My First Month in Southern California

It’s been a little over a month since I quit my job, packed up my things and relocated to Southern California as the first phase of my sabbatical. Here’s what I’ve been up to and how I’ve found adjusting to living in SoCal.

The decision to set off on this new chapter in my life is nothing new. I’m a woman going through my Saturn Return and for a while, have craved meaning and longed for new adventures and thought, what better time to take some time off than now? It’s not like I decided to take this leap overnight; it’s something that took six months or so to come into fruition.

I arrived in Los Angeles on January 24th 2017. The current political landscape has definitely made it an interesting time to be in the U.S. however, the positives have definitely outweighed the negatives during my visit. Since I’ve been here, I’ve had two unfortunate experiences. The first was getting accosted whilst walking along the beach from Will Rogers State Beach to Santa Monica Pier. I was walking alone on the footpath in broad daylight when the guy in front of me suddenly turned around and started yelling racial slurs at me. It continued for about five minutes, and I simply ignored what he was saying and walked past him and never looked back. The second incident was getting our car broken into – also in broad daylight off Melrose Ave, West Hollywood whilst we were having lunch at Crossroads Kitchen. We arrived back from lunch to find the back window smashed in and our bags taken from the car.

Besides those two incidents, I’ve enjoyed spending time in SoCal and haven’t found adjusting to life here too difficult at all. The weather is great, the vegan food options are abundant and most people are incredibly friendly and open-minded. The only major difference I’d say is that public transport is not as accessible or as efficient here compared to Sydney however, ride share services make it easy and quite affordable.

So, what have I actually been up to in my first month here?

Ocean swimming and running: One of the goals I set myself to achieve in my sabbatical was to get into great shape. I have goals of running a half-marathon this year, so have been working towards that one step at a time. There have been a couple of setbacks (an injury and head cold), but I’ll continue to power on whenever I can. I’ve also been ocean swimming around Point Dume in Malibu a few times and despite the cold, it’s always a great feeling to get into the water. There are often dolphins, sea lions and occasionally whales at the beach too which makes it double the fun every time!

Aerial shot of Point Dume in Malibu

El Matador Beach in Malibu

My friend Kristal from the Bahamas and I swimming in Little Dume

Enjoyed a couple of staycations in L.A.: Since I’m based about an hour away from downtown L.A., my boyfriend and I opted for a couple of one-night staycations when we’ve had events to go to. The first was at The Ace Hotel in DTLA, and the second was at one of my favourite hotels I’ve ever stayed at: The LINE Hotel in Koreatown.

L: A view over the Hollywood Hills from The LINE Hotel | R: The Ace Hotel in DTLA

Explored an old Nazi Camp in the middle of the suburbs: My friend Raelene and I decided to one day explore an abandoned Nazi camp in the middle of the Pacific Palisades suburbs. Raelene had heard that it was soon going to be torn down, so we made a spontaneous decision to explore it. It was a little bit of a hike to get to the ruins, but it was well worth it. I honestly couldn’t believe that this place had existed in the middle of a Los Angeles neighbourhood.

I’m not 100% sure of the history behind Murphy Ranch but from what I’ve heard, there was a family who had built this camp after being convinced that Nazi Germany would win the war. They intended to build the ranch to be a self-sustaining community to keep them safe during the war.

One of the defunct buildings at Murphy’s Ranch in the Pacific Palisades

Another defunct building in Murphy’s Ranch

Hiked and visited a couple of the touristy sites: Within the first few days of arriving in L.A., my friend Simon was also in the city on a business trip. We took a day to play tourists and ended up watching skaters at Venice Skatepark, grabbing a slice of pizza on Abbott Kinney, took a drive on Mulholland Drive and then hiked the Runyon Canyon trail where we had views of the Hollywood Hills, DTLA and Griffith Observatory before finishing the day in Santa Monica where we bid each other farewell as he had to fly back to Sydney that evening.

The famous Hollywood sign from Runyon Canyon

Downtown L.A. from Runyon Canyon

Griffith Observatory from Runyon Canyon

L: One of Santa Monica’s palm tree lined streets | R: Venice Skatepark

Dusk at Santa Monica Pier

While I may have been here for a month, there are still a lot of things for me to see and do, and so much more of L.A. I’d like to explore however, as I’m kinda basing myself in L.A., it’s been less like a vacation this time around and more so adjusting to everyday life in a new city. As time goes on, I’m sure I’ll continue to explore different neighbourhoods and areas of the city but that will have to wait until May as I’ll be heading to India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan for the next couple of months!