So it’s been a hot minute since I put up a blog post, and I don’t know about you, but I feel like we’re going to be at the one year anniversary of this trip before I get around to recounting it all.
But, alas, I think this is it!
Where did we last leave off? Ah yes, the Pam Beesly-esque Pink Taco Toast. The next morning, we made a point to be up and out of D’s apartment by 9 a.m. It was Friday, and this was the last day she would have to work before she could join us for the full affair that would be Saturday. So, while she scooted off to work, we hailed an Uber (stopped at Starbucks) and drove off to the Hollywood Hills. It was time for a hike!
Nicole had been researching trails forever, and before we left that morning she had decided on one that was a decent length—about 1.5 miles each way— so that we would still have plenty of time to come home and get ourselves ready to spend the evening in Santa Monica. This was the day I had been looking forward to for the entire trip. The only thing I wanted to see more than Santa Monica was D, if that’s any indication of how excited I was feeling.
The Uber ride was scenic (every drive we took, for that matter, was scenic) and we passed the famous Hollywood Bowl on the way. After banging a sharp right up a steep, winding hill, the Uber dropped us off and waved goodbye. Around the corner, we found sprawling hills of green and dusty tan, and a little path that led up the rocks. We were off.
Casey and I led the way, with Nicole in the middle, and Jackie and Bella bringing up the rear. Jackie has an intense fear of snakes (which we knew about) and a rather intense fear of heights (which we all discovered together in the middle of nowhere Hollywood). At one point, between the Tree of Wisdom (yes, there really was a tree, and yes, that’s really what it was called) and hiking our way to the Hollywood Sign, Nicole broke off a giant branch from the brush for Jackie to use as a walking stick.
We started our hike where the Uber had dropped us around 9:40. By the time we had climbed our way through the Middle of Nowhere Hollywood (as I had affectionately dubbed it— we passed a total of maybe four other hikers on what was supposed to be a popular California trail) and actually found the Sign, it was past 11 a.m. The best part, aside from the view from the back of one of the most famous landmarks, was that around the corner from where we had emerged thirsty, dust covered, and with the walking stick in tow was a paved road upon which throes of people in flowy maxi dresses, cargo shorts, and sandals leisurely walked.
We may have free-climbed rocks to get there, but the way back down (and the normal way up) was going to be much easier.
We gorged ourselves on chips and salsa as soon as we burst through the apartment door, some of us half-watching a show about supermodels on Hulu while the others took turns showering and getting dressed.
I had deliberately packed a bright orange beachy dress to wear to Santa Monica. Like I said before, I was in the middle of binge watching Private Practice, and to see Santa Monica Pier with my own eyes was something I couldn’t even believe was going to really happen. Two iconic spots in one day— I was living.
The drive from West Hollywood to Santa Monica was one of the longer trips we’d taken so far. D was going to meet us at the boardwalk after she got out of work, so we picked a little Mexican cantina restaurant (the same one from next to the exercise cycle bar.... turns out it was a chain) and settled in with orders of burritos and quesadillas and a giant strawberry margarita for Nicole.
After dinner, we walked toward the water and found D and her roommate Ricki in search of somewhere to stop and grab a bite of their own. We settled on a corner rooftop with a wonderful view of the pier. D and Ricki shared fries and pizza, and after Casey caused a (well-deserved) scene on behalf of the 21+ers of the group over some very expensive espresso martinis, we scooted out in search of somewhere else to go.
We happened upon a little restaurant about a block down, this one on a corner too, with it’s open feel and oyster-bar atmosphere. Unbeknownst to us, there was also a DJ and a dance floor, and I’m not sure any evening will ever top the one I spent dancing the night away in Santa Monica, looking out with my own two eyes at the glowing neon lights from the pier.
We slept in Saturday morning and all woke up sore from breaking out our terrible dance moves the night before. Today’s agenda for our final full day in LA was a safari in Malibu. And yes, it really was just as cool as it sounds.
First things first: Malibu is absolutely breathtaking. Rolling hills of green interspersed with rocky mountains of dusty brown zig-zag into the blue sky for as far as the eye can see. When Miley said the sky is more blue in Malibu, she wasn’t kidding.
Cue the lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Except, not really. There was just about every other animal present on the property except those three. So it was more like zebras, llamas, and giraffes, oh my. On the list of Llama names that deserved to be recognized here are Barack Ollama and Kendrick Llamar. You’re welcome.
I wore black culottes, a white t-shirt with beading on the sleeves and collar, my leather jacket, and a big, black, flat brimmed hat. Behold, the picture that is plastered all over this website. Fittingly, the picture was taken by D, LA’s newest, best and brightest resident whom we had all journeyed to come see.
I bought a postcard in the safari gift shop that day. Not because I intended on mailing it to anyone, but because I knew if I kept it, it would always remind me of the blue skies in Malibu.
Though it’s a bit faded and the corners are curling, I keep it on my nightstand still.
At dinner that night— we stopped somewhere on the side of the road on the way home from Malibu to West Hollywood (and in California, the side of the road means some big, beautiful Italian restaurant)— and shared our hopes and dreams for the coming year. It was only January 11th, after all.
There were hopes for promotions, more opportunity at work, and better work relationships. There were dreams of studying abroad, of landing internships, and of continuing to celebrate this wonderfully insane pseudo-sisterhood-of-the-traveling-pants the six of us had gloriously created.
The world has changed beyond belief in the six months since that moment, but the six of us are very much still traveling along. Not literally traveling, of course, but figuratively, down the road of life.
In fact, D just celebrated the one year anniversary of moving to LA last week.
