Hello Los Angeles, Good Bye Los Angeles

The Pico Building in Los Angeles

The Pico Building in Los Angeles

Originally, I was planning to go to New York. For various reasons, that plan fell through. I still want to travel this winter, so I am simply going to places which are not New York.

Inside the Megabus

Inside the Megabus

I first heard about Megabus at an asexual meetup. Today (November 30) was the first time I actually got to use Megabus, from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

green hills under a partially cloudy sky

I’ve only been on Interstate 5 south of Sacramento a few times, but I am fairly certain that this is the first time I have ever seen GREEN HILLS on this route. That means that (California) winter is coming.

Most of Interstate 5 from Tracy to the Tehachapis looks like this.

Most of Interstate 5 from Tracy to the Tehachapis looks like this.

We had a rest stop in the town of Buttonwillow, near Bakersfield.

The restaurant 'A Taste of India' with 'TRY OUR VEGAN FOOD' painted on the roof

The people who painted this sign on the roof sure know how to get my attention. I think I actually ate at this restaurant in 2004.

Once I reached the Tehachapi mountains, the only green which was left was the dull green of evergreen bushes. Clearly, winter has yet to arrive to southern California.

The Tehachapi mountains rise up, with a layer of mist above them

I had forgotten just how beautiful the Tehachapi mountains are. I could not get the best of it in photos, but the photos I did take offer a clue.

another picture of the tehachapi mountains

It was interesting to see which slopes were covered with bush, which slopes were covered with grass, and which slopes had exposed geological layers.

la07

It has been ten years since I’ve been to Southern California, and I’ve hardly ever been to Los Angeles City at all (I’ve never stayed overnight in Los Angeles City, for example). The only time I ever went to downtown Los Angeles before it was to see a show at that Ahmanson Theater, so I did not exactly get to see much of it. Thus, most of what I know of L.A. city is the stereotype that San Francisco people have of it – a smoggy, warm city where people are stuck in gridlock all the time and are unhappy. And nobody uses public transit.

a photo of an entrance to Union Station, with a large mural above the entrance.

Thus, I was surprised to arrive at Union Station which is … bustling. And modern. And full of art.

A photo of the entrance to the platforms of L.A. Union station with people rushing around

It felt more like a train station in a major Japanese city than an American train station to me (though it is not as crowded as, say, Umeda Station in Osaka). It’s a far cry from San Francisco’s train station (which is basically a shelter attached to a bunch of train platforms, though it can get plenty crowded just before a train departure). This goes against my image of Los Angeles as a public transit backwater.

The large and historic train lobby

The large and historic train lobby

And not only is the train station modern, and busy, it’s also beautiful and historic. It’s no fair.

Union Station, as seen from the outside.

Union Station, as seen from the outside.

And as soon as I step out of the station, I head into this little area with historic buildings, including the original pueblo of Los Angeles.

photo of pueblo building at night

While I was pursuing dinner, I got to walk around downtown Los Angeles. Everything in downtown Los Angeles is big, like Los Angeles City Hall.

Los Angeles Cit Hall - look at how big it is compared to the vehicle.

Los Angeles City Hall – look at how big it is compared to the vehicle.

There were lots of buses all over the place – it was ridiculous. And they are shiny and clean, unlike the gritty buses which prowl the streets of San Francisco.

However, after a little while, I realized that there were not many people walking in the streets. And that there were a lot fewer people on the buses than what one would see in downtown San Francisco. No wonder they are so shiny.

There are also plenty of big buildings in downtown San Francisco, but they are a lot more crowded together, which makes walking around them a lot more practical. By contrast, the big buildings of downtown L.A. seems to luxuriate in ample space. That certain makes trying to get around downtown on foot more difficult.

This almost looks like it could be in San Francisco (the giveaway that this is not San Francisco is the width of the street).

This almost looks like it could be in San Francisco (the giveaway that this is not San Francisco is the width of the street).

After dinner, I decided to swing through “Little Tokyo” on the way back to the train station.

Nothing says "Little Tokyo" like a Zen rock garden with a Christmas tree.

Nothing says “Little Tokyo” like a Zen rock garden with a Christmas tree.

It was more like San Francisco than any other place I have ever seen in Southern California (not that I know Southern California much at all – I spent a month in one town in Los Angeles County when I was 15, but I haven’t seen much else).

a picture of a Shingon Buddhist temple

When I first saw this temple, I recognized immediately that it was a Shingon Buddhist Temple. I have, after all, seen quite a few of them in Japan.

I was more interested in this former temple, which is now part of the Japanese American National Museum.

I was more interested in this former temple, which is now part of the Japanese American National Museum.

Little Tokyo has the same kinds of shops one finds in Japantown in San Francisco. I’ve heard that some of the shops in Little Tokyo are a bit better than those in (San Francisco) Japantown, but I did not investigate for myself.

Back to Union Train Station!

Back to Union Train Station!

As I am writing this, I am already leaving Los Angeles (though this is going to be posted at a later time because of the unreliable wifi). I was only in L.A. for 4-5 hours, and now I am on a train which is going towards LA. As in, the NOLA kind of LA.

the entrance hall of Los Angeles Union Station

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2 thoughts on “Hello Los Angeles, Good Bye Los Angeles

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