15 June 2017

4 Days in Southern California

Angel lived there for the first 20 years of his life, and I've transited through LAX countless times when traveling from Asia to the USA and back the other way, but this May was the first time I've ever set food in California.

And...spoiler alert...I thought it was awesome.

We had a very limited time in which to see and do everything we hoped to do, so after arriving at Angel's aunt's home late on Tuesday the 2nd of May, we decided that the next morning we'd jump right into touring and sightseeing so that we wouldn't have a chance to be jetlagged (see, that's how jetlag works. Mind over matter).

4 Day Itinerary for Southern California

Day 1

We woke up bright and early and had bagels and cream cheese for breakfast--Angel's aunt had heard from my mother-in-law that plain bagels are my favorite and had stocked up before our arrival. Isn't that the sweetest? After his aunt left for work, we headed right out to begin exploring. Tools that made our explorations possible are our rental car and my Dad's GPS. The night before we left Malaysia, Angel had realized that he really ought to install an updated USA map on the GPS before we took it to the USA. We had to leave the house by 7 a.m. the next morning. The GPS map finished updating at 6:45 a.m., just 15 minutes before we needed to leave, after loading the update the whole night. We cut that one pretty close!

Pro tip: Don't procrastinate on updating GPS maps.

Back to SoCal. When we'd been planning this trip, Angel really, really did not want to go to Hollywood or anywhere around there. However, upon waking up, he said, "Let's go to Hollywood!" and this girl was not about to disagree. If you watch our travel vlog, you can probably tell how simultaneously sleepy and excited I was on that first morning:

*Also, I had a cold the whole time we were in California, and didn't let it phase me in the slightest as far as adventuring went, but I can definitely hear it in my voice on the video!

We'd heard much of the infamous LA traffic, but we never experienced any traffic that was truly bothersome during our visit. Maybe living on an extremely overpopulated island with poor transportation infrastructure has heightened our traffic standards. Either way, it felt like the drive from Anaheim to Hollywood passed by quite quickly. I spotted the Hollywood sign on the way and had a grand time keeping my face nearly pressed to the glass of my window so I could take in all of the unfamiliar sights.

We found a parking ramp right near the Walk of Fame and went out to spend a little time reading the names on the stars. We found the famous TCL Chinese Theater and had a lot of fun reading familiar and unfamiliar names and checking out all the hand and footprints.

After wandering around looking at stars in the sidewalk and wondering if anyone actually ever buys the horrible trinkets from the tourist souvenir shops, we got back in the car and headed to the Grove and the Farmer's Market. I'd read somewhere that they were really pretty to walk around, so I wanted to visit for a bit before heading to our next destination. We parked in the lot that has free parking as long as you buy something from the Farmer's Market, which was a great excuse to get an incredibly delicious smoothie bowl and share it as our first meal of the day post-breakfast bagels. I loved the flowers all over the Grove and was basically walking in a zig-zag pattern as if I were being magnetically attracted by the flowerbeds. Which I was.

From there, we headed straight for the Santa Monica Pier! We walked by Muscle Beach, which was highly amusing to me. I had never before seen a bunch of serious workout equipment on a beach...or a bunch of really serious looking athletic kind of people who seemed to be very seriously working out in the middle of a public beach. There was even a sort of fake grass pad for doing yoga and pilates. The pier was also amusing, a bit crowded, but really, when you're used to the crowds of SE Asia...nothing that could phase us. The funniest part was when I noticed that a guy playing the violin looked very familiar and I told Angel, "I'm pretty sure that's the husband of a blogger." Erin Morris, I'd met her a few years back at an Influence Conference and for a while we'd both written for Quite Magazine, a project put together by Morgan Harper Nichols. I probably wouldn't have said anything to him, but Angel, being his sociable and strange self, walked straight up to him after he finished a song and asked, "Are you married?" I thought that that was by far the weirdest question to get from a stranger ever, so I had to quickly ask, "Your wife is Erin, a blogger, right?" He laughed and said yes, and I said I'd met her and recognized him from her instagram that our saying hi didn't seem quite so odd.

