A Museum and Shopping- doesn't get much better!!

Pasadena Travel Blog

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Artwork from Norton Simon Museum
Morning: Our Journey from San Luis to Pasadena

The weekend began in a leisurely way. I arrived at my co-worker (who I’ll call “RA” because she likes to be anonymous and would freak if she knew she was in my blog!) RA’s house right around ten to begin our weekend adventure! We were so excited as we had been planning this trip to the the Broadway musical Wicked for about 3 months. RA got an amazing deal on our room at the Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa in Pasadena/San Marino (see review below).
We decided to set a slow pace because after-all, we had no where we absolutely had to be until Sunday so why rush?!
On today’s plate: the Norton Simon Museum and shopping (!!) in Pasadena in Old Town.
the peaceful Buddha outside the South Asia Collection. One of my favorite things at the museum.
I had never heard of the Norton Simon before this weekend so I didn’t know what to expect so it was an exciting start to the weekend.
First we had to actually get there! Fortunately the drive South on the 101 is pretty- at least until Santa Barbara/Ventura. We jetted over Hwy. 154 instead of staying on the 101 because it cuts a half an hour off of your journey- which most non-locals don’t know (so now you do!). Fortunately for us it wasn’t blazing hot and we didn’t get behind any recreational vehicles so we really did breeze through there. By taking the 154 we didn’t get to see where the Gap fire was, which was a shame as I’d like to see where it was burning- just to have an idea. For those of you that don’t know the Gap fire is one of the large fires currently burning in the state of California.
close-up detail of Martha Rebuking Mary for her Vanity

Since I wasn’t the driver I don’t know all of roads that we took, but I know at some point we left the 101 and headed East. In the town of Santa Paula- which I was so not impressed with (apologies to the residents)- we stopped and ate at a Subway in a gas station which was an interesting experience- they were out of olives!! Anyway we ate really fast ( we are two hairstylists after-all and eating fast is a must!!) and got back on the road, eager to be away from what I was beginning to think of as the armpit of California (which I’ve previously linked with the Central Valley but now I’m reconsidering).
We eventually arrived in Pasadena via La Cañada (RA’s hometown).

Afternoon: The Norton Simon

The parking lot of the Norton Simon Museum is mercifully close to the entrance so we didn’t have to labor up any hills or fight the oppressive heat walking block after block.
It’s also right after the Bentley dealership- I thought it was so kind of them to look after my cars like that! ;)
Walking up to the entrance of the Norton Simon were amazing bronze statues on either side of the walkway- one (if not all actually) were made by the same artist that did “The Thinker” although I’m ashamed to say I don’t know his name and I wouldn’t have known that if RA hadn’t pointed that out to me when I was taking pictures.
Once inside there is a large and very impressive Buddha statue. (*see my review of the Norton Simon below for full description).
Our first decision of the day was where to begin! The museum is separated into centuries and cultures, so we decided to start to the left with the 19th and 20th centuries making our way backward through the centuries eventually ending with the South Asia wing downstairs.
Degas Bather Bronze Statue
I am not a huge fan of modern art so starting on this side of the museum was actually a bit boring for me but I tried my best to study the artwork and appreciate it. There are a few 19th century artist that I absolutely adore but unfortunately for me the Norton Simon does not have any of those artists so I wasn’t truly enthralled until we got the the 14th and 15th Century European wing.
I have to say before I breeze passed the 19th and 20th centuries the main exhibit “Redux” by Marcel Duchamp (at the Norton Simon until Dec. 8, 2008), was great to see. Mr. Duchamp has a wicked sense of humor! He’s one cheeky fellow! His pieces are funny and a great break from some of the more serious stuff preceding it. A personal favorite is his “L.H.O.O.Q. or La Joconde, 1964” which is a reproduction of the “Mona Lisa” where he’s drawn a mustache and goatee beard on her.
It’s really funny. Another one that made me giggle out loud is “Couple of Laundress’s Aprons, (male and female) 1959”. You have to see these pot-holders for yourself- so google image search them. They’re funny!
Some of my personal favorites from the Norton Simon were the gold leaf iconography style paintings from the 14th century. They were so rich in detail. I took photographs but the gold was so reflective it didn’t do them justice so I didn’t include them. Another favorite was a huge painting by an Italian artist by the name of: Guido Cagnacci. The painting is titled, “Martha Rebuking Mary for her Vanity.” It’s a gorgeous, detailed, oil painting is in the style that I adore. I took 2 photos of it, a detail of Martha and Mary Magdalene and then a close up of the detail because it was just so beautiful! The skin and hair in particular is masterfully done!
The South Asia exhibit is wonderful too! It’s filled with lots of stone and bronze statues and heads.
detail of Martha Rebuking Mary for her Vanity
(again see my review below for a more detailed description of my favorite part of this section.).
All in all this was a must see little museum because it has a lot packed into it but just the right amount!

