Today Leo's Rabbit was shopping in the heart of Beverly Hills at Rodeo Drive, the epicentre of luxury, fashion and lifestyle and undeniably one of the most famous and most pricey streets on the globe. With over 100 boutiques offering the finest in fashion apparel, jewellery, shoes, handbags and accessories from top brands such as Chanel, Hermes, Cartier, Gucci, Versace, Tiffany and many more, but not a single carrot shop, Rodeo Drive was not the best choice for Rabbit's shopping trip :-) Never mind making a purchase though... Although Rabbit ended up empty-pawed he enjoyed window shopping and watching glamorous people walking along the street. He was hoping to see some celebrities, but he wasn't at luck. It's not surprising however if we take to consideration that he would be able to recognise only Brad Pitt and Bugs Bunny. He might have even brushed against some movie star but he wouldn't know it. If you are a celebrity reading this and you had an encounter with one British Rabbit on a sunny April afternoon at Rodeo Drive please get in touch. We would love to include your name here!
While walking along the street Leo's Rabbit admired an array of exotic and super luxury cars. He was especially impressed with a custom made Bugatti Veyron, the fastest production car in the world, with its top speed of 431.072 km/h (267.856 mph). The fasted rabbit in the world, jackrabbit, can achieve a speed of 72 km/h (45 mph). It may be six times less than Bugatti, but pretty good for a rabbit though. Leo's Rabbit suddenly felt an urge to drive this super car and become, not only the poshest, but also the fastest rabbit in the world. He imagined himself with his ears flowing in the wind at top speed and with this thought he hopped towards the car intending to take it for a joyride. His attempt wasn't successful however, and looking at the picture you might have already gathered why. Well... it's pretty obvious... our British Rabbit forgot that he is in the USA and he sat on the passenger side of the car. Here in England we have right hand drive cars and we drive on the left side of the road. Apart from the United Kingdom, there are only 3 other countries in Europe that still drive on the left: Ireland, Malta and Cyprus. We like to be different, don't we? We are still a monarchy (Rabbit loves the Royal Family), we kept our own currency after joining EU, we mostly use imperial measuring units, our British English confuses Americans, we have windows opening outwards, we use separate taps for hot and cold water (icy cold and boiling hot, that is), we eat HP sauce and Marmite (yak...) and our traditional cuisine is fish & chips. Yes, we are different ;-) But our approach to driving may not be as unique as one may think, as there are 75 countries worldwide still driving on the left. Unfortunately for Rabbit, the USA is not one of them.
After his failed attempt to drive away in a one-million-pound super car ('Thanks goodness it wasn't successful' - thought MamaMus) Leo's Rabbit continued his stroll along the street. He intended to have his breakfast at Tiffany's. He once heard that Aubrey Hepburn used to get a very nice breakfast there. He was surprised to learn that they don't serve any meals at Tiffany's, and instead sell expensive jewellery. As we all know, one can't feed one's hunger with precious stones and valuable metals, so Rabbit left Tiffany's disappointed (and hungry). He tried to find a local McRabbit, but only encountered a posh sushi place called Urasawa. He discovered that Urasawa is actually one of the best restaurants in LA (second best according to Jonathan Gold's list of L.A.'s 101 Best Restaurants published in Los Angeles Times), often referred to as 'the temple of city's greatest sushi and kaiseki'. Although Rabbit is not very keen on sushi, he was willing to try some - he was hungry and, as you may remember if you are following this blog, this little Rabbit has a big appetite. After he learned however that a reservation needs to be made well in advance (he couldn't do without food for another hour, not mentioning a weeks long wait) and a meal at Urasawa currently starts at $395 (he had only $20 in his pocket) he finally left with an empty tummy.
To bring his spirits up, he popped in to an Art Gallery - Galerie Michael, one of the most highly regarded fine art galleries in the world specialising in paintings, drawings, and prints from great masters of the 17th to the 20th centuries. Straight away Rabbit was asked by a well-suited man, if he is interested in art and if he collects art. The well-suited man must have seen all sorts of people (and rabbits) coming through the door and knew that some art collectors could be a little bit eccentric, and you should not judge the customer by the looks, even if the customer is a rabbit. Well... he didn't know that the only thing that Rabbit collects are carrots, so he wasn't able to make any sale (Rabbit really wanted to buy something from this nice man, but there weren't even any pictures of carrots for sale). Leo's Rabbit liked the well-suited man and he enjoyed his warm welcome so much that he not only spent good half an hour admiring artwork on display, but also forgot about his hunger.
