Wanderings: Venice Beach

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Something about Venice Beach just makes me want to grab a board and dive right into the waves.  I loved the sounds, the crashing waves, the throbbing music.  So much color, so many people, so much energy.  We only had a few pre-wedding hours to explore the neighborhood—-on foot, which is so amazing in LA.  Hopefully we’ll have some time this weekend to pay Venice Beach another visit.

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A Topanga Canyon wedding

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A few weekends ago, we made our way out to Topanga Canyon in the Santa Monica mountains, just west of Los Angeles, for the wedding of two of our lovely friends.  LA’s recent heat wave had finally broken that weekend, and everyone was super excited to reunite and celebrate the happy couple in a gorgeous field surrounded by oak trees and mountains.

In fact I had such a wonderful time chatting, eating Greek food, drinking champagne, and dancing non-stop for hours, that I completely forgot to get any photos of the bride and groom together.  Whoops!  I’m sure their super friendly photographers had it covered, but here are a couple of shots I did grab—probably during the one song I didn’t dance to over the whole evening.

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Wanderings: Orange County and Los Angeles

I love this gorgeous girl and the gorgeous view

I love this gorgeous girl and the gorgeous view

At the end of this trip to California, we headed south for the wedding of one of the Mister’s good friends from college, hopscotching all over Orange County and Los Angeles for various wedding events, visiting family, and getting in a little sightseeing.

We started out in Irvine, staying with family on his side.  I wrote a little about it here.  To kick off the busy weekend, the Mister’s auntie made us an Italian feast, with homemade gnocchi, eggplant parmesan, fresh fig salad, and on and on.  By Saturday morning, we were well-rested and energized for a busy couple of days.

Newport Beach

Newport Beach

Beach cruisers

Beach cruisers

Stuft Surfer Cafe

Stuft Surfer Cafe

Early Saturday afternoon we drove to Newport Beach for the ceremony.  We got to the church about an hour early and walked a block over to the beach to have a look around.  It was a gorgeous day, and I wanted to hitch up my long dress and run straight into the waves.

Wedding flowers

Wedding flowers

Gorgeous florets on the bridal gown train

Gorgeous florets on the bridal gown train

I wished I had been wearing this beautiful sari

I wished I had been wearing this beautiful sari

The Mister and the groom come from a tight-knit group of ten or so friends from college, most of whom were able to make it to the wedding. They are scattered all over the country now, and we were glad to spend time before the ceremony chatting and laughing, and catching up with the groom’s family, who they knew well.  After the ceremony, the married couple dashed to their vintage ride in a cloud of bubbles, rose petals and cheers, and while they went off to take photos, we all piled into our cars and headed straight to the nearest In-N-Out Burger for a pre-reception snack.

Pre-reception pit stop at In-N-Out Burger

Pre-reception pit stop at In-N-Out Burger

We split a Double-Double with fries

We split a Double-Double with fries

The reception was at the gorgeous Montage Hotel, overlooking Laguna Beach.  Cocktail hour and a tea ceremony were held on the lawns, perfectly timed to coincide with the last few golden hours of the day.

Pool at the Montage in Laguna Beach

Pool at the Montage in Laguna Beach

Cocktail hour over looking this gorgeous view

Cocktail hour overlooking this gorgeous view

Look at those green green waters

Look at those green green waters

Succulents, bougainvillea and the sea

Succulents, bougainvillea and the sea

We took turns taking each other’s photos and indulging in the champagne bar.

Catching up with friends who now live far away

Catching up with friends who now live far away

Amazing champagne bar

Amazing champagne bar

I had a few of these

I had a few of these

Once the sun had sen, we made our way into the ballroom for dinner, each table set with elaborate ceramics, and bowls of candles and blossoms.  We danced the night away to a Beach Boys cover band, under dozens of paper lanterns.

Paper lantern over the dance floor

Paper lanterns over the dance floor

Some tables had these beautiful ceramics

Some tables had these beautiful ceramics

Other tables had these bowls of flowers and candles

Other tables had these bowls of flowers and candles

The next morning, we pried our weary bodies out of bed, and drove to Corona del Mar, for a brunch overlooking the beach at the bride’s family home.  We sipped mimosas and bloody marys, and watched the waves crash on the rocks a few feet away.

Wedding brunch overlooking Corona Beach

Wedding brunch overlooking Corona del Mar

and me

Needing more coffee

All brunches should have bloody mary bars

All brunches should have bloody mary bars

the Mister

The Mister

Just some brunch

Just some brunch

Quiet little oasis

Quiet little oasis

After brunch, and many hugs goodbye with good friends, we headed into Los Angeles to drive around a bit before I had to catch a red eye home.  On the recommendation of Kristina, we stopped at Grand Central Market for lunch.  We wandered around the building, eating all the food with our eyes, and finally settled on the taqueria with the longest line and no visible name.  Amazing.

Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market

Beef and pork tacos

Beef and pork tacos

Packed lunch counter

Packed lunch counter

We also made our way up to Griffith Observatory to take in the views of the city and explore the observatory.

Griffiths Observatory and downtown Los Angeles

Griffiths Observatory and downtown Los Angeles

Irresistible touristy photo

Irresistible touristy photo

View of the city

View of the city

Downtown Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Visitors mesmerized by the pendulum

Visitors mesmerized by the pendulum

Pendulum

Pendulum

There was so much amazing food and architecture that we couldn’t get to, and now we are both itching to come back soon and taste a little more of what the city has to offer.

Palms and sunsets

Palms and sunsets

Packing for California

Blues, whites and greys

Blues, whites and greys

Packing up for a two week trip to California.  I like to travel light and have tried to adhere to a great packing tip I read about on Cup of Jo a while back: stick to a simple color scheme.  This let’s you mix and match tops, bottoms, layers, jewelry and shoes, so that you can have lots of outfits without lugging around too much stuff.  I’ve packed one brightly colored dress, since I have a wedding to attend at the end of the trip.

I’ll be working from California for next two weeks, mostly in Monterey, but spending a little time in Santa Cruz and Los Angeles.  Any tips on great places to eat or things to do?

Mix and match shoes, a swimsuit, and one dress for a wedding

Mix and match shoes, a swimsuit, and one vibrant dress for a wedding

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