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Monday, January 2, 2017

Enjoying Gentrification in the City of Roses

Once a year, Pasadena is a tourist hot-spot when the Tournament of Roses takes over New Year's Day. The rest of the time, you need a giant crowbar to get travelers to come east of the 110.

That's too bad because Pasadena is fun all year round.

Recently, the wife and I had a chance to take advantage of a day and date night in the Rose City but first, if you would like to come here, there are pricey but generally nice hotels in the Old Pasedena neighborhood (the center of the city's action)...such as the Westin, Courtyard by Marriott, Hilton, and the Sheraton...or you can stay a little farther east on Colorado Boulevard in less expensive digs like the Ramada, The Saga Motel, or the retro delights of the Hi Way Host. The Marriotts, Hiltons, Sheraton, and Ramada are your best bets for accessible rooms.

Cars are not really needed as Pasadena has tried to become a true transit destination. The Gold Line connects it to downtown Los Angeles through Union Station. Stations in Pasadena include Fillmore, Del Mar, Memorial Park (the Old Pasadena station), Lake, Allen, and Sierra Madre Villa in East Pasadena. Foothill Transit's 187 line connects all locations along Colorado Boulevard to the last four Gold Line stations and the Pasadena ARTS bus handles the rest of the city. All of it is 100% wheelchair accessible.

We start off with a shopping highlights tour for my wife. She likes to crochet and knit, so I take her to Abuelita's Yarn Shop located in a pretty little arcade at 696 East Colorado to visit with the friendly staff and get some quality yarn and needles.

Vroman's Bookstore is across the street and we wander over and browse the racks.

Next, we continue east on Colorado to a camera shop that sells used lenses but we just missed the 2:00 closing time.  My wife and I both like to check out pawn shops when we can.  We head to Diamond Jim's on Lake Avenue. The staff is friendly but the selection is light when we check it out so it's time to park it in Old Pasadena and head to Crown City Pawn with it's much larger selection of inventory. Still, we couldn't find anything we wanted to negotiate on.

We're parked at the One Colorado lot, one block north of Colorado Boulevard at Fair Oaks (the location of the Cheesecake Factory made famous by the Big Bang Theory...yes, it really exists) where we can leave the car all day on Saturday for six bucks. If you're driving and need accessible parking, in addition to the parking structure, there are about a half-dozen free handicapped spots directly behind it in the alley.

A lot of little shops and boutiques line Colorado and the side streets here. The Genius Bar at the Apple Store is always crowded but you can almost literally get away at the Distant Lands travel bookstore on Raymond (readers of this blog will love Distant Lands) or settle in for a nice pint at any of the several pubs here like Lucky Baldwin's or King's Row.

We're in need of a pick me up before dinner so we look for coffee. Just a quick cup of coffee, which we find is increasingly hard to do here. We settle for a pretentiously made cup of Balinese coffee served at a pretentiously high price after waiting twenty minutes for the Barista to make it "just so" at Copa Vida on the corner of Raymond and Green. Yes, we asked for, and said, just a plain old cup of coffee...that was the closest we could find.

A cupcake bakery was across the street so we went to check it out. Expecting more pretentiousness, we were surprised at the delicious and quite reasonably priced treats at Sugar Fix.

A last stop at the Container Store on the corner of Fair Oaks and Union finished off the shopping part of today's excursion. The Container Store is two stories tall, large elevators are available at the back of the store.

Dinner was a steak au poivre and a seafood pasta at the always reliable and reasonable Cafe Bizou on the corner of Raymond and Union, across the street from the Memorial Park Gold Line Station. We like to come here because we always get great food and service. The low $2 corkage fee is handy when I have a special wine like the 2006 Spencer Vineyards Cabernet that uses grapes grown in the same vineyard as Opus One..."almost Opus" as my wine merchant describes it. It is very good.

We end the evening a short block away watching "The Lego Movie" at iPic Theater.  The theater itself is pretty neat. Before the movie, there's a restaurant and cocktail lounge.

After a nice drink, Letty and I head into the theater itself where we are seated at power recliners, with blankets and pillows. A server comes up to take a drink order and we get a couple of sodas for the movie. Another server comes by to give us each a bag of popcorn.

It's very nice and plush but very expensive and you still have the same people annoying you as you do at a regular theater. I liked the move, not great, but fun...Letty couldn't stand it. You can see my review of "The Lego Movie" at Tim's TinseltownUSA blog.

With that, we call it a night and head home. It's always a lot of fun in Pasadena and this is just a tiny, little part of it.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

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