The past week was easily one of the craziest weeks of my life. However, somewhere between not one, not two, but three emergency room visits, I was able to getaway and enjoy my birthday over the weekend….
I don’t know if it’s the summery weather for most of the year, or the ocean’s presence a few miles away, or the classy Palms gracing the streets and the laid back chic vibe of the people, that has me crazy about the City of Angels. Los Angeles is my city of choice, and by this I mean if I had to pick one city to live in for the rest of my life, I’d pick LA…or Cape Town…which is basically the LA version of Africa. I do have a type when it comes to cities. Check out my list…
- Must be a big spacious city built by the ocean
- Lots of beaches and trees…preferably palms
- English speaking
- Lots of sun and no snow
- A diverse population
- Urbanized yet embracing of different cultures
- A quiet countryside less than an hours drive away
- A transport system that allows me to drive my car around without worrying where to park it.
The thing I love about LA is that even with all the craziness of celebrities, and people trying to survive in this expensive city, there’s still a laid back vibe and everyone can fit in. Mine was an exciting five day visit. You have probably already seen the Venice Beach post. This specific post is about my visit to Hollywood and Beverly Hills and can I say this day in particular was the most exciting because I got to check off three…no wait, FOUR things on my American bucket list! I visited the Hollywood sign, walked on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, drove up one of those Hollywood hills where I got to see LA below me and finally, I had a photoshoot on the famous Rodeo Drive.
The family and I started out at the Hollywood sign. Lucky for us, we know some cool people who live in LA and they know the best spot to see it. We drove up a very curvy road through a residential neighborhood and the more turns we took the more I wondered why someone would want to risk their life and family living on a steep hill with a road that has turns as sharp as that. No seriously, if for whatever reason your brakes failed, that car would end up in someone’s living room. As we got higher we started to see more land scape and less houses and soon enough, there it was, majestically serene, against an untouched backdrop. The cameras and poses came flying out with everyone trying to get the best shot possible. I gotta admit, there’s a deep satisfaction in seeing this landmark that validates your having been to Hollywood.
On our way down, we took a detour up another hill, just above the Hollywood Bowl where concerts are usually held. At the top, we could see most of Los Angeles. I love a good view and I felt like an accomplished hiker, only that this hike happened in a car. The view isn’t what I would call breathtaking but you’re looking down on this famous city, and that to me is big. The beautiful isolated house whose pics I took has become a landmark of its own. Turns out, the surrounding land isn’t for sale so basically the owner’s view is set for life.
Next stop Beverly Hills! Having lived in America for a good minute, I know very well you won’t find celebrities aimlessly walking around. So with that in mind, seeing someone famous was the least of my concerns. So my dad who is about that designer life found this shoe he really liked, but the store didn’t have his size. Lucky for him it was at another location and lucky for me, it was on you guessed it, Rodeo Drive. While he was in the store, I bullied my brother into doing the shoot which was pretty easy considering the fact that we all wanted to take pictures in the area. I loved the Faux European building alley with the traditional cobblestones and the famous torso sculpture. The rest of the street isn’t much really, except for the expensive shops and the famous celebrities that drop by from time to time for shopping sprees.
Call me lazy but I was so not interested in finding my fav celebrities’ stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Aside from watching my brother get star struck over the Halle Berry one (imagine), I got to see the Micheal Jackson star and right by it was this guy all dressed and made up like MJ and get this, he was talking like him too…my IG followers prolly saw his hilarious clip. Well folks, enjoy the pics.
Can I just say how much I loved InNOut Burger. It’s a family owned franchise and uses natural ingredients.
Dress and belt: Forever 21
Shoes: Kenneth Cole Reaction
Bag: Ted Baker
So if you follow me on Instagram (If no, what are you waiting for…hurry hurry @FabsCulture) you probably know that I was in New York and New Jersey earlier this summer. I. Love. New York. With. My. Life. It’s one of those cities where I don’t wanna live, but I want to keep going back over and over again so I can experience it like it is all new, one more time.
It’s the feeling of being in Times Square, not just being at Times Square but “In Times Square” with 20,000 other people all at the same time walking through the glamorous lights. It’s the ambience of being in the city that never sleeps, the big apple…ok I’m done…but it’s that serious you guys.
Anyway so me, my mum, my sister Leilah and her cutie pie daughter, my niece Hanifa decided to take a mini vacay in New York. See the thing is, I have been to NY like four times already and as much I still love the basics (Empire State, Statue of Liberty, Madison Square Gardens, Herald Square, Madame Tussauds, and more), I wanted to see something new. I’m the kind of person that goes somewhere and I don’t just want to see the touristy stuff, I want to experience what it’s like to actually live there. I know one thing for sure, anytime you find people living in the city, they barely go to the common tourist attractions so I’m always curious about what they do to have a good time…and for some reason that’s the real fun stuff.