At the base of Rodeo Drive Rabbit noticed a tall building, Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, apparently one of Beverly Hills' oldest and most luxurious hotels. Constructed in 1928, the legendary property features 395 rooms. The largest and the most spectacular guest room is the Penthouse Suite at 465 square meters, located on the private, key-accessed 14th floor of the Beverly Wing with panoramic views of Beverly Hills and Los Angeles from the spacious terrace. After a basic calculation, excited Rabbit gathered that the Penthouse Suite would be able to accommodate 5,812 rabbits! (According to the DEFRA an accommodation space required per rabbit is 0.08 square meters.) He thought however, that even if sharing the suite with another 5,811 rabbits he wouldn't be able to afford the stay.
Beverly Wilshire has served as the home to many iconic personalities, including Warren Beatty, Steve McQueen, John Lennon and Elvis Presley. Rabbit learned that the hotel continues to receive fan mail for the actors, even decades after they have moved out. Although Beverly Wilshire has made guest appearances in many movies such as 'Escape from the Planet of the Apes', 'Clueless', 'Sex and the City: The Movie and Valentine’s Day', today it is affectionately known as the 'Pretty Woman hotel' as it provided the backdrop to exterior scenes from the classic film with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. Leo's Rabbit decided to send a postcard to Julia Roberts after he returns to England and address it to Beverly Wilshire Hotel. You never know, she may even reply...
On his way home Leo's Rabbit stopped in front of the very naturalistic sculpture called 'Torso'. The statue located on the corner of Rodeo Drive and Dayton Way is an artwork by Robert Graham, who designed major civic monuments across the nation. Rabbit didn't really like the figure of a headless woman and he was more fascinated by the lovely silver-coloured fire hydrants (please excuse his ignorance of art; he is a small town Rabbit after all...). As for the unusual hydrants (everywhere else they are red or yellow), Rabbit heard a rumour that Beverly Hills' fire hydrants are platinum-plated. Very expensive hydrants indeed!
To complete his experience, Rabbit visited Beverly Gardens Park with the iconic 40-foot long Beverly Hills sign. It was the perfect place to snap the last picture of the day.
Rabbit's long day in Beverly Hills ended up with him returning home empty-pawed, tired and hungry. Don't get me wrong - he did enjoy the experience. He had fun window shopping, people-watching and was amused by an array of exotic cars parked along the road. In the same time however he felt a bit overwhelmed by the luxurious surroundings of high end shops and establishments. Although he would have liked to have been a millionaire, even then he would have rather spent a night at a small B&B drinking £2 carrot juice, snacking on a £3 lettuce salad and he would have still liked to drive his small Citroen C3. He thought that this unknown to him world of glamour and luxury, may well serve famous and rich people, but with the money spent here in one day, you probably would have been able to feed millions of hungry rabbits (or even people).
First of all I need to make my apologies to those of you (probably 99% of the readers ;-) ) who followed my link with hope of seeing some 'hot beach bunnies', like the gorgeous lady in the picture above spotted during our stay in California. Well... I didn't mean to mislead you ( ...maybe a little bit) as you will actually see a hot bunny, Leo's Rabbit, who spent a day in Santa Monica. He was hot (with this amount of fur you would've been hot too!), he was at the beach and he certainly is a bunny. I therefore hope that you will forgive me my little deception and, as you are already here, you may as well carry on reading to find out more about Rabbit's experience at Santa Monica beach.
Below you can see another picture of our hot beach bunny (this one probably fits my post better) standing at the pier overlooking this beautiful and vibrant beach.
It was only an early April but the day was gorgeous, with the sunshine pouring down from the sky and gently touching bare skin (and fur) generously exposed to its invigorating treatment. Rabbit thought that the amount of vitamin D produced on that day would have been enough to supply the whole England for a year.
Santa Monica stays warm and mostly dry year-round, which attracts many visitors to the beach not only in the summer, but also during the spring, autumn and winter months. The temperature is rarely below 6°C or above 28°C - dream weather for our Rabbit who comes from London, where it may not be extremely cold, but it does rain on average 110 days per year. Leo's Rabbit decided to 'make up' for all those 110 days and take full advantage of the sunshine.
Although Santa Monica beach is a very busy one, its ample space allowed our Rabbit to pick his spot (well... considering that the beach is about 3.5 miles long, there was plenty of room for a small rabbit). After applying his sunscreen, he lay down on the soft sand, stretched his ears and listened to the waves crash against the shore. He stared out at the ocean and its sheer vastness and expansive horizon made him feel very tiny. In the face of the endless water he instantly felt lighter and he saw his problems in a new perspective. There are bigger things in life than little dilemmas of a little rabbit. Lost in his thoughts, he experienced an amazing moment of tranquillity and peace in the middle of the busy and touristy beach.
