We now return to our irregularly-scheduled tour of El Segundo. Anyone who's surprised that I'm able to write TWO posts about a city that's so under the radar obviously hasn't gotten the hang of my posts and comments (though I have a feeling that some bloggers might actually hate my smiley, upbeat comments). Well, that's just the kind of person I am. We're going to finish this series with downtown El Segundo, which consists of Main Street (above)...
... and Richmond Street, just one street parallel to Main. It's a 20-minute walk down Grand Avenue from Sepulveda Boulevard, but you can take the 124 Bus for only $1.25. I did so once, and the token thingy was broken so the driver just let me ride. I was confused when I disembarked (I didn't know you didn't have to pay if the thingy was broken) and I stupidly dumped $1.25 down Ms. Driver's lunch pack. Ms. Driver laughed and gave me my money back, saying she can't accept it. She must have thought it was a tip.
I wanted to get a closer look at these young skaters and maybe ask them to do a trick, but many couldn't even manage an Ollie. Plus, I didn't want to appear like the youngest pederast ever so I stole this shot from a distance. I actually saw a bunch of cute schoolchildren walking to school with their teacher, and it was such a perfect scene but I didn't want to alarm the teacher or anger the parents by taking a shot, so I let it go. How would the photographers/ travelers among you go about it? I am paranoid of other people's paranoia.
This is El Segundo High School on Main Street. The architecture is so well-done that I actually thought it was a University.
Gazebo opposite the school. There was a creepy shirtless guy walking around in circles a short distance from this. It still doesn't compare to the guy I saw tweaking (er, in a druggie way) in front of Westfield in San Francisco. Speaking of which, I saw a shirtless guy and his maybe 7 year-old shirtless daughter or sister enter a Carl's Jr. Am I being too much of a prude by being freaked out or am I right?
The still-active Old Town Music Hall. Did not get a chance to go in, unfortunately. :(
Beautiful house on Main Street, with an Arts and Crafts Influence-- my favorite style.
Halloween-ready house in Grand Avenue. We don't go all-out in celebrating Halloween in this country, so I was quite amused to find that someone went through the trouble of boarding up their windows. Four weeks in advance.
The day before I left, my friends who were awaiting their residency interviews discovered I was lurking and insisted that we meet up. Aren't they pretty? Aren't I chopped liver with a sprinkling of ugly powder? (Well, at least when you put me beside them-- they were my groupmates for almost all of medical school-- the ones I was with in story #5 here.)
If you spend maybe five seconds with me, you'd know that a nightclub is one of the last places you'd find me. But take note I said "last places"-- not "never". The five of us (the girls' male companions) went to The Shore at Hermosa Beach after a long day of shopping. I ate a $6 chicken katsu (half-off during happy hour) that was okay, but I was more surprised by how much I enjoyed the musical act. If you spend TWO seconds with me, you'd guess correctly that there is not a single rap song on my iPod. There have been several times in the past where I invoke the power of rap to make people laugh (you should hear me do BEP-- or not), because it's so dissonant with my personality. But I was very impressed with Mr. Douglas-- very passionate and angry-sounding.
I did say, "Oh my God! Edward Norton is our MC!" though.
Back to the food. This shuttered-up El Segundo bakery is a sad metaphor for the state of pastries in general in the area. A bit of a disappointment for a sweet tooth like me, but there's still plenty of highly-recommended restaurants in the area, in case you have a few hours' layover at LAX.
One such place is Big Mike's Cheesesteaks on Main Street. If actual Philadelphia does a better job at cheesesteaks than Big Mike, I'll be beyond impressed indeed. For $5.25 you can get a 6-inch pizza cheesesteak (basically a cheesesteak with a little tomato sauce and herbs), though it seemed like more than 6 inches at the time. I didn't finish it, even if it was so good. From now on, whenever I'm hungry, my mind will return to the few clumps of thinly-sliced steak that I didn't eat. Sigh.
After I'd been surrounded by Latinos and Latino music for a few days, I thought it would be a total shame not to eat authentic Mexican food while in Los Angeles. I chose the place that boasted being the "Best in the South Bay", El Tarasco. I had an Enchilada, of course, which came with a chile relleno (my first time), giant chips and salsa, refried beans, and a drink. Though the enchilada was verrry good-- moist and tender inside-- I still preferred the ones at Tia Maria's here in Manila. Because their sauce is slightly sweet, which I realize must be sacrilege to some, but that's my taste. The only disappointment was the relleno, which was sour, not that spicy, and greasy-- just not my thing.
I have another question. If the change is approximate to the amount that you should tip, is it customary for waiters not to bring you your change (or even a receipt) at all? I find this very strange, especially since I was willing to go over the usual percentage. I was supposed to leave a tip of $2 at El Tarasco, but after a long time waiting for my change of $1.89, I had to remind them and I got $1.50 instead, which is what I left as the tip (and they couldn't give me a receipt for some reason), since apparently the $0.39 disappeared into limbo.
Another highly-recommended place in Richmond Street is The Second City Bistro. I love bistros-- the relaxed atmosphere, and the good, fresh, and fast food. Since I came in at 5PM (opening time in the evening), I was the only person there and proceeded to freak out the kitchen by taking a picture. It was a rare opportunity for me so I couldn't let it pass (plus, there are no angry parents to chase me with torches).
I ordered the pasta with tomatoes, artichokes, spinach, and capers. It was very well-done (and very substantial, given it was only $8.50 and I'm just this wee person), though the tomatoes were very obviously about to go out of season, I think. I ordered the banana phyllo parcel with caramel, chocolate, cream cheese (!!) and peanuts, and it was a joy to eat. Definitely something I'll look into imitating in some way at home (probably very easy to make, too).
Eight in ten doctors recommend Canon cameras for icky mirror pictures.
Here's a tacky self-portrait of myself in full physician "regalia." I know I keep referring to myself as a wee person but Marvin reassured me that I was average-
size height, which was quite a relief the day before my exam-- I was afraid of looking out of place, which would have affected my confidence. I think I did well enough, but we'll know for sure this December. Also helping my confidence was the fact that the weird tailors of the coat made the sleeves too short. I had to wear white inside so the difference wouldn't be so jarring. Originally I had planned to take a picture of what I was wearing each day, but I realized how douchey that sounds so I scrapped it. I received a compliment about my Rockman (Megaman to you Yanks) t-shirt. The cashier at Surfas said, "That shirt is tight!" At first I thought he meant the literal sense, which made me cringe a bit.
This picture might have worked out a beeeeet better if I had stepped back a little and gotten the top of the cross. Yeesh.
So, that's my summary of my five days in El Segundo. It may be a head-scratcher to some how I was able to stay that long while only occasionally moving to other parts of Los Angeles, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed myself and I was even able to score plenty of really good meals at that. Definitely not a bad place to make your home-base if in Los Angeles without a place to stay. Next time, I'd pay closer attention to the Bus Lines so I can move around a bit more freely. Alternatively I can just get a freaking international license and drive around.