I arrived in LA (Los Angeles) Sunday night after my weekend in Vancouver.  Both west coast cities but with such vastly different vibes.

There is no comparison between Vancouver and LA, other than they’re both situated on the west coast.  From the weather to the feel of the city they are vastly different in every possible way.

Don’t get me wrong, both have their charms.

For as much as I love Vancouver with its comfortable vibe, beautiful scenery and spectacular views I also love LA but for far different reasons.

Whenever I come to LA I always stay in Marina del Rey.  It’s both close to LAX and situated in a fabulous location on the water relatively close to Venice Beach and Santa Monica.

What strikes me most is that each neighbourhood has a different vibe.

It’s almost hard to believe that Santa Monica is part of LA.  It began as a summer retreat from the hustle and bustle of LA back in the day, and even though it has been well and truly absorbed into LA it still has a distinctly different feel.

It’s busy with tons of traffic like the rest of LA, but in many ways is still a beachside village.

Since arriving I’ve been loving the gorgeous sun filled days and crisp mornings…

Most mornings you’ll find me sitting out enjoying a coffee and watching the sun rise over the marina before I leave for work.  So peaceful and beautiful.

It’s been a busy week but knowing that Sam was going to join me here for the weekend was the highlight of my trip so far.

She arrived Thursday night from Toronto and so we had dinner on the patio overlooking the water here at the hotel.  A relaxing way to start the weekend.

Friday, I headed into work for a half day (yep, that’s our company schedule 4.5 days per week) then met Sam back at the hotel around lunch time.  We grabbed an Uber and headed over to Santa Monica to browse the shops and hang out for a relaxing afternoon.

I had arranged dinner with my work colleagues, Sam and I at a nearby Michelin Star rated restaurant (Charcoal Venice).

Wow, the food was exquisite but of course we ordered way too much food… and literally rolled out of the restaurant.

Feeling overly full from the night before Sam and decided to grab a coffee and bagel (Yeastie Boys food truck in Santa Monica) then head over to Griffiths Observatory for a hike.

I have to say that a bagel from Yeastie boys is no ordinary bagel.  Wow!  Try the breakfast bagel with hash browns.

Simply delicious!

We’d both been to Griffiths Observatory before (situated close to the famous Greek Theatre) but never to hike.

It was the first morning since my arrival that it was cloudy and cool.

After hiking up from the car park adjacent to the Greek Theatre we did a loop of the Observatory to get some photos of LA which was blanketed in cloud before deciding to make our way up to the top of nearby Mount Hollywood.

It was a steep and sometime slippery climb on light sandy gravel, but we made it okay.  If fact, Sam decided to run up the last couple of hundred meters to the peak…

After cresting the summit, we got a 360-degree view of LA and all the surrounding valleys and coastline.  It so spread out and relatively low rise except for the city centres of downtown, Beverly Hills (Century City) and the distant Brentwood.

The real beauty were the abundant wildflowers growing all over the hillsides.  I guess after the recent rains they’re out in full bloom which enhances the natural beauty of the topography.

After a decidedly awesome morning we were now ready for lunch.

We chose Malibu which is about a 30-minute drive from where we had parked.

I’d been to the Malibu Farms restaurant on the Pier at Malibu a few years ago, not long after it had opened.  What a great place to sit and enjoy the fresh sea air and beauty of the beach.

Famous last words…

Given that it was a gorgeous sunny day the Pier was packed.  In fact, the last time I came it was a small crowd with plenty of seats available, but not today.

The line-up was long and now with two restaurant sections at either end of the pier, plus tables all the way along the pier it was an absolute mob scene.

Far from the quiet and idyllic place I’d experienced on my last visit.  Oh well, clearly business is booming with a capital B!

Lunch was amazing – but too much food.  Even though we only had salads they were huge.

We made our way back to the hotel with surprisingly light traffic for LA.  Quite the blessing really.

We had dinner with my work colleagues in Santa Monica that night – again, it seems like all we did was eat.

The time flew far too fast, but it was a special treat to have Sam join me in LA for the weekend, a precious memory that will endure.

Until next week