I had a dream. In my dream, I was finally unemployed, taking photographs all day, reading books, swimming, taking a few online courses, Netflixing and writing on this blog about all the utterly ridiculous things we come across daily in the US. For example, about all the food being “sprouted” (beware Europe: the newest food trend is coming your way). Rice? Sprouted; Bread? Sprouted; Chocolate? Sprouted? I keep telling Flo that I’m really looking forward to the Summer, when we finally can let the hours pass by and “sprout” in the pool.
Anyways, If you have seen Aladdin, you will know how all dreams and wishes have an ugly back side to them. The ugly side to mine is that I’ve got paradoxically far more work to do than I ever did while I was employed. As a consequence, I landed on Christmas like that plane once landed on the river Hudson: unexpectedly and barely escaping a deadly collision with the hard waters of burnout.
Besides that, we have gone totally nuts and have been following a Paleo Diet for over a month. I must emphasize that this is not by choice, or because we live in Hipster California now: I haven’t dyed my hair blue (yet). I will explain the reasons why we’re doing this on a special blogpost soon. The point is that the diet sucks but, for once, we are actually losing weight, so I figured this year we should go to Coachella or some other festival, so that we can take semi-naked selfies like proper millennials with tanned hot bodies (let’s face it: we don’t expect it to last for long, do we?), and maybe smoke some pot with Malia Obama, who knows. Anyways, I just checked the internet and the tickets are way too expensive, especially if you want to go on a resort + shuttle package. What do they say here? Ah yes: Champagne taste, lemonade pockets. Story of my life.
A bunch of totally random facts
Other things have happened since I last wrote. For example, did you know this (see picture below) is actually how Brussel sprouts grow? We had to come all the way from almost-Belgium for Trader Joes to teach us this lesson.
Another totally random fact: I HAVE BEEN GERMANIZED against my will. Don’t judge me: I developed a foot eczema that lasted for over two weeks and made it very painful to walk, and Flo insisted that I bought prime Germanic footwear. Yes, I own a pair of Birkenstocks. A kitten just died somewhere.
More random facts. For the Stranger Things fans in Europe: I found Eggos! Maybe if I consume great amounts of these, channel my mental energy and bleed a little through the nose, I’ll get my PhD dissertation done. Maybe. But we’ll never find out because they’re not friggin Paleo.
Dedicated to all my Valencian friends. Here is something truly gross I found at the supermarket the other day: Horchata beer! The packaging makes it look almost desirable, but I can’t imagine it tastes good.
Christmas has been a bit tough this year, far away from friends and family. Instead of going on a long trip, we rented a car for a week and planned a “stay-cation” filled with day trips to get to know our surroundings here in California. We visited Monterey, drove the 17-mile-Drive, went to the Redwood Basin, and nearly died hiking Mount Tamalpais.
However, my favorite part of Christmas (or rather, of having a car) was that we went nearly every evening to the cinema, since we did not have to bike at night anymore across a gazillion highways. We bought these movie passes that cost about $10 a month and you can go to the cinema as often as you want, although no more than once a day. The company basically uses your data in order to afford this. Totally fine with that. This Christmas we saw The Shape of Water, Jumanji, The Disaster Artist, All the Money in the World, etc. One thing that has surprised us is that no matter when we go to the cinema, it’s always crowded. This really contrasts with the cinemas in the Netherlands, only full on the big premiere dates (StarWars, Hunger Games, etc).
But let’s go back to Christmas. As I said, I was totally unprepared for the break. An important contributing factor is the weather: with the sun shining everyday, Christmas only becomes obvious once you step into a shopping mall. Despite being alone here, Christmas Eve turned out to be wonderful! In fact, it was the best day of the holiday for me. First of all, we made a reservation for an Italian restaurant nearby, which means we got to ignore our particular no-carb Paleo inferno for a day. That alone felt like Christmas already. After dinner, we went to the Stanford Theater in downtown Palo Alto, where every Christmas Eve they screen the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life. The event was sold out, popcorn was handed for free, and everybody looked genuinely happy. It was the most special Christmas event I’ve ever attended. After the cinema, we made it to a party with other homeless expats like ourselves, and we also had a lovely time. All in all, it was one of our most eventful Xmas nights to date!
Christmas Day in Monterey & the 17-mile Drive
Empowered by the fact that we had been able to dine out on December 24th, on December 25th we hit the road towards Monterey with the hopes of finding a decent place for our Xmas lunch. Like everything in this country, Monterey looks deceptively close-by in the map, but it is ages away by car. However, it’s worth it: I love coastal towns, and Monterey has the best aquarium that I have ever been to. Palo Alto may be winning a spot in my heart, but nothing can compete with living directly on the seaside.
Below you can see the pictures I took in Monterey, and at the 17-Mile-Drive, which is a scenic road full of rich people’s houses. Your gaze will alternate left and right: from the coast to the impressive homes, and back. As a person who has always had a home by the seaside, I took the good weather and the sea for granted. I now realize what a privilege it is to live by the water, and how non-affordable it is in most corners of the world. As I said, I would move to Monterey or Carmel in the blink of an eye.
This weekend I’ll be uploading the pictures from our trips to see the Redwood trees, the Skyline Drive and Mount Tamalpais (aka. the day I discovered I am not a hiker!). Keep tuned!
With much love,
♥ Ingrid ♥