Friday, July 7, 2017

Southern Cal Ballpark Tour Part 1: Los Angeles

This year for our annual ballpark tour, we decided to travel to Southern California and visit Los Angeles and San Diego. If you're new here, let me explain! 

David and I are big baseball fans and it is a goal of ours to visit all of the Major League ball parks. I have family from Philadelphia so I grew up a Phillies fan and proceeded to recruit David after we started dating. We've recently become Dodger's fans as well. My friend and neighbor growing up now plays for the LA Dodgers, so of course we've got to root for him! This is one of the reasons why we decided to make the southern California trip this year - so we could see him play.
It was great having a week to spend together, just us, knowing that the girls were having a blast with their grandparents. They stayed with David's parents on the weekends and my parents during the week.
I couldn't get enough hugs before we left!
Travel Day: HSV -> LAX
Saturday morning we met David's parents at Cracker Barrel for breakfast before heading to the airport. We got there around 10:30 and there was no one at the Huntsville airport. There was not one person in line at security and the staff was incredibly friendly. This is the best airport experience we've had. We flew into Houston for our layover, which is the most beautiful airport I've ever seen! Our connecting flight to LAX got delayed, which made for a very long day, but it was nice to just sit together, sip some coffee and read a book without a care in the world.
ALL of the gates were set up like this. Tables with tablets and outlets to charge your phone. So cool!
When we hopped of the plane at LAX (this song was in my head all day, btw), it felt amazing to breath in the clear, 67 degree air. We ended up having to walk about a mile (with our luggage) to the rental car office to pick up our car. They were supposed to be sending a shuttle around to the terminal but had recently changed the shuttle service they used and didn't notify their customers of the change. So we didn't know which bus to look for and they wouldn't pick up the phone when we called. We were a little bitter about that, but we drove away in the car about an hour after our flight landed. 
The weather was perfect!
Our first stop: In-N-Out Burger. We've heard that these are a must when you're in this area so we had to try one, and now seemed as good a time as any. The burger was great, but if I'm comparing In-N-Out to Whataburger, I think I'd prefer Whataburger.

We made it to our friends Ashlee and David's apartment in Burbank at about 9:30 pm. This was 11:30 our time - it had been a long day!

*We are so very thankful to Ashlee and David for opening their home to us for a few days. We loved spending time with them, catching up. Ashlee is one of my very best friends from high school and college, so even though we haven't seen each other in a few years, we always pick up right where we left off. 

Day 1
Sunday morning Ashlee, David and I went to The Grove and did some shopping. They have a little farmers market with all kinds of different places to eat. It was so hard to choose but we decided on The French Crepe Company - great decision! 
French crepe with strawberries, Nutella, chocolate sauce and whipped cream - to DIE for!
David walked around the three story Barnes and Noble while Ashlee and I shopped. We stopped at La Duree, where I was in macaron heaven! They had a variety of unique flavors I had never tried before. I loved the floral flavors like Lily of the Valley and Orange Blossom. I also got an iced tea, which also had some floral notes and was unlike any other tea I've ever had! My mouth is watering thinking about it!

Sunday afternoon we decided to get tickets to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. This was at the very top of our list and Ashlee and David suggested going on a weekend because there would be less going on on the campus and we would probably get to see more.
It was incredibly cool to learn how they shoot different scenes and to see icons from some of my favorite TV shows. We got to walk through the Big Bang Theory sound stage and the set of Ellen, see many of the Batmobiles, and the houses from Pretty Little Liars
Alison DeLaurentes's House from PLL 

My favorite part was when they pointed out where different things from Friends were filmed. We walked through Jack and Judy Gellers house and sat on the stairs where Ross got his heart broken after he got ready to take Rachel to the prom and then watched her run off with Chip - you know, the one where Rachel kisses him against the door and Pheobe says "See! He's her lobster!" I cry every time I watch this episode.

