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{Image by Star5112}

Thank you guys for being so patient these last couple weeks as Rama and I made our way across two continents and an ocean. I miss Berlin every day, but there are so many things to be happy about here in Berkeley. I’ll be sure to tell you about every single one of them, but I want to start with the people. They’re all amazing – from the guy at the automotive shop where we returned our trusty Penske; to the waiter at Juan’s Place who brought our margaritas so fast; to the sales clerk at Osh Hardware who told us to go to Ashby Lumber for some wood to line our kitchen shelves; to the guy who worked in the warehouse at Ashby Lumber who told us to go to Urban Ore where Rama found the most fantastic desk and desk chair, and I got a cute little 1980s secretary’s desk lamp; to the bike guy and his helpful son at Recycle Bicycle; to the two lady librarians who signed me up for a library card. Can’t wait to meet more of you friendly (and knowledgeable) folk.

Liz in LA

It’s Saturday! Everything begins at Millie’s, where nearly all breakfasts come with biscuits and you get your own little pot of strawberry jam and the waitstaff’s really ace about constantly refilling your coffee. I always order the Jackie G. Special (scrambled eggs + cream cheese + scallions + sherry wine = LOVE), but the Devil’s Mess is also divine (if you dig on meat, especially greasy spicy sausagey goodness).

Runyon Canyon Los Angeles

You really can’t ever avoid overdoing it at Millie’s, so afterwards let’s try a slightly slackerish hike through Runyon Canyon. It’s off of Mulholland Drive in the Hollywood Hills, and on the way I’d stop at Laurel Canyon Country Store for water and maybe some vintage British candy, or even a bottle of Canyon Country Store Wine for later (because the label’s all trippy and groovy, and sometimes it’s fun to pretend that you too are some trippy/groovy product of the Canyon).

Malibu Country Mart

After stomping around Runyon and getting our brains completely melted by the sweeping views of El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de la Porciuncula, we’d climb back down the mountain and take off for the ocean (with either Exile on Main Street or Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere on the stereo, probably, definitely). En route there’ll be a quick stop at Malibu Kitchen in Malibu Country Mart – they’ve got cupcakes as big as your head with lots of gumdrops and shark-shaped gummy candies plunked into the frosting, and of course you can’t go to the beach without cupcakes!

Malibu Sealife

My favorite swim spot is El Matador, even though I’ve heard tell that the water’s kinda dangerous there: The riptide’s really intense but the bodysurfing’s fantastic, and there’s lots of crazy sea caves and rock formations and – a little ways down the beach, where it’s more secluded – you can find starfish and sea anemones and other happy ocean animals just hanging out and being lovely.

Hidden Treasures

Once we’ve crawled out of the ocean, we’ll get back in the car and head up the Pacific Coast Highway for Neptune’s Net (a heavily biker-populated seafood joint that’s great not only because it’s featured prominently in the movie Point Break and because Bret Michaels takes Rock of Love contestants on dates there sometimes, but also ’cause you can get pitchers of beer and corn on the cob and New England style clam chowder and really fresh fish all fried up like paradise). Heading back down the PCH after Neptune’s Net, we’d turn at Topanga Canyon, ideally right around dusk. (The perfect driving-through-Topanga soundtrack, by the way, would be Devendra Banhart’s Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, recorded right in these very hills.) Maybe stop at Hidden Treasures for some vintage-shopping, but maybe just keep going till we get to Froggy’s. You sit on the back deck, which is sort of like some elaborate treehouse for beer-guzzling weirdos, drink a couple pint glasses of hemp ale, and – if you’ve got a hollow leg and can somehow keep on gorging yourself – order some fish tacos and chips and salsa. Totally to die for.

Venice, California

And after Froggy’s it’s back on the PCH, all the way to Santa Monica and then Venice Beach, where the night ends at the Townhouse, aka My Favorite Dive Bar That’s Hardly Even Divey Anymore. (Dear NASCAR decor: I miss you.) The beers are oversized and there’s lots of cute boys with salty hair, if you’re into that sort of thing. And please note that, had this not been a Perfect Day, it’s highly likely that the combined commute time between each of these far-flung destinations would probably make it so we wouldn’t actually get to Venice till dawn the next day. And that would be a sweet thing, actually, ’cause then we could go to Cow’s End for Blanca Cafe Au Lait and bring our coffee down to the pier and watch the surfers wait for waves, which is maybe the most blissfully voyeuristic way you could ever spend a Sunday morning. HEAVEN.

