Gruntled

Bougainvilleas trained into a tree.

A smart way to tame bougainvilleas at the John Paul Getty museum – one of the highlights of our trip to California.

Yesterday, while being driven along one of LA’s interminable highways, I noticed a billboard advertising an airline that claimed, in regard to its trans-atlantic service: “Leave disgruntled, arrive gruntled”. Well, I think it’s pretty difficult to complete a trans-Pacific crossing in a gruntled state, no mater how you were feeling when you started. It’s a long, long way.  However, in spite of the usual cramped conditions and a truly awful breakfast, we did arrive pretty gruntled. It’s good to be here.

In the middle of the night ActionMan looked out the window & by chance we were passing over the lights Apia, capital of Western Samoa. A pretty, if lonely sight. Shortly after, I looked out again and this time spotted a single, even more lonely light in the middle of the dark expanse of ocean.

We certainly left loneliness behind once we arrived though. Around 20 million people – approximately the population of Australia – live within approx. 36,515 square miles – that’s LA & immediately surrounding counties. (My niece has very kindly calculated this for me).

I will now put this is perspective by saying that is equivalent to the population of Australia within a space only slightly larger than Tasmania. (I hate it when foreign writers discuss the sizes of places by comparing them to US or European localities, that I have no idea how big they are, so now I’m getting back at them, heheh).

Except I think you physically couldn’t fit 20 million people in Tassie because it is so mountainous. You’d also have to remove all the rainforest. LA had no rainforest to remove, but the environmental footprint of 20 million people relying on cars to get them around, and air con to make their buildings habitable, must be truly immense. I find it shocking.

Also shocking was the discovery of snickers-coated toffee apples at a mall last night; that even small take away coffee cups are bigger than a Sydney regular (and you drink it out of straws); and that I don’t have enough room in my luggage for all the books I want to buy at Barnes & Noble (so cheap!).

Not shocking but bemusing are the revelations that Americans have trouble with our accent, that children don’t play in the wonderful water features of the John Paul Getty Museum , and that the food is – actually – quite good.  Oh, and being asked, in the shop that sold the snickers-covered toffee apples, if I was “ready to be helped?” They certainly take service seriously over here. And being unable to find my way out of Target (do you just walk out the door? Is it all free? Sadly, no).

At the exciting / wonderful end of the spectrum of LA travel experiences: definitely the John Paul Getty Museum, with its wonderul creamy stone architecture, beautiful gardens, and absorbing galleries; the vista of distant mountains that you can glimpse when the dust lifts in the afternoon; the attractive Spanish style architecture and lively atmosphere of Irvine Spectrum Mall at night; the lovely balmy evening air; the pool at the apartments we’re staying at; and of course catching up with my niece, her husband and their three little girls.

Yes, I’m very, very gruntled. And we’ve only been here two days.

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4 thoughts on “Gruntled

  1. Glad to hear that your ’round-the-world trip has started off well. I’m from California (although not SoCal), so I’m happy that you’re enjoying your time there. And I love hearing about your take on the place! LA is a lot less smoggy not than it used to be, but the summer is typically the worst time of year for it. I’m a bit confused by the coffee-out-of-straws thing… Did you get cold/iced coffee? That will be served with straws, but I’ve never seen regular hot coffee drinks served with one. You’re right that LA has a huge ecological footprint – it’s a massive sprawling city in a (near) desert.

    Some advice: LA has some amazing food, especially if you like ethnic cuisine. Try to visit a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican place if you can, or a restaurant serving true Californian cuisine, which is a fusion of Asian, South American, and Continental styles, with an emphasize on taking advantage of the fresh produce so widely available in the state. If you can, try to hit up Santa Monica (always fun), and maybe take a day trip to the Channel Islands. Then there’s all the parks (Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, the San Diego Zoo), and the La Brea Tar Pits…

    One last thing – remember to tell people that you’ve been to LA, not to California (unless you’re traveling elsewhere in the state). As a Northern Californian, I get huffy when people use LA to critique California, ’cause the rest of the state is so different. I’m sure SoCal folk feel the same way about the Bay Area, too. 😀

  2. Yes Priscilla, snickers covered! And they are huge. Nice to know you’re still tracking me, hope all’s well in Sydney.

    Hi Gori Girl, it’s nice you haven’t forgotten me – I haven’t forgotten you & I’ll be visiting your blog again once we’ve settled in Ghana. Life’s a bit hectic right now. I have had some very good food in LA. Although I give it a bit of a serve in my blogs, I’m convinced I’d like to go back & spend more time in California b4 my niece comes back home to live. It was to rushed a visit to do much this time. I definitely distinguish LA from California – it just sems an entity in itself, almost divorced from a surrounding state. Also I’m beginning to suspect the straws are just one of my niece’s idiosyncracies – makes it easier to drink coffee when on the run with a car full of children.

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