West Coast, Best Coast? USA

I grew up on the East coast of the US, not far from New York. I was raised thinking that New York City was the best city in the US, and subsequently, that the east coast was the place to be.  I would scoff at “west coast- best coast” braggarts, and once had an extra long conversation with an IT technician where he tried to convince me California was the greatest place to live while the computer system was rebooting. I did not believe him.  But now that I have actually been to California (and only a small bit of it) I might actually lean that way a little.

Before this most recent trip, I had only been to the west coast once.  A magical trip to Seattle to see my favorite band in concert.  It was a phenomenal trip, but one that I thought was a complete oddity.  Turns out, magical moments happen all up and down that coast.

Mumford & Sons announced a west coast USA tour at about the same time I was starting to plan my summer trip to the states.  All of the timings worked out suspiciously well, and it seemed like a trip to the west coast was going to be a big part of my trip home.  I have family in LA, so I called ’em up, and headed over.

I started the trip off in LA.  Long derided by everyone I knew from New York, I wasn’t expecting much.  LAX airport lived up to that expectation.  The uber drive took 45 minutes. 25 to get out of the airport, and 20 to get across town.  “Traffic, yikes…” would become the running theme of the week.  But having just come from NYC, where the subway was never running correctly or on time, at least I was in a car and not cramped, standing on a subway train.  I was pleasantly shocked by the weather.  Warm and sunny, but not humid and not oppressive.  It was lovely.  Great food, great weather, great people… LA really shocked me.

Because it was my birthday, and it’s important to have traditions, the trip started out with a pancakes.  And they were carrot cake pancakes, which means they had vegetables in them, and were therefore healthy. (this is pretty much the only healthy thing I will eat on this trip.)


I was only in LA for two days, and all of the second was spent at the phenomenal Mumford & Sons show at Banc of America stadium. It was fantastic, and they opened with my favorite song, (to date- the only time I’ve heard it live.) But then it was time to hop on another plane and head up to Portland, Oregon.

I didn’t really know what to expect from Portland. I knew it was sort of a more hipster-y version of Seattle, and well- I wasn’t wrong. But the trip starts out at the airport.  If LAX was probably my least favorite airport I’ve ever, the airport in Portland was almost the exact opposite. Full of loads of local shops and restaurants, it also housed a small movie theater showing short films from local film makers.  What a great way to spend time waiting for a plane!

I stayed at an airbnb in a lovely neighborhood between the airport and downtown.  I instantly loved it, and looked up how expensive it would be to live there… let’s just say I’m not going to be moving to Portland any time soon. One big upside of Portland (for me) is the general love of mac and cheese.  Every place I went to had at least one version of mac and cheese on the menu.  And I know you think I wouldn’t eat the same thing at every restaurant- but you would be wrong.

After another fantastic Mumford show, it was time to head back to LA and actually have time to spend with family and friends.


I got to meet up with a long lost friend and we spent the day in Santa Monica.  Having only ever heard about Santa Monica pier I was really excited to actually be there.  Not only because it’s SUPER FUN and Gorgeous.  But also because some of my favorite Instagram personalities regularly post from there, so we went out to see if they were hanging around- and they were! It felt like meeting celebrities.


It’s just a really cool place to hang out.  Pun intended.

After the beach, we headed to Largo Los Angeles, for a very special night.  Sondre Lerche’s favorite night, actually.  He’s been one of my absolute favorite singers since his first album came out, (almost 20 years ago) and the show was an absolute joy.  Helped by the fact that Largo is such a cool venue, and definitely a place I would spend more time at if I lived in the area.  Unfortunately- no photos allowed.


As a well documented space nerd, I was more than a little excited to head up to the Griffith Observatory. Despite the fact that a concert made the traffic an ABSOLUTE nightmare, and we ended up missing out on actually looking through the telescope- it was phenomenal just to be there.  As a film nerd, I thought about how many films have been shot there and it was a bit overwhelming.  I’m going to go back to see the telescope though.


And to take more super fun pictures.


The next day it was time for some cousin bonding time, so this time we headed to Malibu for lunch.


It counts as lunch, because it’s organic.

And what trip to California would be complete without a stay at a super plush resort with the golf courses/pools/shops/cafes to make you feel like a super star?


