It all started here...

It all started here...

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Cheap Weekend in L.A.

Metro Gold Line Azusa to Los Angeles Downtown
Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Metro Gold Line has been operating for a few weeks now and I have heard many good things about it. One being that it cost minimal for a convenient trip between San Gabriel Valley and downtown L.A. without having to deal with the terrible traffic and expensive parking in L.A. The cost for senior citizens on off-hour is 35 cents one way, so what's not to like about it? I know that it's difficult to find parking at the stations on the weekdays and I wasn't going to take up valuable space from the daily commuters who depend on the Gold Line for their transportation. When DC/MC/DD asked if we would like to join them for a trip downtown this past weekend, I readily agreed.

It happened that last Thursday was also the opening day for the extension of the Metro Expo Line between Culver City and Santa Monica. Throughout the weekend, it was a free ride for those who was taking the Expo Line. Which means, for 35 cents each way, we could take the Metro trains from Azusa to Santa Monica even if we make a stop in downtown for over the two hour free- transfer time. So, off we went last Saturday, for a cheap and fun weekend in Los Angeles.

After meeting DC/MC/DD in Glendora, we drove to the parking structure at the Azusa Pacific University/Citrus College station in Azusa where the Gold Line ends in the east side. Parking is free on the weekends and there were ample parking spaces being that it was a Saturday. We purchased our tickets using the TAP card (cost $1) from the machine and ready for our trip to the west. There were more passengers than usual for a Saturday, I was told, probably taking the same trip to Santa Monica.
One train left as we were getting our tickets but we soon boarded another one that was waiting at the station.

Gold Line leaving the Azusa area on a beautiful May day.

After stopping at Azusa downtown, Irwindale, Duarte, Monrovia, and Arcadia the Gold Line arrived at the Pasadena station.

South Pasadena Station

Arrived at Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles but we stayed on for another stop until Little Tokyo. The stop before Union Station is the Chinatown stop, which looked quiet convenient. We will have to try getting off there next time.

Getting off at Little Tokyo station

Little Tokyo Museum near the station.

Little Tokyo

We stopped here for some steamed buns to try.

Grand Central Market, Los Angeles Downtown

Then we continued our walk through the quiet downtown area to Grand Central Market where we planned on having lunch.
There were a lot of people there, tourists and locals alike. It's a fun place to be, trying out different ethnic food, if you don't mind waiting around and staying in lines.
First place we stopped was the Villa Moreliana carnitas tacos. Apparently, DC/MC ate there last time they came and enjoyed it so much that they wanted a repeat of their delicious carnitas tacos. It was a little over $5 for two fresh tacos, which actually is like four tacos in one. I was stuffed after finishing half and had to give ChC the rest. Next time, I just need to order one.

My order of two tacos, a little over $5. 

There was a line here, but it went by pretty fast.

Entrance to the Grand Central Market. There are outdoor and indoor seating. 

Then we went around the market and checked things out. Lots of people!
ChC and DD ordered some pupusa and waited for a long time because they make everything fresh on order. While we were waiting I went to check out Valerie, which had some interesting baked goods.  I just had to buy a hand-held pie. 

After waiting for 8 minutes, I got my bacon potato pie. Delicious! The crust was flaky and the fillings not overly heavy.

Valerie was not that busy, I wonder why? The busiest place was a place called "Eggslut" with a long line wrapping around the stand. I think they make sandwiches with a fried egg in it. Not sure if I would want to stay in a line that long for a sandwich.

After feeding ourselves crazy, we walked around the downtown area to the garment factory but end up not buying anything. Then we went to the 7th Avenue station to catch the Expo Line (Light Blue) to Santa Monica. There were a lot more people taking this train but fortunately we all got seats for the long ride out.

Expo Line arriving Santa Monica

Santa Monica station

So many people!

The western end of Highway 66.

I'd say the beach was quite crowded.

The south side of the beach.

After walking around near the pier and the promenade for a couple of hours we were ready to go home. This was the long line for the ride back on the Expo Line. It was thoughtful of them to set up tents so we were all under the shade as we waited.

The line moved along smoothly and we were on board the train in less than half an hour.

And the train was not crowded to make space for people who boarded later along the route.

We then made a transfer back at the 7th Street station to the purple line back to Union Station and then another transfer on the Gold Line which took us back to Azusa. As the train traveled through Pasadena, we saw that there was a huge accident on the 210 with several cars involved. We were certainly glad that we were not in that mess but on the train instead. 
This was definitely a fun and cheap weekend in L.A. I felt like a 'tourist' for one day riding the train, walking through downtown, and visiting Santa Monica. I am sure I will make good use of the Gold Line more in the future. It is so easy, convenient, and most importantly, cheap!