art museum comprised of indoor and outdoor spaces to immerse your self.  There is literally something for everyone.


It was hard to convince ourselves to go inside, but the palm trees would wait.


The LACMA has the largest collection of fine art on the West Coast.


Chris Burden’s Metropolis II was one of the most popular exhibits we encountered. We were mesmerized.

After a good couple of hours exploring, we decided we needed to break for lunch.  My son and I ventured over to the Silver Lake area, where he had lived last summer.  He remembered reading about a new Filipino spot that had gotten great buzz called Ma’am Sir .

IMG_4082.jpg First off, Silver lake is an awesome area to explore.  It is very young, and very happening.  We hadn’t made a reservation at Ma’am Sir, but fortunately they had room for us.


The decor was simple, yet fun.


First things first, cocktails.


My son had a Michelada, which he deemed quite delicious.



I went with the Bloody Mary, since it was Brunch.  Not sure what made it so special, but it was really good.


For our meal we ordered one Ma’am Sir Brunch plate (for my son), and a Salted Egg Babingka (for me).


A little bit of everything on the brunch plate.  There were also sides of porridge and rice that went along with.  This was a serious meal, and truly delicious.


I didn’t know what to expect when I ordered a Babingka, but it was so so good! More like a dessert – and I had to call the waitress over to double check that it was rice flour and not pastry flour.  These could be habit forming.  Speaking of the waitstaff, they were exceedingly friendly and helpful.  The whole meal was a success, and I would most definitely recommend it.

After lunch we Uber-ed over to Venice, because a trip to LA without shopping on Abbot-Kinney is not a real trip.  More palm trees, awesome stores, amazing people watching- just perfection!


We shopped for about an hour, and the weather started getting cooler.  We had packed a lot in, and it was time for a big family dinner.


We headed over to the Casa del Mar  in Santa Monica for a quick drink and to regroup.  Their lobby/bar area was packed, and an ideal place to waste 45 minutes before our next stop.  We ordered their fabulous guacamole to share, but after 40 minutes of waiting for it we cancelled it.  It was dinner time.  I guess it will have to wait until next time.  We really enjoyed staying at this hotel on our last visit to Santa Monica.  It is the sister property to Shutters, but less expensive, and better service (aside from the missing guac).

Dinner was booked at The Exchange which is located within  the Freehand Hotel in downtown LA.  One word of caution, while the hotel and restaurant were busy and crowded, the surrounding areas are super sketchy at night.  It is not a place I enjoyed walking around in the dark.


The restaurant was really crowded and really loud.  We were ushered to ur table upstairs, and settled in to explore the multi-cultural (mainly Middle Eastern) menu.


Forgive me, the lighting upstairs was terrible for photos- so I didn’t bother taking too many, and they  don’t look too appetizing.

Cucumber Salad


Smothered Sweet Potatoes
Albacore Tartar

The food was good, nothing to write home about.  We had been trying to get a reservation at Bavel which is also Middle Eastern, but had no luck.  I think that that would have been the move.  Next time we will plan further ahead.  The family time was terrific though, and more than made up for the average food.

We had packed a lot in to two short days, and my flight was at 7 am in the morning, so we headed home to bed after dinner.  Once again, Los Angeles was the best cure for the winter blues!!

The Uber ride to the airport at 5:45 am was a breeze, I think that may be the only time there is no traffic in LA.  Once at the airport I was through security literally in seconds thanks to CLEAR.


Clear is the very best thing you can do as a frequent traveler (along with Global Entry) .

An on-time flight, and welcome back to Snowy Montana!



    • Lisa
      Love reading alm about your trips…. always so interesting.
      Also makes me very very hungry.

  1. Lisa
    Love reading all about your trips…. always so interesting.
    Also makes me very very hungry.

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