Jan 24, 2018

LA Story #2: Downtown. Angels Flight. The Grand Central Market.

I said goodbye to the quiet order of Camarillo this morning with its immaculate and eerily empty sidewalks and its perfectly hard boiled eggs, or 'shell eggs' as Master SSG prefers to call them.  Except for a lone jogger on Sunday morning, I appeared to be the only person out and about putting the pavement to good use.  I like to think it was because everyone prefers to drive rather than a statement on the safety of being a pedestrian in the area.  Despite the high-speed limits on the freeways, every driver I encountered was especially courtesy when they saw me trying to beat the 30 second 'white hand' signal at pedestrian crossings.  Perhaps the crossings and signals are just for show because I'm fairly fit and found myself having to practically run in order to cross the road in time.

Before hitting the road for my hotel in downtown Los Angeles.  The hour's drive flew by as gently curved, tree-topped mountains blurred past us on the freeway.  The street signs announced canyons, drives and suburbs that were all faintly familiar to me from decades of television and film watching.  Mulholland Drive brought back memories of Naomi Watts' 2001film, Calabasas was familiar as the suburb where the early years of the Kardashians' lives took place and hence was a key location of their eponymous reality series and Laurel Canyon is ... the name of the cut of a favourite pair of Paige Denim jeans.

Where I made the rookie error of assuming that city hotels would have room fridges like their counterparts in the suburbs.

Just as well I knew where the ice machine was on my floor.

I'm getting good at using coffee machines of all brands and levels of complexity to boil water for tea.  

As sprawling as LA is and as crazy as the traffic is in town, it didn't take me long to happen upon some iconic elements of downtown.  This is the Angels Flight  funicular railway in the Bunker district.  It's a 96m track that connects Hill Street and California Plaza. 

There are two cars on the track and their names are Sinai and Olivet.  Casual users pay $1 to ride each way, it's around 50 cents for Metro Card holders.

I did feel that I was flying, almost like an angel, as we soared upwards in the carriage.  We flitted over locals tending to their urban veggie patches and the wind whistled gently through the winter bared tree branches above.

The destination to keep in mind at the 'bottom end' of Angels Flight is Grand Central Market.  I'm linking to a great article that is part guide and part history of the market.

The market is decades old and has seen the ups and downs and ebbs and flows of Downtown LA.

The street level plays host to a celebration of the diverse cultures that make up LA.  You can find authentic, freshly made meals from all corners of the globe as well as the provisions you might need to make your own at home.  I did spy a supermarket in the basement level but didn't have time to explore.

In this age of sterile, glittering shopping centre food courts, the markets were a refreshing antidote to the numbness and claustrophobia that sometimes takes hold when you've had a long week but have to hit up Westfield for life admin and lunch because it takes so long to get out of the carpark you might as well stay for food.

But I digress.  The vibe is hard to describe. It's a bit hipster, it's a bit city suits looking for good food and chilled out times.  It's a bit about families getting together to share their culture's cuisine, it's about other families meeting to have lunch while giving their toddler the chance to kick back in their high chair and just gaze at all the colour, movement and people around him.  It's about tourists like me in search of good coffee, it's about the gruff and slightly intimidating locals getting their regular standing orders for lunch.

Neon signs announced where you should go if you like your eggs promiscuous.

I wished Master SSG was with me so that I could buy him a juice at Press Brothers.

After three laps of the market, I perched on a stool at Valerie for lunch.

I sipped this excellent cappucino as I ate my Asian salad.

Percolated buffet breakfast coffee this was not.  After days of doing it rough coffee wise, the character of the brew I tried today made me smile.  Deeply.  The half choc chip cookie I was given with my coffee was a reminder of just how good 'real' and freshly baked biscuits can be.

I couldn't resist taking this photo at Clark Street Bakery.  I shall be back for breakfast, I reckon.

My internal GPS briefly diverted me to the Walgreens a bit further down the road where people walked head down and briskly rather than strolling with frequent pauses to idly look at things.  I made like the locals before returning to the market to complete my shopping.

This is what my local grocer looks like here.

Winter is beautiful here in Los Angeles.

 Yes, the highways and freeways are confronting.

But there's also a natural beauty to the land that you can still be in touch with in the heart of the financial district.

I spotted this food truck across the road from what I think is the Wells Fargo Center.  There's a slick selection of eateries and stores just below street level at the office block.  I love that the city loves food as much as I do.  It's abundant, it's fresh and it's everything from staying true to tradition to the reimagined. 


  1. I am loving your pics from LA. I was there for less than 2 full days and I saw quite a bit but mostly from the tour bus. The city is one where I felt I would not need to return but felt differently when I went to San Fran. It was 2006 so much has changed nevertheless! Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek 4/52. Next Week is the FIRST photo-centred prompt (no topic!) called #ShareYourSnaps. Looking forward to seeing everyone's photos every 5th week this year!

  2. It's such an interesting mix of places SSG, it's like you explored the whole city with all these different things. It must be interesting seeing them all side by side like in that last photo!


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