Tuesday, September 6, 2016

LA travelogue final part - Santa Monica and Venice Beach

The end of the LA travelogue coincided with the last day of the summer holidays, today DS is going back to school. Temperature wise there is no sign of la rentrée yet, it's still hot and sunny at 34 degrees celsius.  With scarf friendly weather nowhere near in sight, it is just as well that I have a few last Los Angeles pictures to share.

We spent our last days in the same place that we spent our first days of the trip.. by the Pacific Ocean. Only this time we stayed in Santa Monica and Venice. Both places are fun and lively and offer something for everyone... ideal for a family holiday!

The Shutters on the Beach is a picture perfect beach hotel oasis with a grey and white slatted wood façade. It is relaxed and breezy and immaculate and fresh, and also has two beautiful, light and airy restaurants, Coast and One Pico.

Coast is my favorite... it has large windows overlooking the beach and you can see skaters, cyclists and joggers floating by while having a drink or lunch in a modern colonial setting featuring cane chairs, ceiling fans and chrome light fixtures, or on the romantic little terrace surrounded by plants and with a trickling fountain.

Bike rides have always been a successful part of our family holidays (click here for Berlin or here for New York) and there could not be a more perfect way to explore Venice, Santa Monica and the famous bike trail connecting the two. There are many bike hire places in Santa Monica and Venice, but the nicest beach cruisers are at Shutters, where you get a bike valet service too (located just outside the Coast restaurant).


Santa Monica Pier - not only the oldest West Coast pier but also the most famous.. its arcade and carousel have been a backdrop in hundreds of movies.

One of the coolest streets in LA - Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. It stretches from Venice Blvd to Pacific Ave and is lined with shops, cafes, boutiques and restaurants. One shop front porch display is more creative and fun than the next,  it is impossible to get bored!

Abbot Kinney after whom the boulevard is named. He's also known as the 'Father of  America's Venice', he created and developed it a little over a hundred years ago.

There is no shortage of restaurants on Abbot Kinney... these are my two favorites:
top row: the light and airy Salt Air has a simple but delicious and fresh menu, to which you can add char-striped olive oil grilled bread and a bottle of chilled white wine.
bottom row: the hip and trendy Gjelina is famous for its pizzas, but also offers a wider menu in addition to being a cool hang-out.

Street art and murals play a huge rule in the community

Venice is always busy, and even more so on the weekends (if you prefer to stroll or take a bike when it's relatively quiet, the mornings are best). On the Ocean Front Walk there is never a dull moment. The East side is lined with cafés, surfboard hire places and souvenir shops and on the opposite side there are small street vendor's stalls, all of them playing their own sounds and music. Any space in between is taken up with fortune tellers, snake charmers, street dance performers, cotton candy sellers, body builders, musicians, poets and painters and a piano player with his own grand piano on wheels. In short, it's the kind of sightseeing kids and teenagers very much enjoy too!

Best view over Venice beach, the roof top of Hotel Erwin

Throwback to Venice in 1996 when we used to live part-time in LA. In those days I was roller-blading instead of bicycling.

You cannot imagine a more gorgeous bike trail than the one connecting Santa Monica and Venice Beach... the concrete path is so smooth that rollerbladers, skateboarders and bikers glide on it seemingly without effort. The path is surrounded by manicured white sand and sculptural palm trees, and while you ride along you have a perfect view of the beach one side, and the bustling Ocean Front Walk on the other.

The arrival of the Green Doctors was a novelty to us, and it seems that in Venice the prescriptions are handed out especially generously.

My favorite singer on Venice's Ocean Front Walk is the kind and humorous * Starla * who comes most Tue, Wed and Thursdays, covering soulful R&B and jazz songs. She's located just opposite Venice's best frozen yogurt parlor. It is such fun to sit in the sunshine with a favorite treat and to hear her sing. (click here to see her on YouTube). She can be booked for weddings or special occasions (contact details below).

The best place to watch the sun set is the rooftop of the cool and hip Hotel Erwin. It's a good idea to book a table, especially if it is the weekend. While you listen to lounge music you can order drinks and bites to eat, and watch the sun dropping like a huge orange into the Pacific.

Even going super casual felt slightly overdressed in Venice!

