LAX LAS Diaries 2011 – Departure and loving my Rimowa Suitcase

The last time I got on a plane was in February and I decided it was time I went somewhere on vacation. I hadn’t left Ontario for 7 months, it was beginning to wear on me. I needed to get out. My friend Marija lives in Las Vegas. I documented my last trip there in 2008 on I want – I got. It was a blast but I didn’t expect she would be there long. Well, here we are four years later and even she’s bought a house in the Vegas suburbs. That is how Las Vegas became part of my trip.

My newlywed friends Paul and Lauren live in Santa Monica. In August 2010, I flew to Los Angeles to visit them because of a perk I received from Klout for the doomed Virgin Airlines route YYZ to LAX/SFO. Santa Monica became part of the trip since I was heading west to Las Vegas already and it wasn’t far away. I’m also in love with Santa Monica and California living. Oceans, mountains and desert oh my. Like Whistler, I can see Santa Monica becoming a place I have to visit on a yearly basis.

So, I booked myself a six day vacation spending three days in Santa Monica and the next three in Las Vegas. I used Flight Centre to book the tickets because I wanted to fly into LAX and leave out of LAS. I did some research myself but wanted to see if they could find cheaper options. They did! I left my Santa Monica to Las Vegas travel up in the air at the time of booking.

I’ve received many emails from the Rimowa PR team over the years but I’ve never written about them or looked at the product up close. They have a store in Yorkville but I’m not in the market for luggage so I never go in. I travel so infrequently and my current suitcases are functional. However, I finally got to see Rimowa suitcases in person at the A2Zane store opening. I spoke with Dezaray Romanelli, Toronto Store Manager and she showed me a selection of cases. They were really, really nice. I was offered a suitcase to test drive and it couldn’t be better timing. Plans were made and a lovely Salsa Deluxe 3 Suiter in chocolate brown was delivered to my office.

Rimowa Salsa Deluxe 3 Suiter

I never thought I was the type of person to rave about a suitcase but I’m going to do just that. I love the Rimowa Salsa Deluxe 3 Suiter. I’ve never had a more pleasant suitcase experience. I didn’t battle my suitcase at all this trip. The ease of use and design of the Rimowa was something that worked to make my travel experience easy. The Multiwheel system made the suitcase glide over any surface. The four wheels meant no tilting. I totally had a smug traveller look going at YYZ while effortlessly pushing the Rimowa suitcase and me wearing my Moncler S trench, Hudson Jeans, Jeremy Laing sweater and Dries Van Noten boots.



It also has an integrated TSA combination lock. It allows Airport officials to open the case without damage to the lock and your contents remain secure. The Polycarbonate shell is extremely strong, light and stable. The shell has a bit of flexibility and can take a beating. The telescopic handle is adjustable and comfortable for a variety of heights.

Rimowa Salsa Deluxe 3 Suiter

I love the dual chamber system which is a feature of the Salsa Deluxe 3 Suiter. It contains a garment bag with integrated shirt pocket. I died, a fucking garment bag and hangers included. No more would I pack the most casual of clothing when traveling. I have a garment bag now. It’s time to break out the good stuff and no wrinkles. The chamber system keeps things in order even when half full with it’s Velcro and divider adjustment system. I liked having the compartments in the suitcase. It allowed for me to keep different parts of my wardrobe physically separate from each other. I didn’t even come close to packing this suitcase to the limits. If anything, I packed way too much. There is so much going for this suitcase due to the features but it’s also special because Rimowa manufactures their suitcases in Canada! I love supporting local manufacturing (even if the company is German in this case).

So, I came back from my trip a die hard Rimowa fan. If I traveled a lot for business or pleasure I would definitely invest in a Rimowa suitcase. The Salsa Deluxe 3 Suiter model I test drove retails for around $800. I was heartbroken when I handed the suitcase back to the courier. Bye, bye Rimowa. You were lovely.

Travalo

I was sent another great travel gadget last year that I utilized on this trip, the Travalo. It’s a refillable perfume atomizer that meets the in cabin travel requirements. It’s really quick and easy to refill without spillage. It carries enough fragrance for 50 sprays. It’s made of aluminium and contains no glass. This really made taking my favourite D&G Anthology L`Amoureaux 6 Fragrance with me on this trip. It comes in a massive bottle and I’m too frightened to pack it in my suitcase (even with the Rimowa, ha ha). They are so small you could pack a few with you on a trip with all your favourites. I know I could have taken another with me for Fan du Fendi. Travalo is available at Shopper’s Drug Mart in Toronto. It retails for around $15.99 and comes in a variety of colours.

Chilling in YYZ utilizing the free wifi
Chilling in YYZ utilizing the free wifi

I took Air Canada to LAX which was a breeze to be honest. The customs line was empty and I arrived with plenty of time before departure. I don’t usually like talking to people when flying but I sat besides an adorable and nice couple.

