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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Nicon Andritsakis

16 Suburbs in Search of a City: The Travel Genius Invades Los Angeles pt. 2

*As this IS in journal format, it is rougher around the edges than my normal entries*

Wednesday, April 3, 2019 - Downtown Los Angeles, CA

Second part of our stay, Level Furnished Living

Today was shaping up to be yet another fantastic and beautiful day in LA. A quick jaunt with the group back to the US Bank Tower & up to the 70th floor to the OUE Skyscape, California's tallest open-air observation deck, for a little yoga. I managed to get out of actually doing the yoga and taking pictures of the SkyScape before we filled it up, and I've gotta tell ya, the views are unbelievable! Afterwards we were treated to the SkySlide, a transparents slide that allows you to see all the way down 70 floors! Definitely the highlight of the morning, even though I was fretting about the weight limit of the slide itself, haha!

Afterwards the group walked back to Level, luckily I was in between groups, so NO ONE saw me make an ass of myself and kiss the asphalt as I crossed the street and felt my ankle roll. LUCKILY I was less than a foot away from the curb and NOT in the middle of the intersection. I managed to hobble myself up to my room and wrap my ankle along with down a painkiller or 3 before having to meet the rest of the group downstairs for the ride to Venice Beach. Mercifully, the meds took effect right as we arrived at our first stop.

Luckily it was lunch time, and our stop was this cute & kitschy little cafe aptly called Neighbor. It is such an adorable little almost hole in the wall , with some seriously delicious food and potent beverages. The menu was fantastic, I tried the Croque Monsieur, with the juiciest chunks of ham I've EVER had, melted with Gruyere all nestled in a homemade Ciabatta. Washed it down with a fabulous drink called The Girl Next Door, and was very pleased. I was silently hoping there would be time to order a econd to go, but...we had a long afternoon on our feet ahead of us.

Walking out of Neighbor, we were met by what has to be the coolest Tour Guide I've ever met (well, in the top 2 anyways), Dan, who was going to show us around Venice and it's iconic Street Art. Dan took us around to quite a few amazing installations of art on various walls around Venice, along Abbott Kinney Rd, Muscle Beach, the Boardwalk, and I caught a few glimpses of the infamous skatepark and basketball courts seen in movies like White Men Can't Jump, as well as the infamous and gorgeous Venice Beach, where Vince Neil honed his vocal cords (and drove girls crazy) before reaching stardom in 1980's glam metal band Motley Crue.

Spent a good 20 minutes catching a little sun and watching the afternoon bank of European bound departures out of LAX from the beach while waiting for everyone to gather up and head onto our next stop, the Westfield Century City shopping center.

This is THE mall where celebs and VIP's shop at when they're not in Beverly Hills or Newport Beach. Even though we didn't see any celebrities that afternoon, we found out how they are taken care of to ensure privacy and anonymity while they shop, and how we as agents are able to book these services for our own high end clientele. We were also treated by the Westfield folks to a Dreamscape Virtual Reality Experience and then were each given a gift card to shop around a bit as a show of appreciation, before we were spoiled yet again with an AMAZING final dinner together at Terra, the outdoor patio restaurant in Eataly LA, the most authentic Italian import shop I've seen on the West Coast. You have no idea how much I wanted to browse a few hours in there and see how much Italian charcuterie and wine I could smuggle in my luggage back home. Then again, knowing how vigilant and good the LAX K-9's are at literally sniffing out food and contraband, I decided to pass on the temptation.

Dinner was amazing, and in my top 5 best Italian dining experiences in the United States, outside Hells' Kitchen in New York City (you can't go wrong with ANYTHING in the Kitchen). It was such a great evening, with stories and tales told by all the ride back was lovely, but somewhat subdued, as we have all had an amazing time and took away quite a lot from this experience.

Once we got back to Level some of us got together and hung out till late, but I was beat, and I had to pack, since my ride was going to pick me up at 9:30 AM.

April 4, 2019 - Los Angeles, California and Salt Lake City, Utah

Woke up this morning absolutely exhausted and hurting from rolling my ankle the day before. Thankfully I was packed (save for my CPAP machine of course) from last night so didn't have much to worry about. 9:30 came around and I made my way downstairs to wait for my ride and partner for the ride, only to be texted a few minutes later by them that they will be staying an extra day in LA. Cool. The ride came and I was off for my beloved LAX. The ride from downtown was tranquil and I was left with my thoughts about the trip until we got to the 405 Freeway and I was watching several Airbus A380's make their final approaches. That's a funny about me, as soon as I get near an airport, I get giddy with excitement, and have done so since I was 4 years old. It's just one of those things that has never waned in all my years of travelling.

Check-in and bag dropoff was a cinch as always when using Delta's Sky Priority lanes, especially in the mess Terminal 2 is, and thank GOD I have Clear membership to get me through TSA screening faster. Didn't have to take my shoes or belt off or anything else. Grabbed a bite to eat and reached my gate just in time for boarding (oh those wretched GATE LICE hogging up all the space again!). As soon as I was ensconced in my Comfort+ seat on this less than 3 month old Boeing 737-900, I passed out. I must've been so out of my mind exhausted I didnt even wake up for takeoff or touch down. I was woken up by the DING! to let us know we were at the gate in Salt Lake City and we could release our seat belts. Why is it I'm always at the end of the D Concourse when I come back from LA? It is seriously the longest walk to baggage claim from that point. Ah well, I need the exercise.

Reaching baggage claim, my bag was yet again, one of the first off the belt, and I shuffled over to Delta's baggage office and finally made my claim for my busted bag. Got my info for the claim and headed out to passenger pickup where Dad and Susie were waiting to take me home. The end of yet another fantastic adventure by George the Travel Genius.

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