My bicycle suitcase was stored at an airport hotel near LAX, about twenty miles from downtown L.A.
I arrived by Amtrak to the downtown Los Angeles Union Station at 4:30 PM, coming up from San Diego with the bicycle. Union Station opened in 1939 and exhibits Art Deco calligraphy. It provides an interesting architectural contrast to the San Diego station built twenty something years earlier.
It was getting dark but I had only a short distance to bike through a surprisingly hilly downtown Los Angeles to a nearby Airbnb.
I passed near the Frank Gehry designed Walt Disney Concert Hall.
To get to my side of town I needed to bike through quarter mile long tunnel!
My Airbnb was on the apparently still gentrifying side of I-110 in a newer large apartment complex. I had one bedroom of a very neat and clean two bedroom apartment occupied by a twenty something guy. This ended up being totally acceptable to me and cost less than a hundred dollars including taxes. He gave me instructions to tell security at the front desk that I was a “friend” of the guy in 415. There was a nice view out of the bedroom window.
Street life is at a minimum in this area on the edge of downtown L.A. There were hardly any restaurants near my place. At dinner hour I walked a few blocks down a hill towards Wilshire Boulevard for a purported “gastro-pub.”
I easily found the Plan Check Kitchen + Bar. It was an interesting scene on this slow Tuesday night.
I arrived about the same time as two extremely tall and well dressed twenty or thirty something women. One looked African-American, one white. I was intrigued, who were these two tall and tastefully dressed women? They both looked super fit, buff. Was this just because we were is Los Angeles? Were they WNBA stars? Was this just my prejudice coming forward? Where they just two normal people out for dinner together? I felt like these were not the kind of people who I would meet back in Chapel Hill. I sat at the bar and they took the remaining two seats. They did small talk with the bartender and the three of them all seemed to be in the know about Show Business. How L.A.! There were a few other people at the bar as well.
I got the Aji Tuna BLT (how California! Seafood and bacon!) and a beer. It was all very good.
The next morning I sat at a Starbucks across the street from the restaurant where I had been at the night before. I plotted a route to bicycle back to my airport hotel and maybe see something of Los Angeles in the process. I guiltily dismissed riding the most direct route because I felt uncomfortable riding through miles and miles of majority African-American neighborhoods like Crenshaw, South Los Angeles, and Inglewood. I would ride instead a slightly longer route through Koreatown, Beverlywood, and Culver City.
I headed out on Seventh Street, going northwest.
MacArthur Park is melting in the dark / all the sweat green icing flowing down / someone left the cake out in the rain / I don’t think that I can take it / ’cause it took so long to bake it / and I’ll never have that recipe again!
Homeless people were all over the place. Southern California seems like a perfect storm for homelessness; agreeable weather year-round and out of control housing costs.
Mostly later in the day I was repeatedly confronted with a trend I had not previously been aware of but was confirmed by a quick Google search: housing is so expensive that people live in RV’s parked on the streets of Los Angeles. I guess they move them around when hassled.
I continued on through the area known as Koreatown. It has been listed as a prime up and coming area, hipsterish even. It seemed to be full of all kinds of ethnicities, not just Korean.
I was surprised that most housing this close to downtown was still single family houses. I am generally a big fan of historic preservation, but with the cost of housing here,something has to give. I am not sure where this is headed.
It was not yet lunch time but I was ready for lunch. Myoung Dong Kyo Ja was already half full at 10:55 AM. At $ 11.95 this was one of the cheaper entrees of this whole trip and probably the best meal. Their English translation menu listed this as “Korean chicken noodle soup.” It was a big bowl of flavorful broth and big slurpy noodles, dressed with several dumpling-like things and bunches of crunchy vegetables and kimchee.
While there were patrons of all ages, all Korean looking. I noted several groups of middle aged women who seemed to be enjoying each other’s company.
Moving further west the neighborhoods became more pristine, certainly more expensive and less diverse. I bicycled many miles through prosperous neighborhoods. I stopped for a coffee in this place just south of Beverlywood.
The further I travelled from downtown the more the street grid consisted of dead ends and cul de sacs. It became more and more difficult to bicycle on residential streets as opposed to major four lane thoroughfares. I was lucky to find the Ballona Creek Bike Path, which extends several miles towards the ocean and took me very close to the airport.
In the late afternoon I did indeed bicycle right up to the Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Airport. My suitcase was still there. After checking in I took it and the bicycle up to my room and put it all together, for my homebound flight at 7:00 AM the next morning.
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