Venice Beach @ Pacific & Windward: LAblocks

Here’s the second episode of my new travel show, LAblocks!

Smack dab in the middle of the Venice Beach boardwalk is the awesome block Pacific & Windward. It’s a hodge podge of Snapchat employees, struggling artists, and the very rich.  Pacific & Windward and Venice Beach in general is a place where bums and billionaires rub shoulders more than other parts of town in Los Angeles.  Looking at the history of this neighborhood helps you understand why.  Venice was founded by Abbot Kinney at the turn of the 20th century, and he wanted to create the “Coney Island of the west coast.”  He also wanted to make the neighborhood resemble Venice, Italy, and proceeded to build canals out of the marshland that existed.  Due to plumbing problems, the canals began to reek, so the only people who would brave the vile stench were artists looking for cheap rent.  And so the culture of artists living in Venice Beach was born.  Once the automobile came into prominence, almost all of Abbot Kinney’s canals were paved over and turned into streets.  It wasn’t until the 1990s when some canals were restored and the plots of land surrounding them quickly became some of the most expensive pieces of property in Los Angeles.  Hence, the billionaires.

Luckily, you don’t need to be a billionaire to enjoy the Venice Beach block of Pacific & Windward.  If you’re looking for swimwear, a board, or maybe a surf lesson, check out Mollusk Surf Shop.  After catching some waves, refuel by eating at Bank of Venice, a restaurant built inside a former bank.  Might as well peruse the 15,000 items available at the Gotta Have It vintage clothing store, too.  Then why not get a little caffeine fix at Menotti’s, named after the owner of the speakeasy that existed on this block during Prohibition.  Or if caffeine isn’t your thing, Windward Juice offers organic, cold pressed Clover juice in a quaint alley setup.  And round out your day at Pacific & Windward with a stiff drink at Townhouse Venice, a bar that has continuously operated since 1915, even during Prohibition (shh, don’t tell anyone).

If you liked this video, hop on over to our YouTube page and subscribe to our channel!

Oct 2015
POSTED BY travelbugrobert

Downtown Los Angeles @ 5th & Spring: LAblocks

Here is the first episode of my new, hip, and–dare I say–awesome travel show, LAblocks.  If you haven’t heard of this show yet, I won’t hold it against you.  The hook of the series is that we explore Los Angeles “one block at a time.”  So, each episode takes you to a different underrated and totally amazing intersection of LA.  And in five minutes or less, we show you all the art, architecture, history, restaurants, stores, and stories on that block.

This first “block” almost has too much stuff to do. Located in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, 5th & Spring has gorgeous architecture from the turn of the 20th Century. In that era, this LA neighborhood was considered the “Wall Street of the West,” having several banks right next to one another.  Now those former banks have been converted into modern day stores, and man do they look cool. You can still feel the history of the Downtown Los Angeles buildings when you step into a bank vault to grab a used book at The Last Bookstore or walk through a safe on your way to the bathroom at intermission at the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC).

And if you’re at 5th & Spring on the second Thursday of the month, you can check out the Downtown LA Art Walk and might even encounter a street musician like Red Violet playing a killer tune on the sidewalk.  When you don’t want the party to end in Downtown Los Angeles, maybe grab a nightcap at BUZZ wine beer shop, where the libations keep flowing until 2am.

If you liked this video, hop on over to the LAblocks YouTube page and subscribe to our channel!  Or check out even more LAblocks videos at!

Jul 2015
POSTED BY travelbugrobert

LAblocks, my new travel show!

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted on here, but that’s because I’ve been cooking up a new show.  And I’m excited to say, it’s finally ready to take out of the oven!  The show is called LAblocks.  Tagline: “Exploring LA one block at a time.” I’m really excited about it. LA has so many vastly different neighborhoods to explore, and we’re going to explore them all!

There’s just one little catch to watch our show: we need you to subscribe on YouTube.  Once we have 1,000 subscribers, then we’ll release our first episode, 5th and Spring, which is a block in Downtown LA–and let me tell you, it’s quite a block.  So watch our trailer, subscribe, and tell your friends!

Jan 2015
POSTED BY travelbugrobert

Travel Tales: Solvang, or The Sassy Bartender

Have you ever seen the movie Sideways?  If you haven’t, you should.  And if you don’t believe me, Rotten Tomatoes has it at 96% fresh, so… yeah.  I forgive you if you thought I was lying.  On paper, I don’t think I would like the movie.  It follows two unlikeable, middle aged men on a road trip to Central California wine country as they celebrate the last week of bachelorhood before one of them gets married.  Despite the unrelatable subject matter to me given that I’m not middle aged or about to get married, I still loved the film.  First, it’s hilarious.  I still remember watching it in a packed theater and laughing along with all the middle-aged wine aficionados surrounding me (according to some, the movie even had an effect on wine sales).  But aside from the comedy, it’s shot beautifully and really showcases Central California in a golden-hued, magical light.  Like any good travelogue-y movie, it made me want to visit.

I’ve watched a lot of movies where I wanted to visit the locations.  The Sound of Music’s Austria, Lord of the Ring’s New Zealand, Vicky Cristina Barcelona’s Spain.  I have yet to visit any of these places, but as far as Sideways went, it was just two hours north from Los Angeles.  A little easier than a twelve hour flight.  And two of my good friends who also loved the movie also wanted to visit.  So we took our own Sideways road trip, minus the mid-life crises.

We thought we were so cool.  No one could possibly have done this before.  So what if there’s a map online listing all of the Sideways locations?  This was an original road trip idea.

We stayed in Solvang at Hotel Corque.  Went on a wine tour.  It was great.  We were the only people there younger than 35-years-old, but that’s what made us trailblazers.  Then we ate at the Hitching Post, a restaurant integral to the plot of the movie.

We get seated, and who should be sitting next to us but another friend of mine from Los Angeles!  He explains he goes up here pretty often, always making sure to hit the big Sideways locations.  Great.  We’re just another group doing the same thing as everyone else.  Our feeling of lameness continued when we visited a wine bar later that night.  The female bartender gave us one look and said, “Let me guess.  You’re all from LA and came up here because of Sideways?”  Of course we lied and said that wasn’t the reason, but she knew.

We still had a good time, though.  And really, how was our Sideways road trip any different than taking a picture of the Eiffel Tower or the Sydney Opera House?  It’s what people do.  In some small way, doing the same thing as everyone else connects us together.  And what better way to feel closer to your fellow man than to get drunk in Wine Country?

Oct 2012
POSTED BY travelbugrobert
Nov 2011
POSTED BY travelbugrobert