I’m missing California, the sea and particularly the smell of its salty sea breeze on this autumnal morning. Can’t think of a better time to recollect beautiful memories of OC on 24 May 2015! So come along, dear wanderlusters and enjoy a dose of vitamin sea! Our vacation usually begins at the airport. Being pampered by the British Airways Galleries Club Lounge at LHR (London Heathrow) on 23 May 2015 was certainly a highlight of our vacation. Awake your senses at the Elemis Travel Spa, should you be lucky to bag a spot. As we sat down on the upper deck of the A380, we were welcomed with a glass of Taittinger champagne and the delectable assortment of nuts. Alternatively, how about a Kir Royale or a Gin and Tonic? The dining experience with proper tableware does make a difference in the perception of taste. The 11 hours and 30 min flight was spent wining and dining, catching up with movies I’d missed out on, sleeping soundly on its fully flat bed and then more wining and dining to follow. The service from the cabin crews were attentive but not intrusive … Love BA Club World! I think premium levels of comfort and service is well worth its price tag, one that I’m thankful to have experienced.
When we’d arrive in Los Angeles Airport (LAX), we collected our car from Avis Car Rental. It was a den of chaos and we’d waited for about an hour. A smarter move would have been to serve customers with prior booking on a separate counter. Having collected the car, we drove to Hilton Orange County / Costa Mesa. Alas, it was just not our day, the club room that we had pre-paid for were unfortunately unavailable. I was certainly not a happy bunny at that point. At the end of my negotiations with the manager on that late evening, we had to contend with the assigned room but with access to the club lounge, and compensated with on-site restaurant dining vouchers and complimentary parking. Hoping for better luck the next day, we slept soundly that night.
On the morning of 24 May 2015, after breakfast, we made our way to the Corona del Mar state beach. This was our forth visit to Cali, usually preferred flying to SFO, our second time flying to LAX, having been on business to Long Beach years before. Having secured parking on the roadside in front of the oceanfront luxe villas at about 10am, my heart remarked “Wow! What a tremendously charming neighbourhood to live in!” There were about 30 people at the beach, clearly enjoying the moment, either swimming (though the lifeguard tower was unguarded at that time), picnicking or relaxing on their multi-color beach mats to admire the gorgeous waves that was gently lapping the shorelines. My eyes had rested on an imposing villa built on top of a cliff overlooking the splendours of the sea. What a marvellous location, just imagine having breakfast with sea views… hmmm….My day dreaming was abruptly ended by an enthusiastic little kid’s loud voice, proudly showing off his sandcastle to his parents and anyone keen enough to admire his work of art. Having spent about an hour at the beach, we made our way to the car, occasionally stopping to admire the pretty lapis lazuli-colored morning glories, scented white jasmine and tropical pink bougainvillea blooms. I remembered hobbling, a good few moments of my life spent trying to get the sand out of my shoes.
It was time for lunch, so we headed to Sam Woo, a Chinese restaurant in Irvine about 20 min’s drive away. It was a pleasant surprise to taste authentic HK cantonese cuisine in Cali. The many Chinese local patrons created an ambience of a casual eatery in HK. We missed HK most of the time! We enjoyed the congee, roast duck, kailan (chinese broccoli) with oyster sauce, stir fried egg noodles with seafood and stir fried dry beef hor fun. The dim sum on the next table looked quite tasty too. We’d save the dim sum for our future visit.
After lunch, we drove to Laguna Beach, famed for its 7 miles of sand and surf. What do you fancy? How about a visit to art galleries, coves and beaches? We split the afternoon between walking on the warm sandy beaches of Laguna Beach and admiring the secluded sheltered coves and luxury yachts moored on the marina at Dana Point. Was it because of the palm trees swaying gently in the sea breeze? SoCal is a relaxing travel destination, a perfect paradise to soothe our jetlagged nerves. In the evening, we had our dinner at the hotel’s restaurant before shopping at the South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.
The next day, after breakfast we checked out of the hotel to bask in the Huntington Beach’s sun, a taste of the quintessential OC charms. Huntington Beach, boasts 10 miles of uninterrupted wide sandy beaches, and is therefore nicknamed the surf city of USA. Amongst the honors and awards garnered by Huntington Beach include America’s Best Beach by Time Magazine, Best Beach in California by USA Today’s Readers Choice, and Best West Coast Beach by Coastal Living Magazine. However, I’m attracted to Huntington Beach for the sole reason that I’m an avid fan of The Heirs, a Korean Drama (2013) and would love to visit one of its shooting locations. I’m most happy to catch a glimpse of the Huntington Beach Pier. Relive the Heirs magical romantic moments and watch surfers conquer the challenges of the big waves. How about beach volleyball? Or snag and hold your spot at your desired fire ring. Love watching bonfire crackles, especially beautiful bonfire by the sea! If you’d still have time to spare at the OC, you can also join a whale and dolphin watching cruise at Newport Beach or Dana Point. OC is indeed charming and as we’d barely scratched the surface of the wonders of OC, we’d be back for more!
We’d remember to checkout fanciful Malibu on our return trip. We continued the journey and joined Interstate 405 which passed by the suburbs of LA, before stopping at the Camarillo Premium Outlets near Ventura for an hour of shopping just before lunch. Until our next Cali travel tales, do take care, keep warm with my Cali tales of endless summer and enjoy the week! I hope I’d flown you a Dream. 😉 Much love from The O.C. and I, your storyteller…
- Visit California’s official tourism website
- Visit Newport Beach official tourism website
- Visit Dana Point official tourism website
- Visit Laguna Beach official tourism website
- Visit Huntington Beach official tourism website
- Camarillo Premium Outlets
- South Coast Plaza shopping mall