Have you ever heard of sensory overload?
Whenever I travel, due to my excess photo taking requirement, I come home to some anxiety-inducing sensory overload. According to Google, sensory overload occurs when one or more of the body’s senses experiences over-stimulation from the environment. Hm, that sounds more complex that I intended it to, but in short, I took too many photographs on our latest trip and I didn’t know where to start. So I’ve gone back to basics and decided some good, old fashionned story telling of our holiday is the best way to share my photos in post format. I’ll be sure to add some recommendations for people travelling to the area of course, but in an attempt not to overwhelm myself to a point where I don’t post anything, that’s my intention.
If you weren’t aware of my non-stop shouting from the rooftops, we went to California over the Christmas break. My sister’s husband is from Laguna Beach and so we took the opportunity to tag along. We was myself and Sam, and we spent two weeks on the West Coast – a trip I have been wanting to do since my sister met her Californian boyfriend over a decade ago. What 16 year old doesn’t want to hear her potential brother in law grew up in the very place The Real OC was filmed? But that’s a story for another day/if you ever meet me in person.
Our trip took the form of three days in Laguna before we spent two and a half days inland, in Palm Springs just the two of us. We then headed back to the coast for just over another week in Laguna Beach. I’ve decided to break my posts up into two ‘Christmas In California’ posts, which will emcompass what we did in and around Laguna, and a separate Palm Springs post. So let’s go!
We flew with BA from Heathrow, and I was pretty anxious about the length of the flight. Any fellow six footers will understand my concerns, but as 11 hour flights go, it was actually a good one. We landed in LAX around 7pm and headed down the coast to Laguna in the dark, after fighting the LA traffic. Swiftly going straight to bed, we were met the next morning with a beautiful view from my sister’s mother-in-law’s condo, looking straight out onto the Pacific Ocean – an ocean I realised I hadn’t seen before! The sun was well and truly shining, and around 16 degrees. Welcome to California!
It’s so hard to structure these kinds of posts so do bear with me, I hope I find my groove soon. Those first few days were spent waking up early (the only pro of jet lag), a couple of local brunches, walks on the beach (we saw seals!) and generally getting to know Laguna Beach as a town. It’s a small place, with around 22,000 residents. As you’ve probably guessed, it’s also a pretty wealthy town. As a coastal retreat, the space for development is limited and the houses are cramped into any space possible. The residential roads are steep, right down to the sea and right back to the hills that divide Laguna from the inland towns. Downtown Laguna is quaint – as American towns go, with lots of independent shops and places to eat. Some classic LA-vibe brunch spots (as well as an oh-so-photogenic 50s diner), plenty of nail bars and alot of galleries – Laguna is historically an artist’s coloney, so there was plenty of local artwork to admire. The town is also dotted with murials which is an aspect I love about the USA, and something we don’t see much of in the UK.
We got unlucky with the weather on this trip, I’ll admit. The wettest December they’d had in six years, they told us. Of course – the Brits had arrived! But at least their rain isn’t quite like our rain, and we managed a shopping trip to Fashion Island (the huge coastal shopping mall in Newport), an infamous In-N-Out burger (my recommendation, don’t go animal-style no matter how much you’ve heard!), a trip to the cinema as well as a fair few beautiful sunsets. Something California does well! I love the first few days of any trip – one of my fondest memories of this holiday already is waking up that first morning (granted at the crack of dawn) and the feeling of excitement we both had about what was ahead. The opportunitity to explore and get to know a place I felt like I sort of already knew, as my sister has been visiting for over ten years.
Before we knew it, we were headed to Palm Springs which is all set for my next post. Pre Christmas in Cali was shaping up well and I was excited for the next part!