After that, we stopped for a quick bite at In-n-Out, mostly for Angel, who thinks man cannot live on bagels and smoothie bowls alone. Then he took me to the beach where he used to go to most often with his surfboard or boogie board. I think it was called Long Beach? I could tell just by looking at Angel looking at the water that he wanted to jump right in. Also, he apparently spotted dolphins, but he didn't point them out to me so I didn't get to see them. :(

After that, we drove back towards Anaheim so that Angel could show me some places from his past. This mostly consisted of showing me places where his apartment complex used to exist, but the apartment complex has since been torn down and something new has been built in its place. He also showed me his elementary school, the hospital where he was born, and his favorite panaderia. Wherever we go, Angel always has a favorite panaderia. Except in Malaysia and China, because they don't exist over here. Probably why Angel gained several pounds in conchas alone during our vacation (Funny Story: Angel went running one of the first days after we got back from our trip. An elderly man who is often walking the same track while Angel runs stopped him to chat and said, "I can tell you gained a lot of weight. It's a big difference.")

Another pro trip: Have great internal self-esteem if  you want to live in SE Asia

Back to SoCal. Angel also took me to a sort of mall where you could find all matter of piñatas and quinceañera dresses, if  you were in the market for one.

{Favorite panaderia}

Afterwards, we stopped by Downtown Disney to check it out and wander around for just a bit before heading back to Angel's aunts home to spend the evening with some of his cousins who were coming over for dinner.

All this goes to show, you can see a LOT of SoCal in one day if you try hard and believe in yourself. ha!

Day 2

I already recapped this day, as this was May the 4th, and I spent the entire day inside the Disney Parks by myself. Angel spent the day picnicking with old friends and meeting up with his extended family.

Day 3

Again, is one I've already recapped in my post about our day in Joshua Tree National Park. I really wanted to go to a national park while we were in California and this was well worth the trip! We got on the road fairly early in the morning, spent a good chunk of the day at the park, then left and stopped at Arby's (my first time at Arby's in 3 years!!) for a quick bite before heading over to another uncle of Angel's to stay at his house for the night--because Joshua Tree is a bit far from Anaheim, we knew we didn't want to stay in Anaheim the evening after hiking all over the park, so staying a bit closer to the park for the night made sense, plus it allowed us to meet up with more family.

Angel's family were so kind--his uncle fired up a wood grill and cooked us a huge meal of burgers, chicken, and shrimp, and grilled veggies when Angel said I was more of a veggie kind of girl. More of his cousins came over to visit and they talked late into the night.

Day 4

Saturday, our final day. We actually had a slow morning for once, having breakfast (so much pan dulce!) and spending time with Angel's relatives before heading out to Uplands to visit some of our college friends--we had at first hoped to do some sightseeing, possibly go to the Brea Tar Pits, but the weather was uncooperative and time was running short so we opted just to have a meal and hang out at their apartment and catch up on the past few years.

After that, it was off to another uncle's house for dinner and watching a boxing match that I understand was rather exciting or important because it was a match between two Mexicans. I don't know a thing about boxing but from what I gathered, the match was a bit disappointing. Saying all the goodbyes was sad for Angel--he said it's the reason he hadn't gone back to California in 12 years, because once he goes back, he feels right at home and finds it tough to leave. Early the next morning we were on our way to the airport to catch a flight to DFW!


So there's our 4 days in California--a mix of sightseeing plus a lot of time with family and friends. It was a rather budget friendly trip, since we were able to stay with family and they generously fed us more than we could eat. The one ticket to Disney was the splurge of the trip, but I couldn't bear to be in Anaheim without going to the original Disneyland! Seeing people we love was a big reason for our trip to the USA, so it wasn't the typical traveler's itinerary, so this blend of sightseeing and time with loved ones fit our priorities perfectly!

Have you been to this part of the USA? What would you want to see in LA area?

Trish said...

This looks like an amazing trip! I have never been to California and always wanted to visit. I would love to see old time Hollywood, as you did. Loved the sign denoting the end of Route 66 too!

The Lady Okie said...

I've never been to the LA area, but I've been to San Diego, and I loved it! The weather alone is amazing plus beaches!!! I'm glad you guys got to see and do so much. Way to not let a cold and jetlag stop you!

Neely said...

