Of the eleven days we spent in Los Angeles we used two to visit the two best known coastal neighbourhoods: Santa Monica and Venice. Both known for their beaches and shopping opportunities, they still had some differences. Santa Monica felt a bit more polished than Venice and its roads and overall infrastructure were in better condition.
Venice on the other hand is famous for its Muscle Beach, which is the place where Governor Arnold used to train. However Venice also has the Venice Canals and Abbot Kinney Boulevard, which is very much an upmarket shopping and dining destination. Santa Monica had more big chains to offer, although it did not lack prestigious boutiques either.
The first day we spent in Venice, the beachfront neighbourhood of opposites.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard is a mile long street with shops and restaurants mostly way over our budget. Luckily we enjoy window shopping to a point even that can be satisfying, so we felt quite pleased with the street.
After the boulevard we head to see the Venice Canals, for which Abbot Kinney is responsible creating. It is a beautiful and peaceful neighbourhood, built around canals. The area reminded Matte more of Amsterdam than its doppelganger (Venice, Italy). The multi-million dollar houses are something we can’t afford, but nevertheless enjoyed looking at them. We spent a good 45-minutes just walking around and taking in the atmosphere.
The mood completely changed once we hit Venice Beach. Massive amount of people, rows of cheap stores with neon colours and caricature artists, and a lot of shirtless guys. Quite a fun place for some people-watching.
Venice Beach Recreation Center is a great place for exercising, with many opportunities for different sports, including basketball, gymnastics and surfing. We had fun standing by a skate park, where local skaters were showing off.
Dozens of movies and hundreds of television shows and even video games have used this location in Venice, some of my favourite are: White Men Can’t Jump, American History X, The Big Lebowski, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as Verona Beach.
Muscle Beach is there too and it was quite a sight. Local body builders were more than happy to pose for pictures, which tourist (like us) were constantly taking of them.
Also Matte being true to himself, we were running around after some buildings. This time most of his locations were misses, since they were either in bad shape or otherwise nothing special from the outside. What was definitely unique from the outside was the Binocular building, designed by Frank Gehry and currently housed by Google. We already saw Gehry’s nightmare house in Sydney and also the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA, of which the latter was nothing but spectacular. More of that in a later blog post.
But for now it is time to focus on Santa Monica, our destination for the last day in LA.
The commercial space was more spread out than in Venice. The metro station and surrounding areas felt new and streets were in much better shape on average than we have so far seen in the US. We did some window shopping before moving on to Santa Monica Pier, which probably is the most photographed area in the neighbourhood.
It is a fun family area, with some amusement park rides, games and entertainment. Also right next to a popular beach, which was filled with people on Saturday. What caught our eye was the amount of people catching Pokemons. The whole country seems to have lost it when it comes to the game. Our 2G connection on our phones prevents us from being part of the zombie army walking around everywhere, and maybe that is only a good thing.
Nearby Santa Monica Pier is Tongva Park, named after the indigenous people who lived in the area thousands of years.
Matthias loves we love walking and architecture so much, we headed out to the next destination. It was quite important to get there in time, since according to him that way he could make some people really jealous.
The destination was the Eames House, also known as Case Study House nr. 8. Constructed in 1949 and designed by Charles and Ray Eames it was definitely ahead of its time. Unfortunately taking pictures of the inside was prohibited, but with a Google search you can get an idea how it was and still is. Matte was very happy with the visit and I found it interesting as well. The Eames Foundation and family has interest to preserve the house as it is in a way that it would last for another 250 years.
Our last night in LA we decided to go to the movies – it felt fitting, after all being the home of the movie industry. Matte has been having trouble getting a properly poured beer in US and this continued to be an issue at the movies as well. Our customer service person was pouring a beer with a beautiful, thick foam when another worker told him to get rid of the foam. Which he did before Matte could say anything. When Matte told the other guy that a beer is to be served with foam, the guy would not believe him.
All I can say is that it is a mistake to tell Belgian how to pour a beer.
Overall we felt that we spend the two days well. To get a full understanding of LA these neighbourhoods are a must.