On day 2 of our trip (which I really think of as Day 1, meaning I’ll be confused now for the duration of these posts…), I woke up at 4am feeling more alert than I ever have in my life. Seriously, why does that never happen at home? Think of all the things I could achieve with all the extra time! Or maybe not, actually, considering what happened next. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
I tried to get back to sleep, but my brain wasn’t having it. Every time I closed my eyes, it was all, “HIIIIIIII AMBER! IT’S ME, UR BRAIN! I CAN HAS COFFEE? I CAN HAS BREAKFAST? I CAN HAS UP NOW?” (Yes, my brain speaks like a LOLCAT, what of it?) Luckily Terry’s brain was similarly hyper, so as soon as it was light enough to see where we were going, we threw on some clothes and embarked on our First-Day-of-Vacation tradition of heading out to explore the neighbourhood on foot.
The sun was just coming up as we set out, and the world had that freshly-laundered feel to it that makes you promise yourself you’ll totally start getting up at daybreak EVERY day from now on, even although you know this will be the last time you see the dawn until the next time you wake up at 4am and can’t get back to sleep.
Anyway, for months now Terry has been telling me at regular intervals that old town Pasadena was just a short walk from our rental house, but lol, no it’s not – as we found out when we tried to walk to it, and ended up trekking for miles through suburban streets, filled with sleeping houses and early morning sunshine. Not that I’m complaining, mind you: the neighbourhood is absolutely beautiful, and every second house was declared to be my new dream home, so it was a nice way to orient ourselves, and get a feel for the place.
After a while, the houses changed to shops and restaurants, and we started to see some signs of life: my Fitbit had already buzzed, telling me I’d completed my 10,000 steps for the day, though, and if I could give you all one piece of advice, people, it would be DON’T DO THAT. As in, don’t walk 5 miles the morning after a long-haul flight, when you THINK you’re feeling A-OK, but are actually running on about 4 hours sleep over the course of two days. Trust me on this one.
Anyway, we figured we’d walked far enough at that point, so we walked back to the house, had a quick shower, and headed back out with the parental units, this time taking the car, so we could venture a bit further afield. We decided to stick to the Pasadena area, which has tons of interesting-looking restaurants and shops: honestly, you could probably spend a good few weeks exploring just this one area. I mean, we WON’T, obviously, because we have approximately a kazillionty-one other things to see on this trip, but we thought it made sense to spend our first day getting our bearings, and also tracking down the nearest Sephora, because PRIORITIES, people, PRIORITIES.
Colorado Boulevard, in the centre of Old Pasadena is basically a shopping mecca for me. It’s mostly national chains, sure, but because I’m fairly basic, I got totally over-excited to see all my favourites – ZARA, J Crew, Banana Republic, Sephora etc, all within a very short distance of each other. I could have spent the rest of the holiday stuck in an endless loop, just walking between those four stores, but as it happened, I spent all my spare cash on a black leather biker jacket in ZARA, so yeah, no more shopping for me.
(I’m joking. Not about the jacket – I DID get that, and in my defense, it’s the PERFECT jacket. I’ve been wanting to replace the faux-leather one I got from Topshop last year, which I’ve always felt was a bit bulky on me, and this one is such an amazing fit that as soon as I tried it on, I was all, “MY PRECIOUSSSSS.” I’m aiming to only buy clothes that elicit that ‘GOD, I MUST HAVE THIS’ feeling, so, yeah, I’m over-explaining this, but suffice to say, I love my jacket. I AM joking about being done with shopping, though. I mean, OBVIOUSLY.)
After that I went to Sephora, and it was there that things started to go downhill. Now, the Sephora in Pasadena is a good one – it’s huge, it’s well-stocked, and under normal circumstances, I’d probably still be there now, swatching stuff, and comparing stuff, and politely rebuffing the endless advances of the staff. As it happened, though, this Sephora was also slammed with people (Labor Day weekend, I guess, although it might just always be that busy…), and approximately 500 degrees inside. It was so hot and crowded that even I lost the will to shop, so I took the couple of items I’d grabbed, and joined the line to pay.
That was when the jetlag hit.
It was actually one of the strangest experiences ever: I mean, I’ve had jetlag before, but this came on so suddenly, and made me feel so completely spaced out that it almost felt like I was dreaming. I can’t even really explain it, but it felt like at least an hour passed in that line (it was really only a few minutes), and although I was totally aware of everything that was going on, I felt so strange that it completely freaked me out, and I ended up having a huge anxiety attack, which kind of made sense when I realised I’d now walked at least 10 miles, in the blazing sun, on very little sleep, no food, and hardly any fluid. As far as Random Acts of Stupidity go, I’d say it was one of my worst: definitely up there with that time I touched an electric fence, for sure. At least I got that jacket, though, huh?
Anyway, we headed home at that point, where I had food and water, and started feeling semi-normal again. The sensible thing to do here would’ve been to go straight to bed, but I’ve never been very sensible, and I still felt (bizarrely) wide awake, so we decided to stick to our original plan, which was to jump back in the car and head to the Santa Anita Night Market, which is basically a ton of food trucks and stalls selling every kind of Asian food imaginable. Luckily I was feeling pretty much back to normal by that point (less so after seeing a stall selling crab burgers, complete with a photo of a burger with an ACTUAL CRAB inside it, mind you: I will have nightmares for the rest of my life…)
The food was great, and there was so much choice you could have basically eaten there for the rest of your life, and never run out of options. Unfortunately it was also the busiest place in the entire world, so after a couple of hours and a whole lot of food, we decided to head home, after a fraught 15-minute search for the car, which was SOMEWHERE in the giant lot, but who knew where? Not us, because apparently we’d been too busy following the scent of food to bother remembering where we’d parked: whoops.
We finished the day (because yes, this day was STILL not over!) with a visit from our friend Erik, who lives in LA: we’d last seen Erik a few months ago when he was in Edinburgh, and it was so good to see him again and chill out for a while. And so ended day one: or day two, or whatever the hell we’re calling it. It actually felt to me like about FIVE days, and I’m pretty sure this post will take at least that long to read, so congratulations to anyone who made it all the way to the end: don’t worry, I think I’m probably still pretty wired from the jetlag, so I’ll hopefully have calmed down by my next post. Or, you know, not.