It’s a classic #firstworldproblem: your airport stopover en route to an exotic location is too long to just hang in the airport, and to short to support any meaningful encounter with your city of transit. Nonetheless, we managed our eight hours in Los Angeles with aplomb.

Our visit was based around two outlets at the top of their game.

First, we went to In-n-Out Burger, a joint which is famous across California because it does burgers well. And because of it’s ‘secret’ off menu ordering. See for example “animal fries” which come with melted cheese and grilled onions.

For me the main attraction was actually the view. This particular stop is well acknowledged in airline geek circles as having a fantastic view of short finals to LAX’s northern runways. The same enthusiasts also tell you which long term parking venue to pretend to go to so you can get free transport from the terminals. There was a setting sun and jet after jet to watch appearing from behind a billboard and then thundering over the runway threshold. Sadly the traffic at LAX is too homogenous for a challenging game of “jet or prop” for Fiona.

The food was pretty good too, and the spicy peppers very spicy. I wasn’t able to describe the taste of root beer effectively, and so Fiona tried it. She has now joined me in longstanding opposition. She describes it as fizzy cough mixture.

Second, we went to Trader Joe’s. Think Moore Wilson’s but cheaper (even than, say, a New Zealand Countdown), and more selective because they rely on a lot of their own home brands, and quality rather than diversity. There’s Marlborough Sav for less than you would pay at home, cherry tomatoes cheap enough to question why you’d ever buy the bigger versions, and a sophisticated application of the American view that ‘cookie’ is a legitimate flavour for most things. It reminded us again how easy it might be to live, or at least grocery shop, in the States.

Now we’re back and checking in at LAX. We’re armed with Trader Joe’s berries and biscuits and waiting to do battle with Spirit Airlines, America’s so called ‘ultra-low-cost’ carrier. Will advise of success at a later stage.

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