All posts filed under: Smitten Cities

Summer Bucket List #2: Firsts

  I was starting to think I might give in to this whole, “it’s technically fall now” idea, but it seems at least in Southern California, Mother Nature isn’t quite ready to accept that idea either. Summer is still here, my friends – and so is my Summer Bucket List. My latest adventure (Summer Bucket List item No. 2) took me for the first time to the shores of Catalina Island. While I’ve spent many a lazy beach day staring at the island from afar and even taken several SCUBA diving trips to waters just off of its coastline, in my 10 years as a SoCal resident, I’d never actually set foot on shore. Being that it was the boy’s and my anniversary, we opted for the quieter Two Harbors side of the island and spent the day kayaking (which I’m happy to report went swimmingly despite my tendency to be overbearing in kayaks), checking out the scenery and eating at the only restaurant in the town. At dusk, we hiked up to a viewpoint …

Summer Bucket List #23: Disneyland Daze

  The last time I went to Disneyland, I was 16. I was on a trip with my high school orchestra and justifiably (I think) confused about why we weren’t visiting the beach during our short reprieve from the Arizona desert. I’ve never really been Disneyland’s No. 1 fan. I think it’s an amazing place full of fun rides and inventive lands, but when the cost easily competes with what I’d pay to go on a trip to one of the real places depicted in “small world,” I have to draw the line. But despite my ambivalence toward “The happiest place on Earth,” my interest was recently piqued when I remembered I still had this on my Summer Bucket List: “23. Indulge in a local tourist trap.” Even more enticing, my best friend and favorite theme-park companion was in town and my fabulous “cast member” roommate was able to get us in for free! Sold. Arriving late (for Disneyland standards), we were thrilled to discover it was actually a pretty quiet day at the park …

Faces of the City

One of my favorite things about walking around Downtown L.A is eyeing all the impressive and often really beautiful street art. Here are a few murals in particular that I never seem to get tired of and wish I could somehow shrink to a size that might fit in my apartment. Spring Street between 6th and 7th: After doing a little investigative work, I discovered a nice piece in Curbed Los Angeles about this street artist, JR. There’s a great video to go along with the article and it managed to make me even more enamored of his beautiful artwork and project, called “Wrinkles of the City,” which highlights the often overlooked beauty that comes with age. The mural in the first image was actually a collaboration between JR and another street artist, VHILS, whose work can be found here. {Photos by Julie Faith via Flickr} Main Street between 4th and 5th:   While there’s plenty to appreciate about the murals downtown, this one has always struck a chord with me more than any other. …

The Bikes Are Coming

You guys, it’s happening. After I’ve waited practically a decade for bike sharing to head west, Bike Nation is finally bringing a bike-share program to Downtown Los Angeles — plus Hollywood, Playa del Rey, Westwood and Venice Beach. You’ve probably seen these programs in other cities. They’re super nifty. Basically, they allow you to rent a bike out of a totally automated station, ride it around and drop at off at any other station nearby. I’m already dreaming of all the fun biking adventures I’ll be going on very soon. In the meantime, I’m swooning over Steven Rea’s newish book, “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and its collection of romantic photos of Hollywood stars from the ’30s ’40s and ’50s riding their bikes around town. The one above is Susan Peters. Isn’t it just lovely?

Is This Real Life?

Sometimes when I go to places like Ojai or Los Olivos or watch Gilmore Girls or basically any show about suburban life in the ’50s, I wonder what it must be like to live  in one of these tiny towns where everyone knows everyone and people spend lazy afternoons eating ice cream in the park. I think I might finally know. Last week, I started house sitting in Monrovia, a hidden gem (and virtual time warp) just off the intersection of the 210 and 605 freeways. I don’t know if it was just the particular weekend I spent there or if this is the norm in Old Town Monrovia (a stretch of small businesses, shops and restaurants extending down Myrtle Ave), but over the course of a single weekend, there was a street fair, a farmer’s market, a parade, music in the park, a clown on stilts blowing balloons, a woman playing a violin outside the local movie theater  … I mean, everything was just so pleasant it was hard to believe it was actually …

Keeping Up With the Jones

It wasn’t until this year that I came to the realization that most of my “dream vacations” are drawn from Indiana Jones movies. A few years ago, my sister and I went to India. At the time I thought I wanted to go simply because it had always, for some inexplicable reason,  seemed like a mysterious and intriguing place. Actually, it was because the second Indiana Jones movie takes place there. I’m not going to lie, that trip wasn’t my favorite. So I was a little nervous when just two weeks ago I took off on a plane toward the one Indiana Jones location that had delighted and intrigued me beyond all others: the monuments of Petra, Jordan. And, guys, not only was Petra incredible, but also Jordan itself and neighboring Egypt (both visited on the 9-day tour I participated in through Intrepid) were full of more amazing sites than I can do justice. So — as usual — I’ll let my photos do the talking. (Below are just a small selection of the photo …

Traveling State of Mind

I don’t know if it’s Spring Break or just the fact that everyone is tired of the “staycation,” but it seems travel bugs are everywhere lately. It used to be that I’d go through my extremely short list of equally travel-obsessed friends trying to find someone (anyone!) who might want to jet off to somewhere exotic. Now, I can’t even keep up with all the travel ideas that have been tossed my way — and I love it! With travel constantly on the brain (as is my usual state) I’ve recently come across some fun travel features that have a perfect place in today’s travel-mania. Here are just a few: 1. Why We Travel – A beautiful collection of reader-submitted photos and travel anecdotes curated by The New York Times. (I’m in love with photo No. 16 — shown above. Wish it were me!) 2. The Ultimate Travel Hacking Guide – And I thought I was an expert in the art of getting cheap flights. So much to learn … 3. Bike-friendly LA – For …