Last week I saw that a few of my friends were in Los Angeles to try their luck on the Price Is Right. I then found out that they were staying through the weekend. I recently moved from a small ski town to San Diego to help out my family and after a decade of building a solid community of friends and acquaintances I had to leave it quite abruptly. I've been flying solo the whole time here in San Diego, so I was itching for an opportunity to see some familiar faces and spend some quality time with some longtime friends and decided to invite myself up. They welcomed me up with open arms. I left mid afternoon after experiencing Legoland with my cousin for his birthday. After spending hours longer than expected trying to navigate through the vast metropolis of Los Angeles, I finally made it.
Once I arrived, I parked my car in the garage and it didn't move again until I left. The address was Marina Del Ray and I could tell we were close to the ocean, but when I got out to the balcony of the beach house we were staying at and could see the big blue ocean right from there, I got pretty excited.
We started with a nice relaxing visit to the hot tub and then decided to go out and about to check out the night life. We ate a nice dinner and began bar hopping. I didn't know it at that point but the pier in front of us was the Venice Fishing Pier. We ended up at a petite little two story beach bar called the Venice Whaler. The DJ was pretty good and we ended up having some fun conversations and dancing the night away. Later that night one of my friends joined me for a nap on the beach it was the next day before we knew it. We were all struggling a bit in the morning. Especially me, but after a nice breakfast at the beach house and a little R&R we all set out for an adventure down the Boardwalk.
This is where it got really fun. I have a really bad foot and after a lot of walking my ankle likes to give out, so I made sure to bring my bike and just so happened to have my longboard with me as well. My friend Austin and I headed down the pier to check out the view from there.
After that we found our way to the bike path. Little did we know what we were about to experience. We got to see an open canvass graffiti plaza.
The whole boardwalk was bustling with just about every different walk of life. We got to see a fully hilarious street performer walk on glass after heckling his audience for at least 20 minutes before hand.
(Street performer) "Hello young man where you from"
(Street performer) "Australia what do you know that's my home town, come over here chicken legs"
(Street performer) "Hey good lookin' where you from"
(Street performer) "Oregon, my home town. Hey, young lovers over there, come make love over here. Youngins now don't try this at home. GET OUT YOUR CAMERA & Come closer so you can see me put my ass in some glass"
I noticed a group of rollerbladers at the skate park gettin' down to Pharrell's "Happy" I kept seeing a couple dressed as a unicorn and a caped avenger with purple hair before I finally snuck a fabulous photo of them.
There was art, homeless people, street vendors selling everything from figurines to booty shorts that said "I pooped today" across the booty... Yea for real. There were parks, brew houses, even a house of "The weirdest things on the planet" titled Freakshow. My friends even said they saw a bearded lady. I missed it. There was every type of recreation alive on the Boardwalk from mini skateboards to beach bikes to buggies, trikes and motorized bikes. Pedi cabs, segways, musicians, drum circles, I mean you name it, we saw it.
We enjoyed a couple beers at a German beer garden and caught a fully magnificent sunset on the beach.
After that we headed back to the beach house regrouped, and went to eat at a nearby cantina. Austin and I then decided to go out for another journey along the Boardwalk. It dies down at night. The shops close and the vendors pack up, but we cruised down the bike path again. This time probably twice as far. We made it all the way down by Crescent Bay Park and decided to sit and enjoy the light show from the ferris wheel at Pacific Park. Being mountain kids, we sat and enjoyed the waves rolling in while engaging in a great conversation for a little while.
We eventually headed back down the boardwalk and since everything was a lot more quite at that point we made it back to the pier and decided to drop in the Hinano Cafe. The place was a bit of a dive bar glistening with entertaining locals singing along with songs off the jukebox from artists like Brittany Spears and Eminem. We enjoyed a few beers and a good amount of eye candy before surrendering for the night.
The next day we got a fairly early start as we had wasted a day of our surfboard rentals. Austin and I headed down to the beach and soaked in the classic enjoyable feeling of our toes in the sand with the sun warming our backs.
We took turns feeling out the ocean as neither one of us had surfed before while fully once again enjoying a plethora of eye candy. Eventually the others joined and we got to get out there in a pack for a few waves.
We had lunch at a DELICIOUS little deli & espresso bar called the Cow's End Cafe. Stellar food there. If you go to Venice I'd highly recommend that place for breakfast or lunch. The boys went to return the boards to the rental shop when we were finished surfing and the ladies headed out toward the beach to catch the finale sunset. It was amazing to say the very least. As the sun set the "super moon" rose and the feeling could not have been more alive.
We went back to our spot to regroup and clean up and headed out for one last dinner together. This one was one of the most special meals I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. The place was called Leona. The plates were culinary excellence at it's finest. The wine was incredible. The atmosphere was clean and classy, and our server was certainly on point. The flavor combinations were a work of art.
Experiencing Venice Beach without knowing what I was walking into made for memories I will never ever forget. It gave me the travel itch, and plastered a huge smile on my face from start to finish. The culture, the art, the synchronicity of chaos coming together as a dance of human life...
It's a really special place. One not to miss, and all the while I had always thought that LA didn't have anything but city to offer. I stand fully corrected! Get out there and experience Venice Beach!