I met Stephanie on Instagram a couple years ago and ever since then we've sent each other comments back and forth, have collaborated and have found other ways to keep in touch through social media. Throughout those 2 years, we've talked about having a meetup in the future and it wasn't until the beginning of the year when we officially started planning our first meetup. And it finally pulled through!
I was originally going to stay for a whole weekend, but certain things just didn't go as I had hoped so I just opted to make a day trip to LA. Since I'm not comfortable driving long distance by myself, I've been taking the Amtrak train to LA for the past few years now and have loved it each time. I highly recommend this form of transportation because it's really relaxing! I got to urban sketch, catch up on some reading, listened to my music, browsed Instagram (thanks for the strong wifi, Amtrak!), got to see the beach AND watch the sunrise! So, yes...VERY relaxing and well worth the money.
Anyway, Stephanie and her boyfriend, Chris picked me up at Union Station. I always love that initial reaction when my online friends see me in real life. "You're so tall!", Stephanie says. I get it all the time, and I never get tired of it. lol. Once I got into the car, it felt as if we were all friends that haven't seen each other in years. I instantly felt comfortable with them and they're both so easy to talk to!
Our first stop was Grand Central Market. I've seen it many times on Instagram and Youtube but it was nice to see it all in person. I imagined it to be bigger, but the size was actually perfect. So many people filled the marketplace along with the wonderful aroma of all the different kinds of food...holy moly my mouth was watering!
I had told Stephanie beforehand that I wanted to try Eggslut, so we had that for breakfast. I didn't know it was in Grand Central Market, so that was cool. Since I was there on a Saturday, I already knew the line would be long. I didn't mind it though, because it gave Stephanie and I some time to just talk. Now, I won't talk about my whole experience at Eggslut, because I want to save that for my Slice of Doodles next week. Basically, all the restaurants I went to, I won't go into full detail about because I'll just be repeating myself, haha.
Our next stop was Kinokuniya Bookstore in Little Tokyo. Stephanie warned me about this place and I was scared but excited. Scared because I didn't know if I could control myself, and excited because of all the cute supplies and stationery. I literally felt like I was in a candy store or something...my eyes were glistening. We probably spent a good 45 mins-1 hr in there, lol.
So, what did I end up buying?
- Well, first of all. Let me tell you...my jaw dropped for a good 5 seconds when I saw this. Leuchtturm1917 Pocket Sketchbook. Yes, I got another one. In the same color. Do I regret it? HECK NO. I was surprised that they even sold it here in SoCal. And I thought to myself, it'll probably take a while for it to migrate down to SD, and I'd rather not pay for it to ship to my house...so I bought it. Done...and...done.
- Micron pen in 005. Because it's my favorite size and this tends to run out quite fast for me.
- Copic Multiliner 0.03. I don't have any of Copic's multiliners, and I wanted to get this one because of the size. I needed something with a very thin tip. I'm loving it so far!
- Cup No Fuchiko. Stephanie told me about this weird/funny/cute cup accessory. It's a blind box that contains a random japanese girl in different poses and sometimes with props. I got one where she's hanging off a cup from her legs. And it's slightly kinky in a way because you can see her panties, lol. It's such a weird figurine, but that's Japan for ya! Stephanie got one where it looks like the girl got one of her foot squashed by the cup, it's so hilarious.
After the bookstore, we went through the different shops in Little Tokyo. There were a lot that contained cute stationery, Sanrio, houseware, clothing, Korean and Japanese makeup + skincare, and a ton of ramen restaurants.
Then we made our way to the Arts District which I was really excited about. It's filled with beautiful murals, coffee shops, cute boutiques like Poketo...it was just hipster central!
We spent some time window shopping then decided to have lunch at Cafe Gratitude. Great food, awesome natural lighting, mimosas, meaningful conversations and the best part...sketching in our sketchbooks! We've been wanting to do this for awhile and have talked about it before we met, so we were really excited. I don't have any artist friends here in San Diego and sketching in cafes and restaurants with a friend has been a dream of mine. Is that kind of cheesy, to call it a dream? haha. Well, maybe it's just something I've had on my bucket-list and I'm happy to cross it out. And I'm sure there will be more sketching sessions in the future! After this fun experience sketching with Stephanie, I honestly believe that I have gained more confidence in sketching in public. It's less nerve-wracking when you're with another artist because you know that person understands it all. That instantly put me at ease...or it may have been the mimosas, lol. Either way, this whole experience pretty much inspired me to go out and explore my city more and to gain even more confidence in urban sketching :)
After Cafe Gratitude, we took a Lyft to Bottega Louie for dessert. AND pizza. It was still quite early for dinner but since I knew I was going to be on the Amtrak from 7:40-10:30pm, I knew I had to eat before then because I get hangry! In between our meal, we got to learn more about each other. It's awesome knowing that even though this was our first time meeting in person, we felt like we've been friends for a long time. That's the best thing about making friends through social media. Through all the Instagram posts, comments, texting, snapchat stories, it all really helps when it comes to finally meeting each other in real life. I believe in that completely because for more than a decade (flash-back to those live-journal and myspace days), I've met at least 90% of my friends online. And most of them I have met in person, and till this day I'm still very close friends with at least half of them. That's why I love the internet so much! :)
Our last stop of the day was at The Last Bookstore. Perfect right? haha. It was pretty overwhelming but amazing as well! From new to old books, a whole labyrinth of book shelves and a gallery of artwork that was all very inspiring. Loved every inch of that bookstore!
Shortly after, Stephanie's boyfriend picked us up and we headed back to Union Station. It was such a short trip, but I'm so happy we got so much done in less than 10 hours. To be honest, I started to tear up a bit when Stephanie and I hugged and said our goodbyes. Even though Stephanie and I don't contact each other everyday, I still feel this connection with her. Perhaps it's because we're both Pisces, but I just feel this genuine bond with her. I think she's such an awesome, talented and beautiful person inside and out and I just cannot wait for our next adventure together :)