The day before Christmas Eve, my Greek husband and I hopped on a train to the airport, made our way through a completely empty security check and settled onto a plane destined for Vegas. Landing at 11:30 PM-Vegas Time, 2:30 AM-Baltimore Time, we then made our way out, luggage and all, to meet our parents in the casino of the Cosmopolitan for drinks and celebration. We managed to get checked into our hotel room at around 3 AM-VT / 6 AM-BT and immediately fell asleep.
The next few days in Vegas were a blur of countless steps, bright lights, insane people watching, fancy drinks and, oh yeah, a killer flu. Thanks to a girl who coughed the entire plane ride to Vegas, my Greek husband and I were congested, exhausted and super sick. We didn’t let it stop us though, we made our way to the Neon Boneyard, the Arts District around Fremont and an amazing show on our last night. The two person bathtub at the Cosmopolitan definitely helped us recharge a bit.
When we pulled out of Vegas, we made a quick pit stop at the Seven Magic Mountains before settling in on the road trip to sunny, warm Los Angeles. A measly seven hours later (thanks to a pit stop for Greek food and typical holiday traffic) we were back at my mom’s, loaded up with medicine and ready to sleep for 72 hours.
Taking a day and a half to recuperate was definitely needed, and with more than enough days left of our vacation, I didn’t feel too guilty staying in bed to watch season 1 of Travelers on Netflix and only leaving the house to make Whole Foods runs. After the complete and utter busy chaos that was Vegas, it was nice to just relax with fresh air, sunshine and a ton of tissues.
Our first day out and about in LA we made the most of it, heading out of the city and down to Anaheim to treat Angelo to his first trip to Disneyland. We made a completely necessary pit stop at Pour Vida Latin Flavor (I highly recommend) to snack on some lobster tacos and inhale some beet juice before diving into the crowded magical dream world that was Disneyland. Disneyland, much like Vegas, was overwhelming – with less cigarette smoke and drunk girls in black dresses, but with equal amounts of crazy lights and fancy drinks.
After these overloaded sensory experiences, we decided to take it easy – heading to lunch at Fritzi and strolling around the Arts District, stopping at the Wacko Soap Plant to pilfer through their oddities and – of course – spending a few hours in Ameoba Music to find all the Dolly Parton 7-inches a girl could need. It was the first time we had to be in LA without rushing, rushing, rushing around, and it was great to just take the day as it went.
Next up was the desert – my Greek husband and I left my mom in Los Angeles (now battling a new strain of the cold we had brought from Baltimore) and made our way to Joshua Tree. First up was a pit stop, to grab lunch at Pappy and Harriets before moseying through Pioneertown, where much to my delight there was a pop up bookstore. I cannot refuse murder mysteries from the 1900s, especially when they are $3 each.
By the time we made our way to Joshua Tree, we were told that it was the most crowded the park had ever been, we wouldn’t be able to find any parking whatsoever, and that all we could do would be to drive through. We both nodded, letting the 20 something tour guide at the visitors center explain to us that it was so busy, he couldn’t even get across the street after work. On our way into the park, we reminded ourselves we had just been in Vegas and Disneyland, places known for their overwhelming amounts of visitors, and that the town of Joshua Tree probably had a very different idea of “busy.”
We lucked out while waiting in line to get into the park and were waved in by a park ranger who told us we could pay upon exit. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the park, parking in designated areas (with plenty of available spots), climbing on rocks, checking out cactus and aweing at the totally weird, totally adorable Joshua Trees before making our way back to Palm Springs to relax for the night.
A quick dinner at the patio bar at Birba allowed us to catch our breath before heading to Bootlegger Tiki for some drinks. Thouroughly relaxed and exhausted, we made our way into a residential neighborhood to check out Robolights before calling it a night. The combination of strong tiki drinks and this crazy light display was excellent – my Greek husband and I wandered around for about an hour and a half, feeling very at home in the peculiar, wonderful light display.
The next day we ate a quick breakfast at Kings Highway, the diner restaurant at the Ace Hotel, then walked over from our motel room to the Moorten Botanical Garden (which deserves, and will receive, it's own blog post). We arrived promptly at 10, when they opened, and we were lucky enough to walk around, sit and relax, and spend way too much time in the “Cactarium” before any other guests arrived. By the time we reached the end, I squealed in glee when I saw the $1 cactus section. We spent the rest of our visit chatting with Carolyn Moorten, wife of the owner of the garden, who gave us some tips on how to transport our cacti back to the East Coast and introduced us to the little bully hummingbird who thinks he owns the place.
By the time we rolled back to LA, we were exhausted. It was New Year’s Eve we had a flight at 6 in the morning the next day, so all we managed was leftover Chinese food and a second showing of Rogue One. All in all, this was the longest vacation we’ve had in a while, and I’ll definitely be posting a few blogs about certain parts, so let me know (in the comments below) what you’re interested in seeing more about!