This was Sunday, for those of us (namely me) having trouble keeping track of what day it is. We had breakfast in the hotel and got an early start, leaving before 8:30. The plan was to go to the theater we would be going to today and buy the tickets a day early. It’s one of those “reserved seating” theaters and we didn’t want to wait too much longer in case things were selling out. Turns out the prices were more than we were willing to pay – $16.75 and no matinee prices. That just seemed ridiculous. When did going to the movies get so expensive? Or are these just LA prices? We found much cheaper prices online – less than half that – at a theater in Burbank and still reserved seating – so got those instead.
But the theaters were in a shopping center called Americana at Brand, and we liked the look of it. It was completed in 2008, so Dan hadn’t seen it before, and we decided to come back at night, so more on this later. It’s about a mile away from the hotel and we walked, so got 2 miles in before we even really began our day. We ended up walking almost 11 miles today.
We drove over to Pasadena and didn’t have much planned here, just a walking tour in the morning and the Norton Simon in the afternoon since we skipped that yesterday. One of the first things you’re reminded of as you get into central Pasadena is that it is the home of the famous Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s day, and they were already in full prep mode for that. The signs on the lamppost as seen above map out the parade route, which is 5.5 miles and most of that up Colorado Blvd, which is also Route 66. In addition to the marked lampposts, you also see bleachers set up in nooks and crannies between building as shown below.
We went first towards City Hall and ran across these guys in the parking lot.
Meet Mack and Jackie Robinson, brothers from Pasadena. Mack won a silver medal for the 200 meter dash in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Jackie, a name you probably recognize, was the first African-American major league baseball player. That’s Mack on the right, eternally facing City Hall, as he stayed in Pasadena his whole life. Jackie is on the left looking east towards Brooklyn where he lived as an adult.
And this is City Hall. Completed in 1927 for just 1.3 million at the time, it is a significant example of what’s referred to as the City Beautiful Movement in architecture, which inspired architects in the early part of the last century to create public buildings that reflected grandeur. If you are a Parks and Recreation fan, it’s also the exterior of Pawnee City Hall.
Above and below taken from the interior courtyard.
The entrance from the back side. Or is it the front? Not sure it matters.
We walked around town a bit just looking at the shops and restaurants and things to do. Eventually we worked our way out of the central district and adjacent to it is Caltech, or California Institute of Technology, the west coast version of MIT. Dan applied here back in the day but was waitlisted, although he said he would have gone to Penn even if he had been accepted here. But it’s a good school, considered one of the premier science colleges in the world. It ranks 13th in the production of Nobel Laureates, but because it’s small it’s probably #1 from a per capita perspective. A 2015 Pomona College Study ranked in #1 in the percentage of graduates who go on to earn PhDs. The next few photos are of the campus. There were a fair number of people walking around, using it as a park.
We spent a decent amount of time after this walking through some residential areas. It felt creepy somehow to take photos of people’s houses so we got nothing to show for it. But it was pretty :) Lots of big houses from the 20’s with big lawns, wide fronts, and semi-circular driveways.
We worked our way to a fast food joint called Yoshinoya, which was called Beef Bowl when Dan lived here and was a place he frequented. For Sacramento types, think I Love Teriyaki – same set up.
Above: Dan had to get what he always got back in the day, their traditional beef and teriyaki chicken. Below: I got angus steak with honey walnut shrimp. I liked both of mine better than his. And I Love Teriyaki is better :) But you know how that is – you have to revisit haunts and it was worth the stop – a cheap and satisfying lunch.
We stopped an at a used book store that also had an antique art collection and Dan talked with the owner quite a bit. He thought about getting some prints he found that he liked, and we even went back later in the day to see if he could haggle the guy down to what he would be willing to pay, but he was gone for the day. So perhaps we will come back sometime this week.
This is the entrance to the Norton Simon museum, with a front yard filled with Rodin sculptures. Dan couldn’t resist.
The first two galleries, which covered 14th-18th century art, didn’t have a lot that interested us. The one above caught my attention only because it was a self portrait. Her name is Marie-Genevieve Bouliar, and she painted this in 1792. It’s pretty rare to see a female artist anytime before the 21st century.
The 19th century gallery was our favorite, with a nice collection of some well known artists, including Renior above, and Monet below.
I’m not always a Van Gogh fan, but I liked these next three. Above is a portrait of his mother from 1888. Below is Portrait of a Peasant from the same year.
Van Gogh did this in 1889 when he was a self-admitted patient at Saint-Remy-de-Provence after a series of nervous breakdowns. While it’s hard to see in this photo, the brush strokes are very thick, adding quite a bit of texture to the paining, almost like a bas-relief sculpture. It’s one of Van Gogh’s favorites.
Picasso, Woman with a Book.
In the back was a nice sculpture garden with a little coffee shop and places to sit.
This was may favorite piece in the garden. The placement of it was thoughtful, with the color of the ice plant ground cover and the blue cedar in the background worked with the statue to create this interesting sea of blue-green. It worked. Below is the same artist, Aristide Maillol.
The gardens themselves were interesting, too. Dan thought this looked alien.
The downstairs gallery was all Asian art. This is a temple wall with scenes from Krishna’s life, 19th century India.
Siddhartha (Buddha) Meditating below the Jambu Tree. From 3rd century Pakistan. There were an interesting number of pieces from Pakistan from the 100s-300s. I don’t remember seeing a lot from Pakistan in our travels so this stood out to me for some reason.
Stele with Vishnu and other Hindu Deities, 12th century India. I love seeing old things with this much detail, always makes me appreciate the time and talent it took to do this stuff by hand.
This view of the garden taken from the inside, the entire wall was glass.
We went back to our room and rested for a bit before heading out again for dinner. We walked to a restaurant in downtown Glendale called Carousel, which served Middle Eastern food. It was a fixed price set menu so there was nothing to order, you just sat down and they starting bringing things out.
First course was mezza or small dishes, we thought of it as cold appetizers – various things to eat with the pita bread. Pretty typical fair for Middle Eastern cuisine: tabbouleh, a chili paste which was one of my favorite from this round, hummus, baba ganoush, dolmas, a coleslaw that had too much dill in it for my taste but Dan liked it. Of course olives and carrots, etc., and a dish we had to ask what it was but we really liked it – turned out it was cracked wheat.
The warm appetizers included some sausage in the dish at the top of the photo which I liked more than Dan did. The larger plate had beef balls, fried chickpea, a salad, and what I thought was the best bite of the night, something they called cheese pie, the pastry item. Three kinds of cheese fried in a sort of crispy filo dough. I could’ve eaten a plate of that.
The main course was two different kinds of rice and a meat platter with chicken, lamb and beef.
We were out of there in a just a little over and hour and wanted to walk off some of that food, so headed back to the Americana Brand. It’s definitely our kind of place, a mix of retail, restaurants and residential, something you don’t see a lot of in Southern California especially, but we really enjoyed it. The shops were mostly closed at this time, but the restaurants were open. And it was decorated nicely for Christmas and there were lots of people about taking photos. We joined them.
A dancing fountain was the highlight of the central area.
The little house where Santa lived and during the day kids would line up for photos. He was out working that night. (Christmas Eve)
The other side of the dancing fountain which looped around a sculpture.
And a nice big tree that looked much better at night than it did during the day. But isn’t that always the case? Below are the exposed elevators that take residents up to their units.
And that was our day. We walked through the Glendale Galleria on our way out – which was mostly closed at this time, approaching 8pm, but you could still walk through the 2 block 3 story mall – and ended up helping a lost couple find their way to the movie theaters. Our good deed for the day I guess.
Merry Christmas, everyone!