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May 15, 2016 / oneworld82

Our daughter’s first trip? But to SoCal, quite naturally!

Having a baby is a life-changing experience. In many (good) ways. No more uninterrupted sleep, endless diaper changes, a new life revolving around the newborn. A lot of things have to change, and I can assure you: change has never been more rewarding!

But one thing hasn’t changed – our passion for traveling and our willingness to go above and beyond to see new places and to live new experiences.

And so, the time to take Olivia on her first trip had finally arrived. A quick check to flights and weather suggested that spending Easter in SoCal would be a good idea, and so… off we went!

We were worried at first by traveling with an infant and the whole check-in ordeal, but everything went smoother than we thought. The fact that we have TSA Pre-Check helped. We carried a few bottles of breast milk through security without any issue, mom carried baby, and in no time we were on the other side. We decided not to bring the stroller with us but only the baby carrier – but we soon realized that was a mistake, because the car seat is heavy and a baby doesn’t always want to be carried!

In any case, our flight was uneventful, mostly because Olivia slept through it like a little angel!

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Once we landed in Santa Ana, we rented a car and we drove around 15 minutes to our hotel, a Residence Inn I booked using the Marriott free night voucher that comes with the VISA Marriott Card. The location wasn’t the best, but it was only 30 minutes from Manhattan Beach, our first destination the next morning. The hotel was fine, clean, with complimentary breakfast – nothing fancy, but it did the trick. We requested a crib upon check-in, which was delivered promptly to our room. We were able to rest well, and in the morning we headed straight to the beach.

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We parked near the pier, where all the action is. It was a beautiful morning, with a crispy, sunny weather.

Manhattan Beach pier

Manhattan Beach pier

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Manhattan Beach is trendy and a bit hip, with plenty of people working out and getting ready to surf. We sat down to feed Olivia at a Peet’s Coffee shop, and had a nice latte on the way, before start driving to… Pasadena!

Now, who’s been to LA before knows that Pasadena at the exact opposite side of Manhattan Beach; usually, in traffic this would be akin spending all day in the car, but fortunately it was still (relatively) early Saturday morning, which meant we got to destination in around 40 minutes. I had wanted to visit Pasadena for a while now, and so I was excited to finally go there.

The town – famous for its historic houses and mansions – is definitely very pretty and well-kept. We strolled around the main shopping area for a while, before heading to Central Park to take some family pictures. It was a short yet very enjoyable time.

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The feeling we had of Pasadena was that of a typical, sophisticated SoCal city, but with a certain aura of history as well. We definitely want to come back just to spend a day or two here, as the shopping, the restaurants, and the nearby Angeles National Forest would provide more than enough entertainment for a couple of days.

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Now, I will tell you a secret: the main reason we came back to LA one year after we first visited was, well, to have tacos. Because, as you might recall, last year we visited a little place consistently ranked as having the best tacos in town – and quite possibly in the country. The place name? Guisados.

This eatery is simply incredible, because its tacos taste like they would in Mexico – which is quite a feat in the USA if you ask me. Corn, in-store-made tortillas, good queso, and authentic ingredients do the trick. Take a look for yourself and tell me these tacos don’t look amazing!

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There are multiple locations scattered across town, and this time we tried the one on Cesar Chavez Blvd. From this picture of my wife, I am sure you can understand how good it all was… šŸ™‚

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After lunch, it was time to head to O.C., where we would spend the latter part of the weekend. Newport Beach and Huntington Beach are both fascinating towns, albeit different: upscale the former, hipster the latter. Both are blessed with endless stretches of beach, a nice breeze, and lots of surfers trying to catch the latest wave. I must admit I like Newport more – perhaps because of the TV show hit “The OC”. But in all seriousness, Newport, with its long, sandy peninsula, is one of a kind.

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Newport Beach

Newport Beach

Still, Huntington Beach is still a great beach town. This is the U.S. capital of surfing after all, and the vibe – in its cafes, restaurants, stores – is certainly there.

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So, while this was a short weekend, it was certainly an eventful one. Olivia’s first trip was a memorable experience, and we are very lucky that she’s already able and happy to travel. Dad can already foresee a lot of stamps in her passport coming! šŸ˜‰

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