Los Angeles Revisited in 2007

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Day Four, Tuesday, 4 September 2007

An ode to a Pilates studio in Burbank:  Center Studio Pilates

The Freeway Ride to Burbank and North Hollywood

The Ride on Los Angeles' Metro Subway and Light Rail System

The Return to Burbank

Day Four, Tuesday, 4 September 2007

It's Tuesday, 4 September 2007 and for most of us it's back to the grind.  You know, the morning commute and hoping you make it kind.  Not for me, as I have one more day to check out Los Angeles by itself before having to make the flight back to Tampa the next day on Southwest.

After breakfast and downloading the latest batch of pictures I have taken the day before it was time to check in for my flight back to Tampa on Southwest.  Just a couple of clicks on the Southwest web site, enter my PNR number, and - voila - my boarding pass, assigned into Boarding Group A as usual.  But this trip back to Tampa would take a different turn, as you will see on Day Five (which is the next page).

Once I got this important task done it was off to explore Los Angeles in the remaining time I had before the next day, both by freeway and by Metro.  First I drove up Interstate 405 to Interstate 10, then I cut over on Interstate 10 to CA 110 north.  Then I drove north on CA 110 through the canyon of downtown Los Angeles to US 101, then it was northbound on US 101 to Barham Blvd. which would lead me past the Warner Brothers studios and to Hollywood Way and eventually Burbank.

Once in Burbank I did some street level exploration going by the landmarks that I have been to during my Labor Day 2003 trip to the Los Angeles area.  I drove up Hollywood Way to the Burbank Airport to see if the Hilton Hotel was still there.  The buildings are still there, the Daily Grill restaurant is still there, but one thing was missing:  The Hilton name.  It turned out that the hotel became a Marriott, which is why I could not find it when I was searching for a hotel for this trip as I wanted to recreate some moments of my 2003 trip to Los Angeles.  Look at it this way, where I stayed at the Hilton LAX Airport on Century Blvd. worked out well sans the steep expense; after all, expect to pay more in the Los Angeles area than St. Petersburg, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale or Baltimore combined.

After driving by the Burbank Airport I headed back south on Hollywood Way to Magnolia Blvd., where I headed west to North Hollywood and the second part of my Los Angeles exploration:  Metro.  I got to admit it, a rail system like the Los Angeles Metro is what the Tampa Bay region desperately needs.  Moreover, it wasn't expensive - only $5.00 for an all day pass.  I boarded the subway - dubbed the red line - at North Hollywood and rode it all the way to its terminus at Union Station, where you can interconnect with MetroLink Commuter Rail or with Amtrak for long distance travel.

On a side note:  Amtrak does indeed have a transcontinental train that runs three times a week from Los Angeles to Orlando, which is called The Sunset Limited.  Currently (as of 2007) the train runs east to New Orleans with no service beyond due to track infrastructure damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005; hopefully, full service should be restored soon as a cross country train ride is the best way to see the country.

I turned around at Union Station and went back two stations for a trip south to Long Beach.  The Metro from downtown Los Angeles to Long Beach is mainly above ground light rail for the most part with a small subway section in downtown Los Angeles.  I didn't get off in Long Beach as time was getting constrained, so I remained on board for the return trip.  As I have already explored Hollywood earlier I took the red line back to North Hollywood and my car.  But I also got to admit, seeing Los Angeles by way of Metro is better than from your own car, especially when it's rush hour.

Once in North Hollywood it was back onto Magnolia Blvd. and into Burbank.  I parked my car on the street on Hollywood Way just south of Magnolia Blvd. to do some exploring before I had to head back to LAX and the Hilton so that I could prepare to pack for the return trip home.  I returned the rental car that I had for the past few days, a Chevrolet Cobalt, to Alamo so that I have one less thing to do the next day; the friendly folks at Alamo gave me the stellar customer service by personally returning me back to the hotel!  After all, this is the best customer service I experienced!

An ode to a Pilates studio in Burbank:  Center Studio Pilates

Since 2002 I have been working out doing Pilates, both in a private session and a group mat class setting at a Pilates studio north of downtown St. Petersburg that was called Soul Stretch Pilates.  After all, a Pilates private session or a group mat class was my own private sanctuary.

During the height of my Pilates days I continued my workouts even when I was on the road, including my 2003 trip to Los Angeles over the Labor Day weekend.  So, enter another Pilates studio called Center Studio, which was located on 3715 West Magnolia Blvd. just west of Hollywood Way in Burbank and convenient to where I was staying at the Hilton just about a few minute's drive north.

The format of Center Studio's mat classes were almost just about the same as Soul Stretch (but remember, no two mat classes are exactly alike):  Pilates exercises like the Hundred and Rolling Up Like a Ball, plus exercises using a Thera-Band and an exercise ball.  The instructors were the best and gave me some guidance along the way.  I wanted to do a few more classes at least but my time in the Los Angeles area was limited.

Unfortunately, on the home front Soul Stretch closed its doors around 2005 leaving me without a Pilates studio.  However, I was introduced to another Pilates studio in downtown St. Petersburg which I have been using; unfortunately, my trainer left several months later and because of other activities which have been cutting into my schedule I have had to stop doing Pilates.

With the 2007 trip to Los Angeles I was hoping to maybe get back into the shape of all things Pilates by taking a mat class or two at Center Studio in Burbank.  Sadly to say, I attempted to go to their website a day before I left for my recent Los Angeles trip but I get the dreaded 410 message we in the Internet world know: The page was gone. When I rode by where Center Studio was located in Burbank I was looking for it but my fear was realized: Center Studio was no longer in business.

Today the Garri Dance Studio sits in the storefront space where Center Studio once stood.

The Freeway Ride to Burbank and North Hollywood

Here's a ride on Interstate 405 and US 101 from the Hilton LAX Airport to the Metro station in North Hollywood.

The Ride on Los Angeles' Metro Subway and Light Rail System

The greater Los Angeles metropolitan area has a great mix of commuter rail, light rail and subway. In fact, there is indeed a subway station in Hollywood not too far from the Dolby Theatre, the site of the Academy Awards. My recommendation if you want to explore Hollywood or downtown Los Angeles: Leave your car at the Metro station parking lot in North Hollywood (adjacent to Burbank) and take the red line to either destination. The subway fares are reasonable, and you won't be price gouged by parking lot attendants, especially those located in Hollywood. And you can explore to your heart's content!

After all, Los Angeles has Metro and MetroLink Commuter Rail. Miami has Tri-Rail and Metrorail. Orlando has SunRail. But the Tampa Bay region has absolutely no rail at all, save for twice daily Amtrak Silver Star service or the weekend excursion trips at the Florida Railroad Museum in Parrish. If the Tampa Bay region is to survive in this economy, rail based transit is the answer, not a glorified 20-lane expansion of Interstate 275 or enhanced bus service including bus lanes.

The Return to Burbank (and an ode to Center Studio Pilates)

This set of photos was taken in the Burbank area, including the storefront where Center Studio Pilates was located. But let me tell you this: Center Studio was the best Pilates studio in Burbank, not to mention its convenient location to where I was staying at the Hilton Hotel at Burbank Airport in 2003.

Right after my visit to Burbank I had to head back to the Hilton Hotel at LAX in order to prepare for the return home to Tampa. The flight back to Tampa on Southwest Airlines would take a turn from a direct to a circuitous route as I will describe on the next page.