Migrating to http://www.brokegirlstravel.com/

I’m finally migrating this site to a more formal platform. Hopefully, you will all follow me here:  http://www.brokegirlstravel.com/

My goal is to write more, and to find many more ways to bring fun (and frugal) travels to you!

 

 

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Hitting the Chumash Highway

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My restless ways had me jumping in the jeep and heading up the Chumash Highway. I toyed with Los Olivos, Solvang and the vistas off the highway (overlooking Bradbury Dam and Lake Cachuma) before having my fill of driving. Despite the traffic and construction, it was a nice mental reboot. While I can’t say that genius will surely follow my wanderings, it did re-inspire a desire to travel. And that can’t be bad!

Latest Discovery for Wine Lovers: WineMaps.com!

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WineMaps.Com

If you love wine—drinking it, writing about it, reading about it, dreaming about it—you need to check out this website for WineMaps.com.

What is it? From the creator:

“WineMaps.com is an interactive travel map that allows consumers to discover, learn and interact with wineries, vineyards, wine bars and events around the world. You can plan a vacation to the vineyards in Mendocino, discover wineries in Greece, and choose which wine bar to go to in the city or find a wine-related event you should attend. With your phone, you can look for the nearest WineMaps locations, check in to wineries, write reviews and post them to your social networks or map out your own wine tour.”

As luck would have it, Pen and I were just chatting about how it had been too long since we had gone wine exploring in California. From the looks of this site, we may have just found a new and fabulous guide. The site is particularly good at getting boutique wineries discovered—and Pen and I do so love discovering them. They also have a terrific list of wine events, so if we plan a little, we might just be able to hit something fun that we would never have known about otherwise.

I’ve already gotten wrapped up in reading their blog feed (which includes links to wine blogs around the net), and I love the idea that they are using social media platforms (like Twitter) to get real time information on events and experiences. That’s the biggest challenge with a site like this—keeping it current. But they have found really innovative ways to stay connected with their audience and provide truly valuable content.

This is a start-up and the site is in Beta right now. So, it’s time to get in on the ground-floor. Sign up for their newsletter here: http://discover.winemaps.com/beta (it took me approximately 3 seconds to do it) because why wouldn’t you want the latest and greatest wine news/events/trip possibilities delivered directly to you? Of course, you would want that!

And now I’m going to go plan a trip on their travel tab because even if I can’t leave on a trip to Portugal right now, it’s important to be prepared!

 

 

 

Material and/or financial incentives may be received as a result of my involvement with the above program. But all editorial content and opinions are those of Patricia Steffy.

 

Polo!

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A decision to enjoy a picnic in the park ended up including an unexpected surprise: Polo!

I’ll admit that I’ve never seen polo played live prior to Saturday. I still couldn’t swear to what the rules actually are, but enjoyed trying to figure it out.  There are definitely worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon than munching on cheese and bread while watching polo under a clear SoCal sky. And it was all free!

The matches are played up at Will Rogers State Historic Park.  If you don’t want to hike up to the park, you can pay to park on the grounds right by the polo fields for $12. I highly recommend checking it out.

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New Perspective

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Pen and I attended the Arturo Sandoval concert at LACMA last night. Free concerts are always popular, but between the popularity of the artist, the weather and it being the first concert of the season, the courtyards were packed. So, Pen and I camped out by the lamps. I couldn’t resist reclining inside the formation.  Flipping the camera back I got a new perspective on a familiar scene.

Voila!

NewPerspective

Eats!

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Thanks to my freelance job, I’ve discovered two new (to me) restaurants on Melrose Ave in Los Angeles. Naturally, I thought that they needed to be shared immediately.