Au revoir Venice


Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica State Beach, 1 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405,
Phone: +1 310-458-0030 www.shuttersonthebeach.com

Hotel Erwin, 1697 Pacific Ave, Venice, CA 90291,
Phone: +1 310-452-1111 hwww.hotelerwin.com


Coast at Shutters on the Beach, 1 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405,
Phone: +1 310-587-1707 www.shuttersonthebeach.com/dining/coast

Gjelina, 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291,
Phone: +1 310-450-1429 www.gjelina.com

Salt Air, 1616 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291,
Phone: +1 310-396-9333 www.saltairvenice.com


The Tasting Kitchen, 1633 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291,
Phone: +1 310-392-6644  www.thetastingkitchen.com

Chaya, 110 Navy Street, Venice, CA 90291
Phone: +1 310.396.1179 www.thechaya.com/venice

Superba Food and Bread, 1900 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291,
Phone: +1 310-907-5075 www.superbafoodandbread.com

Broadwalk Yogurt (frozen yogurt): 215 Ocean Front Board Walk, Venice, CA 90291
Phone: +1 424-238-8977


High Rooftop Lounge, Hotel Erwin, 697 Pacific Ave, Venice, CA 90291,
Phone: +1 424-214-1062www.highvenice.com


* Starla * on Venice Broadwalk, opposite Broadwalk Yogurt
contact number for bookings: +1 310-433-4201

Bike hire Santa Monica: Sea Mist Rentals, 1619 Ocean Front Walk (Santa Monica Pier beach level), Santa Monica, CA 90401, Phone: +1 310-395-7076

Bike hire Venice: Ride! Venice, 1915 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, California, 90291
Phone: +1 310 954-0974 https://www.ridevenice.com

Bike hire Venice: Jay's Rental, 1501 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291,
Phone: +1 310-392-730 www.jaysrentalsvb.com


Abbot Kinney Boulevard shop directory: www.abbotkinneyblvd.com/shopping

Bye bye California!


  1. Ohlala I left a long message which does not leave... I was saying that you were beautiful young and beautiful now. Almost nothing has changed on your face. Aside that, beautiful pictures who remind me all these marvellous souvenirs I have there. Nostalgy..... And its not in our futur projects to return.... Amities

  2. Dearest Mai Tai,

    I can feel your joy through this post and feel grateful to you for sharing those special holiday moments with us.
    You were young and beautiful then and you are young and beautiful now 🌟
    Love all the pictures and outfits but most of all your words and the happy feelings behind them. Much love to you, Manuela xx

  3. What a lovely holiday! Thank you for sharing. Must explore more in my own backyard -- or maybe it's the front yard since LA, etc. is north of us. Next time, come on down to Newport Beach! xoxo

  4. I'm not into Hermes...but I enjoy your blog for your travel pieces; wonderful choices of restaurants and hotels. And above all I think you do quite wonderful travel fotos--love these of LA beach scenes (I graduated from UCLA when Westwood was a true village) that bring back wonderful memories. Thanks for sharing with me, there's just nothing like a palm tree!

  5. Your pictures make me want to jump on a plane right away - and your descriptions provide so much interesting background information. Thanks for sharing with us! Used to love inline-skating as well, and who knows, this pavement sounds so perfect that I would want to try again.These old pictures of you are adorable, and you still look just the same with your casual, youthful Venice outfit! Your holiday must have been very relaxing, laid-back, but at the same time full of new and old discoveries. We still have a couple more days to go before return to school will change our daily schedule - hope it will cool down a little for you, we are happy enough to get some more warm and sunny days.
    Lots of love,

  6. Oh, LA is a such a temptress with her blue skies, palm trees and ocean views, as are your photos of this last leg of your holiday! It is very easy to see why DS has declared it his fav!
    I agree with dearest Manuela about the joy in your words! I am so happy you all got to kick back and enjoy the SoCal vibe.
    Looking back, you look fab, going forward you look even better!
    Chin chin darling to memories made and to a wonderful school year for DS!
    Mwahs, T xx

  7. The first time I looked at the blog post, I didn't even realise it was an old picture of you with the rollerblades. Then, when I read the text, I was stunned. You look exactly like you did 20 years ago. Wow! I guess, even if you don't dress exactly the same, you knew your look already back then. I think that is one way to stay looking young as well, knowing what suits you with hair, makeup, shapes etc.

    /I blame Paris

  8. And, she rollerblades, too! Why am I not surprised, as the talent abounds in all directions. I tried it once and ONCE is the operative word here.

