Sav­ing the best for last

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - RAY JAMES HAWTHORN, SOUTH AUS­TRALIA

We are on the way home to Aus­tralia af­ter a five-week round-the-world trip and are stranded at Los An­ge­les in­ter­na­tional air­port for the day.

Af­ter a brief dis­cus­sion we take the shut­tle bus to the trans­port in­ter­change and wait for a lo­cal bus to Santa Mon­ica with smiles on our faces. Why?

First and fore­most, the beach­side lo­ca­tion re­minds us of home with fresh air, sun­shine and jovial lo­cals at the shops and eater­ies.

This is a cleans­ing of the spirit af­ter the big and not-so­big cities of the east coast of the US.

The bus takes us on a tour of the sub­urbs as it winds its way to the ocean and fi­nally we ar­rive at the surf and sand. What a dif­fer­ence from the misty and mys­te­ri­ous Ch­e­sa­peake Bay or cold and bleak Lake Michi­gan.

On the way to the pier from the bus stop we merge into a group of young women who are all tall and blonde. Who are th­ese Cal­i­for­nia Girls? Are they mod­els or as­pir­ing ac­tors be­ing es­corted by a chap­er­one?

Be­fore we can ask we have ar­rived at the pier and they have van­ished into the crowd. It is the week­end and the pier is filled with fam­i­lies and cou­ples rel­ish­ing the fine weather, strolling along re­laxed and happy.

Af­ter en­joy­ing the sights it is time to sam­ple some lo­cal food and drink. Where to go? The choices seem lim­it­less so where do the lo­cals eat? Ev­ery­where, it seems, since there is lim­ited seat­ing wher­ever we look. Fi­nally, the de­ci­sion is made and we or­der Le­banese-style kebabs that are tasty but not over­fill­ing.

On to the next quest, which is a tour of the shops along the Prom­e­nade. This is not a se­ri­ous buy­ing ex­pe­di­tion as our aim is to look only. Of course, there are a few items that are too good to leave be­hind and so we will have to wear ex­tra cloth­ing on the flight home.

Our day trip is now al­most at an end, but we have one last stop. At the end of the Prom­e­nade is a large Barnes and Noble book­store spread over three floors. What a find th­ese days!

It is the per­fect place to es­cape the crowds and to browse, clear­ing the mind and en­er­gis­ing the soul for our long flight ahead. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@theaus­tralian. com.au. Colum­nists will re­ceive a Braven 405 Blue­tooth speaker with a light­weight, durable and wa­ter­proof cas­ing, 15m wire­less range and 24 hours of play time; $129.95. More: braven.com.au.

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