Posts Tagged ‘bus’

A Peaceful Day in Santa Monica

Evan and I have been back in LA for about two weeks now, and we’re working on getting back into the swing of things. I’m working on some freelance projects, Evan is looking for editing work, and we’ll start figuring out where we’ll live soon. Evan also just bought a car — a used Audi A4 he found on Craigslist. He’s only had it since the weekend, so we were surprised to see that it was leaking oil yesterday, after it had already been checked out. We took it to his mechanic in Santa Monica today and it needed some work done — nothing major, but enough to leave us without a car (mine was at my parents house) for the day.

We started by walking down to the Lazy Daisy, one of our regular breakfast spots before we left. We grabbed a small, blue mosaic table in its closed-in patio, which does a decent job of making the restaurant feel removed from busy Pico, and perused the breakfast selections. I settled on an omelet and Evan chose a breakfast sandwich. We got our waters in big, thick plastic cups (the only thing that really bugs me about this restaurant — I don’t really like using plastic dinnerware — thankfully it’s only the cups, not the plates, too), then relaxed in the cool LA morning while enjoying our leisurely breakfast.

When we were done at the Lazy Daisy, we needed to brainstorm what to do next. It was still early — not even 9 a.m., so we had some pretty limited options. We thought we could find a matinee for 10ish, or maybe go down to the beach or the public library. We thought about getting a cab or a ride from the mechanics (they’d offered earlier), but then we realized something pretty revolutionary for us car-centric LA folk — we could take the bus.

We started walking down Pico, which has plenty of bus stops, and realized that though there were stops, there weren’t any route maps. Finally, after passing a few stops and making it to Santa Monica College, we found a route map, made sure we were headed to the right place, and hopped on the Big Blue Bus. It cost 75 cents for each of us, and we were at the 3rd Street Promenade in about 10 minutes. We also found out that SMC students can ride the bus for free — and plenty seemed to be taking advantage of the deal.

We walked to the library, but we were a bit early for its 10 a.m. opening time, so we checked out the movies — not much we wanted to see and nothing that started before 11:20 — and wandered around until we could head back to the big public library, a bright, airy, two-story building built around a courtyard with an arid garden, shallow and sparky fake stream, and a cafe.

At the library, we started by getting new cards, then went to use the free internet. There was a rather creepy guy sitting next to Evan who was staring at a picture of a girl in a low-cut shirt for at least 30 minutes. We mostly just read the news and checked our email.

Then we went down to the sunny downstairs reading room (the sun finally burned off the haze by 11), where we read and relaxed on a comfy bench. What a nice and peaceful way to spend the morning! And a lot of other people had the same idea — the library was full of people working, reading, researching and eating.

We headed back to the mechanic’s because we were told the car would be ready, but alas, it wasn’t, so we decided our next excursion would be a walk to a cafe by Evan’s old apartment called Bolivar. We walked down the tree-lined streets, past a corner where a small accident took place — everyone was calm and just waiting for the police — and a high school field getting covered with astroturf.

At the cafe, we ordered arepas — little Venezuelan sandwiches in hot cornmeal pouches. Yum! We each had one with mango and cheese, called the Pacifico, and one with black beans. They were delicious, especially when we added the extra cilantro-flavored sauce they added on the side. I’d only had salads and sandwichs here before, so this was quite a treat.

We walked back to the mechanic’s and still had a bit of a wait for the car, but being without the car for the day actually ended up being a lot of fun. We didn’t spend much money, we weren’t stressed by traffic and we had a good time rediscovering Evan’s old neighborhood.

An Afternoon in Oxford

Today I finally made it to Oxford for the day! I took the X90 bus, and got there in about an hour and forty minutes. I met up with friends (well, connections — I’d never met them before) and wandered around the city with them for a bit, then went out on my own to explore the many colleges, churches and gardens Oxford has to offer.

Christ Church college gardens
Christ Church College and gardens

I started with the obvious choice — Christ Church College, the biggest and most renowned of Oxford’s colleges. I got to go into the dining hall, a room full of historic portraits, excessively long tables and a giant pump bottle of Heinz ketchup. Yes, it’s still in use for students today, who all eat their meals in the hall — on Christ Church-imprinted plates, no less!I also checked out the large quad and the cathedral. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many churches crowded into a small town like at Oxford. Each college seems to have at least its own chapel, and there seem to be spires everywhere you look in the city.

The colleges also all seem to have their own beautifully manicured gardens, which are off-limits to visitors, and I could spy students picnicking, tanning and drinking beer beyond the gates in many of the colleges.

punts in oxford
Punts in Oxford

After Christ Church, I wandered into a few other colleges, then walked down to the river, where I watched people going punting. I would have loved to go, but I wasn’t going to try to manage a boat on my own or hire someone to push me along in my romantic ride for one. I considered just trying to make friends by asking strangers to hop in their boat, but I never got up my nerve. (For anyone who doesn’t know, Evan is out of town this weekend, so I was exploring on my own.)

After checking out the river, I walked down a long alleyway by Magdalen College and ended up walking under a replica of Venice’s Bridge of Sighs, which curiously just crosses over a street. This brought me to the concert hall and library. I could hear a concert going on, but it was well underway and the doors were shut.

oxford bridge of sighs
Bridge of Sighs

From there, I walked to the Radcliffe Camera and University Church, where I climbed the tower to get a view of the city.

radcliffe camera

View of the Radcliffe Camera from University Church tower

I walked around a bit more, back through the center of town, and went to check out “Oxford Castle,” which is apparently a center full of chain restaurants — quite disappointing.

The best parts of the day were definitely seeing all the gardens and Christ Church College, and climbing up the tower at University Church. Just walking around town was also really nice, since there are lots of beautiful buildings with ornate details and the weather was perfect. Some close-up shots are on their way!

You can check out all my photos on Flickr.