If you recall, I was torn as to where I should celebrate my birthday. Unable to travel out of the country, I settled on three potential day trip options: 1) Catalina Island 2) Disneyland or 3) Ojai. So, where did I end up spending my birthday? *cue drumroll* If you read the title you already know that I chose OJAI! I settled on Ojai because neither Disneyland nor Catalina Island presented me the opportunity to get away from home. With my heart set on a little more distance from home, and a chance to stay overnight, Ojai it was! With my mind up, I booked an AirBnB Wednesday evening and got on the road late Thursday morning.
Before this trip, I didn’t know much about Ojai. I knew it had a reputation for health and wellness, and I knew there was a unique bookstore I was dying to see, but other than that I did not know what was in store. But once I arrived in the city, I knew I chose the right place to spend my birthday. Still coming down from the high of a fantastic fun-filled birthday weekend, I was looking for something the complete opposite. I was looking for rest, relaxation and quiet and Ojai gave me just that. It’s an inviting, charming and quaint town that welcomes you with tree lined roads and stretches of mountainous terrain.Upon arriving, I still had an hour to kill until check-in, so I decided to visit the one place I was most excited about, Bart’s Books of Ojai. I saw a picture on the internet not too long ago of an outdoor bookstore, and once I found out how close to home it was, I had to see this for myself. Being there was as magical as I thought it would be. If you’ve been following me on this blogging journey, you may have picked up that I am a BOOK NERD! So when I say I was in heaven in this bookstore, I WAS IN HEAVEN! I walked up and down each aisle pulling books off the shelves whose binding that caught my eye. I explored the KITCHEN full of COOKBOOKS, the gallery of novels by classic authors and resisted the urge to touch the old fashioned typewriters on display. It was a little cool outside, so I didn’t get a chance to since in the courtyard with a stack of books and pick out my favorites, but I did walk away with books by James Baldwin and Pablo Neruda, two of my favorite writers.I could’ve stayed for hours more, but it was time to check into my AirBnB. Arriving in the neighborhood of my accommodations, I was already charmed by small details like wooden fences, gardens in the front yard, and lemon trees. I didn’t need much regarding amenities, so this room was perfect for me. No TV, garden view, and private entrance so I could come and go without disturbing the rest of the household. Once my hostess greeted me, gave me the keys and the wifi password I was set! My plan was to drop my bags off and do a little window shopping before everything closed, but I ended up falling asleep, and it was much-needed rest! In the weeks leading up to my birthday, I had been feeling as if I was on autopilot, constantly on the move, checking item after item off my to-do list. But once in Ojai, I realized I had nothing left to do but rest so I took full advantage.
Once I woke up, I changed clothes and searched the internet for somewhere to have dinner and grab drinks. Finding an open restaurant was a bit of a task being Christmas Eve and all, but I managed to find a tiki lounge open about 20 minutes from where I was staying. VenTiki Tiki Lounge & Lanai felt like one of those places where the bartender remembers you and your favorite drink. Everyone there was in good spirits, and someone was even nice enough to treat everyone at the bar to drinks. Happy Birthday to me! Should you find yourself in the neighborhood, be sure to try the coconut shrimp skewers and the Classic Mai Tai which will make you feel just right!When I decided to take this trip, I saw myself packing the stack of magazines I had yet to crack open, locking myself in a room and catching up on everything I had set by the wayside this past month. As I tended to all the things I felt were more pressing, I sometimes forgot to come up for air. So this retreat to Ojai for the day wasn’t so much about exploring the ins and outs of Ojai, it was about rest, relaxation and it was also a small test for myself. I didn’t touch upon this, but this was also my first solo trip. I didn’t go far, but I was still proud of myself for venturing off on my own. So many of my plans in the past were derailed because I didn’t have anyone to come with me. Now that I know how much fun I can have on my own, nothing is standing in my way now!I spent this day trip doing things I love like getting lost down rows and in rooms full of books, but this taste of what Ojai has to offer has whetted my appetite so be on the lookout for a part two in the near future!