Saturday, May 14, 2011

California Vacation: Santa Monica and Anaheim

Santa Monica Monsoon CafeThis was meant to be a San Diego vacation, but by the time we got done planning we ended up adding Anahiem, Santa Monica and San Francisco to our list. I was already in the United States on business, so I flew down to Los Angeles to recieve my wife and daughter on a Sunday evening. The weather was perfect and it was still daylight when we got back to our hotel, so without much ado we decided to stroll right away to the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, one of our favorite spots in this lovely city.

Dinner at Monsoon Cafe was fun as usual: lots of sake, sushi and prawn tempura before meeting with some old friends and chatting through the evening strolling among street performers and shoppers as we dug into Pinkberry ice-creams.

Monsoon Cafe Santa MonicaOn the next day, we walked down to Santa Monica pier and spent some time at the amusement park. The pier, the beach and the surrounding area has been immortalized by Raymond Chandler's books, NCIS: Los Angeles on tv and Forest Gump in the movie. The view from the top of the iconic ferris wheel was dramatic on this bright sunny day. We lazed around shopping for souvenirs before stopping at Hot Dog on Stick. Yelpers rave about this small place for good reasons. Nothing beats a sizzling hot dog and freshly made iced lemonade on the beach.

Santa Monica pierWe had a quick lunch at Wahoo's Fish Taco before taking the Disneyland bus to Anaheim. The Sheraton Anaheim hotel exceeded our expectations: the warmth of their lobby area with its intimate spaces, the wide corridors and the large and comfortable rooms.

We headed out to Downtown Disney - a much smaller place than the one at Orlando. It was my birthday today, so the daughter insisted on ordering a Volcano dessert for me. The dessert was a huge combination of strawberry and vanilla ice cream with chocolate brownie, banana, whipped cream, marshmallow, cherry, caramel and hot fudge, with a sparkler on top! Each time a Volcano dessert emerges from the kitchen, the server repeatedly yells “VOLCANO!” as he brings the dish to it’s rightful owner!

Mad Hatter's Tea Party at Disneyland
Pixie Hollow at DisneylandThe next day was entirely spent in Disneyland - the orginal park Walt Disney created, but much smaller than DisneyWold in Orlando. The distances between attractions and rides were smaller, but the lines were long - especially at the more contemporary ones such as Tangled and Pixie Hollow. The Indiana Jones ride was fun as was the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (this one was even better than the one in Orlando). Unfortunately, Star Wars was closed and is expected to re-open this summer in a more contemporary form.

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