Category Archives: Travel

Adolesco – Your Ticket to the World!


A non-profit language immersion and cultural exchange program  – ADOLESCO


17-year old Sacramento-area teenager Gemma B. has lived in Germany, France, and Spain in addition to her native California thanks to Adolesco, a non-profit exchange organization that matches American children and teens with exchange partners in Europe for short-term language-immersion and cultural exchanges.

Unlike typical ‘one-way’ foreign exchange programs, Adolesco only offers real exchanges: each carefully matched partner has the chance to both host and travel, taking turns to live with their exchange partner and family for up to three months. This reciprocal exchange experience typically results in close friendships and life-long international connections on both sides.

“When I arrived at the airport in Germany, it wasn’t hard to find my exchange family: they were wearing matching grins and t-shirts that spelled out ‘GEMMA’. Johanna’s family was so welcoming that I quickly felt at home.”

You Can Participate With Little To No Foreign Language Knowledge

With Adolesco’s guidance, children and teens with little or no exposure to a second language are often able to gain remarkable fluency. As Gemma recalls, “I’d only studied German for a few months before going to Germany. During the first days of my exchange, beginning to understand and speak German was alternately frustrating and hilarious. Eventually, speaking German became Adolesco gemma-and-johanna_goslarsurprisingly normal.”

And there’s no reason to wait until college for the opportunity to study abroad. Living a new culture as a member of a family rather than visiting as a tourist is a tremendous opportunity that Adolesco makes available for children as young as 9 (and up to 18). Parents on both sides are encouraged to treat the visiting child not as a guest, but as another sibling. This true integration offers a unique opportunity for developing real understanding and appreciation.

“I enjoyed experiencing life in Germany and learning about its culture and history. I also had the opportunity to re-examine and better understand my own country’s culture and relationship with the world.” -Gemma B.

How Does It Work?

Adolesco is based in France and staffed by a network of representatives and volunteers across Europe and North America whose children have benefitted from these exchanges. Interested families must complete a thorough application process that includes a home visit and interview. Candidates are only matched with exchange partners when the team feels like an exchange will succeed. In many cases, the connection between the two families and the two exchange partners will be life-long.

“The girls have a perfect understanding… this exchange opened new horizons for Emma but also for the whole family – thank you!” -Sandrine, French mother

In Latin, Adolesco means ‘I’m growing’ and the Adolesco team believes that learning a new language, understanding another culture, and growing beyond our cultural boundaries benefits our children, our families, and our world.

Learn more about Adolesco:

Adolesco is accepting applications for this summer! To travel or host this summer, apply by March 31 – visit to get started.

Watch a short video about Gemma and Johanna’s exchange:

Follow current and past exchanges at


 Contact Adolesco’s Exchange Coordinator in California at

Text & Images Copyright ©Adolesco                                                                       (Sponsored Post)



Last Days of Summer


Last Days of Summer – Enjoy them before they’r gone…

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy… Gershwin’s silvery song from his opera Porgy and Bess rings in my ears while my husband and I lounge in pool chairs watching our children having fun in the pool right on the beach. “A pool on the beach?” you might say, “What’s so cool about that?”

Well, it’s a special pool. In fact it’s a historic pool! And it’s not somewhere at a fancy resort or so. No, it’s right here in Los Angeles and open to all!

One of the well guarded insider secrets of L.A. is the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica. We love coming here! Every time we are in Los Angeles either going to the Getty, LACMA, hanging out at the Grand Central Market or just visiting the German Consulate, we make it a point to come here to pay this historic pool by the beach a visit before heading back home.


Built on 5 acres of beach property the Annenberg Beach House features a pool, a splash pad for the little ones, a fun playground and 6 beach volley ball courts right next to the Beach House. But it is also a community center that offers yoga classes, swim lessons and cultural programs and events like poetry readings and much more. You can rent out paddle boards for the day or book a surfing class. Do I need to say more…?

Even if you just come here for a few hours, it’s totally worth the parking fee of $3/hour or $12/day.  The kids can cool off in the water while you relax with a novel in a beach chair or just kick back after a busy day. If you are getting bored by the pool and crave some real ocean water, no problem! Just cross over the bike path along the beach and dive into the waves.


Beautiful Sunsets for Dinner

Oh, and lets not forget about the Back On The Beach Cafe with the most beautiful sunsets ‘for’ dinner! My suggestion is, make it a day at the Annenberg and stay for dinner. You will not regret it!

We love ending a day in L.A. here at this Beach House Cafe. Looking out onto the ocean, the pristine white beach in front us we dig our toes into the warm sand and unwind with a glass of wine. While we are waiting for our dinner to arrive, the kids hang out on the playground next to us, … and the most spectacular sunset is just happening right in front of our eyes!