Looks like an amazing fun time! We love Southern Cali and try to go once a year!

Farrah said...

Yay! I'm so glad you had a fun time in socal! I haven't been there in a while but I miss the weather there, haha. Not so much the traffic though! :P I've never been to Muscle Beach but would so love to be at a beach right now! I'm glad you go to go to Disneyland too! :]

Michelle said...

My homeland! It is chaos (obviously not the Malaysian kind!) down there, but I love it. I'm glad you had a good time!

Kim Airhart said...

What a FUN trip! I love all the pictures but the one with you and the flowers is my FAV. I hope you have a great weekend.

Mia @ The Chronicles of Chaos said...

Sounds like you guys had a great time! :) I love your photos, especially the walk of fame, I'd love to see that. I'm with you - I've only ever been to California airports but haven't actually visited the state.

Kim {Hope Whispers} said...

WOW! What an adventure you guys! All jam packed into 4 days. Im so jealous you got to go to Disney Land by yourself! I hope you got to experience most of it! Happy Friday!

Emily said...

It sounds like you had so much fun on your trip. I love your photos! Have a great weekend.

aclassyfashionista said...

It looks like so much fun!!! Those beach pics are GORG! I've never been to California before--totally want to go!

Raewyn @ Be A Warrior Queen said...

I love reading travel posts on SoCal because that's where I live! (Specifically in Anaheim, I think I have driven past his favorite panaderia!) My favorite thing to do when people visit is the Hollywood tourist thing! So glad you had a blast :)

Caitlin | Beauty & Colour said...

Glad you had fun here! That acai bowl you had looks incredible :)

Beauty & Colour | Vegan Lifestyle Blog

Unknown said...

Wow! What a fun adventure! I have not been out to California but have always wanted to go!

Shani Ogden said...

I've been to California quite a few times, but it's always been to visit for specific purposes: Disneyland, Sea World, San Diego Zoo, going on a cruise, etc. I'd love to go one of these times without as much of an agenda and do some of the things that I haven't done before.

Joy Lynn said...

How fun! I'm so glad you got to adventure around where Angel is familiar. Your Muscle Beach photo made me laugh! SoCal is so different from NorCal (where I just visited, but beautiful as well! California is such an interesting state - thanks for sharing all the fun!

The Peculiar Treasure said...

That looks like a lot of fun! I've wanted to visit SoCal for a while now, but I've never been any further West then just over the Mississippi River into Arkansas! lol. Glad you got to go exploring!
Also, I love your new design. It looks great!

Mary E. Stephens said...

I wouldn't stay in the LA area. :-) I'd want to go up to Big Bear and Wrightwood again, and out to the Mojave Desert to see my childhood friends who still live there. Also, I would want to drive on Highway 1 along the coast and see some of the places my family went camping when I was a kid (many, many moons ago) - especially Pismo Beach. :-) Sounds like you had an interesting time there.

Rach said...

I love that you guys talked to another blogger's husband! How fun! Really all of this looks awesome! I'm so glad you guys had a great time! I haven't been to LA since I was a teenager, but I think I'd enjoy going back! :)

Charlene Maugeri said...

How fun! I absolutely loved the Grove and Farmer's Market when we went. I wish we could have spent more time at the shore. It sounds like you had a great trip! Now I'm off to read about your solo time at Disney! haha

Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad said...

Hold the phone. You know Morgan?? I know Morgan! How is the world this small??!

Crystal said...

This looks like such an awesome trip! I really need to get to California one of these days. Joshua Tree is pretty high on my list of places to visit.

elsie said...

Wow ! What an adventure..

Brita Long said...

It's so fun reading your recap because you and Angel did a lot of the same things Dan and I did! We just arrived a few days after you! We also went to Santa Monica pier, Long Beach, and the street with the pink stars, although we didn't see the hand prints.

Our trip was cheap because it was a work trip for Dan! So his job paid for his flight, our hotel for 4 nights, and our meals for 4 days. (Normally we would pay for my food separately, but together we ate so little on the work meals that his colleague said it was fine to put everything on one tab. Like when the 3 of us split a pizza and salad, or when I ordered an appetizer as an entree). Some of our other hotel nights were on points.