California on Film…
To me, “home” is defined more by emotions rather than by geographic location. Theoretically, there have been many places that I used to call home throughout the past 30 years. Born in Stuttgart, moved several times within small villages. Next was Bavaria and then California. Where we spent 5 years. Then my dad’s work brought us to Austria, where I finished school in the mountains before choosing Vienna as my home a decade ago. The mountains are home because my parents live there, Vienna is home because Mike and I created our own life here. And then there is California, where the air always feels like home.
For our family vacation (party of 8: parents, siblings + partners) in September, we decided to go “home” instead of somewhere new. We skipped the fancy hotels in lieu of a costal beach house close to the sand. We traded countless meals in restaurants for BBQ parties with friends and exchanged sightseeing for endless beach walks, good books and naps. In other words: The perfect holiday!
Did you know:
You can compensate for your flight-related CO2 emissions thanks to KLM’s CO2ZERO compensation service, which you can select when you book your flight and manage this option via MyTrip on their website or the KLM app.
*disclaimer: our flights were provided by KLM/airfrance
Thanks to KLM and Air France, the 15-hour journey from Vienna to Los Angeles was a breeze (KLM: “We’ll make sure your flight flies by!”) and once we arrived, I decided to slow down in all aspects. Hence, I never brought my big DSLR camera anywhere. I didn’t want to experience our family time through a lens. I wanted to be present. For the first time ever, I only shot on film (+ a bit of iPhone footage). Not 200 snaps of the exact same shot. No time spent setting up the manual mode. And no staging things for the perfect angle! I went through about five rolls of film and only captured spontaneous moments with a single “click”.
California is home to us, so it was not a typical vacation. Which is why this is not a typical California travel guide. But, of course, it does include a few favorite memories, foodie spots, beaches and impressions from Southern California that I have been meaning to share with you, now that I had all of the film developed.
- Lido Marina Village with a Malibu Farm Café, Bear Flag Fish Co. (poke bowls), cute little stores + Honor Coffee Roasters
- Fashion Island for outdoor shopping with a huge Lululemon and Whole Foods
- South Coast Plaza also for shopping (indoor) with an entire wing dedicated to interior stores such as CB2, West Elm, …
- Balboa Island, which is super cute to explore with bikes or paddle around in kayaks
- Newport Island for beach days (our beach rental was on 41st Street with an ocean view)
- Crystal Cove State Beach is one of my favorite beaches in all of Orange County
- Hardtfit for an intense workout where pilates on the reformer meets high intensity cardio on the rowing machine
- Zinc Café for morning coffee or breakfast with friends (they also have a Newport location on PCH)
- Victoria Beach is a favorite amongst locals. Small and really beautiful with impressive houses along the sand to drool over
- Pearl St. Beach is another personal favorite of mine and where we always used to go back in the days
- 180blū is an oceanfront haunt with fire pits & couches serving small plates, desserts & craft cocktails located at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel, overlooking Salt Creek Beach. Theoretically not Laguna Beach anymore but just a few minutes south on PCH.
- South of Nick’s is great for Mexican food, but so is the Coyote Grill (super casual + affordable) where we had pitchers of margaritas, chips & salsa on our last night with a big group of friends.
- Hotel Joaquin was on my bucketlist, but since we had the house, there was no need for a hotel.
West Hollywood (my favorite neighborhood in L.A.)
- Melrose Place is a little sidestreet of the famous Melrose Ave and such a great spot with a Glossier store, Alfred’s Coffee, a Zimmermann boutique, The Row and The RealReal is just around the corner on Melrose Avenue.
- Nic’s on Beverly is a plant-based restaurant and cocktail bar focused on California cuisine serving a littlebit of everything you’d hope to find on a Los Angeles. (Technically in Beverly Grove but bordering West Hollywood)
- Gracias Madra = another plant-based restaurant that comes highly recommended. If you are looking for vegan Mexican food in Los Angeles – this is your spot!
- Basecoat on Fairfax is definitely the prettiest nail salon I have ever been to and I love that they offer non-toxic polishes. It was not the best manicure I ever had but a fun girls outing and lasted well!
- The Fairfax Fleamarket takes place on Sundays, starting at 9am and is worth a visit if you are a treasure hunter. I generally find fleamarkets a bit overwhelming but my sister scored a beautiful hat and we spotted some vintage Dior and Saint Laurent silk scarves.
- Runyon Canyon is a must early mornings to make use of the jetlag and if you leave early enough (shortly after 6am) you will make it to the top just in time to see the sun rising over sleepy Los Angeles.
- For breakfast favorites like The Hart & The Hunter or Backyard Bowls, be sure to check out this post.
- 1Hotel (used to be the Jeremy) is my personal favorite spot to spend the night in Los Angeles with a great location on Sunset Blvd.