After talking about food, I do have a couple of tourist attractions which I want to talk about. But before that, let me talk about how I get to and from the attractions, since I took some Matterport videos St. Louis during the trip. In this post, I will share some random photos that I have taken during my train rides/walking around during my first visit to this city.
Taking the train to downtown Los Angeles
Like most major cities in the world, Los Angeles has its own Metro train system. Sure, it is not as impressive as the system in London and Tokyo, and there are only a few lines for the entire system, but I guess it is adequate. At the very least it is more comprehensive than the ones in KL.
For me, I wanted to get from the hotel to Hollywood Boulevard, and then to Universal City. The concierge recommended that we take the free shuttle to the airport and get a bus from there. Apparently that was the most straightforward way.
I ignored his advice though. Because, I wanted to try the train. The closest train station from the hotel was Aviation/LAX on the Green Line. The plan was to board the train from Aviation/LAX, then transit to the Blue Line at Willowbrook, then transit again to the Red Line at 7th St/Metro Ctr, and disembark finally at Hollywood/Highland.
Confident with my planning, we left the hotel by foot. After all, the free shuttle was going towards the airport, and we were going in the opposite direction. We could have waited for the shuttle to come back for us, but from the map, it seemed like a short walk, just a couple hundred meters down the street.
How wrong I was. What seemed to be a couple hundred meters turned out to be more than 1 kilometer. And when we got to the end of the street, we came face to face with an expressway with lots of flyovers. We couldn’t just cross the expressway, could we? We were not suicidal to attempt that. So we had to walk further down to look for a safe crossing.
It took us more than 30 minutes to reach this train station, Aviation/LAX. It was a very tiring start to the day, but I was very glad that we did it, because now I can tell you that I learned how the train system works on LA Metro’s Green Line.
You see, we arrived at the train station and saw the ticketing booths, so we purchased our tickets. After that, we went looking for the gates to slot our tickets in. We couldn’t find any. Then we saw a few Americans got their tickets as well, and just went up the escalator.
Hmm… okay, maybe the electronic gates are on top, at the train platform level. So we followed and went up.
But no, instead of the gates, we got off the escalator to see this…. no gates!
I was confused. How can we purchase train tickets but not be required to go through some sort of a gate system to confirm our purchases? To make matters worse, we saw this signboard
If there are no gates, how the hell could the train operators confirm that each passengers are ticketed passengers?
I wanted to ask around, but there were only a few people on the platform, and they didn’t seem too friendly. So I did not ask. And when the train arrived, we just got into the train along with the others. I figured if when we got off at our final destination and our tickets somehow could not get through the exit gate, we could just say that we were tourists and feign ignorance.
Turns out, we did not make any mistake at all. Apparently, there really is NO ticketing gates at ALL train stations on the Green Line. Passengers are expected to do the right thing and purchase the tickets on their own accord. There would be train conductors performing random spot checks to check for tickets inside the trains, but it was like, 2 conductors checking on many trains across many stations.
In other words, you can actually NOT buy any tickets if you are traveling exclusively on the Green Line and more often than not, if you are lucky enough, can get away with it. Not that I recommend you to cheat, just stating that there is such an option if you are feeling lucky and wanted to tempt your luck. That’s all.
Anyway, there is another reason I was glad I took the train instead of the bus. In San Francisco, I was always staying in the downtown area, so I only got to see the city side of the city. But here, the train goes across the ghetto area before entering the downtown area. I do not have any photos because the train was moving and it was difficult to get any good shots, but it was quite… interesting to see those shacks and graffiti laden walls. It was interesting to note that LA is very much like KL, where there exists poor peoples’ area within the metropolitan area.
Walking from Pico to 7th St/Metro Ctr
Overall, the train rides was very interesting… until it broke down. We were supposed to transit from Blue to Red at 7th St/Metro Ctr station, but the train broke down one station before that, at Pico station.
Here was where it got rather confusing. There was an announcement by the train driver that we should get on the connecting bus outside the train station which will send us to Metro Center for free. But when we got out of the station, we saw the bus had just left. There were a few others who missed that free bus too. They cursed, and then they left the station by foot.
So we did the same. It was just one station, and from the map it was just 200 meters away.
Oh, one thing, you know how we go out of this Pico station? Here, see this…
We had to walk across the rail track. As you can see, the gate was open, and there was no guards keeping watch. Not very safe, is it? If you are feeling suicidal, you can come here, wait for the train to approach, and then jump out. There won’t be anybody to stop you, you can be rest assured. Not that I recommend you to be suicidal, just saying that there is such an option if you so wish it.
Again, what looked like 200 meters in the map was almost 1 kilometer in actual distance. It was an interesting walk though. For one, because of this walk, I got to see the STAPLES Center up close. STAPLES Center, home of the LA Lakers and LA Clippers NBA basketball teams.
I also got to see some empty streets of downtown LA, and some nice buildings…
Ahh.. Mannywood, nickname of Manny Ramirez. I don’t know much of baseball, but apparently this guy is a legend in the MLB (Major League Baseball). I heard his name more than 20 times in the radio in Loveland, before I came to LA.
It was all in all, an interesting walk, but it was another kilometer, and it took us another 30 minutes. I couldn’t be more glad to see this building, because the train station that we wanted to go to is directly below this building.
It was a timely arrival, for if we had walked another 50 meters, I would have collapsed in a heap. From here, we quickly got onto the connecting train at Red Line to proceed to Hollywood…
After touring Hollywood Boulevard and Universal City, we had to figure out how to get back to our hotel. We were not interested to go back the way we came. So we took the train all the way to the end of the Red Line, to Union Station. We were supposed to be able to catch a bus from here to the airport.
I was glad that we came to this Union Station. This is a very old train station, and the largest in western United States. But what made me glad to come here was because this train station was featured in the ending of that movie The Italian Job. The newer, 2003 version, featuring Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron. This was where the bad guy was punched by Charlize’s character, and taken away by the Ukrainian mafia boss who told him “I’m not going to shoot you, now I’m taking you to my workplace (scrapyard), I think you will be interested in some of the machinery I use”
This station is really quite grand and nice. But seeing it up close, I wonder if they really shot the movie in this actual station. The scenes I saw in the movie looked nothing like what I saw here. Maybe the movie producers picked some other train station for shooting. That would be strange. I thought Americans will only misrepresent places in their movies when the locations are outside the US…
And, I guess that’s all I am going to write today, after that crazy long post yesterday. My next LA posts will talk about Hollywood Boulevard, and then Universal City, and then… we’ll see…