Metro! Riding the Rails in SoCal

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Olvera Street plaza, Los Angeles, CA

Forsaking Colorado’s sub-zero temps, we’ve made our way to Southern California. We’re so happy to leave the snow boots behind, we’ll even forgive the few hours of cloud cover, which blocks the sun for part of each day. It is the rainy season here, after all. Even a few drops of rain won’t put a damper on a day of train riding and Los Angeles is developing a pretty good metrolink system.


Yak and I love riding around on trains. L.A. county’s Metrolink is now connecting with several other SoCal counties, all the way down to San Diego. We have long desired to take a day and ride the buses and trains. My first order of business was to visit the Metrolink website and print out a route map. We studied the best way to approach our adventure and decided to start at the nearest station, get a “TAP” card and load it with a day pass. That way we can reload and reuse the card whenever we are in town, which is several times a year. A day pass is the best deal for us, as it gives unlimited rides on all Metrolink rail and bus lines. Unfortunately, I didn’t check the bus schedule. The car battery was dead and no one was home to help us jump start it, or drop us off at the train station, so we walked to the corner bus stop. The wait became too long and there was no bench, so we walked several blocks to the next bus stop. Here, we found, there were 2 buses to choose from. We took the first one – fortunately we chose well. It deposited us at our station and we purchased our “TAP” cards. 


Feeling very much like Harry Potter at the subway station with Mr. Weasley, we tapped our way onto the platform, where we joined several other folks waiting for the train. Once aboard, we decided to ride to the end of the line in Redondo Beach, but once there, found that the beach was farther than we wanted to walk. Since we hadn’t studied or printed out any bus schedules, we chose to ride the train back to the airport and watch the planes for awhile. In theory, this was a great idea but in reality, tightened security makes it almost impossible to get a good view of the planes taking off and landing, unless you are a ticketed passenger.

hand painted tiles, clay floor tiles, vintage lighting at Union Station

We continued on the train and deciphered which stop would drop us closest to the bus for Union Station. Union Station is beautiful! Outside are several shady/sunny courtyards, with trees, flowers and seating. Inside are newsstands, restaurants, a bar and several other food vendors. Not to mention the vintage seating in the lobby, the colorful, painted tilework and clay tile floors. Very Angeleno. 

Calle Olvera

I had not taken Yak to Olvera Street, just across from Union Station, since he was a baby, so we had to go. He said it felt like we were in Old Mexico. Olvera Street is a story in itself, for another day, as I’m getting a bit long winded with the train adventure. This day, we enjoyed wandering through the market stalls, then stopping for a familiar Mexican ice cream from a vendor in the plaza. 


It was getting time to head back, so even though there are a number of interesting attractions within a short walk from Olvera Street, we made a beeline for Union Station, this time to take a real subway train back to our home station. We changed trains twice, as if we did it every day, before arriving at the station, where we waited for our bus to take us home. And waited. And waited. We finally walked the 2 miles to the house. At least it wasn’t too cold or too dark. Or too far. We heartily agreed to check the bus schedule next time, or make sure the car was running so we could park it at the park & ride lot. Or bring our bikes and rent a bike locker.

Maybe next time we’ll take the special express bus to Disneyland…

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