I arrived at LAX midday on November 24 and the airport was dead despite it being Thanksgiving Day. I was worried about crowds but traveling the day of the holiday seemed to be okay. The weather was fabulous and I was looking forward to three days filled with friends, museums and food. Oh and a little shopping.

This is the first part of the LAX/LAS Diaries 2011 series. Stay tuned for more.

Published
Categorized as LAX, Travel

LAX Diaries – Day 4

LAX Diaries - Day 4

When I got up Monday morning I appreciated the SoCal sun. It doesn’t usually come out till after noon so you can sleep in and not feel guilty about missing the day. The weather by the ocean was overcast with clear breaks. When it’s sunny, it’s fantastic and you fall in love. Hell, when it’s overcast you fall in love; it doesn’t rain. I decided to check out the shopping at the 3rd Street Promenade. It was very close to the ocean. I first stopped at the Le Pain Quotidien and had Organic Red Quinoa salad with arugula, chickpeas and artichoke. Paul and Lauren’s original choice for breakfast/lunch was closed. This lunch put me on a quinoa kick and I’m making salad often at home using both regular and red quinoa.

3rd Street Promenade is pretty much all chain stores. That is something I noticed a lot of in my travels. I didn’t make a list of cool shops to visit before I left and I regret that. I really want to see what independent clothing retailers are doing. I went into J.Crew to see what the fuss was about. It just reminded me of Banana Republic. I’m not getting the hype but think the jewellery is interesting.

LAX Diaries - Day 4

I finally made my way to the pier. It was overcast at first but then the sun came out and it was glorious. I couldn’t have asked for a better final day. I hung out on the pier and watched the people fishing. I managed to snap a man pulling up a skate he caught. I didn’t get a snap of the solitary sea-lion that bobbed his way under the pier and out the other side.  It’s very touristy but the crowd size is manageable during the week.  You can get your picture taken with cheap cutouts of celebrities or your name written on rice.  There were all sorts of entertainers from musicians to guys in suits. The pier musicians filled the air with their music which was creepy and beautiful at the same time. Hopefully, this video I took can convey that.

LAX Diaries - Day 4

The most curious thing for me was watching Batman, Catwoman and The Joker from the pier.  It was a trio of three people in very good suits standing around and interacting with people.  I expected their to be money involved but they happily posed for photos without requiring payment.  This was bizarre to me, who the hell spends their day in costume at the beach.  Welcome to LA, this is what goes down. I spent a lot of time on Santa Monica pier on Monday. It’s so weird seeing it get destroyed in movies now. I get the same feeling with when I see that Randy’s Donuts place just outside LAX too.

LAX Diaries - Day 4

I walked north along the beach to check out the oceanside property. Wow, there are some great homes along the shore. They all had balconies and enclosed backyards facing the ocean. The only problem is that they are right up against the bike paths which are high traffic areas. I’m curious how loud it can get at night but it seems the cops patrol the trails frequently on ATVs. I grabbed a seat and finished reading my book. Heaven is a book and the beach. I really could get used to this lifestyle.

I was very anti-LA before my trip. I never wanted to visit. Paul, my friend in Santa Monica, uses to live in San Fran and I wanted to go there. I was a bit gutted when he told me he moved to LA. This trip has turned me into a LA (well,Santa Monica really) convert. This trip prompted me to learn more about just what parts of southern California make up LA country and city. Santa Monica is its own city but it’s surrounded by the city LA, that had confused me.  It’s all LA county which adds to more confusion.

LA trends I noticed: the covered sandal gets way more attention here than in Toronto. I was indifference to these ugly sandals in Toronto to hating them by the end of the trip. Every female has long hair. I guess it’s the Californian girl look. My short hair got looks and the occasional rude comment. SoCal has a look that I don’t fit into. I was always wondering if it was the hair or the neon green Prada sunglasses people where staring at. Anyways, being ignored by men in California is fine with me as I’m ignored in Toronto and I’d rather have LA weather and ocean. I’d totally revert back to my old sporty self and I could easily assimilated into the West Coast lifestyle. My last dinner was at Sushi Roku. I was told that LA has good sushi but Paul says San Fran is better.

I took the red-eye home and the flight was uneventful (thank god). Still hate the headrest on the seats and didn’t get a very good sleep. I was very thankful I took Tuesday off from work so I didn’t have to walk into the office from the airport suitcase in hand. I love LA and plan to return again soon.

