Every now and then, I must admit, I miss wandering through the narrow calli (walkways), campielli (Squares) and bridges of my beautiful Venice. Venice gives the illusion that you own her while you walk through her narrow little streets, when in fact, you don’t; she’s a mysterious older sexy lady that doesn’t need anyone to validate her. We are just passengers and guests that are invited to experience her beauty, perfection and elegant architecture.
When I first moved to the States, I decided that Venice Beach had to be the place of my residence. I was longing for something familiar that made me feel right at home, but I soon realized that the similarities begin and stop with the name. Venice Beach is a colorful fun beach town with great bungalows and shops that has played an important role in 1960′s counterculture. Throughout the years it has continued to contribute to the arts, music and architecture.
I love walking on the fun and noisy boardwalk or shopping on posh Abbot Kinney but, what I enjoy the most, is walking through the Canals. Here’s a video on a perfect stroll with exciting sighting and discoveries.
Ever wonder how it feels to own a weekend home on the beach?
For a couple of years now, Santa Monica residents and Angelenos alike, have been enjoying a piece of paradise, by cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway and lounging by the pool at the Annenberg beach house. And let me be clear, this is not just any beach house: it’s a sleek community center situated on the same grounds where silent movie star Marion Davies’ mansion stood in all its glory. Her estate was designed by architect Julia Morgan and financed by Davies’ boyfriend, publisher and gazilionaire William Hearst. Similarly to the Hearst Castle, Davies’ 100-plus rooms mansion and ornate marble pool had the same opulent decor and esthetics. The Beach House was a hot spot on Santa Monica’s Gold Coast, with Hearst and Davies entertaining luminaries from the Hollywood set, such as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Samuel Goldwyn, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable and other stars of the day. In 1947 the mansion was purchased by an investor and converted into a Hotel with limited membership. When the venture ended in 1957, the mansion was demolished and the property was sold to the state of California. The extensive remodeling was funded by the Annenberg foundation (the same that overseas the Palm Springs ‘Camp David’ and wonderful other endeavors.) The project involved the rehabilitation of the historic Marion Davies Guest House and pool, as well as construction of new recreation and event spaces.
There are many fun activities, classes and cultural events throughout the year. There is a fitness room and a nice cafe’ with tables right on the sand; it’s the perfect spot to sip some wine while looking out into the ocean at sunset.
My top recommendation for this hot weekend is to head to the fabulous Traveler’s Bookcase on 3rd street to hear some juicy stories on Beverly Hills’ scandals and murders. You’ll be surprised to hear how a beautiful glamorous city hides the darkest past! Not to miss!
The Fillmore and Western company is known in the entertainment industry as the “Go-To” place to shoot scenes involving a railway station with steam engine vintage trains. Not everyone knows that the company offers train rides and a variety of themed parties on board all throughout the year to the general public.
The Duke and I had been invited to a special sunset ride through the avocado farms with destination Santa Paula for the annual air balloon festival. We boarded our 100 year old train at 6pm from Fillmore (about an hour and a half from LA); we immediately cruised through the four train cars and went straight to the open-air car to sit on the wood benches and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. The long whistling sound coming from the engine announced that the journey was about to start. All our fellow passengers took a seat while sipping some cocktails and toasting the start of our adventure.
Five minutes into the ride, we were greeted by two sherifs who showed up unexpectedIy in our car. They walked around with their noisy spurs click-clacking and speaking with a heavy Southern accent which I was able to discern here and there. They were pretty entertaining, making the people in the front laugh. They won me over when they handcuffed the Duke and threatened to toss him in jail!! Yes, please, he’s such an outlaw sometimes!
We were breezing though the perfect rows of avocado and citrus trees with the nostalgic choo choo sound, when the chef announced that dinner was served. I’ve never had dinner in a train before so, this was a very pleasant and romantic experience. The decor of the restaurant (as mostly the rest of the train) is art deco and it really takes you back in time and makes you want to wear the fanciest of hats.
I couldn’t resist and had to explore the private car at some point. I enjoyed seeing the formal private dinning room, living room and bedroom at the end of the train all of which belonged to President McKinley when he traveled around the country on his electoral campaign, or so the engineers told us. This train car was made the caboose and added to the train as a bonus. The Duke and I had the pleasure of sitting comfortably on the plush presidential sofa, looking straight out the back door, on our ride back.
The highlight of the ride was stopping at the Santa Paula’s annual air balloon festival; at dusk dozens of balloons were lit up creating a colorful choreography that it’s as good as fireworks.
I’ll definitely go back for a murder mystery dinner on the train…that’s the perfect setting for a killer night!