[21-23 August, Tanju] We were hearing the roar of the ocean waves when we arrived at our apartment around midnight on the 20th. But when we opened the curtains on the morning of the 21st and saw the Santa Monica beach and the Pacific Ocean, we congratulated ourselves on finding such an excellent location to stay.
We had breakfast at a surfer cafe on Main Street and proceeded to West Los Angeles on Santa Monica Boulevard. We made the obligatory pilgrimage to 1537 Armacost, confirmed that everything is as they were in 1990 (except the rent is higher according to a flyer posted in front). Then I followed the my old bicycle route to UCLA. Boelter Hall, the engineering building, looks the same from outside but internally there were many changes and renovations. Kerckhoff Coffee House was the same, except they don’t have yearly anniversary mugs anymore. We had lunch in its yard among the excited freshman in their orientation week. After touring the campus a little more, we headed to Beverly Hills via Sunset Boulevard. We drove down the Beverly Drive with its iconic palm trees symbolizing the laid back Los Angeles in many a movie, and Rodeo Drive with its decadent shopping atmosphere.
After a brief rest in our apartment, we walked to a restaurant called Bruno’s Italian to meet Kevork and Fikret. They were introduced to this place by Ahmed Nassef after I left LA (I updated them about Ahmed’s whereabouts on this occasion). The food and the conversation were great.
On Friday morning we took our laundry to a laundromat on Main Street while having breakfast at another cafe. Unfortunately, Omelette Parlor, our old time favorite, was closed permanently. We went to Pasadena at noon. After a brief tour of the campus, we met with Zehra’s Ph. D. advisor Yaser. We talked about his recent book and his experience with online teaching.
Dinner was another blast from the past for me: We went to Shamshiri Iranian restaurant in West LA. The decor has been updated but the servings were still as big as before. The kids had to have this important experience. I wanted to see a big Hollywood movie in a big Westwood theater on my last night in LA. But there was only one movie theater left in Westwood, and it wasn’t showing a big enough movie. So we went to see Guardians of the Galaxy in Santa Monica.
On our last morning, we organized our baggage for the plane trip. Then we headed south along the coast to Manhattan Beach. This is one of the best neighborhoods along the LA coast, it is like a small vacation village surrounded by a huge metropolitan area. We were at the airport by 3 pm, waiting for the 13-hour flight back to Istanbul.