Americans love their acronyms and after SB (Santa Barbara), we headed to LA (Los Angeles), SD (San Diego) and TJ (Tijuana, Mexico)…
Initially we were considering not visiting LA at all, it just felt like too big a city and too much to choose from… I was also a bit worried about driving around, maybe getting lost in Inglewood (as they rap in Tupac’s California Love – Inglewood, up to no good) or South Central… And we were not interested in spending our precious time visiting the Universal Studios or any of the other touristy places in the city. Our Canadian friends suggested that we stop in Santa Monica, where they used to live – it’s supposed to be the nicest part of LA with the beach and the seaside. However, with our tight schedule, we thought that we didn’t need to see another beach after having just visited Santa Barbara (and living by a beach with palm trees in Puerto Rico…).
Nevertheless, in the end we decided that Los Angeles would be a good place to stop on our way south, and after quite a crap hotel in SB, we found a cheapish hotelroom in a Best Western in Westwood where we relaxed after a long day. I have already mentioned that we had a nice morning fika with Ing, another Swedish blogger in the Belgian Le Pain Quotidien and she showed us around the UCLA campus in Westwood.
The UCLA campus, the white crosses are representing the American soldiers who have died in the Iraq war. The architecture of the university campus reminded me of the university in Bologna.
Afterwards, we took a drive in Beverly Hills and along Sunset Boulevard to look at the rich and famous – not that we saw anybody famous but the houses were huge!
Mulholland Drive sign – it was difficult to take photos of the big mansions as they are hiding behind high fences…
O wanted a photo with the Hollywood sign and I had read that you get a good view from the mall complex called Hollywood and Highland, which includes the Kodak theatre (where the Oscars are held every year) – so we got to see the sign, the theatre and some of the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame all in the same place and in less than 30 minutes 🙂
The Hollywood sign seen from the Hollywood & Highland mall on Hollywood Boulevard.
The reason for our hurry was that we were supposed to meet up with O’s Mexican friend J in San Diego, and cross the border to Tijuana (TJ) the same evening. Traffic is notoriously heavy in LA and it took us a while to get out, but then the drive was smooth down to San Diego. We picked up J outside her office, passing the Santa Fe Train Depot (trainstation with a Mexican architecture) and the trams that go to TJ. O hadn’t seen J since they studied together in the Netherlands (Haarlem) in 1999!! They were really happy to see each other again and it didn’t seem like they had been apart for so long. J took us to the Marriott hotel downtown where there is a cool rooftop terrace and we had a spectacular view over the arena, the bridge and a beautiful sunset!
San Diego at sunset
After a tasty dinner at the new restaurant Hawthorn’s (är det månne samma som hagtorn på svenska?), just north of Balboa Park, J and her very friendly neighbour A took us to the Mexican border. It felt strange to walk across just like lots of Mexicans do every day – one guy told us in passing that he studied in San Diego and lived in TJ. Nobody checked our passports and all of a sudden we were on the other side of the border – in Mexico (in contrast with the difficulties you might encounter when you cross the border in the other direction…)!
O’s other Mexican friend from his year at a Dutch university, J picked us up at the McDonald’s (apparently a common meeting point) and invited us for our second dinner that night! I have already written about our dinner and tequila drinking at La Cantina de los Remedios (in the post Another quickie, from Mexico – the link above):
J and his friend D took us to a cool local restaurant (yes, including the ever-present mariachi bands – but no tourists, only Mexican guests) where we shared a bottle of tequila, and had a great dinner with tortillas, refried beans, guacamole (my favourite), pico de gallo (tomato-based salsa) and fried meat. Yummy! We only had a few shots of tequila before we mixed it with Fresca (I think the lemonade was called) or Coca-cola! Interesting, I haven’t drunk a lot of tequila, but definitely never mixed with something (except in cocktails of course).
Next time I will write about the last part of the trip; impressions of Tijuana, la ruta del vino (more winetasting) and Mexican breakfasts…