Franco on Melrose
6919 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles

The first is a new-ish restaurant called Franco on Melrose. The chef and owner, Franco DeDominicis was the Executive Chef at the Biltmore Hotel.  The main eating area is entirely outside in a beautiful courtyard. I hesitated to go in for lunch because I’m on a tight budget, but I thought I’d give it a whirl anyway (plus, I love Italian food).  I had the penne arrabiata, and not only was it delicious, but the small portion (which is more than enough for me) was less than $10. That’s less than I was spending some days at the more fast-food places in the neighborhood (and far better for me).  Plus, there’s just something about the ambiance that I really liked. I’ve actually been back a couple of times since, and everything I’ve had has been good.

There are a couple of caveats. First, they don’t have their liquor license yet. The keyword there is “yet.” But that’s coming, and they do allow you to bring your own wine in for a very, very small corkage fee. The second is because it is an outdoor dining area, extremely hot weather could be a problem. Honestly, I was there on two days where it was in the high 80s and had no problem (there are fans). But if you are delicate, you might want to wait until it’s under 80.  There is stylized draped roofing, so you are protected if it rains.

Don’t let either of these things stop you. The food is good. It’s entirely reasonable in terms of cost and everyone there is extremely nice and helpful. Go!

Stir Crazy Coffee House
6903 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles

This is a new discovery to me, but it’s pretty obvious that the locals love it. I heard the coffee is amazing, but I’m not a coffee drinker, so I couldn’t swear to it. I can tell you that they have some amazing breakfast goodies and lunch-time sandwiches that have me visiting frequently.

But even more than the food, the place is a hideaway on a busy street that you would not expect. The first time I went in there I was struck not by the locally-sourced art hangings, the rustic decor or the music (I believe Sinatra was playing that day), but how cozy the place felt. And it isn’t manufactured cozy; it just is.  And it’s a great place to work. Don’t take my word for it, take a look around. Anytime you walk into the place the tables are loaded with people on their laptops working on the great American novel or screenplay. It’s quiet, inspiring and feels like a welcoming creative community is just inside those doors.

Enjoy!

Broad Fest

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People often complain about not feeling connected to a community when they live in Los Angeles. There are neighborhoods, but the claim is that there is rarely a mixing of cultures. While I can see that point, I think I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy what the city has to offer regardless of where my home base has been.  It might take more effort than in some cities, but there are real opportunities out there to enjoy the cultural benefits of the city.

The Broad Stage in Santa Monica was offering one of these experiences this weekend.  As a way of introducing the community to their upcoming music, dance and theater programs, The Broad Stage held Broad Fest, a free celebration of the arts.  There were food trucks and performing groups in both the outside courtyard and the Edye (the smaller stage space).

It was a beautiful day, and my friend and I opted to stay outside and enjoy the performances of La Santa Cecilia, the Crossroads School Jazz Ensemble and the Santa Monica College Emeritus Gospel Community Chorus. I loved the energy of each of the groups I saw, and I must admit that I’d like to join that Gospel chorus.  Is there anything more elevating than talented people sharing what they love?

The crowds were lively and joined in the spirit of the event—young and not so young patrons danced along with the musicians. It was an easy, free way to appreciate something that we all had in common (regardless of age, race or gender).

I hope we all keep discovering this side of Los Angeles!

To Wilshire

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I caught a showing of To Rome with a friend last night, and while we were talking on the street after the film, I was taken with the way the palm trees and street lamps mirrored one another.  Alas, I couldn’t quite get it right– I needed a ladder to avoid the glare and get the framing right. Still, Wilshire at dusk captured my attention.

Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills at dusk on 9/2/2012.

Venice Beach Awakens

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I have a strange relationship with Venice, CA. There are things about it that I love: great restaurants, interesting art galleries and some shopping that would be enticing if I had any money. I love the colors of the city: a building can be painted “Easter Egg Blue” or “Ashes of Roses” and fit with the theme. These are all big pluses and huge draws.

The bohemian element alternately entices and repels depending on exactly how bohemian and whether or not I’ve found parking.  What can I say; I can get cranky.

This summer I have attempted to explore more of the area.  Even if I live in Los Angeles 20 years, I’ll always feel like a tourist in Venice. This morning that meant grabbing some nosh and watching that tiny bit of the world awaken.

Enjoy!