I love LA!

I’m back home again and settling in after a splendid time in Los Angeles. It was the first time I’ve been to the city itself–I’ve been to Anaheim and northern California but never LA proper–and I loved it! Well, except for traffic because that is forty varieties of nuts, but I will also tell you that LA drivers get a bad rap. They are nowhere near as intense as Dallas and Dallas drivers are laid-back compared to Bostonians who drive as if they all have a person bleeding out in the backseat. (Do they? Maybe I’ve just cracked it.)

Biggest surprise of the trip? How hilly LA is. I thought it was just the ‘burbs that had slopes but driving through the city took us into some gorgeous, lush green hills that are NOTHING like my mental picture of Los Angeles. I was also surprised by the people. I had heard they were friendly and casual, but they were INCREDIBLY hospitable and chatty. And the weather? I know lots of folks were smothered by snow while we were gone, but I will admit it was so gloriously warm and clear that I spent five hours hanging out by the pool one day. (If you hate me for writing that, it might console you to know that one morning was foggy–so much so that our helicopter trip to Catalina got canceled. Yeah, I know. The firstest of first world problems.)

So here are some things I would highly recommend:

*Lyft. I won’t use Uber, but everyone insisted Lyft was better than cabs and, GOODNESS ME, they were right. I tried a taxi the first ride and it cost me $75. A similar Lyft ride later in the day was $20. Yeah, I Lyfted the rest of the trip and it was perfect. The longest I waited for a ride was 4 minutes and none of the other rides were over $10 including tip.

*Akasha. Delicious restaurant in Culver City specializing in farm-to-table yumminess. I had a bowl of mung beans and rice with veggies, but the real star was the cucumber vodka cocktail that tasted like a delectable spa treatment.

*Hilton Universal City. We had to stay on Hilton properties for REASONS, and this one was closest to the area where we had business. And it was wonderful. I’d go again for the pool alone–a smallish, beautifully manicured space with cabanas that are…wait for it…complimentary. I don’t know about you, but most hotels I’ve stayed in, the cabanas are at least $150 a day. I set up camp in one of those cabanas and left five hours later, tanned, stuffed with food and margaritas, and more relaxed than I have been in YEARS. Also, if you’re into Universal Studios, the park and lots are within walking distance.

*Malbec. Toluca Lake restaurant serving Argentinian cuisine and I’m still thinking about that steak…YUM.

*Firefly. Studio City restaurant with library bar and a divine courtyard with the most delectable fresh bread and a complimentary fizzy wine aperitif when you arrive. (No idea what it was, but it was sparkling and peachy and I could have drunk about twelve. But I didn’t. The bread however…well, frankly I disgraced myself.) How relaxing and pleasant is this restaurant? The friend I was dining with needed to eat early so we arrived at 5:30. We left at 10:30…

*Hotel Maya. A Doubletree property in Long Beach, it is unlike ANY Hilton hotel I’ve ever seen. It’s fully themed and feels like you’ve been plonked into the middle of a tropical jungle. They have a private man-made beach which is handy since Long Beach is deceptively named…Quirky and fun and within easy walking distance of the Queen Mary. (Since our trip to Catalina was scuppered by weather, we decided to check out the ship and…nope. Do not recommend. We bailed halfway through the scheduled trip. There is something GRIM about it although I didn’t get the haunted vibe that so many folks talk about. Of course, we weren’t there at night…)

*Zen Zone. Upon our arrival, we discovered this place tucked into Universal Citywalk. We bellied up to the oxygen bar where we got scented oxygen, scalp and shoulder massages, and then popped into the aquamassage tubes for a truly heavenly experience.

The Ripped Bodice. Independent bookstore specializing in romantic fiction. I dropped by to sign stock and they could not have been NICER. Charming space, well stocked with all kinds of fun things, and a bookstore dog named Fitzwilliam. What’s not to love?

Thanks, LA for a truly wonderful trip!