Thursday, August 29, 2013


Recently, a friend asked me in which of the countries I've visited I felt most at home. I was a bit stumped by the question. It's not that I couldn't answer it. If pushed to answer I think it would be the Netherlands. But my first thought was that the question was not one I would ever ask myself because the reason I travel is to feel different, rather than to feel at home. Of course there are limits to the extent I want to explore differences. I don't like physical challenges or even extreme physical discomfort, so I'm not going to canoe down the Amazon or climb mountains in the Himalayas. What I like to explore is why things are the way they are in other countries; which traditions, values and 'taken for granteds' make the places I visit different from my life here in Australia.

I always seem to have itchy feet. There's always somewhere I particularly want to go, but when an opportunity for travel presents itself, I'd go almost anywhere if I could afford it. I used to travel quite a bit for work, organising international student exchange programs. This took me to many places that were large enough to have a university, but weren't on any tourist itinerary. I learned that most places have something of interest and, if nothing else, they enrich your impressions and knowledge of the diversity that exists in any country.

So, I'm planning my next trip. My daughter will be working in Mexico for a month in November this year, so I will join her to help with caring for my grand-daughter. We'll visit places my daughter needs to spend time - Mexico City, Merida, Chetumal, but we'll probably have a week's holiday within the month and are still discussing where we might spend it.

In the spirit of making the most of chance travel opportunities I'm also planning on this trip to partially fulfill one of my long-held travel ambitions - to travel across the USA. I'd really like to drive across the US, or rather, be driven across the US because I hate driving. I think that's not going to happen, so the next best thing is to go across the US by train. And in this particular case, I can't even go right across the US, because the best, most affordable connections between Australia and Mexico go via Dallas/Fort Worth. But I've applied the travel principle of something is better than nothing and so I'm travelling from Los Angeles to Dallas by train, with a stop in San Antonio, Texas. Amtrak has so far proven to be extremely efficient, with great customer service, and amazingly cheap - even with my own 'roomette'(ugh! what an ugly word) for the two nights between LA and San Antonio.

Readers - I'm looking for travel advice. I arrive in LA at the end of October and then I'll have two days in LA, three in San Antonio, and two in Dallas. What part of LA should I stay in? (remember I won't have a car). What should I see on my stops? I've been to both LA and San Antonio before, but I'm sure there are lots of interesting things I've not seen or done. Dallas is unknown territory. Are there yarn shops I should visit anywhere?

Any advice or suggestions are welcome. Gratefully received, even.


Lynne said...

Sounds like you'll experience many new things!

Cecilia said...

LA is not the easiest to get around without a car, but if you stay somewhere near a metro line, you should be able to get around.

Have you considered staying downtown? It used to be a little scary but it has really thrived in the last few years. It would put you close to Chinatown, Japantown, Olvera Street (oldest part of downtown), etc. Lots of great food and surprisingly historic parts of the city. And it's close to Union Station, which is a stunningly beautiful train station.

I've only been to San Antonio once so I have nothing useful to offer. I went to a great yarn store there, but I can't remember what it's called.

Looking forward to reading all about your adventures!

Rosalie Langevin said...

Thanks for sharing please keep sharing more :-)
Fifty Shades Movie

Anonymous said...

Madtosh Crafts in Fort Worth
Yarnivore in San Antonio
Hill Country Weavers in Austin, if you have a chance

Rose Red said...

I hope you knit a shawette in your roomette. That would be perfectette. (Sorry, I can see you shuddering and rolling your eyes from here. But I had to say it. As you know).

DrK said...

i am looking forward to your adventures - like you i love travelling to see what its like elsewhere. i read an article yesterday about how the best way to travel was to sit in cafes not sight see, which is exactly what i do. its about trying to understand how other people live, and why its different. so i love reading your travel blogs :) my sole experience of LA and Dallas are airports, neither place i have any desire to visit really, but i dont doubt you will find something. i love the idea of that train trip though. and mexico!! oh i cant wait :)

Cecilia said...