Leilah went to college in New Jersey which is like 20 minutes away from New York so she knows people there and she introduced me to one of her longtime friends, Zaina…who in the next five seconds made it to my friends list. Zaina is Ugandan just like me so you can imagine the excitement and immediate change of speaking from American accents to Uglish (Ugandan English…eh gwe the wind is passing through me, let us drink some dry tea). So I tell Zaina about my mission and she invites us to her apartment in the…wait for it…”The Bronx” baby. I cannot tell you how hyped I was knowing that I am going to sleep in the same neighborhood that JLo sang about. Yo, I was ready…Bronx is like “inside” of New York, just what I wanted.
So we catch the path train from NJ to NY then connect with the D train I think, to the Bronx. Once our bags were set, Zaina asked me where I wanted to go (meanwhile my mother and sister had no say in the plans because I was the most excited so technically, it was my vacation…snap snap). I told Zaina I wanted to go somewhere “Sex and the City” like to eat and chill (and see cute guys).
I wasn’t even ready for what this chic had in store for me. She said she would take me to the Marriot Marquis. Listen, the Marriot hotels in Houston are pretty rough so I was confused…until we got there. The Marriot Marquis is on Broadway Street, very close to Times Square, hidden among the drama of Broadway shows and city lights. Very easy to miss, this hotel. Once inside, we were going to have some drinks at the hotel restaurant called The View, and trust me they call it The View for a very good reason ;). We then caught a crazy elevator which flies up what looks like 100 floors, and by flies, I mean really fast, glass walls, see everything flashing by you, think you might die “flies” (my sister screamed…imagine). By the way before we caught the elevator, we had to make restaurant reservations on the first floor. You literally stand in line…and it was only Tuesday, so imagine weekends. We finally got to the top and were welcomed “New York nicely”…(are you here for drinks or buffet?…I’m fine thank you how are you ma’am, Drinks please…thank you for your kindness).
Ok so The View…my goodness, where do I start. It’s a revolving restaurant….I know. It’s in the middle of NYC and makes a 360˚ turn every hour, so as you sit and eat or drink, you’re treated to the finest view you have never seen of New York City through the glass walls. From the Empire State which was our welcoming view, to the Hudson River and everything in between, all under us or at eye level, The View is priceless. We opted for the bar because the there was another long, waiting line to get to the buffet. I don’t quite remember the price of the drinks because “Zaina” my “cool friend” was taking very good care of us! My sister and I opted for Pina Coladas and my mother…as usual asked for tea (what’s with African parents and tea?). We stayed for the full hour and a half, of which I only sat down for like a total of thirty minutes and spent the other hour staring at the view and wishing upon a star to one day own a penthouse in New York with a view like this. I was not guilty at all for continuously taking pictures because everyone else was also doing it haha, NYC has tourists everywhere. On our way out, we met an African American gentleman who opted to take our pictures, mehn this guy made us pose like it was some kinda photo-shoot, telling us how to smile and where to put our hands, only to find dark pictures in my phone…but great job “guy”, you made it fun.
We left the Marriot at about 11pm and since we were so hungry Zaina took us to a restaurant called Juniors, also on Broadway, known for having the “World’s Most Fabulous Cheesecake”. The food was pretty
basic usual, burgers, fries. They start you off with vegetable appetizers. What caught my eye was the beets. I had never had the chance to eat beets and then this one time I heard Mrs. Obama say she doesn’t like beets and since I only aspire to be like her, I figured I probably don’t like beets too. But since they were in my face…and for free, hey, I tried them. I actually thought they were pretty impressive, nothing eeekkk. The rest of the food was good, but honestly nothing you wouldn’t find elsewhere. I opted for a beef burger which I hadn’t had in a long time…not such a burger fan.
I was waiting for this famous cheesecake though, so when the waiter asked if we wanted dessert, my yes was the loudest…even after downing that enormous stuffed bun. Mehn, this cheese cake showed up and I had the sudden urge to email the owners of this place to “First of all” go eat Cheese Cake Factory cheese cake, and “secondly but most important”, edit the “Most Fabulous Cheesecake” part out of their about section on the website. It’s all love but that cheesecake was…BASIC…! Nothing juicy, nothing hilarious…nothing. But it’s a historical place, so we ate the damn cheesecake…I think we chose the plain one cos it’s the one that won some competition (at that point I wasn’t even bothered about the details anymore). That competition must have been in the eighties though cos damn, they need to update that recipe if they plan to win another competition…but then again, maybe its the one we ordered.
Our tummies all filled up, our heads so sleepy, it was time to go home. Day one was over.
Enjoy the pictures!!! And Please let me know what secret hideouts NYC has to offer <3
I am going tell you all about dramatic day two in another post… I call that one “Bronx Turned Up” oh you are not even ready for that experience…I got to see the other side of the Bronx.
Thank you for reading and be safe, love you…xoxo.
And Finally here are some of the shots from my phone…