Origin of this winter trip to the West Coast of US.

Our last trip ( Dec- Jan 2011-12) was born on an ordinary, really hot, july evening..when my “dear babes” tells me.. ” Why dont we go somewhere in the winter… we always seem to travel in the summer”.


“Good idea”, Says I. “Where shall we go?” 
“Wrap your plans around a Christmas in San Francisco, and New Year in New York”…
 After nearly 7 years of being blissfully married.. a man learns not to bother reasoning or trying to understand, how a woman’s mind works..right?  Wrong!.. ’cause i did try to understand why we should hop from one coast to the other and got a reasonable answer from babes.. “It SOUNDS perfect”!  

The sort of pics my Babe thinks of around Christmas.. This out of focus dreamy look with circles of light come from using a lens that can … defocus the scene…













Well, I m not really a city kind of guy, so promptly, I started making plans of flying to LA, (which was conveniently skipped from the itinerary of our last west coast trip..) driving along the Pacific Highway (the most scenic drive in that region) till SF, making a detour to Yosemite National Park… and then wrap up NYC in a day or two. 

Predictably, things didnt turn out that way… My plans took about 6 months to make, and in the last two months, Babes got into the travel planning and changed them all around.. and somewhere down the line Yosemite got the ax 🙂
We finally flew into LA and checked ourselves into this beautiful B & B, called the Garden Cottage, http://www.gardencottagela.com/. The first evening, we met our friendly hosts Bob and Ahuva, who helped us settle in, and gave us some recommendations for dinner. Incidentally, Ahuva loves to talk and so does my wife and we spent a nice time talking about India, spirituality and food! The benefits of vegetarian food and all.. 

The patio seen from the bed







The super comfy high, four poster bed












In our LA trip, we had kept one day for Universal Studios, of course, yours truly had booked the entry passes in advance, and figured out where to park etc..
Like all holidays, we set out late morning, and predictably got stuck in a traffic jam enroute to Universal Studios..  Now our destination, (henceforth called U/S)  the studio is actually 7-8 miles out of LA in Universal city, with about 70% outside the city limits to save taxes .. A 415 acres property divided into an upper lot and lower lot..  First parking.. We decided to park in the preferred parking lot, that was 20$ compared to the regular 10$, as the preferred parking is closer to the U/S..

As we were visiting around Christmas, they had the place decorated, and were promoting a movie called the Grinch, with a giant Grinchmas tree and real snow around it.. Kids really loved it.. 

 















After walking around for some time, we saw their Waterworld set.. Pretty nice, but probably nothing to compare to the Shamu show in Sea World.. Both places had seats in the first two rows in the Splash zone.. I liked the near authentic feel of the set, the fires, blanks shooting etc.. 


We then strolled down U/S, got the obligatory photos with Dracula, Jaws, and some kiddy cartoon character..




Our next stop was at the Special effects stage, which unfortunately didn’t have the Jurassic park or any major production.. We were amused to be shunted around, while the people with VIP passes got well.. VIP treatment.. We then went to the pizza place.. And funnily enough, what we asked for.. A pizza slice, small fries, & small coke for DW, qualified for a kiddie meal.. I had a beer to qualify for an adult meal!!!


We then went for the Shrek 4d experience.. With rocking theatre seats in rhyme with Prince Charming’s horses hooves, and water droplets coming on your face in time with Shrek’s spit!!

After that we tried out some doughnuts.. Basically U/S seemed like a kids playground.. Sweets, rides, and colours, and favourite cartoon characters.. We then went for the last ride of the day, that took you through recreated sets of the Mummy, Jurassic park, some disaster movies (!) Including a huge plane crash, flooding scenes, etc..


Overall a day full of events.!!


Come evening, we  made our way to the Little Door, a purposefully nondescript fronted restaurant – without a sign, or anything to say what it was.. Just a little door in a wall, that opened to a beautiful patio, with a good fine dining ambience. We sat at the bar and looked at the menu, figured out the choice for DW as a vegetarian was meager, and so sashayed over to the Little Next Door.. a more informal cafe style seating… With the help of our maitre, I had a Grilled Marinated Daurade Fillet, while DW had a French Onion Soup, and we shared a Grilled Vegetables with goat cheese, pinenuts and basil. I can’t somehow get rid of the pronunciation of Do’haaade, that the maitre used to describe the fish… pretty good, especially with pesto liberally rubbed into the fish.



Let me tell you at this point that I am a big foody! Whenever, DW drags me into a “Mall” or a supermarket, I quietly saunter towards the food-groceries section and dive into a delectable soiree.. where I want to buy everything off the shelf!  Babes, calls it the “Kid in a candy store” syndrome that I suffer from! Hence, food is always given priority in my trip planning…after all..Beauty, whether man-made or natural, can’t be appreciated on a less than satisfied tummy!!  
Like i mentioned in the last post, i am a food’a’holic.. so day 2 in LA was planned as such.. 


This morning, after a delectable, breakfast dished by our hosts, seen here in the above picture, we set out on a pre-booked “Hollywood Sites & Bites food tour of LA”, through Tourific escapes www.tourificescapes.com/. Our friend S, also visiting her sister in LA, joined us at the Roosevelt hotel. 
 
  




The Roosevelt hotel, is a real classic, the ball room of which was used to host the 1st academy awards in 1929.

Hollywood walk of fame!




Our first stop was a cupcake tasting at Crumbs, the cupcake shop off Grauman’s Chinese Theater!!, atleast 5-6 types of mini cupcakes, followed by a visit to the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, followed by detailed descriptions of the Hollywood Walk of fame. 



Next stop was for Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘N Waffles, with ed Rooster Louisiana hot sauce on the chicken, butter and syrup on the waffles… DW had only the waffles, and wasn’t too impressed. I liked the juicy chicken, and the waffles, separately, but didnt really understand the concept of chicken n waffles.  



Our next stop (whilst taking in loads of info about hollywood, including the fact that most of the really big hollywood actors, seem to hace grown up close to Hollywood!) was John Kelly Chocolates- really loved the different textures, and taste.. adding sea salt to chocolate does satisfy all the tastebuds.  






An interesting stop was at Susan Feniger’s Street. We tried the Tamarind Ginger cooler, Kaya toast (you either love it or hate it… toast, coconut jam, eggs sunny side up, with soy sauce), quinoa fritters, Laundry Day fritters, Millet puffs, etc.. one can imagine…i was one contented soul! 

Kaya Toast











We then made a stop at Greenblatt’s Deli and Wine shop, http://greenblattsdeli.com/

Pastrami sandwiches at Goldblatt’s Deli with Black cherry sodas.DW desultorily had some mashed potates and rye bread. 

  

The last stop of the tour was at Mashti Malones Ice cream, tried the lavender ice cream 

http://www.mashtimalone.com/


We spent rest of the afternoon shopping in the general vicinity, then headed back…

decided to drive over to santa monica..to enjoy the sunset at the boulevard… took couple of wrong turns exiting LA…n reached there..just after sunset..even the n got the hang of the place.. took some pictures..did some more shopping…n headed back…



back to the B & B! 



later in the evening, strolled down to the “The Original Farmer’s Market” (an LA landmark), which was a few blocks from  the B & B. 



“The Grove” is a mega shopping complex, adjacent to the farmers market and was bustling with tourists, shoppers and locals alike.. we let ourselves be carried away with the fun n frolic…and ended up doing tons of Christmas shopping! All in all, a very productive day…according to DW!!!


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