Malibu Trekker @ thecityedition.com ----- Post #5- Feb. 20, 2010
Sunset on Venice Beach. While the snowdrifts pile up on the East Coast, here in southern California it really is an endless summer.
A Winter's Day in Venice
When writing about L.A., Erica Jong's memorable line from Fear of Flying always come to mind. "I fell asleep beside the pool one day," she said, "and when I woke up it was ten years later." Well, three miles south of Santa Monica, the sprawling North American continent ends rather abruptly and you begin to understand why. Venice is where you find the southland's most popular beaches. It's where the best shops along the boardwalk are congregated, and where the drummers come to drum. It's also where the skateboarders come to skate, where the joggers prefer to jog, where the bicyclists descend en masse, and -- lest the Beach Boys will ever let us forget -- where the surfers like to surf.
A view of the boardwalk at left. At right, L.A. marathoners-in-training commence their weekend warm-up.
Day and night, Venice Beach is hopping. In the summer, a hot day triggers a mass migration of the ten million people who call Los Angeles their home. This isn't a holiday, mind you. It's an evacuation. Every major artery running from east to west turns to gridlock by noon. Parking isn't cheap, either, running you up to $10 in the offseason. So if you're staying inland and can stomach it, I suggest taking the bus.
The Santa Monica's Blue Bus line shoots the #1 and #2 out to Venice Beach every 15 minutes or so, and the MTA sends the #33 and #333 Limited. From West Hollywood, most people ride the Rapid Bus down Wilshire or the 704 along Santa Monica Blvd, then transfer to the #1 or #2 for just 30 cents extra. You don't need to bring food, that's for sure, but bikes and skateboards (or surfboards - which you can't bring on the bus) are sort of standard operating equipment.
Of course, if you come down from San Francisco and you're on a budget, I recommend the Hostelling International hostel in Santa Monica. There's also the Venice Beach Hostel or the Venice Beach Cotel, but the accommodations are a little less maintained (and the Cotel requires you to produce a passport). I like to stay in hostels because I can buy groceries and cook in the kitchen, on top of paying far less than a hotel and finding people to socialize with during my visit. Besides, the hotels down here are expensive. If you want the privacy, however, pick up one of the hotel guides on newsracks and shop around for a deal. The Hotel Erwin is the big fat hotel on the beach in Venice. Skatelog.com offers a good rundown of the rest of the pack.
In Venice, no one will ever charge you for having good clean fun.
Whenever I drop anchor in Venice, I ride my bike back and forth between there and Santa Monica. In the evening after dinner, there's nothing like the caress of an island breeze and the lights of Malibu twinkling far off down the coast to lift your spirits.
Tragically, most tourists come here in cars to sun themselves on the beach at the worst possible time of day for UV radiation (noon to three p.m.), then spend way too much money at the cafes along boardwalk. The extent of handmade crafts in the little souvenir shops is pretty impressive, though. Plus, if you poke around long enough in some of these stores, you can find great bargains. And if you have any sort of ailment at all, it's an everyday thing here to dip into one of several medical marijuana pharmacies and have a doctor write a prescription.
Two shops sell Native American crafts on the boardwalk, both worth a peak. At top right, an eclectic shop called Titanic sells full-sized metal work and other oddities. And below left.. well, where else can you find such a place but California?
And then there's the skateboarding. I took a bunch of shots one day while watching the kids.
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