This is the story of my 6 months of studying in Arizona in 2010 and subsequent travels in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Enjoy!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Los Angeles - Day 1

When I sat considering one night what to do in the upcoming weekend when to of my best friends where to be out of state, I thought that a trip to LA might not be a bad idea! Checking flights and realizing that they were pretty only a few days in advance, I turned to the Amtrak webpage, and found some suitable train tickets instead. The night train, leaving 10.30 Thursday night would bring me to LA by Friday morning, giving me 2 full days before going home in the afternoon. Each way a 10 hour trip.

So I was in place for boarding Thursday at 10 pm, having already checked out the station in advance and found it to be nothing what Im used to from Denmark. There were passenger trains 3 days a week, all leaving quite late at night – and the station was pretty much locked off outside these hours. The train turned out to be very comfortable, with a huge space for each passenger. So I had a pretty good nights sleep, considering the circumstances on top of a two-level train rumbling through Arizona and California. Of course I had brought a considerable amount of food and snacks to enjoy on the way. :) 

We arrived one hour early, 7.30 AM in Union Station in LA. I had a hostel booked, and quickly found my way with a 2 day metro pass and the Red Line headed downtown. I left my luggage in the hostel lobby, and headed out to see downtown. With a free e-guidebook printed off the Internet, I went first to find a place where I could get up to get a view of the city. The book recommended a certain hotel with lifts on the outside of the building, and they allowed me a peak of the enormous area LA covers. After getting back on ground I continued my walk past the Disney Concert Hall and a huge new catholic church. Then off to China town to get some lunch. I ended up in an authentic Chinese eatery, where people were ordering there preferred dishes from a huge counter. I felt a bit bewildered, and fell into conversation with a black security guard, who was also in the eatery for the first time. His name was Daniel, and he was 42 – app. 10 years older than he looked! Anyway, we both found our way to some delicious (and cheap!) food, and sat down to eat together. He was, like so many others, rather concerned with the fact that I was traveling alone, and asked me to take good care of myself. Which I, for the record, always do! ;)

After lunch I went to Olvera Street, a semi-authentic Mexican inspired street with a lot of little shops and old houses. I went into one that one turned into a museum; it was the oldest of the remaining houses. Back past the Union Station to the City Hall, where they have an observation deck on 27th floor. Of course I had to go there as well, to take even more pictures of the view!

The time was now a bit past 1 PM, and I decided to go back to the hostel to check in and rest a bit. I had a nice room with a bunk bed, and my only roommate joined me minutes later. I wouldn’t see much of her, but she was nice. Daniel had given me some recommendations for the public transportation, and I felt like going to the beach for some air and space outside the megatropolis! Somewhat by a mistake I took a local bus, which did take me to Venice beach, but stopping on every stop on the way it took 1.5 hours. Finally I was out of the bus, and could smell the sea – wonderful after a month in the desert! I walked a long way, from Venice Beach to Santa Monica, in the waterfront. On the way I took a little nap in the sand.

Once on the Santa Monica peer it was dinner time, and I went into the city to find a restaurant. After a Ceasar Salad I went back to the sea just in time to see the sun set. I was sitting on a bench with a homeless guy, called Brother Kane, because, as he said, he played the harmonica. I had a very random conversation with him as the sun was setting, and afterwards I gave him a dollar for the two corn dogs he had mentioned several times during our talk.

Took the right bus back downtown, and was back in my hostel a little after an hour later. 

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