Anyway! This is the main reason I wanted to do this tour - to sit on this couch and see the set of Central Perk.
Could I *BE* any more happy?

After we left the WB Studio Tour, we booked it to the Griffith Observatory (as fast as LA traffic would allow). Our goal was to make it up there in time to see the sunset. There was no parking in the observatory parking lot so everyone was driving back down the other side of the mountain and parking on the road. We had to hike back up a pretty long way to get to the observatory. I would have liked to actually hike up to the back side of the sign but we definitely didn't have enough time for that. The view of the hills from the observatory at sunset was absolutely stunning! We weren't there long, but the hike was worth it.
Photos don't do this view justice
The observatory in the distance from our hike up

After our little hike we were starving. We hadn't had a meal since our crepes that morning. We stopped at Dog Haus in Burbank. This may be the best burger I have ever eaten! We both got The Ringer which had cheddar cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce, and onion rings on four Kings Hawaiian Rolls. OMG! 

Day 2
Monday morning we went to brunch with Ashlee and David at Bea Bea's, which is a little restaurant hidden in a strip mall across from a grocery store. They had an unbelievable selection of pancakes, waffles, crepes and french toast with just about anything you could possibly want on them. It was absolutely incredible!
I got the "Summer's Dream" pancakes covered in strawberries, nutella, marscarpone cream (yum!) and whipped cream

David got the "Going Bananas" waffles with bananas, Oreos and peanut butter topped with whipped cream
After breakfast we could barely move, but we made our way to downtown Hollywood to visit the walk of fame and the Chinese Theatre. I really just wanted to find Judy Garland's hand and footprints (her feet were so tiny!)
Our hands are the same size
Dave photobomb
That afternoon we made our way to Rodeo Drive to do some window shopping. What a beautiful area! On the way back to the apartment Google Maps took us all through Beverly Hills in order to avoid traffic on the freeways. I'm glad it did because wow! Some of those houses are unreal.
Monday evening we were looking for a place to eat that we don't have back home. The four of us decided to go to Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ. Each table has a built in grill in the middle where you can cook your own meat. Everything we tried was exceptional! We don't have anything like this at home, so I'm glad we gave this place a try!

We went to dinner early since we didn't eat lunch so we had a free evening. We decided to go to Universal City Walk and see Wonder Woman. After the movie we walked around City Walk a little bit then headed home. 

Day 3
Tuesday we decided to head to the coast and spend a little bit of time at the beach. I grabbed some coffee at The Commisary down the street from Ashlee and David's apartment. It took over an hour to get to Santa Monica and back because of the crazy traffic in LA! It was very worth it though because the Pacific coast is beautiful
We walked up and down the beach in Santa Monica for a little bit, just trying to soak in the sun and our time together. It was a perfect 75 degrees with a breeze, which felt amazing, although the water was freezing. Riding the ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier was one of our must-do's. The views from the top were breathtaking!
The view from the ferris wheel
We were starting to get hungry and had heard (from multiple people) about this little Italian restaurant called C&O Trattoria on the strip at Venice Beach, so we started to head that way. The seating area was in a little courtyard which gave the restaurant a fun and relaxing atmosphere. We were sitting right by this beautiful fountain.

We had started to notice that the portions of food out here are huge and that we could usually share a plate, so we decided to share the chicken fettuccine alfredo. The very best part about this restaurant though was the unlimited garlic bread! They would bring around a huge plate of garlic bread and refill your plate every 5-10 minutes. 
After lunch we walked up and down Venice Beach for a little bit and then walked out on the pier. It was interesting to just people watch for a little bit.

It was time to make our way back to the apartment and get ready to head to Dodger Stadium for our first game of the trip. They were giving out Clayton Kershaw jersey tshirts so we were pretty excited to get one of those. 

