I had four days off before Easter this year and went to California for a week to see my brother and hang out with one of my friends in Los Angeles. The benefit of L.A. is that you can get beach and skiing on the same week! :-)
My brother and his girlfriend live in Studio City in the San Fernando Valley in northern L.A. It’s a fantastic location, quiet and residential but also with some nice restaurants and shops. I spent some time shopping on Ventura Boulevard, the main shopping street and through-fare in the Valley, and also had dinner there at a cozy restaurant one night.
The weather in L.A. is mostly warm and sunny all year round. In the back yard at my brother’s, there is a lemon tree growing, constantly ripe with lemons (as you can see from the picture to the right), just waiting to be picked and used for fresh frozen margaritas!
On the Wednesday before Easter, my brother’s girlfriend, Julia Albert, a talented singer / songwriter, had a gig at Café Cordiale in Sherman Oaks. My brother played the guitar and sang backing vocals. Julia’s mother, brother, grandmother and some other relatives were also there to watch. We all had dinner there before the performance. Julia’s music is wonderful – check it out at http://juliaalbert.com/. It was nice to experience the intimate setting of this gig - see photos below.
I spent one of the days down at Venice Beach with my friend Thomas. For those of you who are not familiar with Venice Beach, this is a stretch of beach south of Santa Monica with a long beach promenade, along which people roller-blade, go skateboarding, biking and running, or work out in the sun at the Muscle Beach Gym, play tennis, volleyball or basketball at one of several courts dotted along the beach. The rather famous Venice Beach Boardwalk is full of quirky street stands, hustlers and weird people, trying to make a buck by making sand sculptures, wearing ugly costumes, juggling, selling their own, home made CDs etc. It’s definitely worth a visit – you’ll have a laugh and be fascinated by all the Weirdness there is in this world.
Since I am a passionate salsa dancer, Thomas took me to see one of his friends, John Davila (in picture to the left), who happens to be an On2 salsa instructor in L.A. We had good fun in the sun at his place for a couple of hours, learning a new On2 routine. Check out Davila's website at http://www.salsero.biz/index.php
On the Good Friday, Thomas and I went to Raffi’s Place in Glendale for some lovely Iranian food for lunch. I don’t think I have ever tasted Iranian food before, but I liked it. If you happen to be near Glendale, drive to Raffi’s Place and try it out. Nice staff and fresh food.
In the evening we went to Sherman Oaks Galleria for dinner and a movie. Thomas was mistaken for Eddie Murphy (very funny) by one of the visitors to the shopping galleria, who stopped him and almost asked for an autograph. The movie we ended up watching was really bad, not even sure why on earth we would randomly pick a film with such a title anyway… “10,000 B.C.”… If it screens at a movie theater near you, please pick another film for your evening out.
After four relaxing days in L.A., I was off to Big Bear / Snow Summit in Southern Caifornia for a couple of days of skiing with my brother.