Travel Blog: Malibu, CA
For the first time in what might be ever I did a direct flight from Tampa to Los Angeles. This was a long grueling 5.1~ hour flight with a 3h time shift once landed, so while my body felt like a good chunk of the day was over - only 2 hours had passed in time.
Thankfully taking a flight across the states means its a large plane that travels at high altitude, which helps cut down on the motion sickness I receive. So all in all outside of a few minutes of turbulence I felt okay on the flight. Once landed and walking out into the terminal - it was insanely packed. I couldn't believe a random 9am on a Friday had people and lines everywhere. I had to weave and walk to get myself to the ground car pickup, where my group was receiving a $93 ticket for waiting too long.
We were then off with a ticket and traveling to breakfast at a place quickly researched around the Santa Monica Pier. We landed at Shutters on the Beach which I quickly then learned how massively the price of things changed between Florida and California.
The meal was elegant with personal ketchup deposits and unopened mini jams, but I still can't really fathom how a little mimosa was $20 a glass. Thankfully I could order off the lunch menu as my body clock was at lunch time even if it was only 10am local time.
However, the food came and went and heavy breaded fish was hardly worth $29 when paired with my $20 drink. Either way though - I was here for a celebration so it was worth it to spend a little more than normal.
Once done there - we walked to the Santa Monica Pier and walked it in a large circle stopping at the bar at the end. This felt like an older pier compared to what I remember visiting in Florida. This was a wooden structure full of events, gatherings, shops, homeless and an army of people wandering around. Preparations were undergoing to setup for an Opera, so I imagine it was a bit more hectic than usual. Additionally, getting yelled at from various folks stumbling around and people dressing like strippers and asking for $20 for a photo was an experience.
A pier is a pier though and good tourist site to visit. I enjoyed the views and we burned enough time to be able to head back to our Airbnb in Malibu. We just made a quick pit spot at another bar as our check-in wasn't allowed till 4pm. This was another expensive venture as we booked a place right on the water.
One thing I quickly learned after attempting to go on a run is this house sucks for working out. There is no walking/running allowed on the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and when I went down to the beach to run there instead - it was full of rocks and the tide was splashing against the seawall in some places. I'm guessing the folks here head into the hills for a trail or into town for a more structured running path.
So maybe a bit of advertising tricks led me to believe it was going to be flatter on the beach. The pricing hike of California struck again with a 4 digit price tag to stay here - no wonder engineers in California easily make 2-3x what I make in Florida - everything here is mega expensive.
Some quick showers and cleaning up and we were off to quite possibly the most expensive and fancy dinner I've ever been to. We were seated at 1 of the 2 dining rooms for a private seasonal Omakase meal at Shunji. This was a 2+ hour meal with over 20 courses of a single fish/dish placed in front of you. It was only us four, the chef and a staff member.
I've never been to such an exclusive and expensive meal before. There were only two eating times at 5:15pm and 7:45pm both of which required finding an unmarked building/door that was locked. Stand around outside a bit and someone comes out to confirm your information and you are brought into a tiny elegant building.
There are no substitutions, there are no changes - you will try what the Chef is making on that day of that season of that month. The fish was of insane great quality and it reminded me I should always try something once. The sea urchin may not have been one to repeat, but I finished all 20 courses. I think Omakase will be left for the ultra celebration unique events to visit again.
Once done there we jumped to a nearby bar, but were fading fast. At this point only being 8pm in CA, my body clock was at 11pm with a 4am wake up - I was feeling it. So we went home to call it a night and sleep with the windows open listening to the waves crash against the shore.
One thing I thought was interesting was how high tide basically had the waves crashing against the foundation of the home. In the case of this rental - the concrete looked undamaged and quite sturdy. However, walking down Malibu's rocky beaches many of the homes structure looked eroded to the point that rebar was visible on the concrete supports.
A new day struck and it was the day to learn how to surf, but prior to that we needed some breakfast. A quick trip to a Malibu pier and I was amazed to see almost a hundred surfers all surfing out there. Most of them were leaving as we were arriving (8am) so the true local surfers must start the morning really early with some surfing.
We sat on top of the pier watching surfers and fending off birds as we ate once again an expensive meal. I can't keep harping on price, but it really was such a change of pace to what I'm used to.
- A charge per plastic bag at grocery store.
- A flat-fee per Uber for driver benefits (Only in CA?).
- Gasoline hitting $7/gallon.
- Commonly spending $20 per drink.
- Meals averaging $50-70 per person per meal.
I'll avoid bringing it up again, but it just blew my mind that a single weekend here would rack up more cost spending then maybe weeks of entertainment value in Florida.
It was time for another scheduled major event - learning how to surf. We got down to the beach early to explore Venice and that was another experience to see. Walking this strip of concrete and having shops everywhere with people selling things from palm readings to phone cases.
A few shops just had people with a microphone trying to convince people of some message/point and it was so much to take in. Once done exploring there we went to our check-in for a surfing lesson, which started as a orange car in a parking lot.
I wondered how I was going to handle at this with a lingering back surgery issue and it didn't work out too well. Going from your stomach to knees to pushing up from knees into standing in a second it just not something I can do much anymore.
I can do it, but it takes me a few extra seconds to let that back warm up. I gave it a go, but after one real attempt of trying to get up and crashing into the sand/water - I knew my back wasn't going to help me on this one. So I chilled out on a board in the water in my wet suit just watching the others learn to surf.
I'm paying the price the next day for even that as my back is pretty locked up. It'll take a few days and proper posture/sleeping to get this thing back to my normal.
Once we were done surfing - we were pretty wet and dressed like beach-goers so we went into town a bit to find a bar. The recommendations we got though were absolutely jammed back - it seemed every college football game on meant that every bar was packed. We slipped into one that had an empty table, but only one wait staff for the entire bar.
It felt like we were crashing some college sports bar as tables around us were packed of students/alumni pulling up chairs and constantly looking to grab our table. Unless I'm in the drunk zone - I much prefer a more quieter atmosphere than that meal.
So we waited a solid minute to find an Uber and went back to the place to shower and clean up. However, surfing took a number on us so instead we just slipped to the bar down the road and enjoyed some drinks and deserts to end day 2.
Day 3 will be a challenge to write about - the day hasn't ended and by the time its over - it'll be passed 10:30pm (Eastern) in which I normally publish. My flight home is 10:10pm CA time - so I'm looking at a red eye overnight flight back to Tampa. Normally on travel days I'm getting home before 10:30pm Eastern so I can finish the post.
However, my blog post is scheduled to go live at 10:30pm Tampa, 7:30pm California time. At that point I'll be making my way through transportation on my way to a stressful airplane experience.
So I'll come back and retroactively edit this to drop in day 3, but for now - the expensive trip to Malibu is over.