Los Angeles has a reputation for being a city you cannot see or navigate without a car, and, true, in terms of transit, New York or London it is not, but i know from previous trips that there are people that live here who don't drive at all, so i figured i could spend a day on foot and train seeing the things i needed to see. I have taken the subway here before, but only a few stops. I've never covered much ground without my sister driving me. Yesterday though she had to work all day and so i headed out solo and on foot.
I started in downtown Los Angeles, which is absolutely my favourite area. It feels like LA but it doesn't. The buildings are tall and gloriously old (on a west coast US scale) and the area is sprinkled with cafes, restaurants, galleries, and shops but the area still retains a lot of the character from its recent, seedy past. It is just a bit grimy and has old bodegas, pawn shops, and less than reputable looking taco eateries by the roadside. More and more though the area is becoming gentrified, so soon much of the grittier bits will be polished away, and then it will all just be...too lovely. But right now it is good.
I started at the Grand Central Market for a perfectly pulled espresso and then walked up and down the tree lined streets as the neighbourhood was waking up with dog walkers and street sweepers leading the parade. With all day ahead of me i looked for a place to have a morning cigar and read my book. A bench perhaps? But then i found a little cigar/hookah lounge on Spring street that was open (at 7am). The cigar selection wasn't great, but i grabbed the best of what was on display and made myself at home on their front patio with a book, a churchill, and a coffee. All was well.
After that i paid a visit to The Last Bookstore. Between its rambling aisles, random book architecture, awesome selection, nooks, crannies, slopes, corners, and hideaways ( not to mention the artists' studios and vinyl section) this may be my new favourite bookstore (sorry, Powell's).
After a sufficient browse i walked to the 2nd Street Cigar Lounge: a comfortable neighbourhood tobacconist with ample leather chairs for cigar No. 2. After that i wandered downtown a bit more, photographing the swell and often disused theatres.
From there i walked to Olivera Street - the historic and touristy Mexican area, crammed with stalls of colourful souvenirs and fragrant open air eateries.
I've been there a couple of times previously so i didn't linger but took a turn around the square before entering the grand Union Station to catch a subway to Hollywood.
A word about the LA Metro: while it doesn't cover every area, it is fairly far reaching, well mapped, efficient, and cheap (and air-conditioned).
I disembarked into the hustle of Hollywood and Vine and made my way down the strip, past the souvenir shops, the cheezy looking bars, and sleezy looking stores, dodging the guys touting tours of Hollywood homes and the scrawny Spiderman and buxom Marilyns posing for pictures with tourists. I smiled and was careful not to trod upon the stars of certain celebrities, namely Frank Sinatra and Bela Lugosi. There's not much on Hollywood worth stopping for if it isn't your first time, but it makes for an entertaining stroll.
I walked all the way down to La Brea and then from there down to Melrose - not so interesting a stretch. I turned right onto Melrose and walked to and past Fairfax. Melrose is great if you are inclined towards shopping or eating, neither of which i was, but it was great for looking around and the long walk passed quickly.
I finally reached my destination: the well appointed and well stocked V-Cut cigar lounge where i whiled away an hour and a half with two cigars and the chatter of a decent crew of locals.
From there, as it was getting dark and i was not inclined to walk back to Hollywood for the Metro, i took a bus to the nearest Metro station, then back to Union Station where i caught the Metrolink (a long distance commuter train) back to Burbank.
A wonderful day. And car free.