August 10, 2019

I left Fresno at around eight for Los Angeles, specifically Freehand LA, a gorgeous historic hotel that had a hostel section with beds at around $50 per night. I had a ton of work, emails, and other internet-necessary tasks that I hadn't been able to work on while in Yosemite and so took the opportunity to use the lobby as a work station for a few hours.

If you decide to stay here yourself, don't even THINK of using the valet parking which costs as much as the beds! There's a $7-10 per day parking lot less than a block a way. [A note from the future: no matter where you park in downtown Los Angeles, do not leave anything in your car. Because I was travelling from Washington I had most of my belongings in my car that I didn’t want to pack up to the room, but you can ask to store your belongings with the hotel front desk, or in my case I should have dropped the things that weren’t necessary for my stay in downtown Los Angeles with the friend that I would be staying with when a bed was available at her house. You can read more about that HERE.]

Just next to this parking lot is Chica's Tacos where I had lunch. The tacos were absolutely fan-tas-tic, but they do pack a bit of a punch in the spice department. Check-in for the hotel was around three, and that's when my bed was finally ready so I quickly grabbed the few items I needed from my car and got settled into my assigned bed and locker. This is bring-your-own-lock though they're also available at the CVS (also only a block away) for just $6. Even though I doubt anyone here would want anything I had put in my locker - toiletries and two changes of clothes (I brought my valuables with me everywhere in a small tote purse) - I purchased a lock anyways and put it on there because if I did want to leave my valuables I wanted to be safe rather than sorry.

Following my check-in I changed, braided my hair, and went exploring the very nearby area. I wandered into Pure Barre, which I at first thought was just a fitness clothing boutique (there was a shirt in the front window that I loved but it was $69 so I passed on that) but quickly I realized it was actually a gym specializing in Barre classes which is an interesting fitness style that blends ballet movements with elements of yoga, Pilates, other dance styles and strength training. I spoke with the young woman at the front desk and she offered me a complimentary introductory course to try the class for the next morning.

Walking around the city gave me this feeling of revitalization, of utterly fulfilling excitement. I always get this feeling when I get to a new place, but especially a city. It's not to say that being in the middle of nowhere isn't something that I love, so much as to say that it's different. Being in the city energizes me where being in the country gives me a sense of serenity. Both fulfill this feeling of being a small part of a huge, interwoven world to which I contribute.

I went to dinner at a small restaurant .3 miles from the hotel called Marugame Udon which was recommended in the DTLA newspaper. The set-up was super interesting, it was a bit like a buffet line except that everything was made fresh for you - all the udon was made to order and the tempura was hot off the fryer as you walked past. I started by ordering the #9, a Nikutama udon at regular-size and hot rather than cold which is also an option, it came with a soft-boiled egg and sweet-flavored beef which sounded mild enough that I knew I would enjoy it. I got more experimental with the tempura, of which I grabbed shrimp, squid, tamagoyaki (japanese omelette tempura), and sweet potato (which is a personal favorite). The udon was rich in flavor and the thick noodles were easy to grab with chopsticks despite my absolutely insultingly bad chopstick technique. All of the tempura was good, with the tempura batter having a good crunch but not being greasy and the tempura dipping sauce being somewhat sweet. My favorite was the shrimp and sweet potato, the squid was similar in flavor to the shrimp but tougher in texture being more muscle than the shrimp. The tamagoyaki was like very fluffy scrambled eggs wrapped in tempura batter, while I'm sure someone who likes eggs would very much enjoy it, if you've met me you'll know I only like eggs if I can heavily salt them to completely belie their taste so I tend not to eat them. Nevertheless, I strongly encourage others to and enjoy myself trying new things which I hadn't before. I had a feeling I wouldn't like this piece of tempura but if I hadn't tried it myself I couldn't know whether that was my own prejudice to eggs or an actual dislike of this particular food.

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