Imagine taking ‘the bus’ in LA. I’m not anti-public transportation despite the fact that I never use it in San Francisco. Why? Bottom line – it’s inefficient, yet many will disagree with me. London, New York and Paris are efficient, San Francisco is not.
LA is not really efficient either, however if you’re attempting a few designated neighborhoods, know the route and have less of a time concern (like I often do in San Francisco), it can be a very colorful experience.
My cell phone rings; it is a new business lead from a CEO of a technology start-up based in LA. I have to excuse myself for a moment to ask the bus driver about my stop, and I hear Gordon say, “Where are you?” “On the bus,” I reply.
A pause and then a period of silence. “In LA?” he asks as if in shock. I laugh. “Yes, in LA.” Apparently its rare that people attempt public transportation here, partially because its so spread out and partially because like San Francisco, its probably not all that efficient.
Yet, I ended up taking a train from Hollywood to Long Beach during the same trip to avoid traffic and because we were fortunate to have someone pick us up on the other end and drop off us carside on the way back.
The sun was shining, the stars names melded into the cement on Hollywood Boulevard, people were eating ice cream cones and I could hear tourists on the streets. It was remarkable how many British accents I heard. (since I have lived there, I also noted that more accents were from the north rather than London).
Dare I pull out a laptop or mobile device during a moment such as this, I realized that the embedded sounds, smells and sights would change. Changed and altered in a way that would take on new meaning.
And there it was, the bus. I learn that the 217 bus headed west to Melrose from Hollywood. Why not? Had I not lived on the metro and public buses in Europe for years and even our very own New York City.
LA’s map is easy when you learn what your options are. They’re extremely limited, meaning the red line takes you west to San Fernando Valley, including Universal City and Laurel Canyon), the blue line takes you south to Long Beach, and the green line takes you east to Norwalk and west to Redondo Beach. East LA heading towards Pasadena seemed to be under construction.
What a pleasure. Did I mention the sun was shining?
“How often do they come?” I repeatedly asked two British tourists, one who had an obvious mangled hand. A disability that he seemed to notice as much as many I’ve met in the past 48 hours would notice a bad hair day. What a smile and sense of optimism he had, so much so that I decided to follow them to two stops beyond my original destination, to the renown Farmers Market on Third Street.
Out we jumped. It wasn’t industrial, but certainly not visually appealing, not until I made my way through the rear path into the market (poorly marked) and immediately embarked upon the French Crepe outside dinner cushioned in between a nuts & candies stand and Marcondas Meats.
The French Crepe Company offered a create your own savory crepe option as well as sweet choices, including the Metro, which was nothing more than a huge slab of butter topped with a ton of sugar. Ouch, poor stomach.
It was a refreshing maze of shops and food stands, not too unlike some of the European markets, except for the obvious tacky trinkets that lined every alley.
Sweet for Americans who have lived abroad for so many years, that they get to a point where surrender becomes easier than discovery.
So I walked, just like I used to nearly every weeked for months and months at London’s Camden Market.
It was the era where we all wore black mini skirts, tight black sleeveless tops and black leather coats, silver bangles, chokers and boots that Madonna would embrace. I embraced it all. I could write an entire novel on Camden Lock btw.
On my way out, I talked to the guys at the Korean BBQ and then strolled past The Gumbo Pot (no sausage please), Charlies French Toast & Waffles (okay not a NE diner, but oh so great), Phils Deli where they ‘serve breakfast all day,’ Sushi A Go-Go, Coffee Corner, Bryans Pit Barbecue, Ulysses Greek and finally Duck Soup Pop Culture.