Sunday, July 25, 2010

Soggy Pants, Sandwiches, and Sombreros: A Los Angeles Adventure

What a whirlwind of a weekend!
I'm almost glad tomorrow is Monday so that I can slow down a little. I'm supposed to be on vacation (technically, I'm 'unemployed' but that's depressing so I just call it 'summer vacation' instead - don't ask what I'll call it when Fall comes, I'm too much of an optimist to think that far in advance!) but there is a bit of a rush to get something done at work so I'm going in to get it done. I don't really mind. I could use a break from this weekend! :-P
My Friday was full of time with my mom as we hit Target (twice!) and Ikea and even snuck in a visit to my grandfather at his new home in Huntington Beach. I was a very good girl and only got a few things that weren't on my list!
*pats self on the back*
But I'll save that for another post and move on to the really good stuff -
Saturday found my mom, my sister, and I on our way to Chinatown in Los Angeles to walk the rows of Renegade! This is the second annual Renegade Craft Fair in Los Angeles and it was held at State Historic Park just off the Metro Gold Line. How convenient! We decided to try something new and explore the Los Angeles Public Transportation System: The Metro.
And what an adventure it was...
Since the parents live in Long Beach, we just hop on the red Passport bus and take it right to the downtown metro station.
Sister and Mom pretending to figure out the Passport bus. It's pretty simple, really... They've done this part before.

Then we each bought a day pass for the Metro and hopped on the Long Beach Blue Line heading North. We took this all the way up to the 7th street stop and transferred to the Red/Purple line, which we took just a few short stops up to Union Station.

If you've never been to Los Angeles Union Station, it's worth a visit. The waiting room is gorgeous and you can't help but plop yourself down into one of the huge seats and look up at the ornate ceiling. We wandered the grounds for a while before transferring to the Gold Line, taking time to find the fish and enjoy the spray of the fountain.

Love these colored tiles!

Did you know the old Chinatown Boundary goes right through Union Station? Well, now you do!
My sister, stuck on the other side:

It wasn't really necessary to take the Gold Line since the Chinatown stop is the very first stop on the line but we knew we'd be walking the craft fair and exploring Chinatown for lunch so we indulged. It turns out we really should have walked because in this three minute trip, my mom managed to sit in the one seat on the entire metro train that was soaked with an unknown liquid substance. We never really figured out what someone had spilled but decided we would tell ourselves it was water, just to stay positive. Lucky for mom, it was nice and warm outside and her pants were pretty much dry by the time we got to the craft fair.
As for Renegade itself, I have to say, I was disappointed. I hardly even took any pictures, which is strange for me! The vendors were fantastic and the fair did a great job of picking quality artisans with a great variety in products. The day was sunny and warm - the perfect kind of day to hang out at a park, listen to some music, buy some crafty things, and maybe even throw a frisbee around a little with your dog.
However, the organization of the booths and the general layout of the entire event sapped most of the enjoyment out of the experience. With the huge grassy expanse that is the State Historic Park, I have no idea why Renegade insisted on putting all the booths in one teeny area. They created the smallest little aisles that barely fit three people across - so when you add in strollers and dogs, you could hardly walk and lingering at any particular booth was almost unbearable. I'm wondering if there were restrictions from the park regarding event placement but I may never know...
Anyway, we bought a few small things (I'll highlight my favorites in another post soon) but it wasn't nearly as enjoyable as last year.
Here's my one picture! You can see what a beautiful day it was and I do like that little orange Renegade owl...

But the day wasn't over! Our craft experience was redeemed by the rest of the afternoon and evening.
We decided to get Chinese food for lunch - after all, we were in Chinatown! My sister whipped out her handy iPod and directed us to what turned out to be a very sketchy authentic Chinese restaurant - the type of place where you can probably count on the Chinese mob showing up to eat. Dark, can't-even-see-through windows with a back parking lot? Definitely sketchy.
On to Plan B: Philippe's!
Birthplace of the French Dip sandwich (and you thought it originated in France, didn't you?). The place was packed at three in the afternoon but the lines moved quickly and it was worth every minute. We indulged in soggy beef-dipped sandwiches and multiple glasses of self-made Arnold Palmers - nothing sketchy about that!
Famous Place!

Mmmmmm, meat and bread!

Lots of empty glasses:

Awesome graffiti brick wall by our table upstairs:

Since we were already halfway back to Union Station, we decided to walk the rest of the way and detour through Olvera Street. My mom has been talking about taking the train to Olvera Street since they moved to Long Beach three years ago - so this was quite the occasion! I had no idea it would be so cute and fun! I honestly didn't know what to expect since I'd always imagined it as a regular street - I had no idea it was a cute little village with booths full of shoes and little guitars; beautiful embroidered dresses and shirts; and the ever present mini sombereros.
The restaurants smelled divine and if we hadn't just scarfed down those french-dipped sandwiches, we probably would have stopped for some chips and salsa and a margarita or two. After all, we were taking the train!
I especially loved all the little hanging shoes and the colorful paper pendant buntings.
Little shoes:


The perfect outfit for every entertaining man, complete with holsters for all your shot glasses, tequila and wine:

Beware the bougainvillea:

Looking up:


All too soon it was time to walk across the street to Union Station and begin our trek homeward. We checked the seats before sitting down and our feet were glad to rest as we took the Purple Line back to the Blue Line back to the Red Passport bus and home again.

All pictures taken by me or my sister or my mom.
Please don't use without asking me first. Because they're just that awesome.

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