MW and I stayed at the W San Francisco, which is one of my two favorite hotels in the city (the other is The Clift, where my parents happened to be staying; they were upgraded to a suite that was literally larger than my Brooklyn apartment). I spent Saturday having a lovely girls' day with my dear friend JC; we brunched at Foreign Cinema (which has my favorite daytime cocktail in the world), got mani-pedis, then got drunk on Palomas (maybe new favorite nighttime cocktail!) while waiting for our table at Tacolicious. Sunday we had brunch in Hayes Valley, my favorite neighborhood to shop in (more on that later), then my parents & I went to the DeYoung museum to see the Paley collection special exhibit which, ironically, came from MoMA! With a little break before dinner, I finally made it to the storied Jeremy's, which reminded me of a smaller Daffy's in the days of yore. They were having a pretty good sale, with extra markdowns on clothing, but everything I saw that I liked was either stained or ripped. I am still, however, kicking myself over a pair of nude patent leather YSL Tribute sandals which were in my size and a veritable bargain at $325, and yet, for some reason, I did not buy. After catching up with another of my favorite San Franciscans over a bottle of wine, we ended the night with dinnner at the excellent Bluestem Brasserie. Get the steak. Monday, MW & I trekked out to one of his favorite bookstores, Green Apple Books, which is in the Inner Richmond (or East Jesus Nowhere), but worth the trip. For a city that loves its fleece and yoga pants, it has a pretty impressive selection of fashion books; I found a great one on Cheryl Shops fave Ralph Rucci, as well as an out-of-print collection of vintage YSL photographs. After a lunch break at Nopalito (I swear, I would eat Mexican food every day if I lived in SF), we hit the Haight, where MW loves Amoeba Records and I always head straight to Wasteland, whose vintage section sadly seems to be shrinking. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped in Hayes Valley, which houses two of my favorite stores in SF, Gimmie Shoes and Azalea. I left the former empty-handed, but I got an awesome draped-back sweater by Cheap Monday at the latter. We closed out our final night in SF with drinks at the famous Bourbon & Branch (its cucumber gimlet is also a strongcontender for my new favorite nighttime drink) and dinner at Plaj, a new, incredibly tasty Scandinavian restaurant.
Having never done the coastal drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles, I somehow convinced MW that it would be more economical than flying. So off we drove, and I felt like I was in a video game. Fun! Our first stop was Swanton Berry Farm, where we spent $25 on jam (but it was totally worth it). We made it to Santa Cruz for lunch (we ate at Zachary's) and strolled around a bit; MW was pumped to find both a new and a used bookstore; at the latter, he bought me this Yoda 2013 calendar, which might as well as had my name on it. (Yes, I'm a dork; I quote Yoda frequently.) Back in the car, we stopped in Monterey, which was having a farmer's market on Tuesday afternoon; it was MW's first California farmer's market, and I think his mind was blown: the most perfect-looking organic strawberries for $2 a container, and everyone has free samples! MW bought a lot of nuts. After almost being blown off the cliff to get this photo, we stopped in Big Sur for dinner at Nepenthe, which came highly recommended by our acupuncturist. And then our troubles began. We had booked a hotel room in San Luis Obispo for the night, and I figured we could safely make it there in a day, however I did not factor in stopping-time in my calculations. This is why I work in fashion and not in finance. Regardless, poor MW drove for another two hours in pitch-black darkness to SLO, where we tumbled into our hotel room. We were bummed to miss the Hearst Castle, but, well, there's always next time. The next day, we stopped by the Madonna Inn, which pretty much needs to be seen to be believed (this is their steakhouse restaurant); I commemorated the experience with a hot-pink bathrobe, although I'd definitely recommend their chalice-like wine glasses too. After a mountaintop dip in the hot tub at Sycamore Mineral Springs, we headed to Santa Barbara, which is where I finally felt like we were in Southern California. State Street is the main drag where there are all manner of national chain stores, from Forever 21 to Nordstrom; I much preferred the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail, where you can almost feel like you're in wine country...except you're not. I treated myself to a bottle of Pinot Gris, because when in Santa Barbara...
I've been to LA multiple times before, but this time, it felt a bit...different. I'm starting to understand that whole LA-versus-NYC thing, and I think you can figure out where I stand. Our hotel, the Sunset Tower, was lovely, with Kiehl's products in the bathroom, a Nespresso machine (!!) in the room, and a pretty amazing view. Also, the continental breakfast is fabulous. My big recommendation if you stay there: Don't get the "standard" room. It is "standard" size only if you are a minitaure dog traveling by yourself. That said, they have a great spa, the Argyle, where I had a much-needed facial with Arcona products, and my skin still looks amazing a week later. Also, my aesthetitcian talked about how she lives in Venice because she needs to "absorb positive ions from the ocean" while she sleeps, so that was...informative. MW had to work on Thursday, so after dropping him off, I hit Robertson Boulevard, which I remembered to be a cool place to shop. I bought a crazy studded minaudiere at Kitson, but otherwise, it was a bit sleepy. Then again, that might have been because it was 90 DEGREES outside. What was that about the beautiful LA weather again? We later grabbed a snack at Joan's on Third, and watched everyone check each other out, trying to figure out if they were famous and/or important. Then we had dinner with MW's agent at Dominick's, and I really started to feel like we were in Entourage. We held on to that feeling the next day with lunch at Urth Caffé, where I had some amazing iced tea and more people stared at us and then figured out we weren't famous or important. Then we did some Melrose shopping, with a stop at Fred Segal, where I treated myself to some awesome-smelling Kai body butter (I also recommend the tuberose-heavy IF perfume) at Apothia. Once again, no one was shopping; maybe everyone was sitting at cafés, hoping to get noticed. We ended the day with a trip to Griffith Observatory (amazing views!) and dinner at Cliff's Edge with two of our favorite former New Yorkers and then a chance meeting with another friend of ours who was randomly in town to write a magazine story. It's a small world after all. On the way to LAX the next day, I stopped in Venice Beach with my friend MT for brunch at Gjelina, which was awesome and all of a sudden made me very homesick for Brooklyn. Venice Beach kind of reminds me of Brooklyn, if you scrubbed it clean and dumped it by the ocean. (Hey, better to absorb those positive ions!) I wish I had spent more time there, but my aesthetician recommended Princepessa as an ion-friendly place to shop. When in Los Angeles, right?