While camping near Acton, California, I took the train to Los Angeles Union Station and then transferred to one of the subway lines to some sights in LA. The train ride was just under 2 hours long and the round trip cost only $9.50 – much less than it would have cost for gas plus the headache of finding and paying for parking.
When I arrived at Union Station, I headed to the restroom. It was easy to find since the women’s line stretched far down a hallway while the men popped in and out of theirs. The restroom, in spite of its heavy use, was clean, well maintained and had classical music playing in the background. And the line, as long as it was, didn’t take too long to allow people to arrive at the destination.
Some policemen helped me locate the subway line I wanted, one of many lines the subway had. To ride the subway I needed a “TAP” card and was standing before the kiosk to purchase one when a young lady gave me hers saying she was leaving the city and didn’t need it. All I had to do was load it. What an unexpected blessing!
As a senior, the subway ticket price was $0.35 – what a bargain! The whole transportation system impressed me. Both the Metrolink train and the subway were clean and reasonably comfortable – no graffiti anywhere. I found the air a little off on the train but that was the only minor discomfort.
From the Metrolink train I took passage on the Red line that went to the Hollywood area of the city. The stops were quite distant from one another, much further than the stops on the Toronto system. The train didn’t stop for long at each one, but since the stops were clearly announced before getting to them, people were able to board and exit efficiently.
Quite a few people were wearing masks, perhaps as a protection against the virus that threatens to become a pandemic. I found this a little disconcerting and wondered if I should have brought my mask as well. I haven’t been in such a large crowd for a long time.
From what I saw in my one day adventure, LA had everything from dilapidated hobbles to multi-million dollar homes. There were several people who appeared to be homeless but none were panhandling.
As expected there was an abundance of touristy sites eager to lessen the load of my wallet. So many hawkers offered “deals” on admission prices that I expect very few would have had to pay the stated door prices. I opted to gawk and explore since there was so much to experience. I meandered sidewalks embedded with the names and stars of the “stars”, watched live movie and television sets being set up and filmed and found more than one path dead ended by film crews that had commandeered the sidewalk/street.
Spanish/English speaking street vendors sold cartons of fruit, roasted meats and other delicacies which reminded me of my life in Ecuador. Mixed in with the milling tourists, costumed characters abounded – Wonder Woman, Batman, Iron Man, Cat Woman, Mickey Mouse, Spiderman and more. Each offered tourists the opportunity to take a picture with them for a price. One fellow who looked very much like Michael Jackson stood as still as a statue until someone paid him to dance. He was good!
Even though I had a map and tried to keep some landmarks in mind, I did add a few extra blocks of walking while finding my way back to a subway entrance. I had to walk on a sidewalk on a curtained off street to get to it. The curtains billowed like sails on a pirate ship and descending into the subway felt like going into the hold of the ship. After a day of walking and gawking I was glad to get back on the subway and take a seat. It was far more crowded than it was in the morning.
Once I got back to Union Station, I found the line to the women’s restroom didn’t extend quite as far down the hallway as it did in the morning. My timing was great. The Metrolink train arrived soon after I found the correct platform and I was soon back to my peaceful camp for another night under the stars. Stars that outlived and outshone the ones displayed on LA’s Walk of Fame sidewalks.