A Ballerina Abroad: a Hip and Healthy Guide to Los Angeles

By Saskia Gregson-Williams

Having lived in Los Angeles for a period growing up, it feels like a second home and I visit as often as I can to see friends and family.

I moved here when I was seven. At the time I didn’t really appreciate how incredible the city is, I was too busy dancing and hanging out with friends to absorb any of the aspects I appreciate today. Returning for two weeks, i’m making it my aim to visit all of my favourite places; yoga studios, canyons, beaches, healthy restaurants, vegan cafes… The list is endless. These California gems are very popular with LA residents, and mostly unbeknown to tourists. So even in peak months you can beat the hustle and bustle but still get the best LA experience. I will be blogging my experiences and a day by day guide to all the special places that make for the ultimate in hip and healthy holidays.

Day 1

Virgin Atlantic, 11:30 am, Premium Economy, and a 12-hour flight ahead of me. Those were the only details I knew when entering heathrow on Sunday morning. Leaving all e-ticket and visa business to my mum which proved to be a big mistake.

Within the first 10 minutes of being at the airport she told the desk staff we were upper class passengers so off they sent us to the golden card member check-in. When there, we continued to bluff to no avail. The woman soon realised what passive fibbers we are, and also landed the bombshell we hadn’t applied for an ESTA (an essential online document to enter the US) Well done mum! We scurried off to an Internet cafe in shame to complete the crucial form.

14 hours later, we’ve landed, the sun is shining and all memories of dragging our suitcases on a mini-marathon around heathrow airport have faded… slightly.

My dad picked us up from LAX, Wholefoods bag in hand full of delicious raw crackers, coconut water, cashews and tamari almonds. Was I happier to see him or this delicious bag? It’s a close call. After a well-deserved 4pm feast in the car we drove back to the Oceana Hotel, Santa Monica. Beautiful spot by the Ocean, the view is absolutely breathtaking and a wonderful central place to spend the next 12 days.

Rent bikes along Venice Beach just outside Oceana Hotel

After un-packing, we strolled down Santa Monica blvd to The Real Food Daily, a favourite organic vegan restaurant of mine on 5th Street. The menu is full of soy-free, sugar-free, gluten- and wheat-free options. My mum and I are both dairy-free and rarely eat red meat, so this place is perfect. My dad who is the most conventional eater enjoyed it just as much.

The menu (to the non-vegan) is quite confusing at first, with lots of soy proteins and nut cheeses that you would not find in your normal American restaurant, even so every plate is delicious so you really can’t go wrong. I ordered the ‘Dip Me Enchiladas’ with black beans,  corn, blackened mushrooms, corn tortilla, brown rice, and creamy guacamole.

After having eaten nothing on the plane, I devoured every morsel! Tempted by the famous RFD dessert bar, I ordered to share, the chocolate tart. Again so much healthier than any normal chocolate treat, it was a guilty pleasure without the guilt.

9pm and the jet lag is beginning to creep up on me, to bed I go..