Before we got on the plane Sunday afternoon, we spent the morning walking around The Grove. Our imminent departure made the clear morning air thick with feelings. It was a real rip-the-bandaid-off type moment as the five of us threw ourselves and our suitcases into one last Uber outside D’s apartment complex and waved goodbye.
Bella had given her toast during our Cheesecake Factory breakfast at the Grove. That left only me. I had it all planned out and rehearsed in my head from start to finish, but no time left to say it. So, I did what I do best. I put it down in words, and with the press of a button, I sent all my feelings to my five favorite people.
And then I hopped on the plane at LAX.
I wish I had something better to title this second installment. To be completely honest with you, I’m not even sure how many installments of this there are going to be— I was there for five days and so far we’ve only gotten through one. Then again, I am also historically long-winded.
Welcome to Day 2!
We planned a full-blown itinerary before we even landed in Los Angeles, so we did have some idea of what we intended to do each day we were there. When I tell you we made the most out of every waking pacific time second, we did. On the docket for Thursday was Beverly Hills. And where better to start than Rodeo Drive?
(Again, the street names are cooler than I will ever be).
Jackie was the only one of us who had ever been to LA before, so she was our go-to gal for recommendations during the day when we were without D. By the time we were all up and functioning, had fought each other for the shower, picked out our outfits, finished our makeup, and hauled our sorry behinds into the Uber, we made it to Rodeo for, shall we call it, brunch. I wish I could tell you the name of the Italian place we ended up at for lunch (it was noontime, so despite the Broadway production required to get us all ready each morning, we did actually make decent time) but all I remember is that the name of the pasta dish I ate had something to do with Justin Bieber and their iced tea was dang good (see thumbnail photo— courtesy of Bella).
The highlight of this meal came in two parts (three if you count how delicious the food tasted). One: we decided that at each meal one of us was going to give a toast. Two: Jackie said, and I quote, “every time I come here I weirdly always see Gigi Hadid’s dad.”
No more than twenty minutes later, who comes to sit right down at the table next to ours?
“Don’t look now, but Gigi Hadid’s dad is right behind you,” Jackie said.
Ask, and you shall receive. So it goes in LA.
The night before, purple-sweater-and-pinstripe-overall-clad if you’ll remember, we saw Liza Weil at dinner. I say “we saw,” but really Nicole saw, and informed the rest of us. I very much saw the woman in question, I just had no idea who she was (for those in this camp with me, I take it you’ve never seen Gilmore Girls, either). I googled Weil as I walked past her to the bathroom (subtle, I know) to see if her face matched the face on google. It did, and to my delight I found that she was married to Paul Adelstien.
Now, Paul Adelstien is a name I recognized right away— I was knees-deep into binging Private Practice on Netflix, and Adelstien played my favorite character. (Private Practice happens to take place in LA, so I really had a moment in the bathroom of Mama Shelter where I thought I was about to meet Dr. Cooper Freedman). To my despair, the man she was sitting with was most definitely not Paul Adelstein. Turns out, upon reading the fine print of Wikipedia, they’re divorced, and Liza Weil is very much allowed to have dinner with men who aren’t Paul Adelstein.
But I digress, and there I sat one table away at lunch on Rodeo Drive from the man who basically built Beverly Hills.
After lunch, we proceeded to walk past every luxury store you could ever imagine, and we even went into a few--Chanel, Hermès, Alice + Olivia— for fun. You know when you drive by cows or horses and you can’t help but say “cows” or “horses” out loud? Well, walking down Rodeo Drive goes something like that. Every single store you walk past, you feel the need to point out to those around you. Except you aren’t browsing farm animals, you’re browsing a bajillion dollars and magical storefronts in the flesh.
And, though I’m sure after learning about the purple-puffed-sweater-overall disaster, you’re all set with hearing about whatever else I wore, I’m going to continue to tell you anyway. The sequin, sparkle jumpsuit I wore to my senior prom was my favorite thing I’ve ever worn, yes, but the black and white flowy dress I wore with my leather jacket and fuzzy black fanny pack while I walked up and down Rodeo Drive really was just one of those outfits that worked.
(Thank god, since I had been planning outfits for weeks and night 1 was already a bust).
As we approached the end of Rodeo, we found ourselves walking up the cutest cobblestone street. I don’t know what happened, but we went from drooling along the ritzy streets of Los Angeles to strolling through what felt like a charming little European town in the span of about 30 seconds.
We stopped for refreshments at a little corner restaurant, and soon we were right back in an Uber on our way to meet D at her apartment. In addition to driving past Pink Taco and determining it would be our dinner destination, we also passed a “Cycle Bar” right next door to a Mexican cantina bar.
“Can we go to that bar later?” Casey asked.
“Isn’t that an exercise place?” said Jackie.
I’m not even sure if it was that funny then, but I’m still laughing about it now.
Back at D’s apartment, we had just enough time to try on about 85 different outfits a piece, only to all end up leaving the house in Casey’s clothes. The green “shirt” I wore was actually a silk dress that I had stuffed into my jeans. Let’s just say that each trip to the restroom that evening was nothing short of a project.
This past fall, I think a Pink Taco opened in Boston, but this one within walking distance from the apartment was my first foray into the restaurant chain.
Pink taco produced the best tacos I’ve ever eaten, yes, but that night was also the most fun I’ve ever had while out to eat.
Daniella gave the toast.
You know when Pam Beesly says she feels God in this Chili’s tonight? Yeah. The toast went something like that.
I'm Alex, and welcome to my blog. I'm a junior at Boston University where I'm studying broadcast journalism and dabbling in political science. Usually, us journalists write articles and not blogs, but seeing as summer 2020 already hasn't gone according to plan, I missed writing with a purpose. Here you'll find all my thoughts and the words I felt needed to be put to paper (or, immortalized on the internet).