Monday, May 10, 2010

Downtown Los Angeles

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend, and a nice Mother's Day! We had a pretty quiet weekend around here, and today Eric will be heading off to India for the week. But, Achilles and I have some wine and romantic comedies on hand, so we should be able to get ourselves through the week. Safe travels to Eric!

I want to pick up my L.A. recaps with the second part of our Sunday (also known as Mega Sightseeing Day). As you know, we spent Sunday morning in Hollywood. The Hollywood Museum was our last stop, and then we hopped back on the metro red line headed downtown to Union Station. From there we walked just a couple blocks to our lunch destination: Philippe's The Original!

Philippe's The Original

Do any of you watch the show Man v. Food? It's a great show on the Travel Channel. The host, Adam Richman, travels all over the country and tries the notorious "pig-out" spots. In every episode, he visits one city. He tries two well-known local restaurants, then does a "food challenge" at a third restaurant, which may include anything from drinking an obscene number of milkshakes in one sitting, to eating exceptionally spicy chicken wings, to devouring a burger of epic proportions. It's a pretty entertaining show.

In the very first episode of Season 1, Man v. Food visited Los Angeles. One of the restaurants Adam visited in that episode was Philippe's The Original, which credits itself with being the inventor of the french dip sandwich. According to Philippe's, in 1918 the owner was making a sandwich for a policeman and he accidentally dropped the bread in the roasting pan filled with juices. The policeman said he would take it anyway, and he loved it. Thus, the french dip was born. We enjoy a nice french dip sandwich, so we decided to check this place out.

And Philippe's did not disappoint. The place was jam-packed and, to our delight, affordably priced. For a moment we almost had a cultural battle on our hands when trying to choose a salad side dish - my husband (the Italian) wanted macaroni salad, and I (the Irish girl) wanted potato salad. Epic. Thanks to the reasonable prices, we splurged and got both (and the potato salad was better, so score one for Irish folks everywhere!). We also sampled two different french dip sandwiches: pork for Eric and beef for me, both single-dipped, which means they only dip the top part of the bread in the au jus. Everything was really delicious! It was the kind of delicious where as soon as it touches your tongue, you groan and make an "oh wow, that's SO GOOD" face. Mmmm. Thanks for the recommendation, Man v. Food!

Waiting in line at Philippe's! See me?

Our lunch!

Eric approves.

Outside Philippe's after a delicious meal

After lunch we went back to Union Station to catch the Dodger Express bus to Dodger Stadium for a game. Union Station itself was actually really nice - once again, it was clean and very nicely designed. We found the bus stop with no problem, and the bus arrived as soon as we got to the stop. Perfect timing!

Union Station

Here comes our bus!

We were pretty late to the game, but we made it. Although, being late did limit our time quite a bit, considering that the game was super short - two and a half hours! The Dodgers beat the Pirates 9-3, so we got to see a win and some home runs. Our seats were in the bleacher section which was not connected to the rest of the stadium, so unfortunately we didn't get to do much exploring. But, we did have a great time and even sampled a Dodger Dog (accompanied by beer, obviously). And it was a beautiful day for baseball!

Dodger Stadium

They have their mantra posted in the hills outside the stadium as an homage to the Hollywood sign.
Clearly, I do what I am told.

Inside the stadium

Happy tourists at the game

After the game we took the bus back to Union Station, then decided to do some wandering around downtown. We started with a visit to Olvera Street, which is the oldest part of Los Angeles and is part of the El Pueblo Historic Monument. I absolutely loved this area. It was basically a Mexican marketplace, with lots of shops and stands with various goods and food for sale. There were mariachi bands roaming around.There were little restaurants all along the street featuring outdoor dining and delicious-looking Mexican food - if only we weren't so full from Philippe's and the Dodger Dog, I would have loved to sit and enjoy some food and a margarita! At the end of the street, there was a big plaza with more vendors and live music. The whole place was bustling, and it was just a very fun atmosphere. It got me excited for our upcoming trip to Mexico in November for my cousin Molly's wedding! (And, I even bought a new cowboy hat from a stand on Olvera Street to wear on the beach in Mexico, so I'm ready to go!)

Entrance to Olvera Street

Walking through the marketplace

The Olvera Street Cross at the entrance to the market

I loved this pretty wishing well!

From Olvera Street, we walked past Chinatown then continued on in search of the Disney Concert Hall, passing a number of other notable buildings on our way, including the Los Angeles Times building and City Hall.


Los Angeles Times Building

City Hall

We finally made it to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which is a very cool structure. The architecture is very interesting, and there are these beautiful gardens around there with coral trees and other pretty landscaping and sculptures, with tables and chairs to sit and enjoy. We spent quite a bit of time wandering around the building exterior and enjoying the gardens (and getting more use out of our Gorillapod!).

The Walt Disney Concert Hall

What a cool building!

More of the fancy exterior

In the gardens

"A Rose for Lilly" (Memorial sculpture for Lillian Disney, designed by Frank Gehry)

In front of the concert hall

By this time, we were absolutely exhausted. We had done SO MUCH walking and crammed so much sightseeing into just one day. We decided to call it a day and head back to our hotel area to try to find some dinner. We took the metro back to Universal City, then decided to go up to City Walk to find something to eat.

Ugh. That was a bad call. City Walk was a circus. It was like Times Square - maybe interesting if you're in the right mood, but if you're tired and hungry and cranky, it's just TOO MUCH. There were people everywhere, expensive chain restaurants, and all-around madness. No, thanks. We just did not have the energy for that.

Outside Universal Studios

City Walk

So, we walked back towards our hotel and stopped for Chinese food at a place called City Wok on our way. We got it to go and took it back to our hotel and it was delicious, especially accompanied by the wine we brought along in our suitcase.

Mmm, Chinese food and a bed. Just what we needed to end our day.

After dinner we spent some time in the hotel's hot tub and sitting by the outdoor fireplace. What a great way to relax after a super long day!

Up next: Our Warner Bros. studio tour! Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Becky said...

Sounds fabulous! You made me hungry with all that food talk. I think I'll go have lunch now...