Hiking in Los Angeles: Fern Dell and Griffith Observatory

“Wanna go for a hike?”

“Where?”

“Fern Dell.”

“Where?”

“Fern Dell.”

It was five miles from my sister’s house in Los Angeles and she’d never heard of it, a sweet shady walk along a trickling creek that led to a wide trail uphill to the Observatory at Griffith Park.

Green, lush, stream, trail, are not words usually associated with Los Angeles, but there are many wonderful green spaces in the city, and miles of trails and parkland.

blog_fern dell path

blog_fern dell creek

blog_bridge

blog_oak

What do you do after you’ve been on the move for a year, every day an adventure, every minute unexpected, making it up as you go along? You keep on exploring, of course! Even though that exploration might be closer to home.

blog_shadow1

blog_observ view

blog_hollywood sign

blog_LA view

blog_trail people

blog_observ sunset

So I’m in the hills now admiring them in the golden glow of a Los Angeles sunset, the din of traffic softened by the trees and brush.  It’s a city I’ve lived in most of my life. I know all the good places to get lost, can drive from one end to the other solely on side streets, and have more friends than I have time to visit. But it’s not holding me. It’s not telling me to stay.

I have some ideas about what’s coming next, but I’ll leave that all a surprise. For now, suffice it to say life continues to be one adventure after another, whether I’m on the move or staying put.

blog_griffith observ

blog_to telescope

blog_solstice

blog_LA sunset

Back in the States Update

So it’s been a quiet few weeks over here at Colleen Gets Lost since I’ve come back to the U S of A.

I still haven’t written about Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Prague, Rome, Tuscany, or Venice, but I might get around to it eventually.

About a month ago I flew from Amsterdam to Boston and worked my way north to Vermont and south to Washington, D.C. before flying back to my starting point in Los Angeles just this afternoon. While on the East Coast I had the chance to catch up with plenty of family and friends, eat all the foods I’d been missing, and slowly adjust to life back in my home country.

blog_lincoln memorial

And it is my home country. That’s the important thing I came to terms with. Standing under the looming columns of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C bundled up against the November cold, looking out toward Capitol Hill and the Washington Monument I got a little choked up and a little voice came up out of nowhere to say, “This is home. You’re home.” Not that particular city, but this particular country.

I’ve never been patriotic, and I’m still not very, not at all, but I think I can handle life here now, tune in more to the good, try to drown out the bad. We don’t have everything figured out here, I wouldn’t even go so far as to say this is the best country in the world, but it’s a pretty cool one and it’s home for now.

Now where exactly in this large country my home will be is yet to be determined.

There was no doubt in my mind, as my sleek space-age-interiored Virgin America airbus with purple backlighting landed at LAX, that LA wasn’t it.

I knew I’d know it when I got here, and I know it now, a single effortless realization. Nope, this isn’t home. Not this city, not if I can help it.

This was a part of the journey I was and wasn’t expecting. I didn’t think I would NOT want to be here so badly. Maybe I’ll feel differently after I meet up with old friends for drinks and have my first taco in over a year, but something tells me I’ll be moving on elsewhere sooner than I know.

Paris for Introverts

It was early September in Paris and autumn was nowhere to be seen, just blue skies and warm sun.

I arrived from Rotterdam by train and walked down a few platforms to meet my Danish friend T, who would be arriving soon from London. Knowing our introvert tendencies, we wanted to make sure our time here was as satisfying and stress-free as possible.

Here are a few modifications we made to the usual tourist must-do list:

Climbing the Arc de Triomphe, NOT the Eiffel Tower

blog_AT stairs blog_AT traffic

Why not climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower? Because you can’t get a view of the Eiffel tower from the top of the Eiffel Tower. But really it is just a pile of metal, and a much protested one at that. Before it was built people called it a “truly tragic street lamp” and an “iron gymnasium apparatus, incomplete, confused and deformed.”

