Saturday, June 6, 2009

Touristing my own town.

So, one of the benefits of having a steady paying job is that I get to do something I dreamed about as a small boy; travel. My first trip out of the country was in 1996, a trip to Guernsey Island, and then, London. I had been in the PD's office about a year and a half at that point. Since then, I've been to Europe several times, and Asia several times. My wife and I usually do one, if not two, trips per year.

We love big cities; the hustle and bustle, the subways, the tall buildings, the energy, the dining options, you name it, we love it. But, we realized recently that we live in a big city, one that tourists flock to all the time. And we further realized that we never viewed our home city the way tourists do. So, this year, we decided to change that. We've decided to take some excursions to places that tourists go in LA, to see the city as they do.

With that in mind, I booked a room at the Bonaventure Hotel in Downtown LA. For those of you that have never been to LA, you've seen the Bonaventure. It is the cylindrical tower with small cylindrical towers surrounding it, and with the elevators on the outside. The hotel has been featured in so many movies and TV shows, I lost count.

We checked in last night, around 7:30pm. Each of us with one bag; Dolores', of course, being larger than mine. We dumped the bags, checked the room out, and headed back out for dinner. The Bonaventure is on the western end of Downtown, the business and law firm section of town, and the dining options are a ways away. So, we drove to the other end of Downtown, and headed to a place called Pete's Cafe on 4th and Main. I had been there before for lunch, when I worked Downtown. Really nice place; wouldn't look out of place in San Francisco or New York. Dolores got a seared tuna appetizer, while I got a caprese salad. She went with crabcakes for her entree, while I went with a smoked and roasted rack of lamb. Everything was fantastic.

Stuffed from dinner, we went back to the hotel, and went up to the top, the 34th floor, where there is a rotating lounge. If you sit there for a full hour, you will get a 360 degree view of Downtown LA. So, since it was a lounge, we got drinks. She ordered a chocolate martini, and I got a lemon drop. Now, as opposed to my college days, I am pretty much a teetotaler; so I'm a real lightweight with alcohol. There was a fair amount of citrus vodka in my drink, and I could feel it. But, since I was already in the hotel, who cared, right? I tend to just get silly when I drink, and D just watched me getting silly and amusing myself, playing with the Pepperidge Farm goldfish left as appetizers, making puns, and giggling to myself. We didn't quite last the hour, since the slow turning was messing with Dolores' head. So, we went back to the room, and pleasantly tipsy, we turned in for the night.

This morning, we slept in. But, we finally checked out and got underway around 11. I didn't want to leave the car at the hotel, because the parking rates are criminally usurous. So, we drove to a lot near Chinatown, and dumped the car there. We walked thru Olvera Street, and looked at all of the booths selling Mexican and Central American schlock to midwesterners and people homesick for their homelands. We then went across the street to Union Station, to catch the Metro Red Line to Metro Center/7th Street. It is such a shame that LA doesn't have a better Metro system; this city really needs it, and it will never happen in my lifetime. But, I digress. Once off the Metro, we walked 2 blocks to the Original Pantry.

I used to go there a lot when I was in college and law school. Dolores had never been. I had warned her that one does not go to the Pantry for a light lunch; it is heavy duty eating. There was a slight line to get in; par for the course. 25 minutes later, we were seated. She got 2 eggs, bacon, french toast, and potatoes. I couldn't resist ordering the country fried steak, with corn and mashed taters, and I got 2 orders of their cole slaw, which is the best cole slaw ever. It was an obscene amount of food, as evidenced by the photo. We were absolutely stuffed to the gills when we walked out and waddled back to the Metro station.

Once at Union Station, we walked about 15 minutes to Chinatown. We cruised up Broadway and back down Hill Street, stopping in several galleries and shops, and peering into at least one shop where you could purchase freshly killed poultry of all sorts; squab, old chicken, and various other game birds. I filed the location away, for the next time I was interested in doing some experimental cooking. We also went into a large department store, that had a very large tea section. We love tea, from our various travels, and getting really good loose leaf Chinese tea can be rather difficult and expensive. This place may be just the find we've been looking for. We were pretty beat, so we didn't explore the possibilities as much as we could have. But, we'll return.

So, having been walking for a couple of hours, we went back to the car and headed home, having enjoyed our touristy romp thru Downtown LA.

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