Daily Archives: June 25, 2014

Experience Mexico Without Leaving Los Angeles – Calle Olvera

Walking through Calle Olvera in downtown Los Angeles is as close to walking through a market in the heart of Mexico as you can get in the U.S. without packing your passport. The tiled street is flanked by shops, restaurants, and historic buildings, with stalls down the center, all celebrating Mexican culture.

This area is supposedly the birth place of Los Angeles, and it also appears to be the resting place of every color of the rainbow. You see so many colors and textures at once that it’s quite overwhelming at first. Everything catches your eye – the bins of candies, the shoes lined up on the wall, colorful dresses hanging, and those creepy leather masks.

Take your time and wander through the stalls, and you will find some treasures that you might not be able to resist taking home. Particularly beautiful were they children’s dresses in the brightest colors, and I was happy to find a striped cotton blanket I had been looking for to use as a beach blanket. There was no bargaining, but prices were decent.

If you’re lucky, you might even happen upon a mariachi band strumming guitars and singing while strolling through the calle. Being serenaded while shopping in a marketplace of color explosions completed the sensory overload that is Calle Olvera.

 

Catch the Lavender Fields Before They’re Gone

The beginning of summer brings so many joyful things – longer days, warm nights, and for a fleeting window of time – blooming fields of lavender! The Keys Creek Lavender Farm in Keys Creek, California, just a few miles from Escondido, is open to the public every year during the months of May and June for tours, special events, and general wandering about.

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The first thing you notice when you arrive (other than the surprise of the final two miles to the farm being a dirt road), is the intensely sweet smell of lavender that is nothing like the usual smell of lavender products you find everywhere. It is such a popular scent, yet I find that few products capture the actual smell of fresh lavender. It smells sweet like honey, and it’s hard to not dive into a bush face-first, except for those bees, oh, and that it’s not allowed.

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Speaking of which, I was rather disappointed to discover that I couldn’t even walk through between the rows of lavender to get THAT PICTURE – you know the one I mean, of me traipsing through rows of purple with arms out and face upturned to the sky. Sadly, the farm kindly asks visitors to stay on marked paths surrounding the fields.

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Despite the restrictions, you can get very close to the lavender and breathe in its honey-like, herbal scent and take in the surrounding views. Unlike many lavender fields, the Keys Creek Lavender Farm is set in a hilly area, so you can walk to the top of the small hill and see some stunning views.

If you are in the San Diego or Orange County area, it is worth a visit, especially on days when they may have a special event going on such as afternoon tea or an evening concert. While you’re there, pop into the gift shop full of lavender goods, including bunches of dried lavender. Depending on when in the season you visit, different varieties of lavender will be peaking, but no matter when you go, you can be sure of a sea of purple!