|BUSY TRAIN. Angels Flight, a popular funicular in downtown Los Angeles remains one of the busiest rail lines in the country since its construction in 1901.
All Aboard: Two Trains in One Day.
By Thomas Shess with photography by Phyllis Adkisson Shess—We hopped aboard Amtrak to Los Angeles earlier this week for a fun daytrip.
Left San Diego’s Santa Fe Station at 8:10 a.m. and returned at 6 p.m.
Late fall proved to be terrific for those coastal views and sunsets!
Exploring the Los Angeles was a perfect afternoon.
Suggest adding Uber to budget since time is a factor on a one-day trip.
|MUNI TREE. LA's holiday tree is lit up on City Hall's 3rd floor Rotunda level.
Quick visits to City Hall (3rd floor rotunda had a beautiful xmas tree and the Bradbury Building is a working office building so security guards forbid upper floor explorations.
Aside from being a national architectural treasure, the Bradbury Building has starred in a few movie productions (Blade Runner and many others). I liked Blue Bottle Coffee having a shop in the Bradbury. Across the street, the Million Dollar Theater harkens to old Hollywood, but lately its street level appearance is more like the $1.99 Theatre. A better view is a huge mural beautifully installed on Bradbury's W. Third side of actor Anthony Quinn. Tony, you look terrif.
|LUNCH STOP. Tourists arrived for lunch at Traxx Cafe in Union Station.
--For ocean views to LA sit on the left side of the train and coming home for those sunsets sit on the right side.
--Conductors will save the facing 4 seaters for groups. So don’t let dally Sally or Manspread take over the tables with computers. Don’t be shy to ask conductor to shoo them away because there are tons of solo seats with nice sized airline style trays available.
--The iconic and artsy Olvera Street is adjacent to the train depot. Given time restraints we chose Grand Market as it had a wider ethnic flavor (in our opinion).
--Take the later train home for more gawking in LA (so many things to see). We left for San Diego on the Pacific Surfliner (business class) at 3:10 pm. Very comfortable. If all goes well on the tracks, the trip is three hours one way, which is amazing given all the stops the Surfliner makes.
--Yes, you can drive but why? Cost about $100 round trip per person and Amtrak served as part of the deal a decent Central Valley red wine with a snack pack that beats any Southwest Airlines offering. Speaking of airlines, train seating in Biz class is twice the space allowed by most airlines.
One downside but not deal breakers:
--Sadly, the wonderful seating in the main LA Union Station is fenced off and security guards escort you to and fro to your seat.
--One restroom for all of Union Station. Staff does its best but sheer volume of those who wash in the basins make it impossible for comfort. If you can wait until you board to use the train toilets. You will thank me for the tip.
--Yes, you can hike from train depot to Angel’s Flight (one mile plus) but lots of homeless encampments until you get to City Hall. After City Hall seeing the new LAPD complex and the LA Times buildings are worth the walk, especially if you go in a group.
FUND RAISER. This work of neon art while sponsored by Bulleit Whiskey (a Diageo company) is a fund-raiser for the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale. Designed by Brendan Donnelly, the artwork was executed by Lisa Schulte, a longtime neon-art sculptor and member of the museum’s board. Here is how it works: Every time someone posts a photograph of this Bulleit Frontier Whisky sign on social media and tags it #FrontierWorks, the company will make a donation to the MONA for neon restoration purposes. So please feel free to copy the photo above and post it somewhere. Be sure to tag it!
|As aficionados of Spain's central markets like those in Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia, we discovered LA's Grand Central Market to be diverse, intricate, fascinating, and so much fun and well worth the trip.
|Sand volleyball early morning San Clemente Beach
SPLASHY. Locals often take AMTRAK Pacific Surfliner trip to Los Angeles for granted. For example, here's how close the tracks are to the Pacific Ocean. Take the trip now before it becomes a submarine ride.
|Solo surfer, North County, San Diego.
|Lagoon inlet north of Torrey Pines bluffs and beach, San Diego County.
|City of Oceanside Marina mid-morning
Miles of great views of So. Calif. beaches, like San Clemente, can be seen from windows of Pacific Surfliner from San Diego to San Juan Capistrano. Best views: sit on the left side to LA and right side return.
Media Guru, Wine Journalist Tom Gable: “Great day trip. I used it regularly when I had clients in downtown L.A. and Century City. We also like it for visiting Santa Barbara and wine country. Relax on the train and avoid L.A. traffic, rent a car in Santa Barbara, and detox on the ride home.”
Silly Stuff. Holden DeMayo travel gadfly: After arriving at the train depot, I caught myself waiting for the announcement: "Please keep your seatbelts on until we arrive at the gate..."