A perfect day turned into a beautiful memory!


From Private Hollywood Estate to a Community Beach House for All

This beautiful site along Pacific Coast Highway was originally developed during the Gold Coast era of the 1920s by William Hearst, the publishing magnate who also built California’s Hearst Castle. The big estate was a gift to his mistress, actress Marion Davies, and hosted many of Hollywood’s celebrities like “Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Samuel Goldwyn, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable and other stars of the day”. After 1947 the property was converted into “America’s Most Beautiful Hotel” and housed the Sand & Sea Club before it was sold to the State of California in 1959.

A $27.5 million grant by the Annenberg Foundation paved the way for the transformation into today’s Annenberg Community Beach House a year-round public beach facility open to all. It opened to the public in 2009.

Annenberg 3

Today parts of the original historic Marion Davies Estate have been restored and are part of the new Beach House: the original Marion Davies Guest House, which serves as a museum telling the rich history of the Beach House and the historic Beach House Pool, which “features marble around the deck and beautiful tiles that were restored by hand.”

The Annenberg Community Beach House is usually open daily from 8:30am. Summer hours differ from fall hours so check before planning a visit. The pool schedule is seasonal and from October to May special Pop Up Pool Days are offered.

Annenberg Community Beach House
415 Pacific Coast Highway *
Santa Monica, CA, 90402

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Images: ©CaliforniaGermans



Roadtrippin’ along the California Coast

Anne Kathrin Hearst Castle

Roadtrippin’ along the California Coast

I like to call myself a writer, publicity intern, and social media junkie.  I always love to explore and acquire new skills.  My newest addition to the previous mentioned set of self-acclaimed professions would be video editor.  I know that I am far from a professional video editor, I mean, let’s be honest, I don’t even possess a professional camera.  But one of my best girlfriends and I recently went on a trip together along the California Coast, and I decided to literally give it a shot and document our trip by capturing it with my iPhone.  The link to the end result can be found at the bottom of this piece, and I hope people can see through my lens the beauty of what the United States’ west coast has to offer.

I am so glad my friend “pushed” me to go on this trip.  I love to travel and explore places, and a couple of months ago I casually mentioned to her that I would really like to visit Hearst Castle up in San Simeon.  She decided to take a look into it as well, but we dropped the subject for a while.  I didn’t even try to put any effort into planning the trip because I was extremely busy with work, school, applying for jobs after college and anything else that was going on in my life.  One night over Sushi, my girlfriend brought the trip up again, asking if I would still be down to do it.  Even though I had to deal with a lot of pressure at that time, I just thought that a trip was exactly what I needed to release some of the stress.  I am so glad she convinced me to finally do it!  We set a date, booked a hotel, and planned our route.

Starting in Huntington Beach, we knew we wanted to take PCH all the way up to Monterey, our final destination.  We first stopped in Oxnard to enjoy a great breakfast of French toast and Eggs Benedict, before we hit the road again all the way up until we arrived at Hearst Castle, which is named after and built by Anne KathrinAmerican newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst.  The landmark offers a variety of different tours, and I would recommend anyone planning on visiting to reserve a tour in advance.  We didn’t do so, and we were lucky that they had still open spots for the “Designing the Dream Tour,” which guides you through the guest houses and castle bedrooms.  Visitors of this tour also get to see the beautiful gardens and the amazing indoor pool, where real gold is embedded in the grounds.  For $30, the price of the tour was totally appropriate for what you get to see up on the hill and along the beautiful green hills.  Tourists also receive a wonderful coastal view.  All in all, I can recommend anyone to visit and take a tour.

Anne Kathrin Big SurAfter we marked Hearst Castle off our bucket list, we were really excited to continue driving along the coast to Big Sur.  I have visited Big Sur many, many years ago, and I remembered it being incredibly beautiful.  But once we actually reached the scenic part, it was beyond breathtaking.  I can’t describe it; you actually have to see it.  Even the pictures I took don’t do the real image any justice.  I am sure anyone of you who has taken a trip to Big Sur can relate.  We made countless stops along the road to take pictures, film, and just enjoy the beautiful scenery.  At some point, we had dinner at a little cute restaurant with view over the ocean, in the middle of nowhere.  After dinner, we watched the sunset over the coast while we enjoyed amazing chocolate fudge we had bought at Hearst Castle (I can definitely recommend their deserts too, great stuff!).  We then made our way up to Monterey, where we fell totally exhausted but happy into our beds.