He then diverted his attention to the other 'species' (mainly humans) present at the beach. Watching people engaged in various activities on the shoreline was the most exhilarating experience of Rabbit's day. Most of the holidaymakers were sunbathing and having a relaxing lay down. Some had a courage to jump in the cool water and were swimming, surfing, sailing or even parasailing. Excited, screaming kids (and adults) were chasing waves and building sandcastles, under the watchful eye of lifeguards. Leo's Rabbit noticed many perfect human specimens of both sexes walking and jogging along the shoreline. Looking at these beautifully tanned, slender and muscular 'beach bunnies' Rabbit automatically sucked in his belly and immediately felt more handsome. Unfortunately it didn't last long, as he was unable to hold in his belly and breathe in the same time and, as you may have already guessed, he had to let go of the belly.
Rabbit was impressed by a good number of cyclists and roller-bladers on the paved trail that runs along the ocean. He learned that this is a part of a 22 mile long Marvin Braude Beach Trail (known to locals as 'The Strand') from Will Rogers State Beach to Torrance County Beach. It's apparently one of the best scenic bike paths in Southern California and Rabbit regretted not bringing his bike all the way from England (don't worry, if you are a human you don't need to do this - there are many convenient bike rental shops for people, none for rabbits though... hmm... do you think we just found a gap in the market? ;-) ).
After watching a volleyball game at the beach court, well suntanned Rabbit headed down to the iconic Santa Monica Pier for some noise and buzz. And he found it right there. Packed with lively and colourful crowds the pier is the centre of everything that happens. It houses some of Santa Monica's most popular attractions: the Pacific Park (a family amusement park with its one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art, solar panelled Ferris wheel), a 1920s-era carousel featuring 44 hand-carved horses, the Santa Monica Aquarium, a trapeze school, an entertaining arcade with more than 200 games, and a variety of restaurants, pubs and souvenir shops. The Rabbit learned that during the summer months the pier hosts many events free to the public, such as music concerts and movies under the stars.
Rabbit had a delightful stroll around the pier. While snacking on his cotton candy, he watched the rides and enjoyed the live music performed by a few buskers. He loved the energising and vibratious atmosphere combined with the stunning ocean views.
While exploring the pier Leo's Rabbit stopped by the huge sign marking the end of the legendary American highway, Route 66 (this 3,945 km long road only ended when the sea stood on its way!). Rabbit noticed that Route 66 is 2.8 times longer than the entire Great Britain (between its two extremities). Who knows what would have happened if there was no sea on the way of Route 66?!
Being in Los Angeles, the entertainment capitol of the world, Santa Monica Pier was featured in many Hollywood movies like Titanic, Forest Gump (there is even a Bubba Gump Shrimp Company Restaurant on the pier), Iron Man and many more. Leo's Rabbit liked the idea of following the footsteps of Leonardo Di Caprio and Tom Hanks and wondered if they also enjoyed a cotton candy while exploring the pier.
The glamour, celebrities and entertainment were not part of the pier's early days. The Rabbit was amazed by its humble beginnings in 1909, when it was first built as a public utility, a Municipal Pier with a pipeline underneath it to run treated sewage out to the ocean! Thankfully this process was soon discontinued. To learn more about the fascinating history of Santa Monica Pier (How the popular comic character 'Popeye' was created; Who designed the standard lifesaving tube used by lifeguards; What was the role of the pier during the WWII; Which artists and performers were part of the pier's community; How the pier survived and developed over the years) follow the Rabbit and click here (at your own risk... remember what's happened to Alice after she jumped down the rabbit hole :-) ). If you decide to make a trip and visit Santa Monica yourself, you can also take advantage of free historical walking tours of the pier offered Saturdays and Sundays at 11am and noon. Let's get these bags packed!
In the meantime there are live streaming views of the pier available for those who fancy a virtual tour. Leo's Rabbit will certainly watch them during 110 days of rain in England to bring back some sunny memories from Santa Monica beach.
Leo's Rabbit 'lives' in my handbag and he travels with us everywhere we go. He has pictures taken at various locations, tourist attractions and places we visit. As a part of this blog we will describe Leo's Rabbit Travels to share our personal experiences from these visits. Hopefully couple of people (apart from us :-) ) will find it interesting and may even feel encouraged to visit one of Rabbit's destinations.