Tuesday, November 30, 2004

TRAVEL: Downtown L.A.

Be a tourist in your own town! My friend and I did a walking tour of Downtown L.A recently. You're probably thinking, Downtown L.A.???? Yes, indeed, there are things to be seen, food to be had, and music to be heard. I recommend the following itinerary:

We took the subway (Metro Red Line) from the Wilshire/Vermont station. Street park your car along New Hampshire which is a parallel street one block west of Vermont. Purchase at round trip ticket for $2.70. Then take the subway towards "Union Station." Get off at the Pershing Square station, and exit towards "4th St."

Once you're outside walk north on Hill St. and immediately you'll see Grand Central Market on your left. GCM is Los Angeles' oldest public open-air market. You can buy produce and other staples for dirt cheap. Grab lunch from one of the many food stalls. A favorite is Ana Maria's, which is famous for their tortas (sandwiches). Be sure to try the milanesa torta, $4. A large, refreshing horchata will help wash the grease down. If you're vegetarian like me, then go next door to Roast to Go and order a "no meat" burrito, $2.50. But be warned, their burritos are hefty. I swear, I think mine weighed at least 2 lbs.

Anyway, have your lunch there, or take it up to the Water Court in California Plaza, which boasts of beautiful water fountains. Exit GCM the way you came in and cross the street. Right next to Angel's Flight you'll see a flight of stairs. Take it up, and up, and up. You'll come upon an outdoor ampitheatre, where you might just catch one of their weekly noon concerts. Check the schedule for upcoming shows. Every weekend, they feature an ethnic musical or dance group. We were able to catch Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, an African-American acapella ensemble.

Afterwards, exit Cal Plaza by walking west towards Grand Ave. and walk north. MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) will be on your right, and up ahead you'll see the new Walt Disney Concert Hall (designed by Frank Gehry & co.), which looks like a giant deformed tin can from outer space. It will be the new home of the L.A. Philharmonic starting this upcoming season. Visit the Music Center, which is pretty dead during the day and has a lot of patio tables to sit at. Grace and I just chilled there by the water fountain.

Then, we walked towards Temple Street, which borders the north side of the Music Center. You'll see the newly constructed Cathedral of Our Lady of The Angels. It's a huge, brown, modern looking building that resembles a fortress. Head east on Temple Street where the entrance is. You can go inside the cathedral which is beautiful compared to the unattractive exterior. Check out the beautiful wooden pews and the huge tapestries of the saints that adorn the walls. This cathedral ain't your typical traditional Catholic cathedral. It's got a lot of modern flair. Very simple and stark. It's the antithesis of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, which is so ornate it's distracting. I don't know how people can worship with all the art to look at.

When you exit the cathedral go left (east) on Temple St. When you come to the intersection at Hill St., take the DASH bus Route B "Chinatown," which only costs a quarter to ride. You're going to take this to Union Station. Get off there and cross the street to El Pueblo. El Pueblo is the oldest settlement in Los Angeles. Check out Olvera Street which is a small alley full of vendors and eateries/restaurants. It's supposed to resemble a Mexican marketplace. They have really yummy tacos there. I like to go to Mr. Churro and get one of their filled churros for $2, which are to die for. You can get your churro filled with dulce de leche (caramel), custard, or strawberry jam. I like to get it with the dulce de leche. You can check out the other landmarks in El Pueblo.

Then cross the street over to Union Station, where you'll take the Metro Red Line back to the Wilshire/Vermont station. If you're thirsty, you can get boba at Boba Loca at Vermont and 7th. St (one block south of Wilshire). I had the watermelon juice for $2.95, which hits the spot on a hot day.

::5 stars::