All Aboard

Welcome to Metrolink.  Now what?  Parking is free, that’s a good thing.  Buy a TAP card.

Confused, just ask the regulars standing around, everyone was very helpful.  The TAP card is your access through the turnstile that allows you to board the train.

There it is over there.

Maybe you’ll need a bike at your destination.

This was my first time riding the Metro. It’s a process.  You need to know where your final destination is and once there, if you are close enough to walk to it.  In our situation, we were heading to Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles. This is where Amtrak also arrives. From there we were just a short block away from Philippe’s an iconic restaurant established in 1908.  They are best known for their French Dip Sandwiches.  Ask any Angelino about Philippe’s and they will all have a personal story to share.

But before we get there, let’s see some of the sights along the way. This is somewhat dark.  I didn’t really know exactly what I was looking at when I shot this picture.  But as I see it now, it suggests to me a natural disaster, much like an earthquake. That’s interesting; I wonder why they would want to suggest impending doom? Just my observation.

Union Station was built in 1939.

Today, the station is a major transportation hub for Southern California, providing 60,000 passengers a day access to Amtrak(the National Railroad Passenger Corporation) long distance trains, Amtrak California regional trains, Metrolink commuter trains, and several Metro Rail subway and light rail lines.

Inside Union Station…it was renovated in the early 1990’s.

The tiles are colorful, but get a load of these chairs in the waiting area.

Beautiful ceilings and light fixtures along with the original ticket counter.

Now on to a birthday lunch at Philippe‘s.  What makes this place so special is its history.

In 1918, while making a sandwich, owner Philippe Mathieu inadvertently dropped the sliced French roll into the roasting pan filled with juice still hot from the oven. The patron, a policeman, said he would take the sandwich anyway and returned the next day with some friends asking for more dipped sandwiches.

In 1951, they moved to their current location.

Philippe’s “French Dipped Sandwich” is the specialty of the house and consists of either roast beef, roast pork, leg of lamb, turkey or ham served on a lightly textured, freshly baked French roll which has been dipped in the natural gravy of the roasts. Swiss, American, Monterey Jack or Blue cheese may be added.

You may also decide to add some tart, tangy cole slaw, homemade potato or a macaroni salad. And for your dinning pleasure how about a hardboiled egg pickled in beet juice and spices.  Don’t forget to get a large Kosher style, sour dill or sweet pickle.

They also prepare about 40 gallons of their own hot mustard twice weekly. It is best used sparingly as it is truly very hot French mustard. However, used with discretion, it complements the sandwich to perfection. Many people buy the mustard to go on their way out.

They also serve breakfast, but for my money, it’s the lunch or dinner menu items I enjoy.  It’s not unusual to see lines out the door before a Dodger game.  People that have long moved away will return to this beloved and historic landmark.  Nothing is fancy, paper plates, some booths, but many long tables, for strangers to become friends. There is even an upstairs, but don’t expect air conditioning, it’s far from a deal breaker.

Are you hungry??? This is their pork French dip with potato salad.

Sometimes pictures can’t tell the full story.  But for those that have eaten here, it’s a sandwich worth remembering.

Now where?  How about walking over to Olvera Street before crossing the street to catch the Metrolink home?

Olvera Street is known as “the birthplace of Los Angeles,” with its Mexican Marketplace that recreates “Old Los Angeles” with a block-long narrow, tree-shaded, brick-lined market with old structures, painted stalls, street vendors, cafes, restaurants and gift shops.  Olvera Street was created in 1930 “to preserve and present the customs and trades of early California.”  Many of the merchants on Olvera Street today are descended from the original vendors. This was also a field trip destination from our elementary school days.

So much rich culture right in our own backyard.

Sometimes it just makes sense to see yourself as a tourist in your own city. Where have you been lately?