Carnet de voyage... by Gigi
When holidays go organic... early July in Malibu...
Initially the plan for this year’s summer break with my son Noah was to start in San Diego, travel up the California coast and then venture into Oregon and Washington State. But eventually conflicting schedules (my work - his school) and exhaustion (both of us) made us settle for what turned out to be an enjoyable and truly rejuvenating stay in Malibu.
The right mix between peacefulness…
The advantage of staying in Malibu is the proximity to some beautifully raw spots of nature such as Point Dume Nature Preserve and its secluded beach. Go there in the morning and it will be just you, the sand, the ocean… and some early riser riding the waves or practicing their yoga routine.
Our nature experience was even more enhanced by seeking shelter up in the canyons rather than along the quite busy Pacific Coast Highway. “Villa Seabreeze” which we were lucky to call home during our stay, offers exactly what you need to recover from the ubiquitous stress we’re all exposed to: a breathtaking view of Santa Monica Bay, the peaceful silence proper to mountains landscapes after dusk and a real good “karma” .
Malibu is also (still) very much about neighborhood feeling and small shops rather than the usual subsidiaries of large commercial chains. “Cafecito Organico” at Point Dume, an artisan coffee shop located within the independent bookstore “Bank of Books”, became our favorite spot to hang out. Their fresh ginger flavored Chai Latte is to die for! And if you are a health freak like me, you will also want to try “Sunlife Orgnics” – best juice and smoothie place so far – just next door.
Yet, you’re decently close to all kinds of activities including a broad cultural offer with Los Angeles basically next door. For us this stay was the opportunity to discover the legacy of the Getty Family. It started with a visit of the “Getty Villa”, an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria, which we discovered thanks to our friends David and Diane from Seattle who visited us in Malibu. N.B. Admission to the Getty Villa is free, but timed tickets must be obtained in advance via phone or the museum's website.
Thereafter we visited the “Getty Center”, an amazing art museum. Even if you hadn’t time to explore the collections and exhibitions, the Center’s architecture, its landscaped gardens as well as the spectacular view of LA are in itself worth a visit. While there I discovered the work of James Ensor an interesting and very eclectic - to say the least - Belgian artist. Unfortunately we were a little pressed with time, so make sure to foresee a whole day if you ever have an opportunity to visit.
Tanja, thank you for bringing us there!! By the way, Tanja Majerus, is a talented Luxembourg-born and educated artist who moved to LA about 17 years ago to work for the animated film industry and subsequently the toy industry, among others. Check her work on behance.net – Tanja, I’m proud to have been a couple years in the same school as you.
Tanja & me;
Of course, once you’re in the area you can’t miss out on Santa Monica and its famous Venice Beach. Santa Monica actually offers a nice mix of elements: a downtown section where you’ll find the usual mall complex including Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, etc. – look out for The Santa Monica Place - . But you will also find unique stores, bakeries and cafés in places such as Montana Avenue. As for artsy Venice Beach… it really looks and feels like what you see on tv… skaters, street artists, surfers, people working out in tight outfits that don’t leave much to imagination… but then most of them can indeed afford to “show it off”. You can spend hours just sitting there and watch the crowd!
Food & Drinks…
Actually I should say only food… drank mostly water and smoothies during this stay, except for that one evening when, sure enough, the police was testing every driver for alcohol or other substances… just to make it clear, I passed the test!
My friend Maria from Luxembourg who happened to be in LA as well during that period of time (see why below) took us first to True Food, a chain of restaurants which offers dishes inspired by the anti-inflammatory diet approach – Mor and Iris, you would love it – and hence a wide array of savory vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Noah fell in love with their organic pizza, and with their miso soup.
We also spent a nice evening at a well-known Russian restaurant called “Mari Vanna” located in Melrose Place, West Hollywood – if you remember the sitcom named after this address you’re either my age… or you like to watch old stuff . The food was as excellent as the whole “ambiente”. Truly worth an evening, and if you’re lucky you might sit right next to one or the other celebrity.
Talking about celebrities, so the reason why Maria was in LA is because her daughter Ana, an aspiring film director attended a 2 months workshop at UCLA… and her short film shot while there won the first price. Congratulations Ana!! So watch out for that name in the coming years: Ana Pierucci… Noah & I are looking forward to cheering you on the red carpet.
A last place I’d like to highlight is the Aroma Cafe in Studio City: a cafe/bistro with a warm atmosphere - and somewhat of a French feel - which offers a wide selection of sandwiches, salads, homemade pastries and home crafted coffees & teas, and which prides itself for sourcing from local vendors and producers… as I said, these holidays were very much “organic”.
Noah & Frank
I couldn’t possibly finish this edition of my “carnet de voyages” without thanking our friends Meredith and Frank. You were wonderful hosts, who introduced us to the “arcanes” of life in Malibu – which included for instance taking us to your yoga classes – and therewith made our experience quite unique. Noah & I cherished the evenings spent on your terrace, dining & chatting and we’re looking forward to hosting you soon here in Luxembourg. Our warmest regards, also to Fiona and Ram.
Next time we’ll be back in Israel and discover new aspects of Tel Aviv… See you soon