Happy New Year ladies & gents! Boy do I have a lot to tell you all from my week long Cali hiatus. Hmm… how do I begin?
Twas’ the night before Christmas…when I found myself sitting on the floor of the Lincoln, Nebraska airport eating pizza by myself. Yes, I know you’re all jealous and wish that’s how your Christmas eve was spent, but let me tell you, not everyone can be so lucky. Long story short, my 8:30am direct flight to LAX ended up being a 24 hour journey from hell, most of which was spent in a tiny one gate airport in Lincoln, Nebraska, after our plane made an emergency landing due to smoke in the cockpit. Thank goodness we were all safe, but I must say, I don’t see myself flying on United anytime soon. Myself and 219 others all trapped in a tiny airport with zero explanation as to what was going on or if/when we would ever get out of Lincoln, Nebraska in time for Christmas, didn’t leave the most lasting impression. One positive I did get out of it was how amazing the group as a whole was. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been entertaining a 5 year old in an airport for 9 hours or how frustrating it must have been to those who missed connections. But in general, everyone remained calm and tried to laugh at the situation as best they could. One of the most memorable experiences of the day was when a local Nebraska native departed one of the two planes flying into the airport that day and saw all 220 of us sitting at the gate and out of the goodness of her heart, had about 40 pizzas sent for all of us. I mean talk about a stand up citizen! I guarantee she made headline news in Lincoln on Christmas day. And I also guarantee she is going straight to heaven. While I am not looking for a pity party, spending Christmas eve by yourself sitting on the floor in an airport surrounded by strangers eating (much appreciated) donated cardboard pizza was one of the most surreal experiences I have had to date. And I managed to only have one breakdown… (thank you to those who had to deal with me during that breakdown).
Anyhow… once I finally woke up in Laguna on Christmas morning, I instantly forced myself to erase all memory of the prior 24 hours and here are some of the highlights from my week…
The Montage Hotel
This is actually what I envision heaven to be like… we spent a few days at the Spa Montage and I kid you not arrived at 8am and left at 8pm. If anyone plans to go to Laguna, this is a MUST see. It is one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever been in. Not only are the views spectacular, but the staff and service are unmatched. If you want to be treated like a king and feel the best you can possibly ever feel…this is your jam. On our last day, New Years Eve, I started the day with a total body conditioning class, ran a couple of miles, swam 30 laps, ordered a smoothie at the pool, ventured to the hot tub, went back to my chair and read, got back in the pool, ordered lunch, drank a beer, went for a walk on the beach, biked for 20 minutes, hung out in the sauna and steam room for a while, got a facial, read a magazine by the fire, went to 5pm sunset yoga, showered, had a glass of wine at the lobby bar and then went to dinner with my family. I mean, I honestly can’t think of a better day, can you?
We stumbled upon this little gem haphazardly and boy were we pleasantly surprised! I have never heard one word, “Balboa”, used more times in one day, and my dad even ended the day wearing a Balboa t-shirt, just to prove his love. We were heading on a Griswold-esque road trip to see Newport Beach and decided to take the car ferry to make the trip all the more exciting. As we crossed the bridge into the town where the ferry departed, Balboa Island, it was as if we had crossed the Sagamore bridge into Cape Cod with palm trees. The quaint little streets and amazing but unpretentious houses had so much character, it was if they were pulled right out of a story book. While we still hesitantly managed to get on the ferry across to Newport, it didn’t take us long until we turned right back around and came back to Balboa Island. While the tiny town could use a few more restaurants and bars, it is definitely worth a pit stop if you’re in the area. Sidenote: the “famous frozen banana” is not all it’s cracked up to be…and I have intentionally excluded the photos from that experience.
As I have mentioned before, I am a total yogi convert and when I heard they had my beloved YogaWorks in Laguna I HAD to try it! It was the exact same feel as the NYC locations and it made me feel instantly right at home and relaxed.
The Deck Bar
Coolest bar in Laguna! Hands down! This chic little surf bar is literally right on the beach and we stumbled upon it when we were walking the beach one sunny afternoon… go figure. The decor is more South Beach than rustic, but has that laid back SoCal surfer vibe that you can’t help but love. The drinks are made with fresh fruit and absolutely delicious. There are fire heat lamps and cute white lights strung throughout the outdoor space, with surfboard tables and fun music. I felt like I was in Hawaii for a hot minute!
We spent New Years eve dinner here and the food was absolutely delish! There was an amazing outdoor seating area with a big firepit and heat lamps that kept us warm on the chilly night. The food was not Mexican for a change, but more of an upscale American menu. It was definitely the best meal we had in Laguna and the atmosphere was perfect for a nicer dinner out with the fam! I would highly recommend this place if you’re in Laguna and want something different!
Zinc Cafe is how I picture a SoCal cafe. Healthy, al-fresco dining, with beautiful people and a relaxed atmosphere. I made several coffee pit stops at this place and am dying to go back for lunch next time I’m in the ‘hood.
My mom and I spent a full day checking out the stores in Laguna while the guys golfed. We walked up and down the main strip and although there were plenty of touristy stores, what stuck out to me most were the home stores. While I didn’t take pictures of all of my faves, Seaside Interiors was definitely a highlight. It was totally my aesthetic and I wanted to just pick up and live inside of the store. The owner explained to me that the shop was started by her and her daughter who have an interior design business and have expanded to do custom furniture as well. Sounds like a dream to me! Definitely worth checking out if you’re into that sort of thing. In terms of clothing stores, I was particularly impressed with Isla, they had the cutest stuff at really good prices. I managed to pickup a few great finds – a pair of black shorts with “leather” detail and an olive green sheer button down with black “leather” shoulders and collar – obsessed!
And there you have it! A very Cali Christmas. No sightings of LC, Stephen or Lo, but I will hope for the best next time around…
HAPPY 2013! It’s going to be a GREAT year!