So the plan was to leave LA on Saturday 11th to start the 400 or so mile drive up to San Francisco, however we just hadn’t done enough in LA so we persuaded each other another night we needed.
We headed to Charlie and Tia’s local diner for a typical American breakfast (think eggs, pancakes and shit loads of coffee) and took some of their advice to check out the nearby ‘town’ (It’s a town but nearly as big as a city in the UK) of Pasadena.
Pasadena is a lovely place – very vibrant and welcoming with a host of cool thrift and vintage shops to boot. We had a ponder around and did some window shopping. We also bought some frozen yogurt which was devine. The shop which you got it from was cool, you just poured your own Mr Whippy! Something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a kid.
We came to a junction crossing and there was some well weird guy playing a flute whilst his car was stopped at the lights. I, rather stupidly, didn’t get a video, but he was proper going for it, head bobbing and shit. Had everyone who was waiting to cross in stitches.
After we’d seen most of Pasadena we headed to downtown LA to take a look around and also to hopefully get into a modern art museum called The Broad. We got there and the despite it not shutting until 8pm, they wouldn’t let us join the queue at 6pm because the queues were so long. The guy told us to come back at 9am in the morning (even though it doesn’t open until 10am) because it’s that popular. Some people even waited 3 hours in line to get in!
Rather disappointed, we took a stroll about and saw some of the downtown sights. The skyline was impressive and given it’s winter the temperature wasn’t too bad either at 16 degrees. We saw some impressive architecture – City Hall, The Walt Disney Concert Hall, Wells Fargo’s offices and The Broad building itself which is rather cool.
We rather stupidly hadn’t sorted out any accommodation for the evening so we found the cheapest/most convenient place online and headed over to check it out. After taking a number of wrong directions (the freeways (motorways) and highways (A roads) can be difficult to navigate sometimes) we found the place, but it was rather scarily was slap bang in the middle of South Central LA – not the most secure of areas shall we say; about a mile away from Compton. Que Charlie to save us and offer us his (and Tia’s) place for the evening for a second night on the bounce! We got there after polishing off some very yummy sushi (Yakuza Sushi if you’re ever in town) and were introduced to their lovely friends Melanie and John, which was very helpful because Melanie was from Santa Barbara so gave us some tips about our next destination.
Before we hit the road to Santa Barbara we decided to give The Broad another go, so we made the short journey Downtown to join the queue of people outside the bizarre but eye catching building where the art exhibits are housed. The building is designed on a sort of mesh, a bit like the bandages cyclists put over road rash – although I’m sure they didn’t have this in mind when they constructed it. The pavements nearby also have some funky bushes bursting out of them.
We eventually made it in after a good hour of waiting in line and took a look around the critically acclaimed gallery. I have to admit that some modern art is lost on me. There were literally pictures of scribble. Can anyone explain the concept? Is it because the guys that created them were complex characters who smash back LSD like it’s going out of fashion and people believe this is them ‘expressing’ themselves? If so then fine, but as I didn’t know most of the artists I just thought some of it was shit. I mean, there was a gold plated urinal – that isn’t art mate. There was, however, a pretty clever infinity room exhibit which I’ve posted a vid of below. I’ve also posted a few of the other items which we saw:
Enroute we pulled over to check out a retail outlet and purchase Milly a birthday present, in Camarillo. It was like Cheshire Oaks on ‘roids: twice as big with much better shops and none of the stuff is seconds.
We eventually made it to Santa Barbara just before sunset and found our first ever motel. Despite motels seeming to be a tad seedy or insecure (which is undoubtably derived from many films which they feature in) this one was lovely. Clean, pleasant and the staff were lovely. We didn’t hang about there for too long as we wanted to see what eye pleasures there were before dark set in. Santa Barbara is a very, very nice area – god knows how much the house prices are but I would expect the average price to be at least in the seven figures. We danced up in the late afternoon sunshine to a local landmark – The Mission – which is an 18th century monastery which I believe did a whole world of good for the region during the civil war. You can go for a tour of the place but we only had about 24 hours in the area so decided against lining the pockets of the good monks. We noticed on the way back to the motel that Santa Barbara must be a heavily religious area as every block or two there is some synagogue, mosque, hall of Jehovas or church. We Googled it and there are 51 places of religious worship in the area which is a bit overkill considering the area is probably just as big as Altrinham.
It grew darker so we returned to the motel via a 7eleven for some tea.
The morning rose from the east and we arose from our motel bedroom and set about the day by first of all going for breakfast on the beach. We grabbed a pastry and headed to Stearns Wharf – a large pier protruding from a beautiful 35 metre deep golden sand beach. On the pier was a host of restaurants and a sea life museum. The latter we had a look around and touched some of the sea cucumbers, sea slugs, puffer sharks and star fish. The pier was also home to a flock of pelicans and the odd seal or two.
We wandered about the delightful little town and nipped into a record shop to grab some CDs for the journey. We really fancied some California type tune. Maybe some Dr Dre, 2pac, The Eagles or possibly some Red Hot Chilli Peppers, but alas they had none on CD so we left with the best we could find, Ludacris. After record shopping, Milly gained a craving for some fish and chips so we meandered back to the pier and went to the Moby Dick restaurant to get some.
Post beach and pier we ventured over to The Botanical Gardens a little north of the town. The bloke at the gate mentioned there were some lovely views of the town and coast and we were delighted to see them. The gardens were made up of indigenous flora to California which is unusual because when the Europeans came over in the 1700s they infected the region with their own plants and flowers which reduced the indigenious plants significantly. We had an enjoyable stroll about and then took countless snaps of the landscape to conclude our time in Santa Barbara nicely.
Back on the road north again over to Pismo Beach, but not before stopping a number of times to take in the wonderful California landscapes. This place can seriously give New Zealand a run for its money and that says something!