The Arts District: Downtown LA’s Neighborhood-on-the-Rise

Upon first glance, it may not look like much, but take a closer look and you’ll see Downtown LA’s Arts District is more than just early 20th century warehouses and abandoned factories. Must-see galleries, socially-conscious eateries, stylish coffee shops, and trendy blocks are popping up more and more, and Angelinos seeking novel streets to meander and new backdrops for their photos are starting to flock as they catch wind of this hip neighborhood.

Having lived in LA for more than half a decade, I revel in any opportunity to explore places I don’t usually frequent. So, with a fairly open weekend on my hands, I made the drive downtown. With the sun deciding to greet me after a week of Southern California’s infamous “June Gloom”, it was hard to leave my beach town. But, I’m so glad I did.

Zinc Café
Fourth-generation vegetarian, John Secretan attended school in Berkeley, California and dreamed of bringing the vibe of the area down to LA. Opening his first Zinc Café in Laguna Beach almost 30 years ago, Secretan lived behind his first ever food industry venture in a small wooden shack to ensure he’d always have a close hand in the business. 

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Choose to eat indoors or out; either way, the dining areas are a welcome respite from the busy city

After years of renovating and expanding, a new branch of Zinc opened in Downtown Los Angeles, boasting the franchise’s first full service restaurant and bar. With three years under its belt now, my brunch experience was a success and filled with creamy lattes, fresh dishes, and creative cocktails. www.zinccafe.com

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Zinc’s Asparagus Sandwich with a poached egg on top

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Zinc offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails, and desserts

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Bar Mateo is the newest addition to Zinc, with a craft cocktail bar set in a 1914-built barn

Street Art at Every Corner
Cities around the world are seeing a sprouting cultural wave involving Street Art, and the artists behind the paint are turning into household names. The Downtown Arts District is no stranger to this popular movement. In wandering the streets, you can find hand-painted murals, airbrushed stencils, or thought-provoking proverbs to fit your day’s mood.

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I was so excited to see work by Wrdsmth, currently my favorite street artist!

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Art everywhere!

Pit Stop at Resident
Perhaps one of the coolest places I’ve discovered in a while is Resident, tucked away only blocks from the popular Arts District Co-op and other chic shops. What began as a studio for the artist-owners, this is “not-your-grandmother’s” backyard, as it has been transformed into a hybrid of a bar, beer garden, and music venue. With beer, wine, and cocktails on tap, drinks are served out of an Airstream, and semi-permanent food trucks are carted in to help you beat those mid-day cravings. At night, the inside opens up as a hip bar, as well. Bonus: The owners, Tim and Bridget Vagedes, still live there, as they’ve secured an RV on the roof of the three-story former metal shop and warehouse, decked out with string lights, yard decorations, and plenty of greenery. www.residentdtla.com

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Resident’s Airstream: an innovative bar

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A peek at Resident’s eclectic outdoor seating

The Arts District Co-op is a landmark not to be missed. Picture a 15,000-square foot indoor flea market, but with nothing but the most up-to-date fashions and desirable trinkets. Over two dozen vendors offer jewelry, apparel, home goods, and, if you’re in the market, art of all mediums. Plus, there’s a permanent stage set up in the back for live music featured on the third Saturday of every month!

As the sun set, I didn’t want to admit that the day was coming to a close. I had only scratched the surface of this neighborhood-on-the-rise and hungered for more. For example, the Arts District Brewing Company has finishing tanks stationed behind each bar to serve tap beer straight from the source; and, while sipping your suds, you can play Skee-Ball or try your hand at table hockey. Westbound, unobtrusively set along the perimeter of a mixed-use walk street (both residences and storefronts share this stretch), features craft cocktails, seasonal small bites, and even boozy milkshakes.

It’s not hard to see why this area is becoming so popular, as the Arts District has a little bit of something for everyone. With so many more to streets explore, shops to peruse, and bites to nibble, I’ll certainly be making my way downtown more often.

Love,

Shae

*Shae is our guest blogger from Los Angeles. An educator whose lust for experience influences her teaching, she travels with the desire to immerse herself in diverse cultures, seeking new adventure and inspiring others to engage with compassion and expand their world view. Follow Shae on Instagram! @seekvantage

7 beautiful wall paintings around the world

Sarah and I have been in a lot of cities and places around the world and one of the things we love to photograph are wall paintings.
Here are some of the best wall paintings we have come across:

Penang, Malaysia
These wall paintings took Sarah’s breath away when she visited Penang this winter. You can expect a blogpost about this amazing town in March!

