Tuesday 25 September 2018

Palm Springs Photo Diary

I'm going to be honest with you; I like to travel with an itinerary. As much as I love the romance behind the idea of visiting a new place and letting the flow of the day dictate your schedule, that's just not me. Give me lists, give me restaurant reservations, give me structure. I come to a new location prepared, researching every last facet to make sure that's we're not missing anything.

That all flew out the window, or should I say burst into flames, when we drove into Palm Springs from LA and were confronted with our first experience with 45+ degree (Celsius) heat. My lawd. The desert heat is no joke, and visiting Palm Springs at the tail-end of summer meant that my ambitious itinerary was revised to only include one task: stay in the pool.

Thankfully we absolutely struck gold with our hotel for the stay. La Serena Villas was relatively new when we had booked in back in January, and with only a few reviews it seemed like we were taking  chance on it. In the end, I could not have been any happier with the location, grounds or service of La Serena Villas. I could go into great detail, but honestly the photos of this property speak for themselves so please enjoy. Ultimately our stay was incredible and both Brian and I agreed that this would be our go-to hotel for any future visits to Palm Springs.

So other than late morning breakfast in bed, days spent lounging by the pool and early dinners at the hotel there isn't much to report. The few times we did leave our property it was mostly for snack-runs or cheap tacos, with only a few hotel visits and sights along the way.

As much as I would have loved to have written an in-depth city guide to Palm Springs, sometimes you have to just roll with the punches and honestly looking back now, I'm glad that the extreme heat forced us to take a slower pace. The universe gives you exactly what you need without having to ask, and a few days by the pool was exactly what the doctor ordered. Besides - there's always next time. Palm Springs, I'll hopefully be seeing you sooner rather than later.

What do you guys think? Do you love itineraries when you travel as much as I do? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

Monday 17 September 2018

Los Angeles - Summer 2018 Travel Diary

Oh Los Angeles - otherwise known as my happy place. I left a bit of my heart in California the first time that Brian and I ever visited years ago, and I try to go back as often as I can to visit it. You guys know that I've already visited LA earlier this year with Sabrina, but when Brian suggested another visit for the summer I couldn't say no. Call me boring, call me a creature of habit, I don't care - I just love Los Angeles.

This trip was a bit different. Traveling with a husband versus a bestie definitely yields a very different itinerary - at least for me. While my last post about LA covered the most Instagrammable spots in the city, this post will serve mostly as a travel diary; how we got around, where we ate, and where I forced Brian to take my photo in front of. Fun times. Enjoy!

How We Got Around

Since Brian is a very confident driver and, more importantly in LA, an expert parallel parker, we opted to rent a car for our trip. Los Angeles is a city where you absolutely need access to wheels, whether it be Uber or renting a car, and I can say that renting a car in LA is so much better. It's so nice to be able to just jump into your car and take off to all of the different places on your list without having to worry about calling an Uber, or surge pricing. As for parking, most of the time we were able to find a parking spot on the street (including overnight to avoid hotel valet charges.) Honestly, I think that I would be okay to drive in LA, even with the traffic - I'm used to crazy Toronto drivers, and LA is much more chill. If you have the option, I would definitely rent a car.

What We Did

Seeing as this was not our first time to visit Los Angeles together, and my second visit this year, we definitely took things at a slower pace. We spent lots of time on Melrose, grabbing cocktails in West Hollywood and brunching at hotels that were way out of our realm of possibility for overnight stays. Here are a few activities that were new-to-us this trip that we really enjoyed in LA:

  • Even though both Brian and I are the opposite of "outdoors-y," we both really enjoyed the hike at Runyon Canyon. Right in the Hollywood Hills, Runyon Canyon is a perfect way to take in the views of the city, while getting some exercise in as well as some A+ people watching. Bring your cutest workout gear and a pair of good running shoes - you're going to need them. This hike is no joke!
  • New to the city, electric scooters litter the streets and sidewalks and are a really fun and inexpensive way to get around. We downloaded the Bird app and could then walk up to any scooter that we found on the street, use the app to unlock it and start riding! Admittedly, this was more of a favourite for Brian - myself I do not have a need for speed, and those electric scooters are fast. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon, and I'm sure that it's only a matter of time before they come to Toronto.
  • I know it's cliché, and we've definitely done it before, but I absolutely love renting bikes to ride along the boardwalk in Venice Beach. This time we skipped the bike rental shops that line the board walk and opted for the city bikes available on the main road. It's a huge cost savings and really easy to-do. We will definitely be using the city bike system when we visit LA from now on.

Where We Ate

Here's a little glimpse into the eating habits of Brian and I while we're on vacation: we love the odd fancy brunch, grabbing cocktails here and there, but most of the time we opt for good, cheap food. Wether it be fast food, or a hole in the wall  - if it's good and, more importantly, cheap then I'm happy. For this reason, we definitely visited our fair share of In-N-Outs and El Pollo Locos during the trip. Coupled with morning açai bowls to-go (we split one between the two of us) and street fruit, we don't typically spend a ton on food - for the most part. That being said, we did have some memorable meals:

  • Probably our most baller meal of the whole trip was our anniversary dinner at the famous Mr. Chow on Rodeo Drive. This restaurant definitely comes along with some polarizing opinions on whether it's worth it or not, but me personally I loved the whole experience. The food was pretty tasty, but the atmosphere, service and people watching was incredible. I look forward to visiting Mr. Chow again, the next time that we're in LA.
  • I had mentioned before that Brian and I have a soft spot for fancy hotel brunches, and Los Angeles has some of our favourites. We enjoyed eggs and Moscow Mules on the patio of Chateau Marmont and it was incredible - super chill vibes. We also visited my pink paradise, The Beverly Hills Hotel's Cabana Café and had a champagne-soaked indulgent brunch. It was incredible.
  • A nice compromise between cheap eats and baller brunches is our favourite spot on Melrose for plant-based Mexican food - Gracias Madre. We usually would grab a late lunch at this popular spot and it would fill us up until the next day. So, so good.
  • My favourite treat to pick up when we visit Los Angeles is California Donuts. It's an unassuming donut stand in Koreatown that's curiously open 24 hours. The donuts are adorable, great for photos and delicious. I already can't wait to go back!

Top: Forever 21, Bottom: Forever 21

Shorts: Zara, Top: Aritzia

Dress: Forever 21

Top: Forever 21. Bottom: Forever 21, Necklaces - ONecklace

California has definitely stolen my heart, and I already can't wait to get back to LA. Stay tuned for the second half of our trip, to Palm Springs and San Diego.

Have you been to LA? Where are you favourite places to visit? Let me know!

xo Joëlle

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