~ Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Day 1: Echo Park to West Hollywood, 7 miles.
Day 2: West Hollywood to Santa Monica, 8 miles.
Day 3: Santa Monica to Malibu, 9 miles.
The weather is fantastic on this lovely Sunday, and my feet don't hurt at all, even though instead of some sort of athletic shoes I am wearing my brogues.Then again, I've only been walking four miles since my starting point, Echo Park and Sunset. Three more to go until my first evening destination- Sunset Plaza Hotel. But I still have the legendary West Hollywood to explore. First, I need food. XAI Verandah Lounge just recently opened for lunch, and is known for great sandwiches, comfy chairs, and... a hookah lounge. After an amazing egg sandwich and a complimentary puff of a flavored hookah, I hit the pavement.
|Location:||Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles CA|
|Highlights:||Petrossian Caviar, West Hollywood strip, mansions of Beverly Hills, the beach in Malibu|
I made sure I slept in before my Sunset walk. After all, it stretches 24 miles and I was not sure what exactly I was getting myself into. But as my sister was dropping me off at my chosen starting point, Echo Park and Sunset, I knew I was in for an adventure. “Make sure you are safe”, she says to me before I slam her car door. I don't blame her for being concerned, but the neighborhoods I was going to walk through did not scare me one bit.
Echo Park might be not be the fanciest neighborhood in Los Angeles, but its coziness and warmth of the people compensated for any missing luxury skyscrapers. This coziness lasts a couple of miles when I enter one of the most artsy towns along my route, Silver Lake. This is were you find many galleries and hippies drinking tea at sidewalk cafes, at which point I promised myself to start painting again.
The weather is fantastic on this lovely Sunday, and my feet don't hurt at all, even though instead of some sort of athletic shoes I am wearing my brogues. Then again, I have only been walking four miles. Three more to go until I reach my first evening destination- Sunset Plaza Hotel. But I still have the legendary West Hollywood to explore, and boy do I. After about three hours I decide it wouldn't be a bad idea to put food in my stomach and perhaps charge my phone that has been serving as a map/ipod and soon will be running out of juice. I stumble across a very intriguing entrance to what I can only assume is a restaurant although it seems extremely empty. The reason, I learn later is that this place, XAI Verandah lounge, just recently started opening for lunch. It is mostly known as a fabulous hookah lounge with comfy chairs and amazing sandwiches. Here I speak to Stewart, who is not only my waiter but also the soon to be bartender, “our liquor license is pending” he says. So much for my glass of wine. But he tells me that they have the best tea. Moroccan Mint that was voted best green tea by the Tea Association. Didn't even know there was such a thing as the Tea Association, but I still nod in amazement. I am enjoying being there all by myself and I can see how this place will be packed within just 2 hours.
After my amazing egg sandwich and a complimentary “puff” of flavored hookah I hit the pavement. As I approach Hollywood, I notice Borders across the street.The discount signs encourage me to go in and I leave 30 minutes later with audio books and 2 tickets to the Renaissance Fair (a gift for being a great shopper). Turns out I am not the only one that planned a walk on Sunset; there are plenty of pedestrians, people on their bikes or walking their dogs. Speaking of bikes, before I actually get to West Hollywood I see a group of cyclists zooming towards me. It's a race, I assume and start snapping pictures like the paparazzi that I am.
It's getting nice and hot so I make sure I am applying more sunscreen on my nose and don't forget to drink lots of water. LA weather can get pretty intense, when you are not in an air conditioned car. How strange it is to be on foot in this large metropolis. Usually, I would be complaining about traffic but today, the jams are not bothering me. Mainly, because they are not affecting me at all. Instead of listening to pre-downloaded music I get the Pandora app for my iPhone and type in “The Doors” who got their rock and roll start on the Sunset Strip. This will keep me going for the next couple of hours.
