Monday, May 20, 2013

SoCal Saturday

Hotel Stay Details 
Hotel: Sheraton Gateway LAX Hotel
Dates: May 18-19, 2013
Rate Paid: $206/night (by Company) 
Points Earned: 1,253 SPG Points 

After a long weekend in Southern California, we were on our way back to the Pacific Northwest for another few days before we'd finally head back to New York City.

We had decided that since we'd be flying out of LAX Airport, that we'd check out of the Terranea Resort 1 day early and stay over at the Sheraton Gateway LAX Airport Hotel on Saturday night so that we could just wake up and hop a shuttle to catch our flight.

But before we'd check into the Sheraton, we wanted to enjoy a little of LA's finest food, Korean BBQ. Yes, I realize that you can get good Korean BBQ in New York, but given the high concentration of Asians in greater Los Angeles, there's something better about the Korean food here.

My mother and father originally wanted to find an "all you can eat" place that would serve mountains of seasoned BBQ meats (~$20/person for a two hour feeding frenzy). But they ended up picking a regular place called SooWon Galbi on South Vermont off West 8th Street in a strip mall next to a coin laundromat based on some some Yelp reviews they read on their smart phones.

Despite the lack of ambiance, the food was quite excellent and the bonchons (Korean appetizers) were plentiful. The special galbi (ribeye steak) was $33 and the samgyupsal (pork belly) was $20. Not overly expensive but not very cheap either. But if you're ever in LA Koreatown and are looking for a super tasty lunch while you do your own laundry, this is an amazing choice.

After the indulgent lunch, we decided to drive west and check out the beaches. Unfortunately, LA traffic ate up a few hours of our day, but that was our own fault for taking the Sunset Strip and driving through Beverly Hills / Rodeo Drive.

We finally made it to the famous Venice Beach boardwalk around 4PM and got super lucky finding parking on the street for just $2 where the lots were charging $20.

I wanted to take my parents for a walk along the boardwalk and check out the skateboard park, the basketball courts and of course, Muscle Beach. I didn't see any real body builders, but plenty of regular guys who seemed to enjoy being stared at like animals in a zoo. I love zoos.

After a while, we noticed that we were being stared at by everyone walking by us like we were the freaks. I'm not sure why, but my mother thought we stood out for wearing our crazy East Coast clothes. I just assumed it was because I was so cute.

Nevertheless, we decided to head over to the Sheraton and return our Thrifty rental car. As we drove past LAX, one of the arriving planes flew right over us as it approached its landing strip.

The Sheraton airport hotel was actually quite nice for what it was. Location was the key attraction, but they did have 2 decent restaurants and a lively bar scene downstairs.

We were on the Club Floor (15th floor) so we had access to the Club Lounge for free evening snacks (chips, veggies, soft drinks) as well as free continental breakfast (cereals, pastries, fruit). The offerings were fine but definitely not worth going out of your way to get Club Lounge access.

Later that night, after I passed out for the evening, my father's high school friend Ray came over to visit and say hello. After growing up in New Jersey, Ray's been living in Los Angeles since 1997. My father and he don't get to meet up often, but they try to whenever my father's in town so they can talk about the glory days of the 1993-1997 high school varsity math teams. I'm just really glad I was asleep for that part.

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