Liz Barker is a freelance writer and executive editor of fashion/music/everything blog NOGOODFORME.COM. She lives in Echo Park but keeps wishing for a pink cottage by the sea.

{My Perfect Day is a weekly Tidepooler series that reveals the most wonderful and interesting places in cities and towns around the world, as shared by the people who live there}

Lulu at Tartine

My perfect day in San Francisco would have to be a Saturday so it could start out with a trip to the venerable Ferry Building Farmers Market on the Embarcadero.  I could spend all day perusing the selection of produce at the stalls outside, dreaming of jam and pickles I’d spend my day cooking.

You won’t be alone at the market on a nice day, so get there early to get a good spot in the lines. Blue Bottle Coffee has two kiosks, one in front and on the right side. It usually seems like the B-team is out front, so brave the longer line; it *is* worth it. On a warm day, the iced coffee is magical, on a cold day, the mocha is luxurious, and the espresso is wonderful every day of the year. Make haste behind the Ferry Building itself, to the far back corner facing the Bay Bridge. There you’ll find Primavera’s tamale stand. Get there early before they run out of their specials that change every week – maybe Oaxacan gorditas with pulled pork, radish, and queso fresco one week, maybe chilaquiles with scrambled eggs and black beans the next.

The Mission San Francisco

Next order of business is to bide your time until you’re hungry again, so head to the Mission. Valencia Street between 16th and 23rd is lined with little locally-owned boutiques for furniture, clothing, and such.  I’ve had to impose a rule on myself for visits to Aquarius Records: 15 minutes or as long as it takes to fill one hand with CDs, whichever comes first. Any more and things could get out of control – their selection of obscure indie rock, noise, metal, and oddities is rich and carefully curated.  The staff is super knowledgeable, but I’ll admit it’s not the friendliest place in the world.  Since you’re on Valencia anyway, you can’t resist swinging by Paxton Gate.  My boyfriend describes it as set dressing for serial killer lairs – it’s full of taxidermy, carnivorous plants, bell jars, and handcrafted creepy nature-themed jewelry.  All without crossing the line into black-velvet-and-spiderwebs!

Tartine Bakery Cake

Now you must be hungry, so head west on 18th to Guerrero. On the corner is Tartine, arguably the best bakery in San Francisco. Yeah, the one with no sign and a huge line outside. If you’re not in the mood for a lemon cream tart, quiche made with crème fraiche, a candied-orange-studded cinnamon roll, or a meringue cookie with cacao nibs, you should probably go down another block to the Bi-Rite Creamery. There you can get a pumpkin ice cream sundae with crumbled gingersnaps and blueberry compote, or a simple scoop of honey-lavender. They make their own ice cream, cookies, and toppings, which they also sell from their grocery across the street.  There you can also find a nice vinho verde, gruener veltliner, or other sunny day park beverage, which the cops will look the other way while you enjoy with your sweet-or-savory treats at Dolores Park around the corner.  It seems like half of San Francisco will be sprawled out on the grass there on sunny weekends, soaking up as much heat as they can until the fog starts rolling over the hill.

Golden Gate Bridge

Once that happens, dash across town to Land’s End, just below the Palace of the Legion of Honor.  The trail head has a stunning view of the Golden Gate bridge and the Marin headlands beyond.  There’s a well-marked trail there that follows the cliffs along the coast to the mouth of the Bay.  I love the wind-swept witchy trees and the seals sunning themselves on the rocks below.  Follow the trail and it’ll spit you out at the ruins of the Sutro Baths at Point Lobos, a fantastic spot to watch the sun set over the Pacific.

If your friends aren’t having a bonfire on Ocean Beach that night (a short walk down the beach from the Sutro Baths), you’ll have to head back to the east for dinner.  Since it opened last spring, my perfect days have wound down at Beretta back in the Mission.  Order a Hemingway, (white rum, lime, cane syrup, maraschino, & grapefruit peel) and you’ll know why.  The open, relaxed atmosphere is great if a friend wants to meet you for a drink then split before everyone’s main courses come out.  Most importantly, the food is outstanding.  From the locally-made salumi from Boccalone, to their perfect pizzas, to their caramelized grilled Brussels sprouts, everything I’ve had there is great.  Save room for the panna ice cream with olive oil and sea salt, you won’t believe it.

