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  • Frances Schwabenland

City Girl Goes to Southern California

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

I have lived in Philadelphia all of my life. I have shoveled snow in the winter and photographed the crimson and yellow leaves shimmering like pieces of gold in the fall sunshine. I have travelled to the Jersey shore in the summer and visit Longwood Gardens every spring for my soul to be renewed with new and colorful flowers. I have always enjoyed the four seasons of the east coast but now I think I could easily get into a bicoastal lifestyle.

I met Mary Schiendler in Burma years ago and Mary is the type of person, everyone wants to stay in contact with because she is truly beautiful inside and out! We speak regularly and she asked if I would come to Southern California to visit and stay with them. I was also going to catch up with my great friend, David Heath who is also from the area. He and I photograph around the world together. Unfortunately, David came down with covid two days before I got there so plans were set aside as quarantining became the law of the land. Mary and her husband Dick could not have been more gracious in hosting me in their home and sharing some of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. They have elevated hospitality to an art form! There is such a palpable energy of freedom, fun and beauty in Southern California. I could people watch all day long! Being surrounded by some of the most enticing beaches in the world, gorgeous, vivid and vibrant bougainvillea growing up sides of many homes with landscaping of flowers and colorful succulents, not to mention that this is such a "foodie heaven" with some of the most famous chiefs anywhere. It captivated my heart and soul in its entirety! I never gave Philadelphia a thought while I was there. Weather was sunny almost everyday and in the high 70's. I call that perfection!

Balboa Peninsula is such a scenic 3 miles stretch featuring both a harbor and sandy beaches. "To die for" homes were unique, inviting and a designers paradise...many had flowers teaming around a patio with tables and chairs just waiting for that 5 o'clock cocktail overlooking the harbor.

Balboa is tucked away in my heart as a place where I would love to live someday (soon!).

We ate delicious meals and my favorite was the restaurant at the Hotel Laguna. It overlooks the water and the food was uniquely prepared. I had a beef dish that presented as a cigar. It was wrapped in the most delicious pastry and served on a dish resembling an ash try! I savored the friends, view and each bite. Life doesn't get much better than this!

I would also recommend Cafe Moulin in Newport Beach. It offers an authentic Parisian experience and the staff are true artisans. After all the shopping, it was the perfect spot to sit and just people watch with a French pastry and cappuccino!

San Juan Capistrano was a short drive from Mary and Dick's home and another place I have heard about for years and always wanted to see. It was a beautiful day, few people and we could meander through its rich spiritual history and imagine life with Masses being said and people finding solace. It still holds a quiet peace and calm today.

I googled "negative ions and the beach" and found article after article touting the ions ability to increase well being, serotonin release, and according to WebMD, "They increase oxygen to the brain and protect against germs in the air." I have no idea about the science but I do know that a day where the sun is shining down and the ocean is vast and constant as I move into its cadence, something comes over me that I wish I could hold onto forever. Southern California is a place I hope I return to again and again.

May your path one day lead you here again and again!

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