Our late night last night seems to have helped us adjust fairly quickly to local time because we woke up at 7:30 this morning fairly refreshed and ready to begin our day. Eager to get out and see the sights, we threw on some clothes, jumped into the car and began to drive around the Santa Monica/Marina Del Rey area. It didn’t take long to find a road that took us alongside the beach, where we admired the spray generated by the surprisingly large waves and the wide sandy expanses that stretched in both directions as far as the eye could see. The Pacific and the sky above it were virtually the same shade of blue, which was an interesting phenomenon to observe if one suspended reality long enough to envision them to be actually one-and-the-same...but I digress here by giving you this glimpse into how my imagination sometimes works!
Back to reality!
One thing that I love to do in a city that is new to me is get lost! I love driving wherever whim and fancy take me and simply seeing where I end up. As the morning’s driver, I was able to indulge this little interest, and as a result, we enjoyed a lovely, grassroots tour of the area. I must say, too, that now as the proud owner of a GPS, my love of getting lost is more rewarding - this morning, when we eventually needed to sort our directions out and get ‘un lost’, we just turned on the GPS and expertly found our way out of the self-imposed maze. What a wonderful gadget.
Tummies starting to grumble, we found a tiny little authentic Mexican restaurant in which to break our fast, and it was a lovely start to the day, sitting in open air under a roof constructed of a vine- and flower-covered archway. Little birds hopped about our feet as we enjoyed haveros ranchero (eggs basted medium resting on top of corn tortilla strips and covered with some kind of tomato-cilantro sauce, accompanied by some kind of delicious, soupy bean dish). In addition, I savoured each sip of my bowlful of strong, hot, cafe au lait. The mouth-watering recollection of that brew’s flavour has me fearing that I am about to fall off the wagon after a coffee hiatus of approximately three months...but more about that another day.
After a lovely swim in the outdoor pool at our hotel, we were picked up by a lime green shuttle bus for the only city tour we plan to take during our vacation. I should note here that Geoff and I occasionally (often?) have different types of interests when it comes to getting to know a new city - neither is better than the other, I suppose, but they are different. My preference is to ‘get lost’ for a while in a new city and to find my own adventures; to walk and then sit in local parks for a while to people-watch and acclimatize to the culture of the city; then to visit researched points of interest to capitalize on and get to know certain aspects of the city (knowing that others will get left undone). Geoff’s preference is to first accumulate knowledge of a city by taking a bus/shuttle tour of the touristy highlights; after that, he likes to go back to places that captured his attention, or to visit the new areas we have previously identified as being of interest. I have to say that I don’t really understand his preference and find city tours to be mostly boring and a waste of time and money but, despite that, I’m still ok going with him. I know full well that Geoff will reciprocate by indulging some of my penchants (for example, tomorrow morning’s activity of visiting the local farmer’s market for breakfast and a ramble). So, we comprised by finding a tour that was ‘only’ five hours in length, and this is what we spent the afternoon doing today. Matthew and I secretly agreed that this wasn’t of interest to us, but we also noted that at least we would get it done on the first full day here. In all fairness, I suppose that one of the good parts of this type of tour is that we were able to see very briefly some of the things tourists are usually interested in: Hollywood Blvd; Sunset Blvd; Rodeo drive; some celebrities’ homes (the only one of which I was rather interested in was the sight of Sean Penn’s ceramic-roofed yellow mansion, built on top of a rather steep-looking hill); the Hollywood Bowl (and the famous “HOLLYWOOD” sign on hillside); and so on. On Hollywood Blvd, we saw various famous buildings and walked on the pink stars marking celebrities of note; I even took a picture of Michael Jackson’s star.
By dinner time, we were back at our hotel and, after an attempt to swim failed (due to poolside lighting challenges) we ate dinner in the hotel’s Christmas-lit lounge and called it a day...well, Geoff did anyway (he’s snoring in the bed behind me). Matthew is lying wide awake in the same bed as Geoff for the moment, talking to his imaginary and shape-shifting friend, Bambi...sometimes boy and sometimes mouse...and occasionally humming We Wish You a Merry Christmas. I am sitting at the desk with fingertips flying, remembering our day in the way I love best...through the written word. It feels better to be away than I thought it would as I scurried around over the past week getting ready for our trip. It’s dark outside now, the atmosphere is somehow peaceful, and the world feels like a good place tonight. My mood has been reflected all day in unquenchable good-naturedness and an ear-to-ear smile.
On that note, I’m off to get into my jammies and curl up with An Irish Country Doctor. What a lovely end to a perfectly lovely day!