Sunday, March 20, 2016

Griffith Park

The past two days have been a whirlwind.

It was my first official three-day weekend. For the past 8 months I have worked at the clinic I have spent the majority of my Saturdays treating clients and finishing up paperwork from the week. But no longer, my friends.

I am free. For now anyway.

To celebrate Justin I have decided to explore some uncharted territory in Los Angeles. We love Long Beach. We love the laid-back vibes, the funky historic homes, the eclectic mix of people. Los Angeles, or rather downtown Los Angeles, is a different animal.

Skyscrapers thrust their sparkling faces into the relentlessly blue sky while on the sidewalk below persons from all walks of life clamor and push past one another like schools of fish. The air is thick; scents of hotdogs, fresh fruit, exhaust, and urine pervade the atmosphere. A cacophony of car horns, voices shouting in all languages, and the gentle beep of the pedestrian walking signs echo against the concrete. In the midst of this concrete jungle, palm trees and flowering bushes push their way up through the cracks like blazing reminders of the tropics. I remember when I announced my upcoming move to LA at work a coworker said to me, "I hope you like weird people and traffic." She wasn't wrong. But it's so much more than that.

It's not New York. It's not Paris. It's Los Angeles. A creature of its own.

But in the midst of this hustle sits the lovely marble facade of Botegga Louie. And that was our destination.

Botegga Louie, despite the perfectly clear white walls, is not an oasis of calm, but rather carries through with the theme of busy. Waitstaff, dressed in crisp white aprons, bustle in every corner, packaging delicate desserts into pink boxes, mixing cocktails behind the gilded mahogany bar, and assembling salad ingredients with all the attention to detail of surgeons.

Whether you want brick-oven pizza, smoked salmon on a brioche bun, or a trio of French macarons, you can find your desires met here.

I have a minor obsession with French macarons. Delicate and sweet and arriving in all the colors of the rainbow, these tiny cookies are bites of heaven. I had my first truly excellent macaron in Paris two years ago. After hiking thirty minutes through the rain, Justin and I arrived wet and disheveled into the warm and well lit interior of Pierre Herme. Macarons were arranged in vignettes reminiscent of the purses on display at Louis Vuitton across the street. That evening, back at our hotel, we dined picnic style on our bed, imbibing wine, strawberries, baguette, and, of course, macarons. 

With such a memory it has been difficult for me to find a macaron that can match. Bottega Louie has done just that. 

The fashion district, with its streets lined in roll upon roll of fabric, fur, and lace were just a quick fifteen minute walk away. Justin indulged me as I wandered from store front to store front, pulling, touching, and flicking through my mental lookbook for just the right fabric. I bought the most fabulous white and black linen at Michael Levine. My latest love has been the gorgeous linen dresses from Reformation's spring line. I can't wait to make my own version. 

We wandered past theaters, pawn stores, mid-century modern apartment complexes, and opulent cafes as we made our way back to the car. The day wasn't over yet. Griffith Park awaited.

Griffith Park is a 4,310 acre oasis of green hillsides sitting abroad the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains. It is the largest public park in North America, home to hikers, dog walkers, and of course, Griffith Observatory. I visited Griffith Observatory back in January with a best friend, and, like a kid on Christmas, was giddy to share it with Justin.

At the observatory you feel like you sit on top of the world. Downtown LA is quiet as a picture on a postcard from such a height, its skyscrapers just visible through the haze. The Pacific Ocean and Hollywood are a whisper of color among the endless sea of streets and neighborhoods. You can hike to the Hollywood sign, listen to a brief lecture on telescopes, or peruse the interior of the observatory with its many displays. Families with small children littered the lawn, and tourists snapped pictures of the surrounding verdant hills.

It was fun to play tourist in my new city. I am definitely not a Los Angelino. I do shout quite a bit when I drive now, but that's not really new. I love the flowers, the mountains and ocean at my fingertips, and the wide expanse of diversity that colors conversations and experiences.

After being in downtown LA, Justin and I have been revisiting the ongoing conversation of places other than Long Beach in which we might enjoy living. Echo Park and Silver Lake offer easy access to the museums and parks on the west side of downtown. Santa Monica and Malibu are abundant in beauty and things to do. The beach cities in Orange County are just fantastic.

But visiting downtown LA made me happy I didn't live there. Take from that what you will.

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