Jul 9, 2008

P6: Coastal meanderings

So, that's it, INSEAD is officially over. There were many tears (not all mine), which I guess is a good thing as it goes to show what a fabulous year we all had; the best year of our lives... so far (dixit Miss H). Anyways, I may come back in a later post to sum up the year, but for now it's time to move on... to California!

Indeed, a couple days after graduation I jetted off to LA to visit friends and this "golden state" which I had yet to experience. And now here I am, after having spent a day with friends and baby, and a day driving up my first leg of the coast, in San Luis Obispo. I left Orange County rather late in the morning, so as to avoid the traffic (which worked), stopped for a leg-stretch in Malibu (very disappointing as nothing to see: more on this problem later) and lunch on the wharf in Santa Barbara. The drive on Highway 154 right after lunch, through the mountains, was by far the best part of the day (I had actually intended to continue on Highway 1 but my rather flaky GPS decided otherwise). Unfortunately, I couldn't find a place to stop and take a picture of the magnificent view, so you'll just have to take my word for it. I coasted into SLO in the middle of the afternoon, leaving plenty of time for a wander through this picturesque town (with its 18th century mission) and a glass of wine (Californian, I'm afraid) on a garden patio. Tomorrow, the plan is to get back onto the Highway 1 (aka Pacific Coast Highway) and take the scenic route up to Monterey. However, my expectations are rather low as to how scenic it will really be...

As someone recently explained to me, the French love to discourse on topics about which they actually know very little, so in that spirit, here are a few things I have discovered in my very short time in California, in no particular order:

- It is very very foggy on the coast. Once you get a mile or so inland, it's beautiful and sunny, but along the scenic coast line you can see diddly squat, making it less than scenic... A bit of a shame...

- It is also not as warm in California as I expected. While it's nice and warm in the sun during the day, evenings get quite cool and if stuck in the fog/wind/both, it can be positively chilly.

- There are more kinds of fast food here than elements on Mendeleev's table, which is not good for my waistline. Also, you can "drive thru" basically anything, including Starbucks. In my opinion, drive-through coffee is blasphemy, but maybe that's just me being all French and closed-minded.

- It is stupid not to be able to smoke on an outdoors patio, and amusing that the staff don't see the irony in asking you to "step outside" to indulge your dirty habit on the sidewalk (but without your glass of wine, of course, as alcohol cannot be consumed outside the premises).

- Driving an automatic is a very good thing 95% of the time. It is not such a good thing a) during the first five minutes when you realize (with a shock) that the car will move on its own without you putting your foot anywhere near the gas pedal and b) when driving up or down a mountain, where being able to shift gears would definitely make life easier.

Well, it is now 8pm here, and 5am at home, and I'm still not over my jet lag, so I think I'll pop the TV on and fall asleep over some commercials, before setting off on Leg 2 of my mini road-trip. I will try to keep you updated on my adventures; after all, it's like going back to my blogging roots as a travel blogger (for those of you that are curious about my first blogging experiment, if you ask me nicely or are very good at google search, you may just find it...) Picture are unlikely to make it online before I return, though.


Hugo said...

INSEAD's over.. but we can always have Toledo ;)

DTLF said...

Try shifting into a lower D, or 2, or even 1. Just pretend it's a manual when you need more power.