The Van Gogh Experience in Los Angeles

The Van Gogh “Experience” is amazing and I highly recommend a visit. Honestly, I would go again! That said I may be a little biased. I own prints of Starry Night and Cafe Terrace at Night. I attended a school for the arts and I’ve been obsessed Van Gogh’s work most of my life.

I attended the show in Los Angeles with the VIP package so I started with a drink in the VIP lounge.

While I’ve seen Van Gogh’s art displayed in museums I experienced it in a completely different way in this immersive world. It provides a fresh perspective to his work. The affect on me was unexpected.

You are encouraged to view the exhibit from various perspectives from standing in front of the stunning 16’ X 16’ hand-carved self-portrait of Van Gogh, to sitting in front of his Sunflowers to gazing up from the floor at his Starry Night.

I focused on his paintings in my studies and was unaware until this exhibit that many of the letters he wrote during his lifetime were saved and still exist today. You can read them in the collection Vincent Van Gogh The Letters.

At the Van Gogh Experience you can interact with an AI tool that invites visitors to write him and then receive a personalized letter in the sprit of Van Gogh.

It should come as no surprise that they have a gift shop and I found the perfect souvenir! A beautiful addition to my tea cup collection.

In true LA fashion you can participate in yoga classes at the Van Gogh Experience. They also have date night packages. If you really want to nerd out there’s a free app that you can download and pre-show audio can be downloaded to provide you with background on the show. As of October 2021 the Van Gogh Experience – Los Angeles has been extended to January 2nd. If you’re not planning to be in California anytime soon there are shows in other cities. Find one near you. It’s worth the trip!

Afternoon Tea by the Sea at Ye Olde King’s Head

The city of Santa Monica in California is known for it’s famous pier and the beach but it also has a wonderful British pub! Ye Olde King’s Head is the perfect place for fish and chips or an English breakfast which is hard to find stateside. They have a cute little shop and also serve a wonderful afternoon tea.

I ordered their Royal Tea which includes a glass of champagne, a mimosa or kir royale. Kir Royal is a French cocktail that consists of crème de cassis topped with champagne, I had a glass of champagne along with afternoon tea menu for the day: cucumber sandwiches, tomato mozzarella sandwiches, quiche, deviled eggs, sausage rolls, coronation chicken, turkey with cranberry and of course scones. There were several teas to choose from. I went with my favorite, English Breakfast tea.

Christine, a very sweet shy Scottish woman, oversees all things tea at the pub. She managed afternoon teas at the Sugar House for 22 years before it was closed 9 years ago at which time the owners at Ye Olde Kings Head brought her in to manage their afternoon teas. Christine’s favorite sandwich is cucumber and she’s added her own twist to it. She changes the menu throughout the year so if you go there often you won’t get bored. There’s also a special Christmas tea for the month of December that includes Christmas Crackers and cucumber sandwiches with a mint butter. If you have leftovers overs she’ll offer you a “wee” bag to take them home in her delightful Scottish accent. Christine really loves what she does and it absolutely shows in the presentation and service.

Afternoon tea is served Wednesday through Saturday 11:30 am to 4:00 pm. Like most places that serve afternoon tea you have to make reservations.

They also do special events / private parties. You can book afternoon tea on Sundays with a minimum of 25 guests.

Ye Olde King’s Head, 132 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
(310) 451-1402

International Tea Day 2021

According to legend, tea originated in China in 2737 BC. The Chinese emperor Shen Nung was sitting beneath a tree while his servant boiled drinking water. Leaves from this tree, Camellia sinensis, blew into the water. Shen Nung decided to try this infusion which we now call tea. Since most tea growing countries begins production in the month of May International Tea Day is celebrated worldwide on May 21

Tea has reached every corner of the world and often reflects the culture from Rize tea in Turkey and Masala chai in India to Russian tea houses. The Japanese have intricate tea ceremonies and afternoon tea is the focus of many social events in England. Tea is offered in homes to visitors to make people feel welcome or to family members to help them feel better when they’re sick.

While tea can be purchased both online and in almost any city, here are a few of my favorite tea vendors:

Tea Forté’s pyramid infuser offers the flavor of a loose leaf tea in an elegant easy to steep anywhere package.

I love the unique loose leaf tea blends created by The Spice and Tea Exchange. I discovered Spice and Tea on a trip to Colonial Williamsburg Virginia and the store there is equally charming. I think its neat that when you order online you can choose which location to order from / support and of course I always choose Williamsburg.

It should come as no surprise that tea experiences are the highlight of my travels.

The Lu San Chinese Garden, located in Portland, Oregon features rare plants native to China, Koi ponds and a tea house operated by the Tao of Tea a Portland based tea company.

I had a wonderful time wandering around the San Antonio Japanese Tea Gardens with it’s beautiful walkways, stone arch bridges and a Japanese pagoda. This property was briefly operated by a Chinese-American family in the early 1960s, hence the sign in the picture below. The tea house, Jingu House offers a wide variety of teas and light meals.

The Dragon Fly tea room in Modesto, CA is currently celebrating their third anniversary. I celebrated my birthday there a few years ago. This quaint little tea room in central California hosts themed afternoon tea events and sells their own branded teas.

Fresno’s Underground Suppers host amazing dining experiences. They create a unique theme and menu for each event which are held a various locations around the Central Valley. I had the pleasure of attending their Royal Watch Party to celebrate the wedding of Harry & Megan.

Tea has antioxidants and is known for it’s medicinal properties. A warm fragrant cup of tea has also been known to reduce stress. On the road or at home tea is more than a beverage, it’s an experience.