Big Little Lies IRL: MTV Visits Monterey, California
Channel your inner Laura Dern in total schmancy paradise...
TELLY. What a great invention. Literally loads of great things to stare at instead of doing legitimately boring adult stuff, like checking that serious looking envelope on your doormat, or washing the bins out.
Telly can be extravagant fantasy - like Game of Thrones, where the threats to humanity and regular gougings really put your problems into perspective - but it can also be relatable and emotionally nourishing, like 2017's megahit Big Little Lies.
What do you mean, 'I've been so busy washing my bins I haven't seen Big Little Lies'? Okay, think: unnaturally beautiful people having a really rubbish time from the comfort of their massive houses. Think: Laura Dern chucking her smartphone into her infinity pool, swirling a skull-sized glass of malbec. Think: cosy, campfire indie soundtracking Shailene Woodley aggressively jogging on a beach. Are you reading this and thinking 'OH GOD THIS SOUNDS FLIPPING BRILLIANT' because if so, congratulations on being correct.
Big Little Lies was a powerful, dreamy, turbulent and explosive drama. Think Desperate Housewives meets The Girl On The Train, chucked in a Nutribullet with a pinch of spirulina. But it's over for now, and we don't know when (or even if) Season Two is happening. So we basically rang up HBO and said 'Look we're getting withdrawal symptoms here, guys' and they totally understood where we were coming from and said 'Right why don't you come to Monterey, Cali, and we'll show you some locations and generally immerse you in all things BLL, you pampered little prince' and we said 'Yep great, literally getting on the next plane'.
This is what we learned, in the name of investigative journalism. You are welcome.
EXCERCISE IS SEXY
Phwoar. Everyone in Big Little Lies is so fitness obsessed, aren't they. Skin literally glowing, cast wearing thigh-snogging lycra while they go about their business. We knew a big part of Cali culture was fitness and wellness and other things ending in -ness, so before we got blitzed on delicious red wine we knew some activities were ESSENTIAL.
We went to the suitably dreamy-sounding Lover's Point for some gentle kayaking, which is an affordable way to get out on the water and have a bit of a splash about. Better still, there were seals and otters just lollopping around on the water when we went out into the bay. Some people even say they saw a DOLPHIN just glidiing along, seeing what was going on. We didn't take any pictures of them though because a) imagine dropping your iPhone in the ocean, un-LOLLE and b) if you bother the otters you can get a $10,000 fine. TEN GRAND. I mean it would almost be worth it but equally adorbz animals exist at the aquarium, which we'll cover later.
Hiking is also immensely popular around these parts, because, spoiler alert: THE WHOLE AREA IS SO DARN DREAMY. We went to Point Lobos, which is a gentle walk that has loads of really secluded beaches dotted along. Tip: go on a Monday, when everyone's at work in their dumb offices.
Look at this view! The jewel-blue water. The sand as white as icing sugar. We have this as our new phone wallpaper, and tbh I'd suggest you make it yours, too.
POWER LUNCHES FOR THE WIN
Hey, so: notice how everyone in the world of BLL has ridiculous, high-flying careers, and dresses effortlessly from wardrobes of really nice clothes? Everyone's always on show, like, who knows which one of your enemies you might bump into, you know? So we thought it was really important to hit up some iconic spots so we could eat lunch outside, with our sunglasses on, and scowl at people intermittently from under the rim of a wine glass.
The food scene in Monterey is absolutely ridiculous. Like, it's so good. No wonder everyone has to keep exercising. First we hit up Paluca Tratorria on Fisherman's Wharf - the inspo for that coffee shop that Madeline always hangs out at. We had some immense fresh pasta, loads of fresh tomato-topped crostini and had some of the tastiest cannoli ever. MOAR FOOD PLS.
One night, we drove just out of Monterey to Carmel, one of the most expensive postcodes in the area (it's where Nicole Kidman's Celeste lives, dontchaknow). We visited the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, a frankly ridiculous hotel/restaurant in the hills that looked like Tracey Island mixed with Iron Man's mansion. Here's some things we ate: seared duck with deep fried avocado. Squid with dollops of a black garlic sauce. A heirloom tomato salad with a fat puddle of burrata. Monterey knows how to eat.
GO WINE TASTING LIKE A SCHMANCY RICH PERSON
If there was an Oscar category for "best acting while holding a glass of wine", there is no doubt Laura Dern would win it for her portrayal of wine-quaffing Lady of Business, Renata Klein. Laura Dern is the Picasso of 'acting while holding a glass of wine'. In an increased effort to Be More Dern, we knew wine tasting would form an essential part of our trip.
Wine tasting is genius; all the joys of trying loads of wine, but without the social stigma of having to drink bottle after bottle of the stuff. Want to broaden your palette in a classy setting without getting so inebriated you can't think without wanting to vomit? DO A VINEYARD.
We went to Folktale, a relatively new vineyard on the ~scene (Cali has a vineyard scene, OK, because Cali). They gave us a tour and then treated us to a tasting menu which paired their red, whites and roses with some stonkingly good food. Even though the food is schmancy in Monterey, it's all quite pared-back and simple.
MONTEREY'S AQUARIUM IS LIT(ERALLY AMAZING)
You've been to an aquarium before. You might think you've seen it all. But this is legit the coolest aquarium on the planet. And because Renata Klein has a meeting at this aquarium in Big Little Lies, and due to the aforementioned quest to Be More Dern, we knew we had to go.
Monterey Aquarium is seriously immense. There's so much to name, but two things stick out: the Ocean's Edge Wing, which is the name of a 28-foot, 333,000 gallon (!!) exhibition which contains Californian coastal marine life. You can visit it over several levels, seeing different pockets of marine life hanging out in this singular ecosystem. It's amazing.
The other thing is their jellyfish exhibition, which uses something called a kreisel tank, which creates a circular flow of water to suspend and support the weird, organless aliens. The room is coolly lit, and the jellyfish just kind of throb around you like you're in a lava lamp. It's totally, completely mesmerising (also: how weird are jellyfish?)
FINALLY: THE BRIDGE
THE BRIDGE. Is there a more iconic bridge in pop culture than the Big Little Lies bridge? Ok, there's probably at least four or five. But Bixby bridge, located in Big Sur, is a must visit for anyone wanting to feel like they're immersing themselves in the world of Big Little Lies.
BIG LITTLE LIES IS RELEASED ON BLU-RAY AND DVD FROM 31 JULY, COURTESY OF HBO HOME ENTERTAINMENT.
By Chris Mandle