Thank you for long weekends! I’m currently sat in Union Station, an iconic landmark of Los Angeles. Passengers are freely playing the pianos as I wait for my return train back to Santa Barbara. On Sunday, my lovely Sal from Seattle and I were lucky enough to run the beautiful streets of Pasadena in their annual 1/2 Marathon. What a fabulous weekend and another reason for a blog post… and maybe a hot bath!
Electrolytes, anti- chaf balm and running trainers in hand, I arrived in LA on Friday evening, after a pleasant journey with the Amtrak train service: the Pacific Surfliner that runs up and down, offering beautiful views as it hugs the majestic California coastline. Sal and I stayed in Inglewood, close to the airport, in a quaint guest house that we found thanks to the beloved Airbnb. Happy to be reunited… we set off Saturday morning to explore LA, and to fuel our bodies for the upcoming day!
The rather long bus ride was worth it as we enjoyed a vegan brunch/ feast Downtown LA. This was followed by an unexpected Edinburgh reunion in the Last Bookstore! 3 friends who are spending the year at Berkeley were also travelling in LA, before their semester starts this week; a wonderful surprise! Downtown LA is great and there’s a lot to do… though it is hard to get from place to place in LA as it is so vast. Alas, we explored on foot until riding the metro to Santa Monica. Here, we collected our bibs for the race and strolled along the sand from Santa Monica pier, along Venice Beach. The sun was setting over the Pacific and I was back in the company of a very special friend… a perfect Saturday evening.
We had dinner in The Sidewalk Cafe: an all American restaurant overlooking the promenade and the ocean. It is also my Dad’s favourite, so I reminisced about the times we had been together. He discovered it in 1986 whilst living there, as a Maths teacher. It’s fair to say that it is still going strong 30+ years on… After ice cream from the famous Salt and Straw, we endured the long journey back to our next little Airbnb in Pasadena and got to bed, ready (or not) for our 1/2 the next day.
Sunday morning! The race started at 7am, which meant that we could watch the sunrise and the beautiful sky change colours as we were running. So many enthusiastic runners… of all ages and abilities; it was a jolly atmosphere. We started and finished at The Rose Bowl Stadium, and it was great to run through a city I had never visited before. By 9am we were done and excited to have the day to relax and see what more LA had to offer.
We stayed in Pasadena for the afternoon and had a well deserved brunch in the beautiful Old Town. Clearly many runners had the same idea, as the restaurant was flooded with people wearing their race T-shirts (with pride I’m sure). After a quick shop and stroll along the Main Street, we hopped on the bus to Griffith Observatory; where we enjoyed the spectacular views of the city by night.
Grateful to have Monday off, we had a restful morning and a delicious breakfast out in Pasadena. We then spent the afternoon in the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, which was brilliant and insightful, exploring the Mammals of Africa, North America and also the journey to the creation of Los Angeles.
Having said goodbye to Sal until February, it is time for me to leave and return to Santa Barbara. Another truly exciting weekend away for me and I hope reassurance for those reading that a year abroad is absolutely what you make of it… just like most things in life.