Talk about the ultimate longe weekend. I flew out of Manila to Los Angeles (L.A.) on a Thursday night, I was in Mexico for a day on Saturday morning; and by Sunday night I was back on an airplane departing from LAX for Taipei and then onwards to Manila.

It was literally a long weekend to the United States, and I’d traveled all this way just to cruise to Mexico on the Regent Seven Seas Explorer, the world’s most luxurious ship. Then I ended my stay with the best burger in Los Angeles.

One might have thought there would be no time to take in even a full breath on this round trip transatlantic crossing18 hours each way from Asia to the West Coast, not to mention all the waiting time at the airports and the transfers from LAX to Beverly Hills and then to the port of Los Angeles; and then everything in reverse all over again 48 hours later.

This flight of fancy was also paired with two nights on board a slow but amazing boat to Mexico. But with time differences on my side, I’d landed in LA early enough on Thursday for a full day of shopping at the kind of stores I never see in my part of the world, before getting on the ship.

SURPRISES IN A SHOPPING SPREE 

Friends had recommended visiting Target, a store I’d never previously set foot in and which I’d never really had any consciousness about. So after checking into my hotel, I hailed an Uber, as this is apparently the thing to do in California, and then I spent a good part of the afternoon wandering the spacious aisles of one of the largest branches of Target in Los Angeles, wide-eyed at the sizes and the prices of everything.

Conscious that practically every item in this store was a bargain, I nonchalantly dropped into my giant Target shopping cart anything that caught my eye. I wiped out an entire shelf of Tylenol PM and picked up every toy on sale. Then, for good measure, I circled the store again and hauled in a few more things I had missed out on my first run.

At the payment counter, however, I went into sticker shock when the cashier rang up the final bill. All I thought I’d done was to get some relatively insignificant goods at a cheap store. Isn’t Target supposed to be selling the kind of cheap stuff you just can’t resist? Or worse. The kind of goods you never thought you needed?

It does all this. But somehow, at the end of it all, there I was at the cashier handing over the kind of cash that many people use to pay for a flight ticket to Europe.

“Do people really spend these amounts at Target?” I asked, incredulous over my cheap shopping spree gone awry. The customer behind me, a man with a shopping cart full of beer and liquor, laughed as if he’d seen this reaction way too many times before; and he said: “Everyone overspends at Target. That’s why I try not to go too often.”

SAILING TO MEXICO WITH REGENT SEVEN SEAS

Several hours later, I was boarding the cruise ship and settling into my elegant suite for two days partially at sea and a few hours in the Mexican border town of Ensenada.

The schedule was dizzying as there was so much to do and see, but I still managed to squeeze in a massage and sessions in the infrared sauna of the boat’s Canyon Ranch Spa.

THE BEST BURGER IN LOS ANGELES

All too soon, however, I was back in an LA hotel for a few hours, packing up and preparing to head out as quickly as I’d landed; but I couldn’t leave without having a proper American hamburger. Suddenly, in LA at the end of the day, I was hankering for the real deal of a burger.

Again, friends had recommended going to In ‘N Out, that iconic California burger joint found only in this sunny state. However the nearest branch was about 20 minutes away by car and I didn’t have the luxury of time.

So instead I ordered a hamburger from room service and crossed my fingers that it would be edible. 

Well, this juicy hamburger, cooked medium rare and then arranged so prettily on a crispy and sweet brioche bun topped with ranch dressing and Cheddar cheese, was just about the best thing I’d ever tasted. It was the perfect ending to a whirlwind weekend traveling halfway around the world, living a #Travelife.