Pasadena day trip

Weather forecasts keep predicting rain but the day started with blue skies and some clouds. We had a slow morning. Scott slept while I read. After coffee and an apple, we headed to the taxi stand to get a ride to Pasadena. We got a cab driver, Jerry, who was originally from Montreal and wanted to talk about hockey and tell jokes. The drive took more than 50 minutes with relatively light traffic. We got dropped at Colorado Boulevard and Pasadena Avenue in Old Town Pasadena, where we wandered a bit looking for somewhere to have lunch. We ended up at Mi Piace, an Italian restaurant.

I had the soupiest linguine alle vongole I’ve ever had and a Brunello di Montalcino we hadn’t tried despite our heroic attempts over the past years to sample every Brunello producer. Scott had a lasagne.

We then walked about four blocks and over a freeway overpass to the Norton Simon Museum, a jewellery box of an art museum with a small but good collection of old European masters including a few very good Rembrandt, Zubaran, Rubens, and Chardin paintings and an amazing plentiful collection of Degas bronzes and paintings as well as a number of other Impressionists, and some early Picasso paintings. The sculpture garden was a very peaceful area and pleasantly out of the wind.

We skipped the eastern art and contemporary American works to head to the Huntington collection some 4 miles away. Although we thought we kept a pretty good pace, it took us about 1 hour and 25 minutes including a stop at a bank machine to get enough cash for the taxi ride back. Although the taxis take credit cards, a number of drivers have indicated they don’t like it because they lose 10% to the credit card company.

Pasadena is described as Los Angeles’ oldest suburb. The area we saw had wide roads, very clean, even abandoned buildings had no grafitti and lots of Mercedes on the roads. There were a number of very large houses near the Huntington gardens.

The Huntington collection is on a huge ground with a number of buildings and gardens.

We went to see the art but there’s also a library with a copy of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a science museum and a huge number of botanical gardens. We arrived with only a little less than an hour before closing time so mainly looked at the building which contained the art which is primarily 17 and 18 century British paintings, lots of portraits and a few landscapes.

We only briefly looked at the late medivael paintings, notably a Rogier Van der Weyden Madonna and child. But lingered over the good collection of Gainsborough, including his Blue Boy. There were also a number of Reynolds, Lawrence, and Raeburn portaits including Reynold’s Mrs. Siddon as the Tragic Muse, Lawrence’s Pinkie, and Reynold’s Samuel Johnson. The collection includes a Turner painting of the Grand Canal in Venice and Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral. It also has Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington probably the best known of his portraits. After looking at the art, we took a quick look at the rose and formal herb gardens. The number of rose bushes and the proliferation of flowers was a sad contrast to Calgary’s flora.

We were driven back by a taxi driver who seemed to be trying to induce motion sickness with all the speeding and jerking to stops, but I managed to survive. Back at the hotel, the sun was still shining although the wind was so strong the sand was getting blown around like snow during a winter storm.
We walked to dinner, just over a mile, allowing Scott to buy yet another ring. Dinner was at Fraiche, a restaurant that seemed to be trying to be both Italian and French. Our waiter kepting throwing in French words in his speech but the bathroom signs were in Italian. The menu also had both Italian and French classics. Scott had a crabcake starter and short ribs. I had steak frites. We tried a California pinot noir I’d not seen before.

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