December 30, 2007

19 hours in LA

It was a mission of mercy. B2W3 (my brother -- I'm tired of writing out "Best Brother in the Whole Wide World") had driven to SoCal for work, days before, and was coming back Sunday. It's a long, boring drive and we'd tossed around the idea of my driving there with him then flying back, but it hadn't worked out. But the reverse would work and, really, I had nothing better to do.

Saturday I left cold, drizzly NorCal and flew to cold, sunny SoCal, landing at the Bob Hope Airport in next to no time. (I had waited in the San Jose airport for my departure time about twice as long as the duration of the flight. Of course, since I'd gotten there early, the security checkpoint was a breeze.) B2W3 picked me up and we were off to beautiful downtown Burbank, which was my only condition of going -- hey, I grew up on Laugh-In.

My evidence (click to enlarge):

We found a place to watch the big Patriots-Giants game over dinner and I got to immerse myself in LA culture. I know I was sitting next to someone in "the biz" at the bar, but I still have no idea what he did. Later, while driving around soaking up still more culture, I was astonished to see that they have CVS pharmacies down there -- I had no idea there were any on the west coast. Growing up in New York, CVS was just about my favorite place to shop (this was pre-Target, people) so I had to visit for old times' sake. We went to one later that night and luckily we didn't pick a 24-hour one, since B2W3 almost had to physically drag me out at closing as it was. Good times.

Speaking of shopping, where else can one truly observe and absorb the culture of a place more than in its malls and shopping centers? After the game ended, I had a nice time walking around the Valencia Town Center for a while, wishing more stores were open but glad that some were open that late. It definitely didn't feel like home, but I couldn't say whether it was better or worse, or exactly how it was different; it just was. The only observation I have to share is that some of the store personnel seem even more indifferent to their customers there than they do here.

The most notable thing on the mall directory was something that it hadn't occurred to me I'd be able to indulge in, though it probably should have: Pinkberry. This is yet another place I've heard a lot about but which I'd never been to since I hadn't been to LA in years. It was on my mind because I've seen the AmEx Plum Card commercial featuring them almost every day for the past two weeks or so. I have to admit, I like the phrase "swirly goodness." That shop was closed by then, but we decided we'd get there this morning. While looking up their hours, I came across a blog wherein the blogger makes it very clear how she feels about Pinkberry's product. I'm not one to just go on one person's opinion, though, so I was still determined to sample it.

I tried a smidgen of each of the two flavors to see which I preferred, and I went with the green tea. I don't agree with that blogger - it was definitely a very different, very tart, very yogurt-y taste, but it wasn't bitter. At $4.50 a pop with a topping, I probably won't be a regular customer when they finally get I'm sure they will...but it was definitely a refreshing treat.

All my goals and shopping needs being met, we headed back north in the B2W3mobile, gratefully. There's really only so much new culture a person can take, and 19 hours was just about enough.