Anne KathrinThe next day, we decided to do the 17-Mile Drive, which leads along Pebble Beach.  It took us about 40 minutes from Monterey to get there.  Park admission by car is $10, bikes and pedestrians get in for free.  What didn’t come to our advantage that day were some pretty strong winds, which is a little bit of an understatement.  I mean, it was still worth it, even though we mainly just jumped out of the car at a couple of the many view points to take some quick pictures.  The water up in Northern California, especially in this area, is just plain gorgeous.  It has the turquoise twist we don’t really get to see out here in the south.  After we made it through the “storm,” we started making our way back to Huntington Beach.  We got to enjoy the beautiful Big Sur coast once more, until we finally arrived back in Orange County.

Click on the link to get a glimpse of our beautiful golden coast.  As Katy Perry correctly points out in her famous song California Gurls, “You can travel the world.  But nothing comes close to the golden coast!”

Images & video : ©Anne-Kathrin Schulte

Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at) and place her name in the subject line.



Get Your Art Fix in Los Angeles

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Los Angeles, a metropolis that has so much to offer in all kinds of areas, shines in the field of the arts. Be it film, music, literary arts, fine arts, culinary arts – you name it!

The first weekend of 2016 we explored two famous museums in Pasadena in LA County: The Norton Simon Museum and the Huntington Library (which is technically in the neighboring city of San Marino). While the Norton Simon is solely an art museum with a beautiful sculpture garden, the Huntington Library’s extensive grounds are home to a library and a variety of art galleries, which are sprinkled in among the various botanical gardens.

The Norton Simon Museum of Art

Formerly known as the Pasadena Art Museum it combines the private collection of businessmen and philanthropist Norton Simon with the one of the former Pasadena Art Museum. The museum is famous for its remarkable private art collection. Walking towards the entrance of the museum you are greeted by several of Auguste Rodin’s sculptures. “The Thinker”, one of Rodin’s most famous sculpture has its home right here at the museum. Upon entering the museum, the galleries start out to your left and right but one seems to be magically drawn to the sculpture garden that is in the middle and right opposite the entrance.

Therefore, we started out with walking the sculpture garden which is beautifully set around a large pond and features several sculptures by Henry Moore and other sculptors. Before we started touring the garden though, the garden café beckoned us to take a little rest and just sip on a coffee while taking in the serenity of the site.

Adam & Eve by Lucas Cranach, The Elder ca.1500

Adam & Eve by Lucas Cranach, The Elder

Once back inside the museum we took a quick tour of some of the five different galleries. The 14th-17th centuries gallery had some real treasures to offer and we literally soaked up some artworks many of us just know from art history books. If you like Picasso, Braque, Jawlensky, and Klee as well as Sam Francis, Warhol, Lichtenstein and many others, the 20th century gallery will make your heart swell.


Huntington Library – Art Galleries, Botanical Gardens and Home of a Gutenberg Bible

Get ready for a day’s worth of walking! The Huntington Library is gorgeous and getting blisters on your feet is totally worth it! Let’s start out with the spectacular botanical gardens. “More than a dozen principal gardens cover 120 acres of the 207-acre ground.”

We set out to visit our favorite two gardens this first Sunday of 2016: The Japanese and the Chinese Garden. Both of them are so beautifully and genuinely designed, every time we just enjoy sticking around for a while, taking in the peaceful scenery from one of the benches at the Japanese garden, or the Chinese pagoda or the peaceful Zen garden.

As you are walking the gardens you happen upon the various galleries. Here you can educate yourself on European art from the 15th to the early 20th century as well as on American art from the late 17th to the mid-20th century.

We skipped the art-viewing part on our visit this time since high on our to-do-list was seeing the original copy of the famous Gutenberg Bible that is on display in the actual Library. Our visitors from Germany were quite surprised to see a Gutenberg Bible right here in California. And what a beautiful copy it is on top of it! We were stunned to see this book from the year 1450 in such perfect condition. The illuminations were so rich in color as having just come of the printing press. Besides the Gutenberg Bible one can admire numerous other historically important documents and books on display.

After having visited the Library and having walked through the Rose Garden we called it a day and pledged to come visit the desert garden another time.

Should you plan on visiting the Huntington Library, come with a lot of time!  You might even want to start out your visit with an English Tea experience at the Rose Garden Tea Room. It’s an event that one needs to make a reservation for ahead of time but I heard it’s totally worth it.