Late Afternoon: Shopping and Dinner

After the Norton Simon we got back in the car for shopping!! We made our way to Old Town Pasadena for some first rate shopping. We deposited the car in a lot and made our way to the main street. Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of this area because I had forgotten my real camera at home so I’d been taking photos on my phone- which was quickly running low on battery power- and I wanted to save some power for photos of the Langham but also a goodnight conversation with my fiance.
Our first stop was J Crew!!!!! A personal favorite of mine and they were having a sale!!! Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything I couldn’t live without so I left J Crew empty handed.
heads in the South Asia collection
Our next order of business turned out to be my most successful stop and really our last one before dinner because I spent my budget there. The H&M store is big, fabulous and houses cheap clothes!!!! This Pasadena store is the closest one to where I live to my knowledge so I decided to take advantage of it and search every inch and try on every item that caught my attention. I felt bad for RA because the clothes weren’t to her taste or her age range so she kind of had to sit and wait for me to finish my manic shopping spree. I tried on tons of things (I was in there so long so she thought I’d snuck passed her and left) and decided on 2 tops, 2 pairs of sunglasses, and earrings- all of that for around $60! Total bargain shopping!!!
After H&M we worked up an appetite (or at least I did! RA was just plain hungry!)! We simply had to go to The Cheesecake Factory!!! There really wasn’t any other choice!! Our closest one (to my knowledge) is in Thousand Oaks (which is around 3 hours away) so I go to one any chance I can get.
my H&M cheap sunglass purchase! (I just recently saw a feature on Rome in my local newspaper and some tourist was wearing these sunglasses in the photo!! I knew her secret- she too purchases cheap sunglasses from H&M!!!)
It was simply divine!!! The squaw bread was amazing and we blew through it while waiting for our meal to arrive. I had the fish tacos which have always been a good choice. They were delicious and I tried to eat it all but I just couldn’t. They give you 3 tacos and I could only get through two. I felt bad for wasting the 3rd one but I was just plain full!!! Now, you can’t go to The Cheesecake Factory without having CHEESECAKE!!!! Mmmm yummy!! Although I didn’t save any room we both ordered cheesecake and got it to go, so we could bring it back to the hotel and dine on it at our leisure after digesting our delicious meal!! There is every flavor of cheesecake you can imagine but I wanted a relatively light one so I opted for the vanilla bean cheesecake which was amazing!!!!!! Unfortunately now that I know what it tastes like I’ll endlessly crave it!
I have to admit that I was a bit scattered brained when it came to packing for this little out of town trip.
Normally I triple check to make sure that I have everything but this time I just didn’t. So upon finishing dinner I realized that there were a few things I’d forgotten: namely my make-up brushes and eyeshadow!!! To most people this wouldn’t have been a big deal and if I’d been on a regular vacation I would have just done without eye make-up but since we were going to see Wicked I wanted to look my best!! We saw a Victoria’s Secret across the street and since they carry make-up now we ran over there were I grabbed some shadow and a brush (I found out later that there was a Sephora a couple of blocks away!!! argh!!! Oh well!). I also forgot reading material so we ran to Barnes and Noble where I purchased way too many magazines. With all my loot in hand and our cheesecake safely hidden away in our luggage we finally headed to the hotel.
I thought this guy looked like Kevin Spacey!

Late Afternoon/Evening: The Langham!!!! (whoa!)

