We paid a visit to the Los Angeles Flower Mart and found a few things have changed for the better since our last visit a few years ago.
For one thing, you don't seem to have to get up as early as you used to. Years ago when I visited the Flower Mart on a regular basis, you needed to get up rather early on a Saturday to take advantage of it. If you were there say around 9AM some stalls were already packing up. Much like an Antique Market, this was great for deal making if you were willing to forgo a certain amount of selection.
This Saturday however we arrived around 11:30, after breakfast at The Original Pantry, and figured we'd find only the die hards and some wilted tea-roses. Boy were we surprised to find a bustling market, with plenty of selection and still some pretty good deals to be had, especially for orchids. The orchids have really expanded. Once there were only two main shops to buy orchids from at somewhat cut rate prices. Now there are dozens of orchid suppliers with some deep discounts to be had. While most carry the basics, the original orchid stalls carry some of the more unusual varieties.
The crowds have changed slightly as well. The market used to close early because it's main customers on a Saturday were those planning for events later on that day or the next and the flower mart was just their first stop of many that day. Now the market seems to have been discovered by a whole new crowd, hipsters, housewives, and DIY'ers all rubbing elbows with brides, baby showers and birthday parties.
We also weren't the only ones who brought children and for good cause. While not the hardiest of horticultural lessons, we still managed a little unschooling by talking about flower names and smells for my 5 year old and some color lessons for my 3 year old.
I go down 7th and hang a right at San Julian. Look for a yellow sign that reads Moskatels and go up the ramp for parking. I park on the roof for the views of downtown and take the elevator to the bottom floor. Moskatels will validate for 2 hours free with purchase, since it's craft/party supply place it's not hard to find something to buy just to get your parking validated.
The market only cost a buck to get in.
Our purchases: a jade plant, a bunch of sunflowers, a huge bouquet of pink lilies and two mini orchids, all for $24.00
Like so many of my favorite moments in life, my visit to Waiheke Island was unplaned, purely by chance. I was only there a shot time, but this is one of my favorite shots from the trip.
I'm not sure how long I stood there, waiting for that speck of an adult holding the hands of two children, walking along the sand, to come into view. To me, it was worth the wait, tiny as they may be.
Here is my first submission to Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox - a website where Nanci offers a chance every Thursday for fellow travelers to post their favourite photos. Have a look at her blog and check out what other travel bloggers and photographers are posting.
For my son's 5th birthday we took him to Santa Barbara on his first real train ride.
If you buy your tickets online and print them out at one of the self-serve kiosks at the station, you'll still get a paper ticket for your scrapbook keepsake. If you belong to the Auto Club and you purchase your tickets 3 days in advance you'll get a 10% discount.
No this isn't the train we rode, this is one of the last Pullman cars now permanently stationed at the Santa Barbara train station.
This is our train. We took the Coast Starlight up the coast from Los Angeles.
The train had a nice, clean Observation Deck located just above the snack bar.
The early part of the trip wound through some industrial areas of L.A. I actually enjoyed this part. As a resident of LA for over 25 years, it was interesting to see it from a different view point.
But soon the scenery gave way to the suburbs, the rock climbers of Simi Valley and then the ocean appeared out of nowhere.
We arrived at the Santa Barbara train station and were pleased to find it fairly untouched by modern technology.
We walked a few blocks away up to Stearn's Wharf. If you're traveling there with young children, be warned that the very end of the pier is for fishing and there are NO railings. That said, there isn't much to keep a 5 year old interested that didn't make us overly nervous.
Even this ancient ficus tree was off limits for crawling on.
We did enjoy a beer at an outside patio bar called The Roadhouse right before we boarded the train for home. After a hot day walking around those beers sure tasted great.
The trip back was not nearly as nice as the Pacific Surfliner was rather tatty to say the least. But it mattered little to Karl as he passed out almost as soon as we left the station.