A Venetian Sunset, Los Angeles

The Boardwalk is filled with all sorts: break dancers with boomboxes, a 70-year-old clown, quirky creatives, “green” doctors in scrubs, guys on guitar, and tourists galore. We hadn’t planned on spending Thanksgiving evening at Venice Beach but that’s where we’d ended up. Seated at an ocean-facing cafe, we ordered sides of chewy calamari, deep-fried jalapenos, and guac ‘n chips; we cheered to a spectacular sunset with too-sweet mixed drinks. It was pretty close to perfect.

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Early Mornings…

To really see a city means to get up early before chaos renders it opaque. When I worked in Sydney, I’d catch an earlier bus just so I could grab coffee at Starbucks by Wynyard Station and watch the CBD unfurl into busyness. Crossing the Harbour Bridge at that time felt like I was waking up with the Pacific Ocean – I remember how it twinkled under the sun as if blinking it’s way out of a long slumber.

Early-morning walks make for good memories. One day in June, when we lived in New York, my husband and I wanted to dodge the breakfast lines at Clinton Street Baking Co., so we woke with the alarm, drove to the East Village, lucked a parking spot, and scored a table within 20 minutes. The ricotta pancakes soaked in blueberry sauce were divine and coffee never tasted so good (who doesn’t love an early AM jolt?), but what I particularly savoured were those moments walking to the cafe, when we’d had the streets to ourselves and seen beyond the well-trodden footpaths and summer haze that later descended. The village revealed hidden graffiti, artwork painted over unfolded roller doors, and above, fire escapes in an array of colours. The hosed-down pavements reminded us of how beautiful it is to start the day with a clean slate.

In late 2013, I’d made a pact with myself to wake up with the first sunrise of the upcoming new year. We were booked into a Santa Barbara hotel across from the ocean and at dawn on January 1st my husband slept while I, in my bathrobe and sneakers, ventured outside. Through the palm trees, I saw a sky brushed orange and pink. I crossed the street to watch the light ascend and breathed it all in — the salty air, the mist, the light. A few early birds and after-party stragglers still drinking beer were perched along the beach wall. We all shared in the awakening of a brand new year.

I’m flying home to Sydney in a few months’ time and can’t wait to experience its summer mornings; to see the sun-dappled Pacific and to watch the city prepare for the working day as I drink a cup of great Sydney brew. While I doubt I’ll be ordering from the aforementioned Starbucks, I wonder if it is still there. I’ll let you know.

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East Village mornings

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Pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Co.

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Roller-door murals

Up with the early birds in East Village

Up with the early birds in East Village

Santa Barbara sunrise

Santa Barbara sunrise

A new year in Santa Barbara, 2014

A new year in Santa Barbara, 2014

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Sunrise on the beach in Santa Barbara

Abbot Kinney, Venice, CA

Named for the developer who famously weaved canals into Venice’s urban grid, Abbot Kinney Boulevard remains one of the coolest streets in Los Angeles, even after GQ magazine named it the “hottest block” in America, 2012. Yes, new boutiques may have popped up since then, as have dining spots, but strolling the streets on a Tuesday still feels like a Sunday. Its laid-back attitude is alluring, not to mention that its vibe, to me, is quintessential LA: a little bit glam tinged with edginess; (20th century) historic and palm-fringed; creative, inspiring, and dreamy.

Abbot Kinney's skyline

Abbot Kinney’s skyline

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Street art on a shop corner

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The famous Gjelina restaurant -- check out the cool street art on the  walls.

The famous Gjelina restaurant — check out the cool street art on the walls.

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The Cruiser Collection

The Cruiser Collection

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Oh, to live by this block!

Oh, to live by this block!

Happy International Peace Day

Love. You’ll find references to it everywhere you look: on walls, with family, inside a fortune cookie, and in latte art.