I don’t golf, but this place kind of made me wish I did.  I even went into the pro shop to look around, and then backed out slowly without touching anything in case they had a “you break it you buy it” policy.  Which would have bankrupted me.


See? California’s not so bad! Not going to lie- as amazing as everything was.  My excitement level was off the charts for…


In-n-out. Long held up as the best burger experience one can have.  A legitimate reason to go to the west coast.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  Despite a long line, service was fast- and everything was as good as expected.  Went for a double double.  Ten out of ten, would go again.

So that was my west coast trip in a nutshell.  Well worth it, and I’m actually sorry it took me so long to get there.  Looking forward to going back next time I am in the states.

The Art of the Brick, USA

So, I’ve spent the last little while back in Florida.  It’s been hot.  And a bit hurricane-y.  But recently, I got to go to a Lego art exhibit, The Art of the Brick, in Tampa that was really fun, and kind of inspiring. Continue reading “The Art of the Brick, USA”

City of Dwarfs, Poland

So, as you can probably tell by the complete lack of recent posts, I’m still finding it extremely challenging to be creative.  But, last weekend I ventured outside of Warsaw for the weekend, and was so inspired.  Continue reading “City of Dwarfs, Poland”

Train Hostel, Netherlands

Recently, at school, we got to the place in the calendar that everyone had been looking forward to for months.  Winter Break.  Not to be confused with the Christmas holiday break, winter break is thrown in the middle of February because, you know what?  There’s a long time between Christmas and Easter.  And a two week holiday is just what every teacher (and student) needs. Continue reading “Train Hostel, Netherlands”

Schonnbrunn Palace, Austria

Now, I debated on whether or not to write about this palace… you aren’t allowed to take pictures inside.  So is it worth it to write about it?  Or just skip this and move onto the next thing?  But ultimately, I really enjoyed it- and wanted to share it. Continue reading “Schonnbrunn Palace, Austria”

Plitvice National Park, Croatia

Since the moment I saw a picture of Plitvice for the first time, it had sat on the top of my place to go wishlist. I had a brief pinterest account which had exactly one board ‘travel wishlist’ with exactly one pinned photo ‘Plitvice National Park.’ My first trip to Croatia I was seriously running low on funds while there and couldn’t make it out to Plitvice. So, when my cousins and I were putting together an itinerary for our trip, my first and pretty much only ‘must visit’ was to go see some lakes and waterfalls. Continue reading “Plitvice National Park, Croatia”

Island Tour, Greece

On to the next adventure, as they say.  And this is a slightly new experience for me.  Or at least- it’s been awhile.  But on this trip, I’m not alone.  I’ve met up with two of my cousins for a bit of a travel around Europe before hopefully finding a place to live.
First stop? Greece. Continue reading “Island Tour, Greece”

KFC Buffet, USA

I’m back on American soil, and enjoying the familiarity of being home.  One new thing though- discovering that KFC has all you can eat buffets at some of its locations.  This is mind boggling to me. Firstly because all you can eat fried chicken should NEVER be allowed into my life.  That is unnecessary to say the least. My addiction to fried chicken does not need to advance to the all you can eat levels.  But, alas- it has.  And it’s lovely.  Possibly the best thing you can spend $8 on… but I’d be open to hearing other people’s thoughts on that one. Continue reading “KFC Buffet, USA”

Coffee, Beer and Chocolate, Peru

As a confessed indoor cat, some of my favorite places to go are cafes and coffee shops.  And the occasional bar.  One of the many many reasons I fell in love with Arequipa was that it had not only a fantastic coffee shop, but also one of the best cafes I’ve been to in my life.  And though both deserve their own blog posts in my heart, in real life we can talk about how wonderful they are together.  First up, as happens most days- coffee. Continue reading “Coffee, Beer and Chocolate, Peru”

Stairs and Funiculars, Chile

So, when I say that almost every flat surface in Valparaiso was covered in grafitti or art, I bet stairways were not the first things to pop into your head.  But what are staircases if not a collection of small flat surfaces.  So I’m gonna take a minute to talk about our very real life version of ‘chutes and ladders’… stairs and funiculars. Continue reading “Stairs and Funiculars, Chile”