Tuesday, August 23, 2016

24 Hours in the Bay Area

     These are a couple of snaps from my 24 hour stint in the Bay Area.  I was only in town to shoot for a charity dinner event, but in true Soupy fashion I decided to jam pack my day with shooting.  Although I had a rental car, I wasn't too keen on the idea of driving around San Francisco.  Luckily one of my friends found someone to drive us around in the morning.  I shot what I could with the time I had, which was basically about 3 hours or so. 

All photos taken with my Canon G7x or 5d mark lll.

     Mmm.... Philz coffee.  Ridiculously overpriced Philz coffee LOL.  (Please excuse my super dry skin.)

     First stop - Mt. Davidson Park.

     Because of the heat wave in SoCal, the cooler weather in the Bay Area was completely welcomed.  I think I was meant to live in a place with a cooler climate. 

     Definitely want to come back to this park when it's not so cloudy/overcast!

     Stop #2 - Vista Point from the Marin side of Golden Gate Bridge.

     Stop #3 - Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands.

     Last stop - The top of a parking garage in Chinatown.

     You can't be in Chinatown without a little photo walking, so we took a little stroll around the area.  I had some buns and this pork and rice thing wrapped in banana leaves, and both were delectable.  I get bonus points for being able to navigate my way towards San Ramon while eating these in the car. :)

     Everything was going so well.  I went to shoot the charity dinner, then went back to my hotel to check into my early morning flight only to find out the flight had been cancelled since it was a plane that was flying in from Louisiana (and due to the flooding, that flight was cancelled).  It was NOT fun scrambling to find a flight home at midnight.  I ended paying for a one way flight home on Delta Airlines, and that flight ended up costing the same amount that I paid for round trip airfare on Spirit, hotel, and car rental combined.  
     I figured everything had been sorted out, so at 1 am I decided to sleep for two hours before leaving at 3 am for my 5:30 am flight back to LAX.  At 4 am, I woke up in a panic, and broke many speed limits in order to return my car rental and get to the airport on time.  It was during this adrenaline-filled adventure that I learned how hard it is to try and run with a backpack full of camera gear.  Speaking of backpack, I had ordered an Evecase camera backpack, and actually enjoyed using it quite a bit.  It was the only thing I brought with me (due to Spirit's super strict nickel and dime charges for everything.)  I'll review the backpack in a later post. 

    At about 7 am, I was thrilled to see this view.  The biggest lessons learned from this experience were:  1) Never fly with Spirit Airlines  and 2) Don't go anywhere for 24 hours (or in this case, it ended up being about 23 hours.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

DTLA via the Los Angeles Metro Rail

     Ever since I discovered the New York City subway in 2009, I have been absolutely in love with public transportation.  It wasn't my first trip to New York, but it was the first trip where I used the subway.  It really made me regret all the money I had spent on previous trips taking cabs everywhere.  You can get to so many places, and the best part of all - you don't have to worry about having a car and parking it!  
     I've always known there was a Metro Rail system in L.A. and even rode it briefly once or twice while photowalking with friends.  However, not until recently have I been really loving it.  After having been spoiled by the public transportation in Berlin and London, I was really longing for a similar experience here in SoCal. The L.A. Metro is nothing like the New York City subway, but it's the closest thing I've got to that kind of experience.  The Atlantic station is the closest one to me, so that's where I began.  It's quite an easy system to use.  I won't get too much into it, because you can learn all about using the system here.  But first, a map to let you get an idea of where I started.  The last time I used the Metro Rail, I stopped at Union Station, Pershing Square, and Little Tokyo.  This time, I only went to Union Station and Pershing Square.  

     Just got off at Union station.  I Love seeing this walkway with everyone hustling to go about their way.  From the gold line, we transferred to the red line and got off at the Pershing Square station.

Cameras used:  5d Mark lll and Canon G7X

     A short (albeit pretty shady) walk from Pershing Square, and we arrive at our first stop - The Nickel Diner!  I accidentally found this place from looking at the area surrounding Pershing Square on Google Maps.  I was actually looking for Canter's Deli, but stumbled upon this instead.  It got really good reviews on yelp, so I figured it'd be a great place for a quick lunch!

     It was a warm day, and the A/C wasn't exactly on high in the diner.  However, the cute nostalgic decor and oldies music really made up for it. 

     I had the BLTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado) sandwich with a side of salad. It was delicious!

     When I was looking up this place, I saw that they had these amazing looking donuts.  Well, they were out of the cute pink ones I was looking for, but they still had the chocolate coffee donut.  I was willing to try it just because I wanted a donut, but I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty it was!  It is basically a chocolate donut that is light and fluffy with some crumb coating.  I think they cut it in half and fill it with a coffee cream custard filling that is also light, and not too sweet. If you like your donuts light and not too sweet, these are definitely worth trying.  It was good enough that I want to go back and try the other flavors.  I recommend going early since they seem to run out by noon.

     And if donuts aren't your thing, maybe one of these other tantalizing desserts will float your boat.

     We found out later that this used to be a fried chicken place (and apparently the Nickel Diner sells fried chicken on Wednesday nights?)

     Next stop, a short walk to The Last Bookstore.  I'll be honest, I'm not an avid reader.  I used to be when I was a teenager, but college pretty much beats the desire to read out of you.  I had seen some amazing photos of this bookstore from a photography friend, and another friend of mine frequents this place often.  I had never been, and my curiosity was piqued.

     WARNING:  This place does NOT have A/C!  You've been warned.

     The Last Bookstore is HUGE!  I was amazed at all the new and used books they had.  In a world where digital seems to be the way to go, it was nice and nostalgic to see all these books in one place and people enjoying them.  There are plenty of places to sit and read (although I don't know how people were doing this in the heat).

     My favorite thing about the store were the quirky artsy things around every corner.  If you make your way up the stairs or elevator to the second floor, they have more books, some cool artsy things made from books, and some storefronts that I assume local artists rent out to sell their work.

     Some advice for life?

     I want to do a photoshoot here.  It would be so cool.  According to the sign, they will stop me if it interrupts other customers. :)

     The Last Bookstore used to be a bank.  On the second floor is the horror section, and it clearly is housed in what used to be the vault.

     The Bradbury Building.

     I can't get enough of Grand Central Market.  It is a great place to shoot if you're looking to practice your photography.  This was a weekday, so it wasn't as crowded as it would've been on a weekend. 

     Even though the donut was dessert, you cannot go to Grand Central Market and not have some ice cream from McConnell's Ice Cream.  Just go and get some.  Just do it.  You're welcome.

     We tried to hit up the Broad Museum, but the stand-by line was huge.  I made a mental note to get advance tickets next time.  The Broad Museum has free admission, and looks pretty cool from pictures I've seen.  We were able to go into the gift shop and got a glimpse inside.

     I need these erasers lol. :)

     Could.  Not.  Resist.

     If you're in SoCal, or just visiting on vacation, I definitely recommend taking the L.A. Metro Link.  You can use it to explore some parts of L.A. that are better explored without driving.  It doesn't move as fast as other trains/subway systems, but on the flip side you get to explore L.A. and see parts of it you may not normally see since it is mostly above ground.  Every time I think of having a little adventure (without the pain of driving), the L.A. Metro Link is my go-to option!