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Visiting Santa Barbara after shopping at the Citadel (May 19th 2019)

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Au port de Santa Barbara

It’s seven o’clock on Sunday, May 19, when we open our eyes. Today, we’re going shopping and visiting Santa Barbara. Right now, the sky is gray and it’s raining. The weather seems perfectly in tune with the mood of the moment. Indeed, this is one of the last days of this beautiful trip. We’re due back tomorrow, and I’ll be back at work next Wednesday. As for Sarah, she’ll be able to rest until Thursday morning. But let’s put these gloomy thoughts aside and focus on the day’s activities. After all, we’re in Los Angeles, the City of Angels that inspires me so much…

Shopping at the Citadel

After showering, we grab our backpacks and head for the residence parking lot. There, we find our vehicle and drive east towards the Citadel, seven miles away. The Citadel, or Citadel Outlets as they’re sometimes called, is a shopping mall. It was built on the remains of the Samson Tire and Rubber Company. The latter was an industrial tire factory established in 1929 and in operation until 1978. Today, it boasts no fewer than 115 stores (Columbia, Calvin Klein, The Luggage Factory, BOSS, Asics, American Eagle, Lacoste, H&M and Le Creuset, for example) offering discounted prices in all categories (clothing and accessories, luggage, jewelry, tableware, children’s clothing, shoes, beauty and miscellaneous items), fast-food restaurants (Starbucks, Subway, Panda Express, Chipotle, etc.), and even a hotel!


It’s not quite 8:30 when we arrive and notice a Walmart a stone’s throw from the mall. We stop in to buy a few souvenirs for the girls (Minnie and Paw Patrol pyjamas) and for me (a baseball), as well as Meguiar’s car cleaning products, which are much cheaper here than in France. The store doesn’t seem very large, but inside you’ll find a very wide selection of products. We finish our first shopping trip, notice the low bill, and head this time for the Citadel Outlets.

The Citadel parking lot

One of America’s great parking lots allows us to park the Mitsubishi with no problem. It’s hard to imagine that some people can’t find a space when they come to shop. And yet, this is what I’ve read on several occasions. Luckily, it’s still early on this Sunday morning and the parking lot is almost deserted.

Ruby’s at the Citadel

Our first stop is Ruby’s, just a few minutes after getting out of the car. It’s an American diner that looks like it came straight out of the ’50s. At the entrance is a black and white vintage car with red hubcaps. At the reception, waitresses dressed as they were back in the day (pastel pink outfits with matching headbands and white aprons). Then black-and-white-backed seats with chrome buttons, and red faux-leather banquettes. We come in for breakfast.

A waitress leads us to a table. On it, I notice an advertisement for a chocolate milkshake… I’m terribly keen on it… but it’s still a bit early for this type of dessert! So, in this atypical atmosphere, Sarah orders eggs Benedict. For my part, I choose the ” hot cakes ” (3 pancakes served with maple syrup and a dollop of butter). I order a coffee, which is brought to me almost immediately. I start to drink, but Sarah calls me over to show me traces of lipstick on my cup… Surprising. The waitress passes by at the same moment and confusion shows on her face. She has just glimpsed the cup offered to me by her colleague. Without a word, she quickly changes it for another without a trace of lipstick.

Good music blares from the restaurant’s loudspeakers. We finish our plates with a smile. After leaving a few bills on our table to pay the bill, we set off again. Very quickly, I re-enter the restaurant… Not because I miss the atmosphere already, but to get my phone back! Sarah had left it on the towel rail of our table… When I enter again, someone is cleaning the shelf… I get it back just in time!

Window shopping

We spend a while wandering through this huge open-air shopping mall and enter a few well-chosen stores. I’m not much of a window shopper, but Sarah likes to buy new clothes from time to time. But we’re not really big spenders.

For my part, I find two pairs of jeans at Levi‘s that are strictly identical. That’s all for me today. For the record, these purchases will be extremely long-lasting: I’ll mainly be using these two pairs of pants for the next two years. After that, I’ll only stop wearing them once I’ve lost more than ten kilos. My partner notices that I like a sweatshirt in the same store. She decides to buy it for me as a Father’s Day present a few weeks later. Sarah, meanwhile, is looking for some tops. In one of the stores, she looks at T-shirts and blouses and finds one she likes. She hesitates, then puts it back down, then picks it up again, and finally leaves it behind, with no regrets… at least for now!

Already our 10,000 daily steps!

By the time we get back to the huge parking lot where Jason – the little name we’ve given our Mitsubishi – is parked, we’ve already taken our 10,000 steps for the day! And the day is far from over, as we’d like to take a trip to the coast. We’re now heading for Santa Barbara.

Head to Santa Barbara for an express tour

Located a hundred miles from Los Angeles, the city of Santa Barbara is wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Los Padres National Forest. With its 90,000 inhabitants, Santa Barbara is a popular destination for America’s rich and famous. Until 1780, it was mainly the Native American Chumash tribe who occupied the territory where the city stands today. Gradually, European Spaniards also occupied the area, forming the city of Santa Barbara in 1782 with the erection of the Presidio de Santa Barbara, followed four years later by the Mission Santa Barbara.

