Saturday, 21 January 2017

California Dreaming

It's always great fun to meet up with family or friends when you are overseas so my short stop over in Los Angeles was the perfect excuse to meet up with family friends, Laurie and Jonathon.

Manhattan Beach Pier
I arrived at my hotel on Hermosa Beach late at night so it was hard to see much but what a pleasant surprise it was  to wake up the next morning and look out over those famous golden sands. I was going to meet my friends later in the afternoon so breakfast by the beach and then a leisurely stroll along The Strand to Manhattan Beach  was the perfect start to the day.

The Strand

The Strand is a cycling and pedestrian walkway which runs from Will Rogers State Beach, north of Santa Monica, all the way along the coast to Torrance County Beach, a distance of 35 kilometres. The sand and beaches seem to go on forever,  punctuated only by numerous volley ball courts, surf life saving towers and the occasional jetty protruding into the sea to provide fishermen with a perfect spot to catch dinner and for me to watch the surfers enjoying the waves.

Tiny courtyards with chairs in a row

 I was fascinated by the tiny front courtyards of the beachfront properties and their rows of chairs lined up to take in the view. This is a very popular place to bike or stroll. It has a cool laid back vibe and I noticed everyone looked happy. I had enjoyable chats with quite a few friendly locals along the way who were rightly proud of their beautiful beaches.The next morning I walked in the opposite direction from Hermosa to Redondo Beach. Ahh!  Teenage memories of the Beach Boys! " If everbody had an ocean, across the USA, then everbody'd go surfing, like Califon-i-a...."
Iconic California  - golden sands, endless ocean, volley ball nets and life saver towers
In the afternoon my friend, Laurie, came to meet me.  It was so good to catch up with her after too many years. She kindly took me on a tour around the area. Firstly we visited the brewery owned and operated by Laurie and her husband, Jonathon. (Amazing! and will be the subject of my next blog) Then we drove through Torrance City collecting their delightful young son from school on our way and on out to the Palos Verdes Peninsula.   I had never been there before and was completely enchanted by it.  It is a stunning place, with a deep navy blue sea foaming on rocky headlands,  bush clad hills and valleys, clean air and sunshine. Unsurprisingly it is the location of several upmarket residential areas.

The light house at Palos Verdes.  The crane is part of a film set..
Our first stop, to enjoy the view, was at a lighthouse close to a small museum.  There was filming in progress beside the lighthouse, so appropriate in the movie state! Next we visited the sublime Wayfarers Chapel overlooking the sea.  Designed by Frank Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright, the chapel, built almost entirely of glass, is nestled amongst trees.  I absolutely loved it, it is so serene, so beautiful, so at one with nature. It is a place you could sit peacefully and meditate, think, relax, whatever you want, for hours.  Laurie told me it is a popular wedding venue.  Such a lovely place to get married.
The Wayfarers Chapel, designed by Frank Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright.  So serene.
Our next destination was a nearby gated community where peacocks run free.  It reminded me of our own Titirangi in Auckland with large blocks and  houses set into the bush. We were lucky enough to spot a few peacocks and a couple of chicks scampering about.  Young Emmett was a genius at finding them.

Peacocks enjoy the freedom of a bush clad suburb, Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Back home we found Jonathon already cooking dinner, which was delicious, by the way.  We ate it at their table with a wonderful view right down a valley and watched as the day turned to night and the lights of Torrance came on.   Good food, good wine, good conversation and superb hospitality.  All in all a wonderful and memorable day. Yes, California dreaming indeed. Thank you, so much, Laurie, Jonathon and Emmett!

The Beach House Hotel, Hermosa
HINT: If you have a stopover in LA why not try the Beach House Hotel on The Strand at Hermosa.  It is only about  15 minutes  from LAX and closer to Orange County if you want to visit the attractions there. I loved it.  With really generous sized rooms, it is right on the beach so you can go for a walk, get some fresh air and get away from the bustle of LA for a while before continuing your journey.  I have no connection to the hotel and have not been asked to mention it. This is simply my own opinion.

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