I was totally unprepared for The Langham!! It is in the middle of a residential area so I really didn’t expect it! I was looking out for signs and the next thing you know boom! there it is!!! It’s huge, majestic, and gorgeous! I’ve never stayed in a hotel like this before- valets and a porter, which we shook off to be honest because we were both feeling too cheap to tip, so we carried our own luggage. The front desk was nice and everything was personalized- it was Ms. R this and Ms. R that!!! It seemed like they were expecting us at that very moment- they were good!
The hotel is a bit like a maze when you first arrive so it took us a few minutes to find the elevator that would take us to our floor.
the Langham Huntington
Eventually I figured our wing of the hotel out so I didn’t need to rely on the map anymore. Our room was on the 6th floor (room # 648). We had a little trouble with our electronic keys but eventually figured out the trick which in this case was the pull the card up as you pulled it out- the complete opposite to every other hotel I’d ever been in.
We had two plush double beds, two oversized chairs, a writing desk, tv, mini bar and a fabulous marble bathroom with BULGARI products!!!!! Amazing!!!!! I slathered myself in that Bulgari body lotion and just couldn’t stop smelling myself! I felt like the Beverly Hillbilly’s because I was a little out of my element and just don’t normally splurge on luxuries like that so this was my only opportunity to try it all out!
We put all of our stuff down, stuffed the cheesecake in the mini fridge and decided to explore the grounds of the hotel.
the marble bathroom in our hotel!
The grounds and out buildings are simply stunning. A very exclusive and expensive gated neighborhood resides behind the hotel so we walked along that street and just checked out all of the “cottages” which had their own individual names. All very swank.
Back on the grounds of the hotel we saw the terrace connected to the bar and spied a man who looked a lot like the lead singer of Motley Crue, Vince Neil- and we’re completely convinced it was him and if it was- oh boy he doesn’t look so hot in person. He had damaged bleached out long blonde hair and a ridiculous red bandana across his forehead and tied at the back of his head. He looked like he was being schmoozed by a record exec. or something. It looked totally silly and very Hollywood!! There was also speed dating happening inside the bar!!! I couldn’t believe it- there was a sign announcing it and everything! RA suggested we head in and join the fun but I’m very much spoken for and about to get married so I told her to do it since she’s single- but she balked and we went back up to our room for magazines and cheesecake!!!!!!
Other than being woken up at 1 am by a wedding party noisily heading back to their rooms I had a great night sleep in the very cosy bed (oh, except for the pillows which were too flat)!!!
dansgirl1978 says:
Thanks for the statue info!! :)
Posted on: Sep 07, 2008
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Artwork from Norton Simon Museum
Artwork from Norton Simon Museum
the peaceful Buddha outside the So…
the peaceful Buddha outside the S…
close-up detail of Martha Rebuking…
close-up detail of Martha Rebukin…
Degas Bather Bronze Statue
Degas Bather Bronze Statue
detail of Martha Rebuking Mary for…
detail of Martha Rebuking Mary fo…
heads in the South Asia collection
heads in the South Asia collection
my H&M cheap sunglass purchase! (I…
my H&M cheap sunglass purchase! (…
I thought this guy looked like Kev…
I thought this guy looked like Ke…
the Langham Huntington
the Langham Huntington
the marble bathroom in our hotel!
the marble bathroom in our hotel!
the courtyard of the Langham Hunti…
the courtyard of the Langham Hunt…
courtyard again
courtyard again
Picture Bridge on the grounds
Picture Bridge on the grounds
view from our room
view from our room
Pasadena Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Like any other Cheesecake Factory that I've been to this one was delicious!!! We had a great waiter and our food was amazing! I had the fish tacos and… read entire review
Pasadena Sights & Attractions review
Small but great museum
This museum was started by Norton Simon (1907-1993) with the private collection of Mr. Simon who began collecting art in the 1950s. When you first w… read entire review
Pasadena Hotels & Accommodations review
Gorgeous, but expensive
Wow, what a grand hotel! This hotel in a gorgeous residential area right on the edge of Pasadena (probably more considered to be in San Marino by the … read entire review
photo by: Andy99