Visiting Santa Barbara in bad weather

From Los Angeles, it took us two hours to reach the coastal city. The weather was mixed, and we soon noticed dark gray clouds over the harbor we’d come to visit. We take advantage of the fact that it’s no longer raining to take a few shots and stroll along the beach and harbor. Occasional brighter spells boost our optimism, but even as we stand on the harbour jetty, the waves become more and more intense and even begin to splash our feet.

Eating well in Santa Barbara: Sushi Go Go

Back on terra firma, we pass a restaurant that’s making us hungry: Sushi Go Go. It’s only 5.45pm, but we haven’t eaten since breakfast at Ruby’s Diner. I order ten California Rolls, ten sushi rolls and a salad. Sarah takes a miso soup (I had the chance to taste it: it was very good), Crunch Rolls and Rainbow Rolls. We are very satisfied with our meal and, as we continue to bring the chopsticks to our mouths, we witness two events.

Santa Barbara Harbor Hot Rod Parade

The first is a parade of hot-rods, looking as if they’ve just arrived from the 40s or 50s, so gleaming and in perfect working order are the bodies. A dark-blue Chevrolet pickup, a green Plymouth with the original cream interior, a 1930s police car and a few other cars take a break right in front of the restaurant. My blood rushing to my feet, I grabbed my camera and rushed off to take several shots of these rolling beauties.

Graduates head to Santa Barbara

The second event is a school prom (it’s that time of year, we’d seen it in downtown L.A. earlier), with teenagers disembarking from two 2-bus loads right in front of us. Dressed to the nines and sporting beautiful evening gowns and suits, the youngsters pass us by, usually two at a time. The descent is so long that we have time to finish our meal and pass the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, on whose stoop some of them are beginning to settle, no doubt to take a photo or organize a queue for a visit.

Striking contrast in the Santa Barbara sky

We don’t linger, not wanting to make them any more uncomfortable than necessary, and slowly make our way to our car along the harbor. The sky is particularly dark, but the light continues to reflect off the facades and the boats lined up against each other. We take advantage of the sky’s contrast with the light to take a few more shots, then watch the rainbow forming overhead. Slowly, we make our way along a stretch of road wedged between the parking lot and the beach. On one side, a third-generation black Ford Mustang steals a photo, while on the other, volleyball nets are waiting for good weather to return so that they can justify their use. 

A little turtle, lost on the beaches of Santa Barbara

A brave jogger crosses my path and I notice, on the ground in the sand, a small pink and purple turtle, which seems to have been abandoned there. Covered by a bit of sand, the child’s stuffed toy seems to have been forgotten for some time now. I start to set it down by a garbage can in case someone comes to pick it up, but Sarah points out that it’s been there for a while, and we end up deciding to take it with us and leave it in the care of our daughters on the Old Continent rather than let it wither away here.

Back at our car, the wind has died down and the short-lived rain means it’s time to get back to the Mitsubishi. The colors are now very bright, and it’s time to stop a little further on to take another series of photos before leaving Santa Barbara for good, but not without a twinge of regret.

A donut to end the day?

Our sushi dinner was very good, but we didn’t have dessert. The idea of eating a donut somewhere nearby crossed our minds and ended up never leaving us. Alas, by 6.30pm everything in Santa Barbara seems to be closed (or is it because it’s Sunday?). We get back on the road and head for Ventura, on the way home, to buy some donuts.

Shortly before the highway exit for Ventura, Sarah tells me she wishes she’d bought the top she saw this morning at the mall (the one she picked up, put down, picked up again and finally left behind), she regrets not having picked it up. Well, “we can go if you want, but in that case, no donuts”, I tell her. “Yes, we’ll find some at the mall”. “Okay, what time is it open? “9pm”. “OK, go then”.

Au revoir my beautiful Pacific Ocean

Luckily, the mall is only 15 minutes from our accommodation. On the way, as we skirt the Pacific Ocean on Highway 1, I realize that I won’t be seeing this ocean and the beaches I love so much again for quite some time (and I wasn’t aware at the time of the Coronavirus crisis that would soon hit us and make travel to the United States more difficult in the years to come). A feeling of sadness takes hold of me for a few moments. I end up thinking about the sweet dessert waiting for me at the Citadel, which helps me to smile again.

Back to the Citadel

Alas, arriving at the mall at 8.40pm, Sarah realizes that her top is indeed there, in sizes XS, XL and XXL only… Disappointed, we turn on our heels to go and buy our long-awaited donuts. Alas, fate is not with us on this one. There are no more donuts where she thought we might buy them. And we don’t see any elsewhere either.

Back to the apartment after shopping and a nice visit to Santa Barbara

We return, happy to have seen Santa Barbara again and with a little turtle in the bag, but also with a feeling of unfulfilled greed and a touch of disappointment about the tank top that Sarah would (finally) have liked to add to her collection in our closets. Back at our residence, the car warmed up in the basement of the establishment, we head for a moment to the poolside to take a few shots of the Los Angeles skyline. There, three girls are swimming. At first we think they’re not afraid of the cold (temperatures drop in the evening), but then we remember that the pool is heated.

At the apartment, we come across our host (who lives in the living room) telling us to leave the key in the microwave when we leave tomorrow. We’re very surprised by the request, but don’t try to understand it any further. We then pack our bags and prepare to spend our last night on the New World continent.

Today, we’ve covered 19,709 steps (10.2 miles) and 242 miles by car.