Published
Categorized as LAX

LAX Diaries – Day 3

LAX Diaries - Day 3
Sunday started out with brunch in Malibu at Moonshadows (20356 Pacific Coast Highway). This restaurant is the most beautiful place I’ve ever eaten at. It overlooks the ocean and it takes your breath away. We were dive bombed by very large seagulls at times but it was totally worth it. This spot really solidified the need of oceans and mountains in my life. Moonshadows is called one of the world’s best beach bars and I can understand why.
LAX Diaries - Day 3

The west coast is calling me big time. I didn’t expect to love southern California but it was becoming apparent that I was drinking the koolaid hard and fast. I love desert weather, Las Vegas exposed me to it and LA perfected it. Santa Monica is a beautiful place with tree-lined streets and non cookie cutter homes. That was something I noticed a lot, homes with individual personalities. I learned there are no basements and wood dwellings are hard to come by. This is apparently because of earthquakes, termites and cockroaches.
LAX Diaries - Day 3

After brunch it was a trip into Hollywood. Paul took me to the Griffith Observatory where one of my favourite movies of all time was filmed, Rebel Without a Cause. There is even a bust of James Dean on the property. The Observatory sits 1,134 feet above sea level on the southern side of Mount Hollywood in Griffth Park. You get great views of LA. The Observatory is very popular for tourists and hikers as there are trails that allow you to explore the hillside in Griffth Park.

LAX Diaries - Day 3

The Griffth Observatory has some great features like the statues to Astronomy’s fathers which I totally nerded out over.  There is a sundial, that of course, keeps excellent time.
LAX Diaries - Day 3

After the observatory it was time to take a trip down Hollywood Blvd and check out the Kodak and Chinese Theater. The entertainment aspect of Hollywood is the only thing that turns me off of the place. Hollywood Blvd was a great example of that. It was chocked full of tourists and typical cheesy stuff like getting your own star on the walk of fame. It was interesting to the see the hand and footprints from celebs though. I was most interested in old Hollywood and cringed whenever I heard “Who is that?” from some ignorant tourist. Who is that to Rosalind Russell, are you KIDDING ME!!!

LAX Diaries - Day 3

The ride back to Santa Monica had a few sights: Fairfax high school where the Red Hot Chili Peppers met (This is important to the teenage RHCP fan me listening to Fight Like a Brave and professing my love for Anthony Kiedis); Melrose Ave which I didn’t stroll down :(, the diner from Pulp Fiction and the CBS studios. The night was low-key as Paul and Lauren were working the next day. It was Monday after all. So we had dinner at a very excellent organic vegan restaurant called Real Food Daily. I had the Ceasar salad with Tempeh bacon and a Red Hed Juice (Beet, carrot, celery, apple, ginger). I’m told the desserts are also very good here. I spend the rest of the night tearing through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I became hooked after reading the first chapter one morning. It was sitting on the coffee table and I was wondering about the hype. My review: Good book but not a great book. I liked the characters a lot and the ending was twisty enough that I didn’t discover the whole plot before the reveal. Monday would be my last full day in California and I was going to spend it at the beach.

Published
Categorized as LAX

LAX Diaries – Day 2

LAX Diaries - Day 2 - Rodeo Drive

My first full day in California started with a trip to Rodeo Drive. It seems pretty fitting that my first sightseeing trip in LA would be its luxury centre. The actual road is pretty short but the surrounding blocks have other high-end and moderately priced clothing shops like Roots, Club Monaco and Gap. There were high-end stores I would have never expected to see like Harry Winston. We walked in and took at look at the celeb worn jewels but didn’t walk past the burly security guard who watched over the area where the sales staff where. I didn’t go into a lot of stores as I was a bit overwhelmed with the options. LA is a huge tourist town and I always find it funny to see people taking pictures at some cheesy Rodeo Drive landmark like a sign or water fountain. This happened everywhere, It’s that movie influence and one of the few things I find distasteful about LA.

LAX Diaries - Day 2 - Prada

Most of the stores where fairly plain-looking. It seemed only the Prada store lived up to luxury standards. It’s my favorite store on the strip and my favorite looking luxury store period. It’s got crazy architecture with large staircases leading up to the second floor from the front and back of the main floor. The entrance is open to the street front. It the kind of storefront you cant miss. Accessories and shoes take up the main floor while women’s is on two and mens on third. I was wearing my Milan postcard sunglasses and one of the sales staff complimented me on them. With all the money on Rodeo Drive it was interesting to see that Prada was the only on putting their money where their mouth is. This store is so awesome that at the Victoria’s Secret VIP party I spent a lot of time talking with the Beckerman’s about the greatness that is the Rodeo Drive Prada.

LAX Diaries - Day 2 - Prada

Another great store is the Taschen bookstore. What I would do for one of these in Toronto. I love Taschen books. They have a great selection of fashion, art and pop culture books that are always so eye-catching and well put together. There were a lot of expensive limited edition books for sale there. We are talking $4000 Muhammad Ali and Valentino books. There is another location in New York which I’ll have to check out when I return. One of my only regrets of the trip was not getting to see the independent shops in the city. I noticed that LA has a lot of chain stores so it would have been nice to see something not corporate.