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The most beautiful wall paintings in Penang, Malaysia

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
We live in Amsterdam and our town has a lot of street art. I went on a street art tour and discovered the stories and meaning about these wall paintings.

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Left: From street artist at Icy & Soy. Right: A beautiful painting of travels at sea

Rome, Italy
When I visited Rome I walked around one of the most local neighborhoods called Trastevere and I found this beautiful wall painting.

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Barcelona, Spain
When I visited Barcelona last summer, I stayed in a secluded area where the locals live. It was near the end of the beach and I found a wall full of street art. I loved this particular one of the famous Biggie “ready to die”album cover.

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London, England
Because I lived in London for 7 years, I had the privilege to live amongst the real Banksy wall paintings in the Camden Town Area. One of his most famous works was just around the corner of where I lived!

Brussels, Belgium
When Sarah goes to Brussels for her work, she never has time to wander around but last month she consciously took some time off and walked around the streets before heading to bed. She found this cool wall painting and we featured it on our Instagram.

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Brussels is full of surprises..

Berlin, Germany
We love ourselfs a little provocative art and Berlin is just the place for that. Sarah came across this piece in East Berlin.

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Where in the world is your favorite wall art piece?

Love,

Elke

*All pictures are courtesy of Wander-Lust except the Banksy Photographs

Top 5 reasons why you should live in Barcelona

Europe has a lot of amazing cities but Barcelona seems to attract a lot of foreigners that try to build a life over here. And we can’t argue with them. It’s one of the cities I could live. Why?
I give you 5 reasons why you should live in Barcelona.

1.  Helloooo, there’s a beach! 

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Beachlife. There’s a sweet word that everybody loves.
Barcelona has a long stretched version of 4km and it’s a good one. There are plenty of beachbars, people walking around to give you drinks or massages and it’s so near the city that you can easily tan for a few hours after work or during your lunch break. This way you kind of feel like you’re on a holiday even though you’re working. Love it!

2. Free bicycle rides


Viu Bicing bicycles lined up, waiting for a ride

When I stayed in Barcelona 2 weeks ago, I stayed in an Airbnb and the host gave me their bicycle card for the period of my stay. This card gave me access to all the Viu Bicing bicycles in town.
How does it work? In order to use this card, you are in need of a membership. For this you need a home address. (This is why you never see tourist on these bikes -except for me of course ;-))
Swipe the card at one of the many Bicing stations and it unlocks one of the bikes ready for use. You get up to 5 min to test the bike to see if it works alright for you. After that you can cycle up to 30 minutes for free with 0,70 cents per 30 minutes after that. With so many docking stations around the city, it’s not hard to find another station to lock it again. Swipe your card on the station and you’re done.
This way you help to eliminate climate pollution, traffic noise and traffic congestion. Awesome!

3. Catalans have awesome celebrations

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Incredible. The decorated streets of Gracia

They have carnival in February, 
Festival de Sant Medir de Gràcia in March and San Jordi in March but the month June is the cherry on the cake when it comes to festivals.

Apart from Sonar Music Festival (I’ve been there twice!) they celebrate Corpus Christi. will be held in June with parades of giant and carnival figures with big heads.
Then they also have the Festival Grec. The series begins in June, reaches its peak in July and goes on into August. The Grec offers a wide range of cultural events, from theatre of dance music and cinema events under the open sky. The one I would love to see is Holy Sant Joan, which is celebrated with campfires and fireworks and fire-crackers in all streets.
In August they also have Festa Major de Gràcia. I was lucky enough to be in Barcelona during this period and I enjoyed the beautiful decorated street in the area Gracia.
hundreds of people go on the street to enjoy concerts, food and open bars until 4 in the morning. This festival last 6 days.

4. The food


I can get used to this system!

If you know Barcelona, you know that there’s good food. Tapas heaven.

And the fact that you can eat different spanish bites for only €1,50 per item makes it even better!
They are called Pinchos. The main difference to tapas is that the bread and other ingredients are held together by small skewers, which is actually what pincho means in English. You grab a plate, pick what you want and save the sticks. After you’ve finished, the waiter counts your skewers and calculates your price. I never had such a wonderful dinner for only 10 euro’s (including a drink!) at Blai Tonight.
The best area to eat Pinchos is Poble Sec.

5. Culture & History

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Awesome Street Art in Barcelona

Barcelona has a unique historic culture and you can find it all over the city. Beautiful churches, landmarks and museums full of it.
Take a day to explore. The city offers a feast of sculptures, paintings, mosaics, impressive architecture and fashion. Museums dedicated to Picasso, Miro, Tapies and Dali.  And let’s also not forget about Gaudí.

Are you convinced yet? 

Love,

Elke