Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sun 13 Jan - Los Angeles, CA

Hans wanted to see Echo Park and particularly the lake as it has featured in lots of movies, Chinatown and LA Confidential for example, so we started off by taking the local bus along Sunset Boulevard to there.

However, disappointment galore. Major construction site over 2 years, to be finished later in 2013. The whole park was fenced off. Seemed like a very nice area though, with some very beautiful old style apartment blocks. Here is a photo of Echo Lake with downtown in the background.

After Echo Park, we went for a coffee in a small espresso shop managed by a young and funny Colombian bloke and we were fascinated by a long queue of people forming outside a nightclub across the street. We asked - they were queuing for a 2pm performance by a group called Infest who's musical style is "power violence". The young college looking blokes we asked seemed very excited and mentioned that they havn't played together for 20 years. Hmmm... Maybe not for us.
We walked from here along Sunset Blvd into downtown and City Hall. More movie action happening here with a (we think) TV crew acting a scene of 2 attorneys leaving a hearing and declaring their defendant not guilty. 4 takes before we left.
Onto the original LA pueblo and Olvera street. It was great to be there on a Sunday morning as the locals were going to church, listening to musicians in the plazas and eating local food. We immersed ourselves for an hour or so and really enjoyed it - some photos below.
The guy in the hat was singing and clearly a local celebrity. No one spoke English here.
The locals were eating the famous beef Taquitos with avocado sauce so we just had to try them.
A short break to check out the map and work out our next destination. Doesn't Di look like a tourist here?
This action photo gives you a true sense of how food is served in these cantinas. This guy appeared to be ladeling out some sort of chicken soup/stew (we think called menudo).
Across Alameda Street is Union Station where the architecture and decor is stunning. The station cost $11m to build about 80 years ago and was a combined effort of 4 rail companies. Lots of grand space and very art deco. A sample from one of the rooms below, which we are sure has featured in many movies.
We went to Chinatown, particularly as the Roman Polanski movie is one of our favorites. The ending was filmed in Chinatown but we are sure the area has changed since then because LA Chinatown is now quite dull. They erased old Chinatown in the process of building Union Station and shifted the Chinese further north. A bit around the filming of the movie below.
We snacked on some pork dim sims (called Sui Mai here) which were ok if not to Sydney standard.
Hans then got a rush of blood to the brain and suggested a train trip to Pasadena on the metro gold line, station just around the corner. We took a guess and got off at Memorial Park station and stumbled onto the most amazing City Hall. They were holding a Marine Corp event and presentation so we felt quite safe surrounded by more than 100 trained armed men.
Around the corner we found the main shopping area - which was a bit Mosman like. Very exclusive shops including Armani and Tiffany's but we found a good coffee place at Intelligentsia and took our first real break since starting out at 8am. Very good rustic apple pie.
We opted for a long bus trip home (about 75 minutes) on the 181 bus and were pleased we did so when we passed through a great restaurant district on Vermont Street in Los Feliz close to Hollywood Boulevard and east of us and identified at least 2 proper Italian restaurants for dinner.
Hans decided on a Spa/Jacuzzi before dinner and Di had a snooze.
We arrived back at Vermont Street around 6.30pm and decide on Il Capriccio Italian restaurant as it was packed but they found a table for us and we were extremely pleased with ourselves - very drinkable Californian cab Sav and excellent pasta. The home made bread was so good we bought a loaf to take home.
Everyone here eats much earlier but it's ok by us when you are stuffed full of delicious food and wine and need time to digest before going to sleep.
While we were waiting for the bus to take us home around 8pm, a very funny incident happened. In the opposite direction of Vermont Street, a car did a sudden u-turn across double lines, just in front of a police car. The coppers switched on their sirens for a second, but then continued without taking any action. They must have seen us watching the whole thing as the driving copper yelled out through the open window as they were passing us: "Can you believe that?". Very funny after a good meal and wine.
Back home on a bus around 8.15pm for the 10 minutes ride home. A very pleasant day.

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