I think it’s the 3rd year that Ulli is running the LA Marathon and it is his favorite one. Basically it’s a sightseeing tour through Los Angeles J The runners start at Dodgers Stadium, through Downtown LA, West Hollywood and end in Santa Monica. Sounds beautiful, right? Unless you have to run the entire 26.2 miles (42km). No matter how many times Ulli is running a marathon, I still can’t comprehend how someone can do this. The weather conditions were perfect – sunny skies and in the 60s. Ulli achieved a PR of 3hours 16minutes! WOW!!
While he was running the marathon, I slept through the morning and had cake for breakfast….NO! Just kidding 🙂 I also put on my running shoes and did a scenic route from Santa Monica beach to Malibu. On the way back I took some amazing photos (see below) and watched a juniors beach volleyball competition on Santa Monica Beach.
I had to rush back quickly as I got the text notification that Ulli is close to the finish already. They had very tight security so there were no spectators allowed at the finish line. However, we stayed at a hotel that’s right after the finish line (no coincidence) so I was able to welcome him right there – I was the only spectactor around. I’m always in awe and so proud when I see Ulli after a marathon. We went up to our room and watched the other runners come in from our window view :-). Most runners would crash for the rest of the day, but we continued walking in Santa Monica to get lunch and smoothies – active recovery is the best.
Who else ran the LA marathon? What’s your bucket list marathon?
We LOVE Los Angeles. It’s always been our favorite city in the world and since we moved to California we spent at least one weekend /month here. I personally wouldn’t want to live in the city, as I love my beach lifestyle – but I do enjoy visiting as much as possible. This time we focused on West Hollywood area. We stayed at the London West Hollywood hotel – a hidden gem off Sunset Boulevard. It’s one of my favorite boutique hotels …and not just because they have an actual real dog as their mascot in the lobby. The rooms are all suites so very spacious, all have a balcony and you’re in the middle of the trendiest WeHo neighborhood. There are plenty of restaurants & nightclubs / bars in the area to choose from. We don’t drink, but we love to go out to the Laugh Factory / Comedy Store on Sunset. There are truly the best stand up comedians. They never disappoint. This time we got to see Ken Jeong (the Asian – real life – Doctor from the Hangover)…ohhhh – he was my favorite. We also got to see Dane Cook who always tells the funniest every day life stories. I honestly didn’t stop laughing for the entire show….everyone was so entertaining & professional! I promise you’ll always have a good time at the Laugh Factory on Sunset.
Each time we’re in LA I want to explore a new trail. That’s the best part of LA you can experience city life and also be in the middle of nowhere in nature. We decided on a run/hike in Griffith Park on a new trail (that I can’t remember now ;-() It started close to the Hollywood Reservoir up to Wisdom Tree and then over to the Hollywood Sign. Such beautiful views and gorgeous California weather! We also made friends with the @OCRunningMama (Instagram) who shared her inspiring story with us (about losing her eyesight and still keep running marathons). She’s has great energy and good vibes.
What do you love most about LA? Any tips for your favorite hikes/runs here?
There’s a place where lemon trees grow by the pool, people greet you with warm smiles wherever you go, you wake up and view the beautiful Palm Tree streets of Beverly Hills, a scent of fresh flowers follows you around and if that’s not enough…you may bump into a Hollywood legend in the elevator. Yes, this place exists and I was lucky to stay here….The Four Seasons Beverly Hills. Wow! For our anniversary we splurged on this special weekend LA getaway and I didn’t want to leave.
Upon arrival we started our celebration with their famous Sunday Brunch. Amazing!!! They have several rooms set up with different themes – everything from: seafood, sushi, salads, risotto served out of a Parmesan bowl, fresh cut meats, Chocolate fountain with strawberries, fresh pressed juices… The décor was beautiful and everything we tried was delicious. We sat outside, heard the birds chirping and enjoyed our sushi roll with ginger shot one after another. We also had our first “celebrity” sighting (so glad I’m keeping up with the gossip magazines … but actually Ulli recognized her first): TV/actress/comedian Sherrie Shephard was having brunch with a group of people next to us.
