Now, everybody who thinks of California thinks pretty quickly of Venice Beach. It’s world famous for the beautiful sand, muscle beach and the collection of oddballs, kooks and downright weirdos known to populate the strip. So having missed it due to the onset of jet lag the other day, I was looking forward to visiting this famous landmark.
I’ll be honest with you, though, it was a little disappointing. Not that I didn’t see elderly men rollerskating in speedos, stand up comics doing their thing and some very good musicians and painters dotted along the way. There were also the usual assortment of unusual boutiques, tattoo parlours and burger joints but the whole thing was a little, well, underwhelming. Maybe it’s because I live in Brighton, where the weird is ordinary. Maybe it’s because I have a high tolerance for the weird and unusual myself. I don’t know what I was expecting. Just a little more than I could imagine, I guess.
Disappointment aside, however, it’s still a beautiful walk and a beautiful setting. Muscle Beach was a let down as there were only three people working out, two of whom left almost as soon as I arrived. The vistas, though, are iconic California and I did enjoy my day there.
I leave tomorrow morning for a leisurely drive up the coast to Santa Barbara. It’s only two hours away but I shall take my time getting there. I’m abandoning the direct route along route 101 and heading instead along the coast road, route 1 or PCH as it’s called here, the Pacific Coast Highway.
Before I leave, however, just a few words about my hosts, Gina and Judy. Both of them are pure LA, a TV producer and a comedy writer. As such, they have been a perfect introduction to the US and LA in particular. They are both warm and friendly and I’ve been treated like a respected friend who visits all the time. They’ve been helpful and made me feel comfortable in their home. They’re both interesting, witty and engaging people, effortlessly skilled at making others feel welcome. I’ve met their friends and neighbours, too, all of whom have been extremely friendly and engaging company. It’s been a real treat staying here, a fascinating view into the lives of two diverse and talented people and as such, the sort of additional experience that the best hotels in the world could never provide. If you’re ever planning on using airbnb to stay in LA, look them up. You’ll have fun.
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