Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Claire's big America trip - day fourteen

What I learned

Pasadena really is a lovely place. I could live there. You know, if I really had to for any reason.

Where I ate

Breakfast was yet another blackberry "scone" from Starbucks - I am a convert to those - and a grande latte.

Lunch was at the California Pizza Company close to All Saints Church in Pasadena. My waitress, Maria, was super friendly and nice, and the view was beautiful, and the barbecued chicken pizza was scrumptious - I loved the addition of coriander, it added a certain je ne sais quoi, as did the applewood smoked bacon. (I've noticed that bacon in America often seems to be applewood smoked, and while I don't really know what that is, the bacon in American often seems to be delicious, so I'd say they're onto a winner there.)

Dinner at Du Bar's in Studio City (not Studio 60, haha, I get that joke now) was purely functional and a little mediocre - kind of what I had assumed American food was usually like - a cheese and bacon burger that bore no ressemblance to the similar sounding but infinitely superior meal I had yesterday

Where I wrote

Determined to make my word count today (and I think I did), and being done with all the rushing around, I spent an hour in Vroman's scribbling away, and then after lunch another hour in Sabor 2, which is a very cool and trendy place to hang out but where the water tasted of very weak lemon squash and the caffe con leche was nothing like the ones from Spain.

Vroman's, though, did not disappoint. It's an enormous and very cool independent bookshop that also sells things like bags and shoes (?), and has a posh stationery shop attached to it. What with it being the last day I bought a couple of cheesy souvenirs and caved in to buying a novel, "Helen of Pasadena", which is probably not the kind of thing I normally read, but hey, how many other novels do you know that are set there? (Yes, yes, gap in the market - maybe my next book will be about a Brit who moves there in desperate hopes of meeting her favourite actor.)

American experience of the day

I spent the evening at a political book club, where they loved me, particularly when I told them (truthfully) that I'd scheduled my flight home so that I could be there. (Thankfully, it wasn't drizzling, so it didn't get cancelled.) It was fascinating. We were discussing a book called "The Whites of their Eyes" (which I'd read a decent chunk of, and enjoyed) and the discussion was well structured and I was able to ask questions. I learned a lot and it was a great environment for me. I loved being surrounded by other politically minded people and the buzz as they were planning trips to neighbouring states to help register voters. "Shame none of us speak Spanish," one of them said, and I said that I did, and that I'd like to come and help on the campaign, at which point I was offered a spare room in Woodland Hills. The aptness of this will not be lost on you if you know who else is from Woodland Hills - if you don't, never mind.

LA experience of the day

I always find it a bit nerve-wracking using public transport for the first time in a new city, and never quite knowing how safe it is. But although I was a bit nervous on the way home (until I got back on the gold line to Pasadena, because only nice people live there, apparently) I'm very glad I did it - I feel like I had a truly Californian experience, from the man who was "moved by the Spirit" to sing to us, to the young men practising transcendental meditation and then engaging a quantum physicist in debate about which was the most appropriate belief system.

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