I is for Irvine

Photo Credit

Welcome back, to the letter I of this year's A-Z challenge! 

Yesterday we left Hamburg, Germany, and today's letter is I is for Irvine, in Orange CountyCalifornia, basically the area between Los Angeles and my second home San Diego. Some 3 million people live there, that's almost half of the Swiss population (we have 8.4 million in total). 

Orange county's surface area is 800 square feet, the equivalent of 2,000 km2, Switzerland's entire area only covers some 40,000 km2 (=16,000 square miles), the state of California alone is ten times larger and is home to 40 million people. Check out this map, it's mind blowing!

When I was living in CA back in 2001 I thought it was a good idea to have breakfast in San Francisco with a friend and drive back to San Diego where I had to be in class at 7pm on the same day. 

It's roughly a 500 miles' journey. In Europe it's almost as if I was driving from my town in Switzerland all across Germany to Amsterdam, Netherlands. Nobody, nobody, would be as crazy as to have breakfast in Amsterdam and plan on being back in Zurich by 7pm! 

PS: I was only half an hour late for class!

What brought me to Irvine in 2016?

Well, Patrice, a dear Starbucks friend, with whom I had worked together in Switzerland, moved back to Seattle and got married, and she invited me. 

What does a wedding in Seattle have to do with my going to Irvine, CA? 

  • If I was going to fly to the west coast (and suffer from a sob jet-lag), I might just as well extend my stay and visit Southern California where my heart belongs
  • I hadn't had a time out in a long time and was in need of some quality me-time
  • Both cities are situated on the I-5.

Don't you feel freeways don't get enough blog exposure? We need to do something about this! So let me talk about Interstate 5 which is probably the one on which I have spent the most time not only on this trip, but in my life as well.

Had I not chosen to take a domestic flight, I would have used the I-5 for pretty much my entire trip from San Diego to Seattle! Hubby actually thought I might be just crazy enough to do this! After all it's just 1,255 miles. And I haven't been to Oregon before. Plus we have done crazier hauls. 

Now the I-5 will probably not win any beauty contests - CA 163 has better chances!

Photo Credit
The I-5's pavement is in bad shape here and there, and there can be some annoying traffic congestions going on, however it definitely has its moments! 

It takes you to Disneyland and SeaWorld for example!

You'll get this view when you pass the mormon temple in La Jolla, CA

Photo Credit
Speaking of scenic routes. On this same trip I also came across this iconic one:

But I'm digressing. In Irvine I went to see Annie, a special Starbucks friend, actually co-responsible for getting me hired! Her being the liaison between the HQs in Seattle and us as an international market, we met at conferences and meetings (like the one in Berlin) until she had to quit on me. I remember it was a sad day, and I have never seen her again in a good 12 years.

We went out for dinner at Javier's at Spectrum Irvine Center, a gorgeous outdoor mall, I loved every minute of it and tried to soak up the fabulousness!

Some trivia to wrap up this post:
  • Irvine is a planned city. All of it, like it was a game app: the themed villages, the schools, the utilities, the streets, heck, even smooth traffic: Cameras and ground sensors monitor the flow of traffic in Irvine and automatically adjust traffic lights accordingly. For me as a Swiss person where the cities are hundreds of years old and mostly grew in an uncontrolled manner only to burst at the seams today, this is a big deal. Read more about the Irvine master plan here.
  • Irvine goes green! All streets have landscaping allowances. Rights-of-way for powerlines also serve as bicycle corridors, parks, and greenbelts to tie together ecological preserves. The city irrigates the greenery with reclaimed water.
  • A good 70 movies have been partially or entirely filmed in Irvine, among them PoltergeistMiss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous and Ocean's Eleven 
  • Some popular brands are headquartered in Irvine: Allergan, Inc.Ford Motor Company (West Coast Design Center), In-N-Out BurgerO'Neill, Inc.Taco Bell
  • If you hear "celebrities" you think Hollywood, right? Or Beverly Hills. Let me just tell you, Irvine is home to some well known people like Lindsay Davenport, Nicolas Cage and Chris Pronger while playing for the Anaheim Ducks.
  • The FBI rated Irvine as the city with the lowest crime rate in a city with a population over 100,000 for the ninth year in a row. That's the safest big city in the country!
Thank you for hanging out with me, guys, I hope you enjoyed the sunshine and the palm trees! Are you a Californian at heart like me? 

Tomorrow I'm going to take you to a very special destination: Jerusalem.