After all that, you’re probably ready for a quiet drink at a nice cozy dive bar, so walk around the corner to the Latin American Club.  The Make-Out Room across the street or the Lone Palm a block up are great alternatives, both wonderful, laid-back bars, but the LAC has one of my favorite beers, Marin IPA, hoppy, bitter, and floral – and around 7% alcohol so be careful!  They’ve also got Sudwerks Pilz for those of you not keen on the sulfurous deliciousness.  If you’re lucky, and you can stand to eat another bite, the Tamale Lady might stop by.  She drags around a cooler-on-wheels shouting “tamales!” so she’s pretty hard to miss.  Four bucks will get you one of the tastiest things you’ve eaten all day.  Which is saying a lot.

Lulu LaMer is a video games producer and part-time food geek living in San Francisco.

{My Perfect Day is a weekly Tidepooler series that reveals the most wonderful and interesting places in cities and towns around the world, as shared by the people who live there}

Last October, while driving up Highway 1 from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Rama and I stopped at Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn. This enchanting complex of rickety wooden houses was built in the 1930s by Helmuth Deetjen from Norway, and his American wife Helen Haight.

We stayed in the adorable “Van Gogh Room,” a cozy little haven with a pair of twin beds covered in blue toile comforters. It felt like a ship’s cabin.

The next morning we were able to take a peek at the “Honeymoon Room” right next door. So romantic with its wood-burning stove and private terrace.

Though we arrived only a few moments too late to enjoy dinner at the inn’s magical, candlelit restaurant, we were at least able to feast on delicious scrambled eggs and French toast the next morning at breakfast – the perfect beginning to a day driving up California’s magnificent coastline.

There must be dozens of wonderful places to stay along this legendary route. What’s your favorite?

A blooming desert garden creates a magical setting for an intimate gathering at a gracious Spanish colonial home near San Diego.

Who: Lauren and Jason

When: April 22, 2006

The Ceremony: The bride and groom were married under a 200-year-old oak tree at the home of the bride’s aunt in Rancho Santa Fe, California. During the ceremony, which their friend Ethan officiated, the couple read vows they had written themselves, and the groom’s brother Jerod recited a prayer. To begin, the bride and groom’s parents lit candles in honor of those who couldn’t be with them that day.

Lauren: “I loved getting married under a big, very old, solid tree. It signified what marriage should be like to me.”

The Reception: After the ceremony, guests enjoyed an afternoon tea in a room of the house overlooking the swimming pool and tennis courts. Once the bride and groom finished up with photos, everyone was shuttled to a country club down the road for dinner and dancing.

Bride Wore: A strapless, mermaid style gown by Demetrios, with a medium length train, and floral embroidery on the bodice and hem.

Bridesmaids Wore: Strapless, satin gowns in a rich chocolate brown.

Bridal Bouquet: Roses in deep shades of pink, and white calla lilies wrapped in a silk ribbon.

Song: Sade, “By Your Side”

Favors: Lauren’s family got together and wrote the names of the bride and groom, along with the date of their wedding day, on the backs of Spanish tiles, which were used as centerpieces for each guest’s place setting. They also invited guests to take home a package of flower seeds on their way out. And since many of their family and friends had traveled long distances to be with them in Southern California, they filled straw tote bags with treats like snacks, water, and bath salts, and placed them in their guests’ hotel rooms.

Favorite Moment: “During the ceremony, Jason was reading his vows and got caught up with tears. My mom laughed out loud in the middle of it! It cracked me up and made me cry a little because it was a perfect example of how full of life she is – which I love. It just made our smaller wedding feel more special to me, the fact that we were surrounded by our closest friends and family and she could get away with doing that. I suddenly felt closer to everyone there. My other favorite moment was dancing with my dad. Also, I loved getting ready with all of the many, many women in my family. It was chaotic, and fun, and special. All the generations of women sharing their thoughts and being a part of me.”

Distinctive Details: Jason Paige, a friend of the bride and groom, sang and played acoustic guitar during the outdoor ceremony. “I loved hearing him sing ‘Love’s Divine’ by Seal, and ‘Ribbon in the Sky’ by Stevie Wonder,” Lauren said. “It also gave me a moment to look around, take a few deep breaths, and cherish the moment.”

See more photos from Lauren and Jason’s wedding.

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