Love is the antidote to fear. I’m sending a generous dose of feel-good your way to amp up the peace quotient across the world. I hope you’ll pass it on…

Street art, El Paso, Texas, October 2012

Street art, El Paso, Texas, October 2012

Shadows: me and my little sis, San Francisco, February 2013

Shadows: me and my little sis, San Francisco, February 2013

Street art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, April 2012

Street art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, April 2012

Close up of the above street art

Close up of the above street art

Strawberry Fields in Central Park, Manhattan, NY, July 2012

Strawberry Fields in Central Park, Manhattan, NY, July 2012

Coffee at Brooklyn Roasting Company, DUMBO, Brooklyn, October 2012

Coffee at Brooklyn Roasting Company, DUMBO, Brooklyn, October 2012

Pasted poster, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2012

Pasted poster, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2012

Downtown Los Angeles, July 2014

Downtown Los Angeles, July 2014

Staten Island September 11 Memorial with view of Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, NY, August 2012

Staten Island September 11 Memorial with view of Lower Manhattan, Staten Island, NY, August 2012

Chocolate = love, Red Hook, Brooklyn, May 2012

Chocolate = love, Red Hook, Brooklyn, May 2012

Love locks on Brooklyn Bridge, January 2012

Love locks on Brooklyn Bridge, January 2012

Near the Red Square, Moscow, July 2014

Near the Red Square, Moscow, July 2014

Fortune cookies at Jade Island, Staten Island, NY, August 2012

Fortune cookies at Jade Island, Staten Island, NY, August 2012

Street art, Bushwick, Brooklyn, July 2012

Street art, Bushwick, Brooklyn, July 2012

A kiss from my husband, Sedona, Arizona, November 2012

A kiss from my husband, Sedona, Arizona, November 2012

A Story About Heartbreak, Hope, and Inspiration, Huffington Post

This post isn’t directly travel related, but I wanted to share it to draw greater attention to ovarian cancer. I’d heard it mentioned in the news a few times but never knew the statistics and stories behind the disease. I interviewed Kelli Sargent for the Huffington Post on her experience with the effects of the cancer. When her mother, Nanci, was diagnosed, they partnered on a run/walk fundraiser, Run For Her, which has raised $6 million for research. Kelli and her father have continued to honour Nanci’s legacy, and lives of so many women out there, by coordinating the event annually.

It’s hard not to fear a cancer that has been tagged a “silent killer” for the inability to detect it in the early stages. Here’s to more research and more answers. Upcoming runs are scheduled for:

Saturday, September 20, 2014 – Inaugural Run for Her Bay Area.

Sunday, November, 9 – 10, 2014 Annual Run for Her in Los Angeles.

If you’d like to read Kelli’s story, the interview is here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marina-chetner/run-for-her-facing-ovaria_b_5808334.html

Pinterest Happy, Los Angeles

While researching an article, I got stuck on Pinterest and its slew of amazing pictures. I tried to drag myself away from the screen — it was tough. So, to make the most efficient use of my time, I decided to compile an honorary Pinterest board on the blog. Each image has some connection to LA… and that’s as much a theme as you’re going to get. Dream on!

Brad Pitt by Mark Seliger, Los Angeles, 1997 (PIN by Max on Luminous Creatures)

Brad Pitt by Mark Seliger, Los Angeles, 1997. PIN by Max on Luminous Creatures.

Pin by Indoor Gardens, honestlywtf.com

PIN by Indoor Gardens, honestlywtf.com

Bar Marmont,  inside the legendary and luxurious hotel, Chateau Marmont. PIN by Nina Harada on Facilitron Design-

Bar Marmont, inside the legendary and luxurious hotel, Chateau Marmont. PIN by Nina Harada on Facilitron Design.

November 24, 1945: Santa Claus Lane parade at Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas. PIN by printdesignr.

November 24, 1945: Santa Claus Lane parade at Hollywood Boulevard and Las Palmas. PIN by printdesignr.

A dining room in a Pacific Palisades home. PIN by Vickie Lucas Hafer.

A dining room in a Pacific Palisades home. PIN by Vickie Lucas Hafer.

Original Farmers Market, Los Angeles, 1950. PIN by Sereina on {history}

Original Farmers Market, Los Angeles, 1950. PIN by Sereina on {history}.

A bowl of clementines on a coffee table made from a free-form walnut top. PIN by California Chic.

A bowl of clementines on a coffee table made from a free-form walnut top. PIN by California Chic.

Vintage bar. PIN by One Kings Lane.

Vintage bar. PIN by One Kings Lane.

Elvis Presley hides from his fans under a mask with actress Joan Bradshaw in Hollywood on Oct. 31. 1957 / Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images). PIN by lulu D.

Elvis Presley hides from his fans under a mask with actress Joan Bradshaw in Hollywood on Oct. 31. 1957 / Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images). PIN by lulu D.