At check-in to our room the guest services agent came out and welcomed us personally with a handshake. This reminded me of our stay in Tokyo and their customer service level where they always come around the counter to welcome you. We then heard some tumult in the lobby and there he was Clint Eastwood standing next to us with a group of other guys. At the same time when we went up to our room he also went up the elevator. Wow – a true legend and so charismatic. We found out he held a press conference promoting his new movie The 15:17 to Paris. It was amazing standing so close to this Hollywood legend. If I was actually reading “real” news I would have recognized the true life hero’s standing next to him (that played themselves in the movie). Lesson learnt.
Our -wow- experience continued when we got to our room….I mean SUITE. Holy moly! Beautiful fresh décor, a huge bathroom, bedroom separate from living area with a balcony overlooking Beverly Hills and Hollywood Hills. Speechless. Can I move in here? I felt right at home (who wouldn’t) and we were able to see a beautiful sunset.
You know by now that the most important area of the hotel for me is the gym….Hotels are easy to neglect the gym and put it in the basement…because who goes there on vacation? Me! This is truly my standard for rating hotel stars. J Needless to say the Four Seasons didn’t disappoint in this area either. The gym is connected to the pool deck and it’s an open-air gym surrounded by beautiful plants – which makes you feel you’re in Hawaii. New and innovative equipment and several choices of different flavored water and Gatorade. Ok now I really don’t want to leave.
Besides all the exciting amenities and perfect location of the hotel, the customer service is really what stands out here. Ever staff member is so attentive in trying to read each small wish before you say it out loud. It’s amazing. Unfortunately, there was a check-out day….so I actually had to leave this oasis in Beverly Hills, but I will make sure to come back soon. Promise to myself. What’s your TOP 5 hotels you have ever stayed at?
It’s been a while since my last post. Even though I’ve been super busy I had to remind myself the reason I started this blog was to keep a journal of our adventures. These days I’m reminded again to make every day count. There’s no weekday or weekend – there should be joy in every day living. There are days where you easily forget and not every moment is a happy day. However, my goal is to experience something new every week and live in the moment each day. It has to be a conscious decision to do so, as it’s easy to get lazy in your routine. I tell my husband every day that I love him and he makes me laugh every day (I know I’m lucky).
Sunday is our adventure day. We always make this our special day together – with lots of activities and good food. As I thrive to explore new areas we decided to focus on Northeast Los Angeles. LA is so big you have to concentrate on one area at a time. I found out that there are amazing hikes (aka trail runs) in the San Gabriel Mountains and also the drive on Angeles Crest Highway is one of the most scenic ones you can imagine. So Ulli picked out the car and I picked out the trail. I decided on Switzer Falls Trail which is a 50-foot waterfall and about a 4.5 mile out-and-back trek. We wanted to make this a trail run (instead of hike) and parked on the top of Switzer Falls Parking area. We were there super early and not a lot of hikers in sight yet. We saw a picnic area and ventured off on a single track into the wilderness. It was beautiful scenery and a nice run up and down hills. After about 3 miles into the run we still didn’t see any Falls (even though the entire hike was 4.5 miles roundtrip). We finally encountered another couple and they told us we ran in the wrong direction – starting from the campground. Oh! That’s why we didn’t see any other hikers around. We ran back and then found the correct trail to the Falls. When we finally got there after 2 hours of running we earned our dip in the (freezing cold and little) waterfall. That was fun! While Ulli was running the steep cliffs back up, I hiked (I was tired) and on top we encountered some deer in the forest. I’m actually glad that we discovered this other trail, as it would have been too short trip otherwise.
We then drove on Angels Crest Highway – listening to Strauss (yes thats right – we’re classy like that ;-)) – and stopped at Newcomb’s Ranch. This is an iconic roadhouse and meet up for all car and bike enthusiast. Everyone was checking out each others vehicles and in a good mood. Not any healthy food options there so we headed back to Pasadena to EAT! We went to a really good sushi restaurant (that I forgot the name)…oh we earned that meal! In case you’re not familiar, Pasadena is the home of the world-famous Rose Bowl Stadium (saw Coldplay there a few months ago) and beautiful wide, tree-lined residential streets with Arts & Crafts-style architecture. Pasadena Slogan is: “Old World Charm. Modern Convenience.” Really cute town. We did some window shopping on Colorado Boulevard and got some coffee (in my case: Matcha green tea) at Intelligentsia Coffee – MUST DO! Love a Sunday like this with not a minute to waste 🙂 What was something new you discovered / learned this week?