Check out some of SoCal’s great museums for FREE on January 30, 2016.  (Unfortunately neither the Norton Simon nor the Huntington Library has free admission on the day)


Images: Copyright ©CaliforniaGermans;



Universal Studios – Revisiting SoCal’s Famous Theme Park

Universal 1

A visit to Los Angeles is not complete without a visit to Universal Studios, Venice Beach, Sunset and Hollywood Blvd, the Chinese Theatre and of course Disneyland in Orange County. At least that’s how it used to be, a few years back.

Today we have a Disneyland theme park not only on the East and the West Coast of the USA, but also one in Europe (Paris). Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai can call one their own as well.  Visiting Disneyland therefor in the U.S might have lost some of its appeal compared to other theme parks and other famous sites unique to the USA.  While you can find a Universal Studios also in Japan and Singapore it has not yet made its way to the European continent.

Universal 2After many years living here in California but not having been back to Universal Studios for quite a while, our family decided to check it out again and I found that quite a bit has changed, or …have I changed? In my view Universal Studios has lost some of its magic vibe that had lured me in so many years ago. Then it seemed like the gateway to the secret world of movie making and movie stars. The actual machinery behind Hollywood’s magic.

Visiting Universal Studios this summer I sadly realized that it was  just another theme park competing with Disneyland in new ride attractions. And while the original “Hollywood Studio Tour“, a behind-the-scenes tour, still exists updated with modern attractions like the world’s largest 3D experience, as we were told, to me it has lost a bit of its intimate charm of the earlier days.

Instead of the small trolley train, that had room only for three people in each of its rows, was riding low and put you close to the action, today you’ll find big trolly buses that hold double the number of people and put you high above the action. On the other hand these robust and technically equipped trolley buses let you experience the latest attractions like the award-winning King Kong 360 3-D sensation created by Peter Jackson with an all around intensity that would not have been possible with the fragile little tour trains of the old days.

Universal 3Hollywood’s magic toolbox that makes unbelievable things happen in movies, has evolved and has become much more versatile thanks to modern computer simulation technology. While torrential rains and a flood took away your breath some 20 years ago, and the masses of water that burst down a hill right towards you sitting in your little tour car made you feel threatened to get swept away along with the flood; today you are part of a thrilling fight in 3-D between a scary T-rex and King Kong. In fact you are right in the middle of this spectacle getting splashed with dinosaur saliva and pushed around by KingKong, who is trying to step onto your tour bus.
The tour crowd was mesmerized and thoroughly enjoyed the experience from what I could tell by their screams and beaming faces.

Universal 4The previously mentioned torrential rains by the way still exist and still turn into a flood, but the experience is quite a different one these days so high above the action and boxed-in into your sturdy tour bus. The famous shark attack in the shark lagoon lacks some fright appeal as well. These wonderful, former attractions have lost some of its intensity and enjoyable thrill.  They now seem like a remnant of an aged Hollywood and stand in strong contrast to the modern attractions of the Hollywood Studio Tour that immerses you in a much more emotional experience.

Universal 5Part of the “Hollywood Studio Tour” is also driving by staged settings for certain TV shows and movies. As you are passing by the various small bungalows that once had been used as temporary housing for famous Hollywood icons like Doris Day, you get a glimpse into the fantastic world of Hollywood’s entertainment industry, a world that still has its home right here in the midst of Los Angeles but is impacting millions of people around the world.

I personally think that the Hollywood Studio Tour is the first ride one should engage in when visiting Universal Studios. It sets the mood for your overall experience and makes you remember what Universal Studios Park was originally all about – giving you a peek behind the scenes of famed Hollywood movie making.

Universal 6Today’s Universal Studios theme park offers an array of fun rides.  Some of them are not your usual roller coaster but rather its virtual counterpart, which can be just as wild as the real ride. The Despicable Me -Minion ride that my son and husband were looking forward to was fun but in their opinion way too short after the nearly one hour wait and therefore a bitUniversal 7 disappointing. Instead they enjoyed the Transformers-Ride much more.  And… we were terribly excited to see that Harry Potter’s Wizard World is coming to the park by spring next year! Behind some fences we could already make out the towers of Hogwarts and the crooked chimneys of Hogsmeade!

Aside of the ride attractions, which are quite different to the ones at Disneyland, and therefore not really comparable, my personal opinion is that Disneyland
Universal 8offers a more fulfilling experience than Universal Studios. In fact, just walking around Disneyland’s various theme sections is entertaining by itself.  Food options inside Universal Studios are also much more limited than at Disneyland, but there is always the Universal City Walk right outside the official theme park gates that comes to the rescue with quite a variety of restaurants that are sure to please any palate.

Overall, we will be back, and be it only to check out Hogwarts and Harry Potter’s Wizard World!


Images: © Copyright 2015 NH Fuertes. All Rights Reserved.