Afterwards it was a trip to a California staple, In n Out Burger. I didn’t get anything animal style because frankly it looked absolutely disgusting. It was the first and last bit of junk food I ate on the trip. I was told that California has the best junk food so I had to give it a shot. Meh is all i have to say about In n Out Burger. Paul and Lauren live about a ten minute walk to the beach which is amazing and convenient. Paul and I walked from Santa Monica pier to the Marina del Ray pier, 5pm in total. The beaches were so wide and the sand is beautiful. The water is cold. This is what I’m told as I didn’t go in the water. That didn’t stop people and the beaches where full of swimmers. There are great bike paths that run parallel with the beach. I was really stupid and didn’t think to bring my rollerblades with me. It would have been awesome. It’s stunning how picturesque this place is, totally breathtaking.

LAX Diaries - Day 2 - Venice Beach

We wandered along the path and the trip took us right through the famous Venice Beach. It was quite a scene of characters. Old hippies were selling all sorts of things with varying degrees of usefulness. You saw the occasional crazy or eccentric person who was on a bike or roller-skates who would spontaneously break into song. I saw spontaneous singing more than once during my trip. I guess its bound to happen in the entertainment capital of the world. There were the medical marijuana guys with potleaf lays who would take you to some strange-looking storefront to get you a license through one of the doctors on staff. Of course I saw Gold’s Gym and was amazed at what a strange cliché it really is. That could be said about Venice Beach in general. It even had your ultra religious crew that were out trying to save everyone’s soul. For the most part these people just stood around with their signs and recited scripture.

LAX Diaries - Day 2

We ended the walk at Paul’s old haunt in Marina del Ray called Venice Whaler Bar & Grill (10 Washington Blvd). It has a beautiful patio overlooking the ocean. Paul says that on when it’s sunset on beautiful clear night the staff rings a bell. It’s a super cute place and we have a few beers before returning to Santa Monica for dinner at The Yard. The chef is Chris CJ Jacobson from Bravo TV show called Top Chef. It’s a gastropub that features American style tapas using fresh produce from the Santa Monica farmer’s market. The food was delicious and we had a very cute curly-haired waiter.

After dinner we had some drinks at a cute place called Bar Chloe which is known for their extensive cocktail menu. We met up with another couple who were friends with Paul and Lauren. I loved this place. It was a beautifully decorated bar that is recreating the look of a pre-WWII Parisian salon. If I lived in Santa Monica this would be one of my regular haunts. I wish I could remember what I had exactly but the lavender gimlet sounds about right. As we were leaving our cute waiter was entering after his shift. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to flirt with him. Ha.

Published
Categorized as LAX Tagged

LAX Diaries – Day 1

LAX Diaries - Day 1

Klout is a company that uses twitter analytics to determine how influential you are on the medium. I’ve always been interested in these measurement techniques so I signed up for the service.   It works about as well as the rest of them do which means take it with a grain of salt.  Many months later I get an email from Klout telling me I have a free flight on the new Virgin America route from Toronto to San Francisco or Los Angeles. I just had to pay the taxes and fly before the middle of August. This was great as I have a good friend who lives in Santa Monica. It took me a couple of weeks to confirm my dates and I prayed that there were still flights available. Well there were and I spent the Civic holiday weekend in beautiful California.

I arrived at terminal 3 super early. I remembered my last flying experience to New York and how crazy the security and customs line was. I didn’t to repeat running to the gate again. It was a breeze this time around and I was way too damn early. Can’t win. The flying experience with Virgin was pretty good. The planes were nice except the headrest on the car was the most uncomfortable thing ever. It made for terrible sleeping. They have a three levels of class on Virgin and I took the lowest class. The taxes on first and main cabin were ridiculous. Some inflight entertainment was extra, like some movies and tv. I though that was a bit much. 8 bucks to watch The Bounty Hunter on your 7 inch screen. WiFi is $13. I received from free wifi codes to use but I really didn’t feel like opening the netbook. I wish I had my new iPod touch during this trip. Food and alcohol is extra as I expected.  The only thing I watched was the map of our flight.

Flying into LAX was interesting. It was 7PM and the city was covered in this horrible brown haze. I’d never seen anything like it. So this is the infamous LA smog, lovely. Paul & Lauren (his finance) grabbed me at terminal 3. LAX is a huge maze of 8 terminals. I didn’t see any celebs or paparazzi around. Actually my visit to LA was completely celeb free. I didn’t see anyone famous. Actually, I saw a lot of superheroes. My first night consisted of a little dinner at Bodega Wine Bar (814 Broadway) which is one of Paul and Lauren’s regular spots.

Published
Categorized as LAX