During the next 10 blocks or so, I stop by Sunset Gower Studios. Right before I get to Sunset Plaza, I find myself on the doorstep of Chateau Marmont. I do feel a bit under dressed for this legendary hotel, but it's my chance to get that glass of wine! After this well deserved 30 minutes of relaxation, I am ready to check in at my hotel and start enjoying those cable channels I don't have at home. I am nicely greeted at Sunset Plaza and once I get to my room I see the beautiful pool right outside my balcony door. I must go for a swim, I say to myself. Of course, the idea of going across the street to Saddle Ranch for a bite to eat is way more inviting, so I leave the swimming for tomorrow morning.
I will say I slept pretty well, although the king size bed seemed to be wasted on me. I like to curl up on one side of the bed and not move an inch, when I sleep in hotel rooms. The Plaza was lovely and even included a fabulous buffet breakfast with my stay. I am now all set for the next 8 miles that will take me through Beverly Hills into Santa Monica.
I have been doing pretty good with my brogues the day before. I only found a small blister at the end of the night, which I didn't even feel. Nonetheless, I have decided to put on my running shoes for the hike today. After two hours, however, I wished to go back to the brogues. They seemed to hurt less for reasons I can't try to explain.
The highlight of my day was going to be my lunch at Petrossian. It's not exactly on Sunset blvd, but with a very short detour via Robertson Blvd (a super cute street with galleries and adorable shops) I was at the amazing French restaurant awaiting my caviar. With superb service and fantastic food it was a lunch I shall never forget. I had something called Egg Royale to start then followed with a salad, fish... did I mention all of these had caviar? I finished off with a cappuccino and two desserts. That's right, I said two. Uhm, I was excited about a long walk to make sure I didn't gain a couple LB's during this walk. Caviar is not your thing? Just a couple of blocks from Petrossian, on Robertson and Santa Monica blvd is a new healthy and sustainable Asian cuisine spot, Fresheast. Everything is natural and organic and get this- they only have recycling bins, no trash cans. That's because everything there is made out of recyclable materials...including the plates! I highly recommend the Garlic noodles.
Since I knew I was staying that night with my mom who lives in Santa Monica I took yet another detour after a couple of hours of mansion watching on Sunset. I turned off to get on Santa Monica Blvd. As I passed a sweet (and rich) neighborhood that made me wish I was a superstar. The day was getting nice and warm and I was grateful for the sprinklers that gave me a nice refreshing mist.
Once I crossed the Santa Monica city line I had to get some coffee. Thankfully, there is a Starbucks Coffee shop placed conveniently on my way to my final destination of the day (ok, so there were a few of them).
I got to sleep on my mom's coach and spend the evening with her which was just the cherry on the cake. We chatted all evening and hung out with my sister and nephew while I shared my adventures. Tomorrow was going to conclude my trip, as I headed to the beach.
After a nice night's sleep on the said coach I headed out. My first stop was at a Bed & Breakfast that came highly recommended. I wasn't going to spend the night there but couldn't resist to peak in. Heather, the manager of the Channel Road Inn, was kind enough to show me the rooms. I snapped a bunch of pictures and imagined myself one day staying there for the weekend. Instead of getting back on Sunset, you can walk up Chatauqua Boulevard to meet Sunset in Pacific Palisades. When I finally reached the beach I couldn't help but to smile. The ocean breeze was a treat for my spirit. I stared at the ocean waves and played around in the water. Before I knew it I was at Gladstones, my final destination of the Sunset Stroll.
Located on Pacific Coast Highway where the famous Sunset Boulevard ends, Gladstones is a destination for many beach lovers. Right on the beach, this restaurant is perfect for a romantic date or a girls' night out. I had my final, well-deserved glass of wine and enjoyed my view.
A friend picked me up, and I couldn't help but to feel as if I just had a mini yet great vacation. I had to remind myself that I lived just a couple of miles away and was a local to this hot vacation spot! While leaving Malibu I turned back and thought about all that I saw in the last couple of days and promised myself to slow down more, get out of the car and smell those flowers along the streets that I thought I knew so well.
Vilte S. Holstad is an assistant editor at WeekendWalk.com and will report next on riding her bike around Lake Tahoe. In the snow. She also writes about fashion; visit her at laceoftime.com