I just came across this today and thought it might be useful for your LA planning:

ckmary said...

I am a native Angelino. A head full of memories and facts and experiences and trivia and emotions. (Olympic Blvd used to be 10th Street, but was renamed in 1932 in honor of the 10th Olympiad which was held in Los Angeles.) Mom and Dad, LA High School, class of 1934. Unfortunately I am moving to Connecticut and will not be here to show you around.

Where to stay - If you can find a deal, Santa Monica is great. Close to the beach, with clean air and numerous nearby cafes and restaurants.
Like Border Grill - Santa Monica. Delicious, vibrant, and definitely LA.
Address: 1445 4th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Phone:(310) 451-1655
LIke Funnel Mill - wonderful coffee and teas without any snootiness!
Address: 930 Broadway, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Phone:(310) 393-1617

Getting around - With our new Metro lines, it is easier than it used to be to get around without a car, but some places are still easily accessible only by car. It could be good to hire someone to drive you to those places that are difficult to get to by bus and train. I think that Bonnie (owner) or the staff at Compatto Yarn Salon in Santa Monica might be able to figure out someone you can hire.

Yarn Stores I Like a Lot -

Compatto Yarn Salon -
Address: 2112 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403
Phone:(310) 453-2130
Inviting, warm and friendly. Lovely yarns and lovely staff.

Wildfiber -
Address: 1453 14th St # E, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Phone:(310) 458-2748
Big, good selection, helpful.

Knit Culture -
Address: 8118 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone:(323) 655-6487
Smaller than the other stores, but some lovely yarns. Located in the Mid-City area. 3rd Street has a lot of interesting stores such as Freehand Gallery and Plastica

Where to Go -

La Brea Tar Pits - a big, wondrous fossil site in Mid-City area of Los Angels Fossils include Wooly Mammoths and Sabre-Toothed Cats.
5801 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 934-7243
The La Brea Tarpits and Page Museum are adjacent to LACMA, the Los Angeles of Art.

The Big Rock - Levitated Mass by Michael Heizer
This piece was originally met with criticism and ridicule, but all that changed on it’s epic journey through LA.
Outside LACMA
5905 Wilshire Blvd., LA, CA 90036

The Craft and Folk Art Museum
5814 Wilshire Blvd., LA, CA 90036
(323) 937-4230

Note - there are several buses that run along Wilshire all the way from Santa Monica. It is a great journey, from one end of Wilshire to the other. You go through Beverly Hills and Koreatown, from the beach to Downtown. From affluence to poverty and back to affluence. You pass through the most densely populated area of LA, currently hispanic, just east of Koreatown.

Museum of Jurassic Technology -
9341 Venice Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232
Founded in 1988 by David and Diane Wilson, the Museum of Jurassic Technology is quirky, unique and unbelievable like a dream that is somehow true. David received a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 2001 for his work with the museum.

The Watts Towers -
1761-1765 E. 107th Street, Los Angeles, CA
Simon Rodia began building these folk art monuments in 1921. They are easily accessible from the Metro Blue Line.

ckmary said...

Other Museums

Santa Monica Museum of Art -
Fresh, interesting and with a great gift store.

Hammer Museum -
In Westwood, on Wilshire! Usually worth a visit.

Wonderful Things

Jonathan Gold - food writer and author of Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles. Jonathan won a Pullitzer prize for his writing. The book was written in 2000, but if you google him, you will find current reviews. His writings capture LA, and food and humanness all at once.

Amoeba Records LA -
6400 W. Sunset Blvd. LA, CA 90028
(323) 245-6400
The most amazing record, cd and dvd store ever!!!


Gamble House -
340 N. Orange Grove, Pasadena, CA 91103
Built in 1908 by brothers Henry and Charles Greene, the house is exquisite and filled with its original fixtures and furniture. The Gambles are of Procter and Gamble.,_California)
There are a number of other Greene & Greene houses in the neighborhood.
The Norton Simon Art Museum is nearby.

Anyway, happy travels.