AND GO, DOWNTOWN!
Having a week off and no funds to do any traveling, the S.O. and I had a stay-cation (I can't believe I am using that particular portmanteau, seeing as how I hate it and all. If you ever catch me saying "mandals", you have my permission to shoot me.) One of the things we did was to explore Downtown Los Angeles a bit, as there were a couple places we wanted to check out, and having lived in the area for over thirty years, it seemed like it was time.
When I used to work as a messenger for a type shop (delivering by car, not bike, which may have gone a long way in developing my dislike of driving) I used to go into Downtown every day, which even 25 or so years ago was an unpleasant experience by car. The S.O. and I went by bus. The Santa Monica freeway express bus is only $2 each way, and even though we spent eight dollars between us for the round trip, it's still much cheaper and less stressful than driving and paying for parking. Until now, I had never considered the possibility of going downtown "for fun."
Since multiple places I wanted to visit involved eating, I had a light dinner the evening before. We got off the bus at Union Station, which is just one block from our first destination, Philippe's, who claim to be the originator of the French dip sandwich (one other place in L.A., Cole's, makes the same claim).
Philippe's is one of those places where the lines are always long, and I'm talking DMV long. The food at these places may not be the best, but it is at least unique (Pink's Hot Dogs and Tito's Tacos are two others who I would put in this category) and after awhile they become local landmarks. Did I kick myself for waiting 30 years to try this place? Naah, though I would go there again if I was in the area, and now that I have been there I feel like a true Angeleno (although I don't actually live in the city of Los Angeles).
From there we wandered around Chinatown, though after just having eaten a pork sandwich and potato salad, we didn't sample any of the food.
From there, we walked to historic Olvera street, the oldest part of downtown Los Angeles, where I accomplished one of my goals I set for myself during this time off, and that was to buy a luchador mask, and on Olvera Street there are many to choose from among the cheesy souvenir carts.
Then, the S.O. wanted to go to The Last Bookstore, so we headed there. Along the way, I noticed that the downtown area is getting a bit more bike friendly than I remember it. Of course, the things I noticed were related more to parking than riding, but it's a step in the right direction. It will be a long time before drivers accept bikes on the streets in Los Angeles, but they are making strides in adding bike lanes on several downtown streets.
After this it was time for our second meal of the day at Wurstkuche, the first of the new sausage and German beer places, and it seems that they started a trend, as they seem to be popping up all over the place. If you had told me a couple of years ago that German sausage and beer joints would be the next big thing I would have told you "Sure, right behind the big plaid shorts with black dress socks and wing tips fad", but I have to admit a fondness for sausages, having grown up in the Detroit area, where Kielbasa is one of the four major food groups. And the bratwurst at Wurstkuche is among the best I have had in quite some time. I would even consider making a special trip to go there again.
Amazingly, I learned that a trip downtown can actually be fun, and it can easily be reached from Santa Monica without resorting to the automobile.