This year our ballpark tour was a little different. My friend Grant is currently playing for the Dodgers so we were excited when we found out that the Dodgers would be playing at all of the stadiums we would be going to that week. They played at home against the Angels, then played against the Angels in Anaheim, then traveled to San Diego to play the Padres. It's hard enough to find a stretch of time when all three teams play at home so we were ecstatic when we found out we'd be able to see the Dodgers play at all three. We were like little Dodger groupies.
That's Chase Utley batting!
We had great seats behind home plate (thanks to Grant). I had heard that I needed to get a Dodger Dog so I ended up getting a bacon wrapped hotdog with jalepenos. It was pretty good, but way too much! 
The view from our seats
Grant was my neighbor growing up and his parents still live next door to mine. It just so happened that they were going to be in town the same week that we were and would be traveling to San Diego as well so we were excited to spend a little time with the Daytons, as well as meet his sweet wife Cori. 
The Dodgers won this game 4-0 against the Angels.

Day 4
On our last morning in LA Ashlee, David and I headed downtown to Poppy+Rose for breakfast. This is an adorable little restaurant in the flower district of downtown. It has sweet little southern touches and fresh flowers on every table. Ashlee and I shared the biscuits and gravy and David got the chicken and waffles. Just look how cute!
I loved all the different tables, chairs and stools and window panes on the walls
After breakfast we walked a few blocks further downtown and grabbed some dessert at Bottega Louie. My friend Liz had told me about their macarons so I had to hunt them down and make it a point to go here! Their flavors were different from others that I have had (they use ganache in alot of their filling) but they were still good. My favorite was espresso - yumm! This is a beautiful restaurant that seemed a little out of place. You'd expect to see it on 5th Ave in NYC or something.
How pretty is this gold dusted Earl Grey macaron?
We had checked off all the top must-do's on our list so we decided to go to the Natural History Museum. This was set right next to the USC campus, which was cool to see. We loved exploring the museum, especially the dinosaurs and mammals. 
We had debated whether to drive to Anaheim for the game or to take a train. We found that the Metrolink offers an "Angels Express" train from Union Station to Anaheim for $7 round trip. This was a pretty good deal, although we did have to drive and pay to park at Union Station. The train let out right in front of the stadium so we didn't have far to go.

When we got into the stadium the Dodgers were having batting practice and we spotted Grant in the outfield. We decided to make our way toward the visiting team's dugout. The staff at Angel Stadium was the friendliest that we have come across. We let them know that we knew a player from back home and they were very accommodating and allowed us to wait next to the entrance of the dugout and holler at him when he came in from BP. We chatted for a minute and the security guy took our picture. 
Our photos seem confusing (and we probably confused some people in the stadium) but our tradition is to wear the home team's fan gear the first time we visit a stadium. (Someday I'd like to make all our team shirts into a t-shirt quilt.) This time we took our pictures in our Angels gear then changed into our Dodgers shirts. Because I am just so proud of this guy - there's no way I could wear an Angels shirt all game and root against him. He's come such a long way since playing touch football in the back yard and sitting in the bed of my daddy's truck having [sometimes weird] conversations about life. He doesn't know it, but besides his family we're his two biggest fans.

Angel Stadium is absolutely beautiful. There is a rock feature with a waterfall behind the outfield. The weather at this game was perfect. It was just a beautiful night for baseball.
One of David's favorite players right now is Mike Trout so he was pretty bummed when he found out Trout would be needing surgery and would still be on the DL when we were there. 
This was probably one of the weirdest endings to a game that we have ever seen. We've seen walk-off homeruns and walk-off RBI's. This time we saw a "walk-off strikeout." Watch the video in this link for the details - pretty crazy and rare ending to a game.
View from our seats
Grant pitching
We caught the Angel Express train just after the game was over and made it back to the apartment pretty late. We had to pack up and get ready for an early morning to catch a train to San Diego the next day.

We had a wonderful time in LA and were so thankful that Ashlee and David were so kind and let us crash at their place. It was great catching up with great old friends. 

Part 2: San Diego!

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