For those who think that L.A. is all cars and freeways and traffic jams, there are two surprises:
First, believe it or not, there is public transportation in the L.A. area. It is rather limited, no doubt, and subscribing to the Metrolink tweets (@Metrolink) can be a disheartening experience, especially if you expect your commuter trains to run on time – or to run, for that matter. But it is possible to get around and you will see (and hear) things you wouldn’t from the confines of your car. Last July, the L.A. Times had an audio slide show about the Blue Line which connects downtown and Long Beach. It nicely reflects the experience of taking a train in Los Angeles.
Second, even less expected, Los Angeles has many, many areas ready to be discovered on foot. I was probably too much influenced by the 1983 Missing Persons hit Walking in L.A. with its repeated line “nobody walks in L.A.” to even consider exploring the city this way. Then I discovered Walking L. A.: 38 Walking Tours Exploring Stairways, Streets and Buildings You Never Knew Existed by Erin Mahoney Harris and City Walks: Los Angeles: 50 Adventures on Foot by Eric Hiss and illustrator Bart Wright. The walks described are of various lengths and difficulties. And when I say “difficulties” I mean that some have steep ascends and long, seemingly never ending flights of stairs. I just explored one of the walks in the area between the Glendale Freeway and Silver Lake reservoir, and it is amazing how many streets turn into stairs and how small houses without any apparent vehicle access hug the steep hillsides. A decorated house on one of the hills reminded me of Antoni Gaudí – perhaps a fan built it as a homage to the Catalan architect. Whereas the 38 Walking Tours is a paperback, the 50 Adventures is a collection of individual, small card-sized and easy to carry maps.
So how about taking public transport to your next walking tour? Now that would be an L.A. experience!