postcards from Pasadena

Postcards from Pasadena

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.

Pasadena Coin

pasadena palm trees

classic car


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.)

Sephora, my spiritual home

US Flag

Zara, Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, Ca

F21, Pasadena, Ca

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…)

night market

at the night market

Santa Anita raceway

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.

California sunset

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.

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books by Amber Eve
  • Yeah jetlag’s a bitch 🙂 And thanks for sharing these awesome pictures. Have a great time! xo Sabina | Oceanblue Style

    September 8, 2015
  • I always find jet lag is worst on day 2, because 72 hours of messed up sleep hits at that point and I seem to run out of adrenaline. So impressed you seem to get it all out of the way on the first full day.

    September 8, 2015
  • TinaD


    It is amazing how much of California there actually is (especially from the perspective of someone familiar with European geography–a drive to the mall in the US is the equivalent distance of a trip to France. Or Wales.) The maps fool you. Florida is that way too, although for whatever reason people are less inclined to walk there, so it isn’t quite so noticeable. My solution to jetlag is a big breakfast–i find sufficient sleep can reasonably be replaced by sufficient carbohydrates.

    September 8, 2015
  • Bekki


    Pasadena is one of my favorite places to pass time. If you enjoy coffee and artisanal chocolates, you should try Amara. It’s right off Colorado Blvd.

    September 8, 2015
  • Sophikita


    I sympathise with the jet lag, I get it really badly. The weirdest experience ever was a very floaty unreal feeling that came on suddenly in a huge underground shopping mall in China, bright lights and jingly noise from every stall, all crammed together, people everywhere, and at least 4 floors (underground) that I found. Very disorientating – but actually quite fun now I look back on it (and have successfully found my way out again)!

    September 8, 2015
  • Becky


    I’ve read the entire post and I actually enjoyed it and laughed out loud! You’re awesome Amber, please keep blogging! xx

    September 8, 2015
  • Loving the sun glasses.

    September 8, 2015
  • It looks amazing! Have a fabulous trip, and try and rest off that jet lag!

    September 9, 2015
  • Natasha


    I had a killer dose of jetlag in San Francisco one time. I got terrible vertigo and started to cling to the table convinced I was in the middle of an earthquake. Caused much amusement to my sister and her Californian husband…

    October 3, 2015