This past weekend was the LA Marathon which has become a tradition in our house (aka Ulli running it). It 26.2 miles from Dodgers Stadium, through Downtown LA, over Hollywood Boulevard and Rodeo Drive to Santa Monica beach…sounds like fun, right? It is if you don’t have to run it 🙂 We were staying in this glamorous boutique hotel right on Rodeo Drive called Luxe Rodeo Drive. It’s the only hotel right on Rodeo Drive and besides the location and trendy interior their staff is what makes the real difference.
Also, I was surprised how spacious the rooms where for this location. Our room had a view right on Rodeo Drive – really one of a kind. However, my absolute favorite part about the hotel was the rooftop gym! I LOVE hotels who put as much thought & style in their gym as in their lobby/guestrooms. The equipment was brand new, even had TRX, jumping rope and elastic bands and the treadmills were outside with view on the Hollywood Hills. AHHH! Gym dreams do come true… 🙂
So while Ulli was running the marathon, I was doing my own morning run in the Beverly Hills neighborhood. Those palm trees streets are never ending there! No matter what turn I took there was another spectacular view of the sun rising behind the Palm Trees and beautiful mansions. This is where the tourist buses usually make up stories about the “homes of the stars tours”. Luckily it was too early for that 🙂 I was greeting the locals walking their dogs, taking pictures along the way and ending up at the Beverly Hills Hotel where I turned around.
When I got back to Rodeo Drive the first elite runners came in – it’s just impressive to see how fast they run a marathon (I don’t think I can sprint that fast for 1 mile). While the runners were fighting mentally and physically outside, I decided to have a breakfast in the hotel. Ha! Ulli came in quickly after and ran a great pace- he didn’t look like he had 17 miles under his running shoes when he got to BH (here’s a video). Once he passed by Rodeo Drive I quickly packed up and headed to Santa Monica for the finish.
Driving from Beverly Hills to Hollywood the weather changed, as the marine layer was hanging over Santa Monica beach. It was perfect weather for the runners. I’m proud as usual when I see Ulli coming through the finish – esp. with no cramps and a smile on his face (even if he’s just pretending this was “easy”). We spent the rest of the afternoon in Santa Monica and actually walked another 6 miles from the beach to Montana Avenue. I really can’t get this guy tired! 🙂 We discovered this new restaurant in Santa Monica (there’s always a new one) called Musha Restaurant – which was Japanese/Asian Fusion but very innovative, small plates. We tried several different items my favorite was the albacore sashimi with avocado (sounds simple but the flavor wow!) and also the Takotama: a signature dish – omelette with octopus. Winner! Can you recommend any hotels/ restaurants in LA? There are always new ones popping up so it’s hard to keep up. It was a fun weekend and my favorite memory was having Rodeo Drive to myself for a few hours.
It was a rainy, cool Sunday – very unusual California weather. I was longing for a warm and cozy place and remembered I always wanted to go to the Wi Spa in Koreatown. This is a one of a kind spa – not one I ever been to before. It’s close to Downtown LA and open 24 hours. I know what you’re thinking – but it is a legitimate Spa. 🙂 If you ever just have a layover in LA and need a few relaxing hours to hang out – this is the place to go. The entry fee is only $25 which includes access to the saunas and bath amenities. I didn’t know what to expect but I was ready for a day of surprise. I signed up for the buff & massage – which is their “signature” scrub down combined with a full body massage. When you check-in you will get their branded t-shirt, shorts, flip flops and towel for your stay. The spa is on several levels – one floor for women, one for men, one shared area with a restaurant and a rooftop. As it was my first time visiting the spa they explained the wellness etiquette – most importantly in the spa / sauna are no clothing allowed. Well, being from Germany that shouldn’t be a problem. So I got to the locker room and changed into my Wi Spa shirt and shorts and went up to the JimJilBang room to meet Ulli. When you enter you see people laying on mats on the floor, as the floors are heated. They also have a Korean restaurant, library, computer area and kids area up there. My favorite was to experience the different saunas: Bulgama (made out of oak wood), Salt Sauna (helps respiratory system), ice sauna (last stop) and my highlight was the clay sauna (clay is imported from Korea). You actually lie down in the warm clay stones to relax. Ahh that felt sooo good!