Also, the Arc de Triomphe has no lines, less stairs, and is easier on the pocket book (although this last one shouldn’t be taken into consideration. If you want to climb the tower, climb the dang tower because you’re probably not coming back to Paris again anytime soon.)

blog_top of AT ET

blog_top of AT

Going to l’Orangerie, NOT the Louvre

There are so many museums in Paris it would make even the most die-hard art enthusiast want to gouge her eyes out to try to see all the works in all of them. Plus, both of us being classic introverts the crowds at the Louvre made our skin crawl.

blog_louvre

We went to see Monet’s waterlilies at l’Orangerie instead. It was a piece we both loved so why not spend some quality time with it. I think I sat in each room for half an hour the first day then went back again the next for another couple hours.

blog_water lilies

Taking Naps

Paris has a great Nap-in-the-Park culture. Everyone lies around on the grass in nice weather. No problem. Wake up next to your favorite statues. Unless your favorite statue is Rodin’s  Thinker. We got in trouble for napping under that one.

blog_paris nap

I did not get in trouble for napping near these lovely ladies, though.

Eating Wherever We Plopped Ourselves Down

Sure you could pour over restaurant reviews, but unless you’re going for a particular food experience most of the eateries serve the same French classics. We chose places based on ambiance and rarely had a bad meal.

blog_paris cafe

Visiting Dead People

Historic Pere Lachaise cemetery was two blocks from the flat and full of some really famous dead people. We paid special visits to Doors singer Jim Morrison, classical music composer Chopin, and Irish writer Oscar Wilde, among others.

blog_pere lachese  blog_chopin grave

Resting Our Feet

Along the same lines as napping, there are lots of places to rest your tired pups in Paris. What’s the rush? There’s great people watching meanwhile.

Find a fountain or a chair at the park and put em in/up.

blog_T feet blog_paris feet

And a Good Time Was Had by All

Do I feel like I missed out on the real Paris because of our itinerary modifications? Not at all.

As always, the key to having a good time as a traveler is tailoring your experience to fit your needs. We loved wandering aimlessly, people watching while sipping Pernod on hot afternoons, and catching impromptu accordion performances on the metro. In the end, we had a satisfying time without the stress and exhaustion.

blog_ET3 blog_ET2 blog_ET1

 

 

Staying Fit on the Road at Fitline Sportschool, the Netherlands

You know how Cheers is the bar where everyone knows your name?

Well, Fitline’s like the gym equivalent of Cheers.

This was possibly the friendliest gym I’d ever been to. Anywhere.

(By the way, Sportschool = Gym in Dutch.)

It’s hard to keep an exercise routine going when you’re traveling around so much, so while I was visiting my Aunt Mimi in her small suburb in the Netherlands I finally had the chance to get some much needed workout time in. Before leaving to gorge myself on cheese in Paris and undoing all the good I did, of course.

blog_fitline interior

There was a hangout area with free coffee, tea, water, and juice. Who doesn’t like that? It was great getting to know the other members over gossip and coffee after class.
blog_fitline patrick

This is the lovely Patrick. Loved his spunky Zumba and Club Yoga classes. Rachel, Lulu, and everyone else I took classes with were fantastic, too. Even though I don’t speak Dutch I picked up a few survival words to get me through. For the rest, the instructors were kind enough to throw in some English to make sure I didn’t trip over myself.

Gym Survival Dutch

Left = Links

Right = Rechts

Arm = Arm (woah, easy!)

Foot = Voet (pronounced fote)

Other side = Overkant

Up = Omhoog

Down = Omlaag

One, two, three = Een, twee, drie (for all other numbers just keep going until everyone else stops)

blog_fitline equip

Great new equipment! Definitely more high tech than the YMCA back home. blog_fitline facade

Located in a historic building alongside the canal. Isn’t this the cutest Dutchiest gym ever?

blog_fitline canalA huge thank you to the kind folks at Fitline for letting me sneak into the gym during my visit! You were all such fun, positive people and made me feel at home. Also, your workouts kicked my lazy tourist butt. That was awesome. If you happen to be in Maassluis, or near any Fitline gym in Holland, go say hi and get your sweat on!