Plus, it helped that I had a really solid turnover of work that I didn't worry about work at all while I was away. Sure, I checked my email every other day (come on, you have to cut me some slack) but I didn't do anything about what I checked. I just didn't want to get swamped when I got back to work. And it all turned out quite well. Plus, there was an impromptu stop by in Oregon. I'm telling you, this trip was not as expected.
I've been to Monterey once in my life back in 1999 when all we wanted to do was go to Disney Land but instead our parents took us to this very pretty location where we took pictures, got in a car and probably drove off so having my cousin, Paul's wedding here to Cathy (whom I have never met and was the last sibling to meet her) was a pretty swell deal.
I had airbnb-ed the nearest place I could find to the venue of the wedding, the Intercontinental, The Clement Monterey on Cannery Row and it was so beautiful. My sister and I were a 10 minute walk away from the venue and the moment we arrived on our shuttle from SFO, the views were breathtaking.
We spent our first evening walking (and freezing) and just admiring the views. Everywhere you looked, it was gorgeous. I can't imagine living there just because I'd be so distracted by the view of the ocean. Every walk was beautiful. I was probably really tired from the plane ride over because I spent the morning of the wedding sleeping. I woke up early but kept going back to sleep.
The wedding itself was beautiful. All the speeches were so meaningful and my cousin and his bride, Cathy were just so blissfully happy. It was a smallish wedding (around 115 people) and it was a big reunion for me and my cousins whom I haven't seen since 1999. Plus, I got to hang out with my brother Pietro whom I haven't seen in a long time who's now based in LA.
After the wedding, my cousin and his friends wanted to do some sort of after party. I was honestly just tired and wanted to go home. But my sister was of course going. And so 15 minutes after she had left, and despite being very tempted to go through our AirBNB's many many TV channels, i had gone as well. And it was fun in a not-myself kind of way, socialising with my cousin's friends and the wedding party and just generally being very YOLO about everything. There were free drinks (thank you new friends) and dancing and clearly not how I envisioned the night to be but having quite a lot of fun.
The next day after the wedding, we had a brunch with everyone and ended up at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The tickets were kind of price-y but my cousin had learned a trick from my grandma wherein you just say you had gotten married and everyone would throw free stuff at you. this time around, we got a whole bunch of discounted tickets! Very neat.
After exhausting Cannery Row, it was time to say goodbye to my brother and hitch a ride with my cousin's friends and our newfound friends, Rich and Jason (who happens to know LJ friend, Priya -- small world!) to San Francisco. A three-hour car ride with practically strangers (well not quite but still)? Who was this girl? She was having a lot of fun.
I had an airbnb reserved for that night but we all ended up at another of their friend, John's very very cool apartment after sushi and some impromptu karaoke. Though I didn't do karaoke, it was still fun to go out at night -- things I don't usually do when I'm alone traveling because a) I'm lazy and b) I'm too chicken. So having fun folks to hang out with was a novelty.
The next day, Pamy was set to go back to Singapore and I would be checking in to my actual airbnb, but I ended up hanging for a bit with John, Jason and Rich for, getting coffee and hanging out on the rooftop and grabbing banh mi's for brunch at the park, until we all had to go on our merry ways.
i ended up exploring Haight street and trying to tick off as many of my must-do's in San Francisco like drinking as much coffee and consuming as much ice-cream as was humanly possible. That evening, I ended up having dinner with my cousin Paul and Cathy again before they headed back to San Jose for the night.
Now everyone in the wedding party was from Portland and everyone was building up this city to me so much that I said, well why do I need to spend 4 days in LA? And so i spontaneously booked tickets to Portland and made sure my cousin was cool with me crashing their sort of honeymoon by taking me in. I also had to cut my San Francisco trip 1 day short to make the fare to Portland worth it.
And so on my last day in San Francisco, I woke up early and took the Muni all the way to the Palace of Fine Arts where I marvelled at the architecture and walked to Crissy Fields to see the Golden Gate Bridge. I wish i could have gotten closer to it, but it was pretty good from where I stood. I also ended up walking all over and seeing the Painted Ladies and having more hipster coffee at Ritual Coffee Roasters before I was due for my plane to Portland in the evening. All in all, not a bad second visit to SF despite the short amount of time.
My 2 days in Portland were probably the most jam-packed just because my cousin had taken Wednesday off and were determined to show me as much of their beloved city as possible. And they succeeded in making me fall in love with it. From the moment I landed at PDX, it was a nice combination of chill and lots happening. We had dinner at a diner before resting for the long day we had ahead of us.
We visited my grandma at her place in Gresham and took her to brunch at Tasty n Sons before heading to Powell's where I spent way too little time in the bookstore. This bookstore is AMAZING. I could live here. But of course, there was so much more to see and do and so I had to sadly say goodbye. We did very tourist-y things like bike along the riverfront but it was fun to just hang with the newly married couple.
We went to stores and Nike (of course) and had dinner at this amazing Japanese sushi restaurant where the wait for dinner starts early. But it was worth it because it was some of the most amazing sushi I've ever tasted. I was so stuffed, I literally fell asleep as soon as we got home.
Day 2 of Portland was more chill because my cousin was working from home half the day and Cathy also had to go back to work. I was finally reunited with the internet and it was nice to catch up on life outside of vacation. We ended up going to downtown Portland to meet up with more of their friends, Jason, Gabe and Habi complete with magic tricks and drinks for dinner!
Then it was off to impromptu karaoke with Lia and Sayako whom I had also met at the wedding. This time though I had a chance to sing and of course I brought out the big guns doing my always reliable Love the Way You Lie. Afterwards, we had more ice cream at Salt n Straw and the line was definitely worth it. It was sad saying goodbye to these new friends I had now met but it was time for the last bit of my trip -- the much delayed LA.
And so the next day, my cousin drove me to the nearest MAX station where I took the train all the way To PDX. Best decision ever because then I was able to see all of downtown Portland and wean myself of all the company I had surrounded myself with. It was time for some alone time in LA.
Or so I thought. I didn't think I would hang out with anyone since Gen and Sarah had said they couldn't make it and my brother was too far away, but then I found out that some of my high school friends, Claud and Rog were in the area and I ended up being invited to their KTown dinner and drinks.
And my goodness, what a welcome night it was to LA. We had some yogurt soju which is clearly a a silent killer. I met Claud's boyfriend, Dino; Claud's sister Camille and her boyfriend and their friends Marco and Rog's friend Mark. So it was a pretty big group and we had a lot of drinks between us. The next day I woke up at my airbnb without my glasses but with Claud's bag. Very The Hangover in a way to a waaaay lesser degree.
I end up exchanging Claud's bag for my glasses, which I had apparently left on her driveway. We went there after KTown and it was off to Santa Monica with Rog who apparently lives there! Amazing! Santa Monica was beautiful and we walked along the beach and had some Halal brothers for lunch and chilled for a bit.
I also wanted to go to Venice Beach because of Abbot Kinney and this all probably sounds familiar because this was the day of my 12 of 12. Abbot Kinney can take a whole day but I managed to compress it into an afternoon. We ended up at the Getty Centre for a more cultural experience and it was a really nice museum with Rog being a pseudo curator.
It was time to say goodbye to everyone and so I made sure I headed to LACMA so I could see the streetlight installation outside the museum. And I have to say it was quite the sight. I was already getting very emotional with the vacation coming to an end but this was a sight to se. I'm glad I made the trip.
And thus ends my West Coast trip. I really didn't think I'd be as social as I was but I'm glad I did. There are some trips that are nice to go at alone but this one was way more friendly than expected and it was a welcome reprieve. I can't wait till the next one.