Let's Go West: California Times Three
published in The Stylemate, Issue No 03|2017
I start my mission in Yucca Valley, a small town in the Mojave Desert, about two hours from Los Angeles. My first impression is a mixture of Wild West Romance and Footloose, seasoned with American friendliness and some hippie charm. At about 1,000 m above sea level, the color beige, the plant Cactaceae and a pleasant kind of laziness dominate, which facilitates my arrival and the jet lag. I find myself in the low season, because in August the temperatures over here climax and many people leave or just avoid the desert. I fight the
40 ° C with tons of Iced Blended Latte from the local Frontier Café while I browse through local thrift shops (The End for example), which offer everything from cool second-hand clothes to furniture, which makes a vintage heart beat faster. The highlight of the area, however, is Joshua Tree National Park, whose unique stony desert landscape with its imposing rock formations and ancient Joshua trees remind me of films in which gigantic prehistoric creatures walk slowly across the screen. Right now, it is just me walking and I experience a special exclusivity, even if it goes along with excessive sweating. After that, I long for some hearty meal and decide to test my landlord’s tip, who recommends Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown as the No.1 location for barbecue dishes combined with live music. The baby back rips with grilled asparagus are indeed a dream and the boisterous mood in the pub is really contagious. The mix of restaurant / bar / stage is especially popular with indie rock bands, but also well-known artists like Paul Mc Cartney or Coachella acts, who tend to perform on the petite stage. Pioneertown is supposed to be the new hip weekend spot for LA hipsters who are looking for deceleration and easy life. Maybe they only miss roads without traffic jams and enjoy parking at the door.
In Encinitas, I get the beach feeling – it is a romantic beach town near San Diego where surfers and beach lovers dominate the scenery. You search in vain for high-brands and high-heels, because it is sportswear and flip-flops that over here. Still, shopping opportunities and local gastronomy are considerable and I fall in love with the Gypset Style, which harmonizes so much with the Californian lifestyle. My favorite stores are Moonshadow and Salt, both located on North Coast Highway 101. After a quick breakfast at Lofty, I visit the gardens of the spiritual organization Self Realization Fellowship, which is not only a place of peace and serenity, but also provides beautiful gardening, koi ponds, and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. Afterwards I refresh my tan on the neighboring Swami’s Beach, a popular natural beach and surf spot. Here, you find nothing but sand, waves and the cliffs in your back. You can perfectly switch off and watch the local surfers become one with nature. What clearly dominates in terms of food on this coastal strip are tacos, also because I am already very close to the Mexican border. The local tip is Bull Taco. The place is basically a takeaway but still worth a visit, because the tacos are delicious and extremely cheap. In addition, the evening offer includes a postcard view of the ocean including a fireball sinking into the sea.
In Los Angeles I live in Venice, where I start every day at Gjusta, a quaint bakery that offers everything from desserts, meat products, smoked fish to first class pizza with interesting toppings. It’s not easy to get a seat, but it is worth waiting. Before ordering one should not forget to draw a number. Then I visit my favorite street, Abbot Kinney Boulevard, where there are not only attractive shops (my tips: The Piece Collective, Aust and Ilan Dei Venice) but also different culinary highlights, where the healthy, that is the Organic Lifestyle, clearly dominates. My favorite eatery for any time of the day is The Butcher’s Daughter, a mix of very cool ambiance and interesting food. My next adventure again is very “hot”, because I participate in a hike heading for the Hollywood Sign, led by Ranger Ted, mountain guide by trade, but – unsurprisingly – has been an actor for twenty years. Aside from his explanations about flora and fauna, we learn that he beheaded by Lady Gaga in the sixth season of American Horror Story. Nice! I can absolutely recommend the walk, which lasts about three hours, but not necessarily at 30 ° C. The Hollywood logo, which has been inaccessible for several years, has been gracing the mountain for almost 100 years, but has been renovated several times since then. Incidentally, one of the big sponsors of the landmark is Hugh Hefner, which proves that all the Playboy bunnies do actually serve a good cause. Additionally, I recommend the Paseo Miramar Trail, where you walk along the mountain range above Santa Monica for about eight kilometers and have a breathtaking view of the ocean. My favorite beach in LA is El Matador in Malibu. Descending steep wooden staircases may be a bit of a hassle, but it is definitely worth laying on soft sand between mighty rock formations and letting roaring waves put you to sleep. The scene evokes old James Bond movies and you unconsciously wait for Ursula Andres in a white bikini to rise from the waves. At the roof top bar of the Shangri-La Hotel in Santa Monica I say goodbye to California. When the sky finally turns into a cheesy orange photo wallpaper, all visitors pull out their phones and create a new Instagram moment. Me too, of course – including the hashtag #iwillbeback.