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This time last year, I was in sunny California with 5 beautiful women, cruising the PCH in our rental Suburban, making memorable stops along the way from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara and back again. It truly was the trip of a life time.

We arrived at LAX, got our bags and started our adventures immediately. First stop was the rental car office to snag ourselves an amazing vehicle upgrade (we originally had a supermom minivan waiting for us, but gladly accepted the upgrade to the stunning white Suburban).

Disclaimer, a majority of these images were taken with my iPhone, even though I had my 5D Mark III in my bag, I barely took it out. I am looking forward to another visit, leaving Sunday.

We made our way to our stunning hotel awaiting our arrival, the Mondrian Los Angeles in West Hollywood. Wow, this place had me melting upon entrance into the lobby. We walked in and it smelled of lemongrass and tranquility, the decor was so minimal and calming, and it was at that moment we know we were going to have a wonderful time there. sunny califonia - california wedding photographer

My bedroom walls were lined with the most intricately beautiful wallpaper, I had to take a picture.

The room was so inviting, and I loved the white everywhere, I truly felt at home as soon as I walked into my room.sunny califonia - california wedding photographer

This awesome mirror doubled as a TV on the other side, and it spun around on a post so you could disguise the TV, definitely a great idea. Seen below, my sweet friend Tiffany walking through the room and taking in all of its lovely wonder.

Once we got settled, and changed into some warm weather attire (having come from Halifax, Nova Scotia, we were heavily layered in clothing when we left), and then we headed out to see what the rest of the hotel looked like. When we thought it couldn’t get any better, we walked out to the Skybar and fell in love with this beautiful atrium draping with ivy and vines, and illuminated by the giant open concept of the roof. We couldn’t wait to hop down here the next morning for our coffee and mimosas. The pool was so pretty and inviting.sunny califonia - california wedding photographer

We wandered Sunset Boulevard, Rodeo Drive and the surrounding streets, reminiscing of Pretty Woman, and so excited that we were actually in Los Angeles. sunny califonia - california wedding photographer

That night, we had made dinner reservations for The Ivy, which has an amazing reputation for being the “in” place to eat, and watch celebrities. Who didn’t end up seeing any there at dinner, but we all wandered downtown afterwards to see what we could see. We stumbled upon a nightclub that looked pretty exciting, given that the line up was a mile long, so we had to try and see if we could get in. Once we got to the front of the line, we realized that it was 1 OAK, and then we pretty much begged to get in, all 6 of us, after about an hour 3 of us got tired of waiting and went back to the hotel, and myself, Karen & Tiff stayed to see what all the commotion was about in the bar. We FINALLY got in, I think the bouncer took pity on our relentlessness, and we couldn’t believe it! So, without hesitation, we scooted inside and went straight to the bar to order 3 tequila on ice. It was an interesting place, kind of like a warehouse, Tiffany found a rolled up $100 bill in the bathroom on the floor, and then out of nowhere, the crowd parted, and in walked Chris Brown with his entourage! If that wasn’t surprise enough, I ran into this adorable couple who I had photographed the year before in California at Erich McVey’s workshop, and they had only just moved to LA from Oregon, what are the chances!? Many other hilarious things happened that night, but I won’t go into too many details, feel free to email me for the full story if you really want to hear it.

The next morning was VERY slow moving, as we wanted to get up early so that we could get on the road to our rental home in Santa Barbara. We all checked out of the Mondrian, and dragged ourselves out to the Skybar for coffees and mimosas which we had promised ourselves we would do, then we hopped in the Suburban and made our way to Santa Barbara.

On our way, we thought we would grab an early lunch, and then drive through the Hollywood Hills to check out celebrity homes, and see the Hollywood sign. Tiffany bought “the Map” from a guy selling them out of a van and we were on our way. But first, Pink Taco, yum! This place had THE BEST tacos and margaritas ever, it was the cutest place too, and we were so glad that we stopped.

Cruising through the windy Hollywood Hills can get very dangerous, there are so many driveways! We weren’t really able to see much because everything was gated up tighter than Fort Knox, but we did find the Playboy Mansion (see second photo below), Sho got out and got a photo in front of it, but Hugh didn’t invite us in on the intercom, so disappointing. The homes are out of this world, it was so unreal to think that people can be this wealthy and others eating garbage and sleeping on the streets all in one place.

We finished lunch and made our way to the Runyon Canyon Trail to see the Hollywood sign. It was a hike and a half, that is for sure. We were so excited to see the Hollywood sign, and when we finally made our way to the top, we realized it was SO TINY from our viewpoint. We imaged sitting atop the sign and dangling our legs like they do in the movies, no such luck. We are such tourists! I think I may see if I can head there again from the other side next time I go.

and there is it folks…

All was not lost however, the views from atop the canyon hike were quite breathtaking, you could see downtown LA, which was pretty interesting, and the homes were out of this world!

LA skyline.

We took some photos of each other, the views, and some plant life, then made out way back down the trail.

After a scenic 3 hour drive we arrived in Santa Barbara, it was like we were in a soap opera. The house we had rented was a dream, it was nothing like the homes in east coast Canada. The gorgeous wooden doors, clay siding and stone pathways would never last our winters.

The backyard was so divine, and we even had a hottub, which we later made use of, but I will get to that later.

This kitchen was amazing, and was the scene of many mimosas of freshly squeezed orange juice, and homemade frittatas.

But most importantly and in true east coast fashion, was the special place we all gathered, told stories and laughed ourselves silly; us east coaster Canadians love standing in the kitchen.

We all got our bathing suits on and hopped in the hottub with our wine, and had the most relaxing evening. Likely because we were so exhausted from running the roads the night before! The next morning, we got up, had coffee and walked to the beach so that we could all enjoy a 5K run with our toes in the sand.

Then back to the house for mimosas and spend the day in the hottub.

This was the scene over the fence in the backyard, we definitely thought it looked like a desert scene in Forensic Files.

After getting it together from our day of drinking, we Uber’d into downtown Santa Barbara to check things out. The scenery reminded me a lot of home, it was so pretty.

The next morning, we bid farewell to our adorable rental home, and ventured out on the PCH back to LA to catch out flight home. We stopped in Malibu for one last meal and beverage at Malibu Farm

The view from our corner on the Malibu pier, we were told the Julia Roberts gets her coffee at that cafe at the end everyday, we didn’t see her this time though.

Then back to the airport to say goodbye to the trip of a lifetime.

Views from the airplane.

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Nicole Lapierre Photography, a Fine Art Photography Service, serving Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada & Beyond