Sunday, September 28, 2014

Malibu



I've been wanting to take a trip to Malibu my whole time in LA. It might have been a littleee bit because of Madison on Million Dollar Listing (a surprisingly influential show to me since I've been here as I pass million dollar houses every day on my runs in Beverly Hills), but I'm so glad I did. Midway through our day there, I thought, I could really see myself here. 

I was hesitant to admit I like LA because I always thought SF would be better. But undeniably, I liked it from the moment I stepped out of LAX, the breeze just smelling like the ocean. In the beginning, I pushed the thought to the back of my mind: it's still early, you've only been here a few days. But throughout my entire stay, I realized I haven't had a bad day in LA.  And the more I see, the more I could see myself here in the future. It's sprawling and huge, more like a big suburb with fun neighborhoods and things to do if you want, but also residential and chill in between. The weather is sunny and temperate all year round (boo drought though). And it's close to both the mountains and the beach, so you can be outside any day of the year. Sure, I enjoy watching the seasons change on the east coast, but then it starts getting below 40 degrees and dark at 5 pm. I'll gladly trade no seasons for winter, thank you very much. Combine this with views you can't find anywhere else in the world only a short drive away, I'm definitely considering LA more and more for residency...

On Sunday, my friend K and I rented a car and made the short drive to Malibu. We started off with a hike in Solstice Canyon. 








6 miles later, we had definitely earned some time at the beach so we drove to the breathtaking El Matador State Beach. We turned the corner onto the rickety staircase down to the beach and I literally gasped in amazement. Take a look at this view!


On our way down the stairs, a guy next to us remarked that this was a "porn star's beach." I believe it! Can't you just imagine a Sports Illustrated (or even more NSFW) shoot going on here?








We had dinner at the famous Malibu Seafood, which is basically a shack on the Pacific Coast Highway overlooking the beach. We had to risk our lives to do so, darting across the highway to get our food, but the fresh seafood, casual atmosphere and views were worth it!

After you order from the shack, you pick up your food from the window and make a beeline for the outdoor patio. There are two levels, and the top one has a great view overlooking the ocean. Cheap food and priceless views, who can resist?




The best fish and chips ever! Way better than the ones I've had in London. The fish tacos were too
dry though.

After dinner, we darted back across the highway onto this beach.
Amazing, right?





I was never a beach person until I came to LA but now I feel like I can never go back to the beaches of the Atlantic. I think it may be the call of the Pacific...

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From Hollywood, California to Hollywood, MD, I'm off for a month to do my rural medicine rotation in Southern Maryland tomorrow. Hollywood, MD is at the southern most tip of Maryland, far from the reaches of DC and Baltimore, a 1.5 hr drive away. I'm going to be shadowing an internist there in a rural community and getting a sense of what's it's like to be a traditional doctor with limited resources. Looking forward to a relaxing month before heading back to Baltimore in November.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

California sunsets

 Santa Monica taken with my iPhone and edited in VSCO cam

One of my favorite pastimes while I have been in LA is journeying to the beach to watch the sunset. And lemme tell you, California sunsets are incredible. They are right out of a movie or postcard, and are among the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.

Most of these were either taken at Venice beach (skip the boardwalk, it's full of "quirky" homeless dudes who smell) or the Santa Monica Pier. Although I haven't posted specifically about Santa Monica, it was one of my favorite places to go because it was right on the bus line, and it's the quintessential beach town. It's a tourists favorite but for good reason.

Venice Beach










 Santa Monica - iPhone only and unedited!






It's so easy to take for granted, but California sunsets at the beach (just a 20 min drive away) will be among the things I miss the most about LA. My short three week stay has already been so fulfilling I feel like it's invigorated my life again. I've made connections, both professional and personal, that I hope will help me pursue residency out here, reunited with friends from many different stages of my life, and was fortunate to be shown so much of this beautiful city. My flight back to Baltimore is on Saturday and I already don't want to leave!

Friday, September 19, 2014

LA in a day


Last weekend, my friend R from high school came to LA to visit! She was coincidentally in town taking her Step 2 CS (the one which I will have to take in Philadelphia next month) and took the opportunity to catch up and explore LA with me. I love the fact that I've been able to catch up with some old friends this trip, some of whom I haven't seen in years. After a few minutes though, it feels like no time has passed at all.

We started off with celebratory drinks and tacos at Blue Plate Taco, a hoppin' joint by the beach in Santa Monica.


I got fish tacos, like always. I like any city where I can eat tacos every day. 

We walked along the Santa Monica pier with the other throngs of tourists and experienced some of LA's live music, but then retired early to prepare a full day the next day.

After my next morning in weight loss clinic, we did the responsible thing and got vegan food at Native Foods Cafe, probably one of my favorite places in Westwood. It's a fast casual place with awesome vegan food that isn't pretentious and doesn't even taste like vegan food, just healthy. My Rockin Moroccan bowl was full of veggies and enough to take home for leftovers the next day. Their lemonades and ice teas are also a must try! I can't wait to go back so I can try more of their bowls and vegan sandwiches. 

Thankfully R gets me and lets me rearrange plates and take pictures of everything we ate :)

Lunch was followed by a campus tour, right in the middle of LA's heat wave last week. We "bear"ly made it!








Then, we set out for an adventure to DTLA! T picked us up again and took us to the famous sights I had seen and heard in the movies, including "the pillars," aka the Urban Light installation outside of the LACMA. ("Take me to the pillars!""...what are you talking about")




And the Grove, a huge outdoor shopping center and home to the country's original Farmer's Market, a cute collection of outdoor food stalls and old school grocery stores. 





Then, my favorite part of the day was our trip to Griffith Observatory, where we finally saw the Hollywood sign in all its glory. When R and I first caught sight of the Hollywood sign in the car, we both gasped in excitement because we had never seen in person before. Such tourists! But it's definitely less of a big deal for native Los Angelinos who never even give it a second thought. And it is quite small up close...



Not only do you get the best views of the Hollywood sign from Griffith Observatory, you get the best views of downtown spread out before you. It's definitely a must-see for everyone who comes through LA.




 Best tour guide
 cue "The Hills" music





We ended our night in true DTLA in Chinatown, at the Chinatown moon cake festival. LA's Chinatown is actually pretty sizable, definitely bigger than DC and even London's, but obviously smaller than SF or NYC's. We ate at some food trucks parked nearby, so I didn't actually get to try any of the Chinese food, but I've heard it's better in neighborhoods like Roland Heights or Acadia, which I haven't had a chance to visit.



Whew what a jam packed post and jam packed day! From Santa Monica to Westwood to Griffith Observatory to Chinatown all in a day I'm glad I was able to see so much of LA last weekend with friends. As I'm posting this, I have exactly one week left in LA and I'm determined to see as much as I can...I'm hoping a remaining 10 page paper doesn't stand in my way. Next up, Venice and Malibu!