    I have to agree with all the other swans who posted that you haven't changed a bit. If anything, you look even better now than then. It is not fair!

    I hate to see the journey come to an end, as I've enjoyed it immensely.


    1. Jerrine,
      really unfair .... I suspect this top model is an E.T.
      xx Catherine

    2. I'm sure you're correct, Catherine - an elegant, ageless E.T. who has to be breathing different air than I am,

      And, organized too, no? I couldn't dig our a photo of myself from 20 years ago if someone had a gun to my head.

      I'm too old . . . I forgot where I put them :((

      Best to you and "my" favorite kitty cat,

    3. Well, Jerrine, at least you tried rollerblading. I've never had the nerve. (Flat feet...) I agree with you and Catherine -- dear MT must be an ET, or maybe she has a portrait in the attic which ages while she stays youthful!
      xoxo Fifi

    4. Fifi, we can practice our rollerblading skills when we move into the Hotel Erwin. Want a roommate? (I love Pugs!)


    5. You're on, Roomie! We will terrorize Venice Beach on our blades. We'll part those crowds of bikini babes like the Red Sea and sail right on through. Les belles dames sans merci!

    6. Yep, les belles dames sans merci, for sure, Fifi. But, on second thought, maybe we should be just a bit merciful with the bikini babes.

      What if we need some mercy ourselves? (Maybe we can just go after the ones in the thong bikinis!)

      Your future roomie,

    7. Your eloquence has convinced me, dear Jerrine. And we are far more likely to need mercy than the babes! Let them enjoy their babe-ness. I shall enjoy my old lady-ness. To everything there is a season, and all that jazz.
      xoxo Fifi

  9. I'm moving into the Hotel Erwin. I'll be an old lady there, sipping whatever I want under the orange umbrellas up on the roof top, and jogging along the path with my dog. I'll know everyone in the hotel and have a grand ol' time every day.

    What wonderful pictures, and what a fine trip it was, dear MT. Thanks again for sharing your talent and travels with us. And of course, you looked FAB-ulous, Dahlink.

    Warm aloha,

    1. Oh Fifi you made me laugh so much and now I can't take away this picture of you on the roof top with your dog! Miss Marple's daughter investigating in Venice !

    2. Dear Catherine, you are a sweetheart. Miss Marple, indeed. If my brain worked half as well as hers, I would rule the world!
      Much aloha,

  10. Nothing to add : Absolutely FABulous !

  11. The photos from 1996 are so sweet! I thought they were from last year :-)

    Bicycle valet parking, how nice it must be to be living in such a place. Heaven on earth ...

    Thank you for sharing the good times you had on your blog.

    best, Paula

  12. September 11th, sixteen years later. We will never, never forget.
    God (or whoever your "God"is) bless America and all the American swans in the pond.
    Love from France,

    1. fifteen years later
      sorry, with emotion I added one year….

    2. Catherine, so kind of you to think of us, especially with what transpired in France over the weekend. We will always be allies - we'll always have one another's backs.

      For us, 9/11 feels like it happened just yesterday . . . that beautiful, crisp blue sky day and then the horror of the planes slamming into the towers and then the Pentagon and finally that sad field in Pennsylvania. For Americans of my generation, it was the most shocking and most tragic event to ever occur, and for a while, it brought us to our knees. To this day I still wince when I hear a low-flying plane.

      With hope for a more peaceful world,

    3. Thank you, Catherine. How very kind you are. Like Jerrine, I feel anxious when I hear a low-flying plane. These things change us and stay with us, sorrow and joy all jumbled together.
      Much aloha,

    4. Dear ladies, swans and friends,

      I share your feelings and know that to stay together is and will always be our strengh.
      Love to all of you,
      Manuela xx

  13. Catherine--
    Your kind words made me well up with emotion. We will never forget.

  14. YOU remind me of a MOVIE STAR but I do not know HER NAME!Looks like a lovely vacation...........NEXT TIME let me know and I will POP DOWN from SAN FRANCISCO!!!!!
    I have never been to the GETTY that would be a nice place for us to stroll and chat!
    I think I need a ring for the scarf............OFF I GO TO SHOP!

  15. Thanks so much darling swans for the lovely comments. Will come back to individually as soon as I can. Hugs to you all and have a wonderful weekend! xxx

  16. We were in Santa Monica the same week as you. I have to say, your photos are a thousand times better than mine!