If you think it is impossible to travel by train to Latin America and Chinatown in one day, then you obviously don’t live in Southern California. Los Angeles has the historic Olvera Street right next to Chinatown, and it really does feel like traveling the world without a passport. And the silly thing is, for most of my life I’ve lived within an hour of both of these places, and never really explored them. Oh, I’ve been to Los Angeles many times, especially since I used to have family that lived there. But I haven’t been to Olvera Street since I was a kid on a school field trip for history class. So let me take this moment to educate you about the importance of not over looking what is all around you. The historical places, the silly tourist traps, the memories you can make just by getting out there and having a new experience.
Let’s start with busting some stereotypes. Many people think the history of Southern California looks something like this,
when it actually looks more like this.
Olvera Street, or Calle Olvera, was originally called Vine street. In 1877, it was renamed after the first judge of Los Angeles County, Agustin Olvera, who lived on that street. Many of the merchants working on Olvera Street today are descendants of the first residents of this historic area.
Meanwhile, during the late 1860’s, Chinese laborers were recruited from Northern California to build a wagon road in a city that is just a little bit North of Los Angeles. You can read the history about how the Chinese soon became entrepreneurs and neighbors of Olvera Street.
It’s no wonder there are so many different cultural influences in Southern California, and for my family, it makes for a great Sunday getaway.
It all began with a train ride to Union Station.
Then a walk to Olvera Street where we got some taquitos and did a little shopping.
The aromas, the music, the friendly people, it was a beautiful experience.
All up and down the street were these cute little stands that had everything from household items, to jewelry, clothing, handbags, toys and even some fun Easter items.
We did not take photos of the taquitos, we ate them too fast. Same thing happened when we ordered churros filled with sweetened condensed milk. Wow, those were awesome!
The next stop was Chinatown.
Since we hadn’t eaten enough fried food, we made a military march to Yang Chow’s for their famous Slippery Shrimp.
I’m not kidding when I say, “famous.” The walls are covered with photos of celebrities who have eaten there. That’s a very ‘L.A. Thing’ for restaurants to do. You’ll just have to see it for yourself. Please, if you are ever in the neighborhood, don’t miss this place!
In fact, don’t miss anything that may be a hidden treasure in your own backyard. Now is the moment to have some fun!