Careening Down Mulholland Drive, and Blue Line-ing to Long Beach

Last weekend was so nice (temps reaching 80!), I had to put work aside and get out and explore more of L.A. Friday evening I took the snaky Mulholland Drive home, which, thanks to a short story by Michael Connelly, I will always think of as Mulholland Dive. (It’s also the title of a surrealist, rather haunting David Lynch film.)

The street wends itself through the entirety of Hollywood Hills, from west to east L.A. and is the official dividing point between Los Angeles (to the south) and the Valley (to the north). Despite its reputation – and I did find it to be frightening at some points, especially when locals fly around some of those precipitous curves and intimidate you into doing the same – it’s more touristy than I would have thought. There are overlooks everywhere, inviting you to park your car and take pics. Which is what I did. Here are some from the east point, right above Hollywood, looking out over downtown.

It kind of looks like Oz, right? Oz in the distance anyway, beyond the cliff.

On Saturday I wanted to go to a beach. I haven’t been to Laguna yet, but after researching it, thought it was something my mom might like to do when she comes to visit next month, so decided to save it. I haven’t been to Venice yet either but just didn’t feel like driving all the way across town again on my weekend. I get enough of the west side on my weekdays :) Ditto for Malibu.

So, I decided to go down to Long Beach, and to take the Blue Line (one of the seven Los Angeles subway lines) to do it. I’m a rather proud rider of the Los Angeles subway. I guess it’s the New Yorker still in me… (It’s actually called the Metro rail but I like to call it the subway :)) I’ve now taken three of the lines: “my” lineĀ  – the Red line, which is probably the most popular, as it goes from the Valley down to Universal City (where Universal Studios is), down through the most touristy parts of Hollywood, then to the trendy Los Feliz, then on to downtown (one of the two big work hubs), and ends at the train station; the Purple line, which is a rather short line and goes to Koreatown; and now the Blue line, which I now know travels not below- but above-ground, and stops first at the Staples Center (which is like Madison Square Garden), then continues on to several more stops in downtown and south L.A., passing through Watts, Compton, and ending at Long Beach.

Curving upward as we leave Long Beach.

This is taken from the Compton station, which is lined with these these big, bold letters spelling the town’s name. I thought they were so artistic. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really get a good picture as the train rolled by, but here is part of the M. I’ve heard Compton is a poor part of town but, if that was ever true, it must have enjoyed a renaissance because it didn’t seem run-down at all. The train passed a big shopping center with a Best Buy and other electronics and high-end stores, and a very snazzy-looking casino.

I found the train ride more interesting than the destination though. I don’t think Long Beach has much of an actual beach; it’s more of a harbor.

…with lots of restaurants and stores.

and a small lighthouse.

and a ferris wheel, which wasn’t being used.

I am learning that much of the food in L.A. tends to be Mexican-ized (this is particularly true of Italian where pasta sauce tastes strangely like mild salsa and risotto like it belongs beside refried beans). I ordered “jerk salmon” at this dock-side restaurant. In New York that would mean the fish would be drenched in that mouth-watering Jamaican sauce that is somehow super spicy, tangy, and sweet all at once. But this was simply grilled salmon topped with mango salsa. Very well-prepared grilled salmon and delicious mango salsa, but IT WAS NOT JERK SALMON!!! Oh well.

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