USA Road Trip – Santa Monica and Venice Beach

So today we got up, knowing it was our last drive along the Pacific Coast Highway heading to Santa Monica and Venice Beach. As we leave our motel in Thousand Oaks, and head to Santa Monica via Malibu and the PCH. Traffic was quite heavy as we were going with the the traffic, but we were in no hurry.

santa-monica-and-venice-beach-1000One thing we have noticed, and I guess this is the same anywhere, is that the nearer to the cities you get, the more in a hurry people seem to be.

We arrived at our hotel, the Hilton (lar de dar!) and instead of turning left into the $32 a night Hilton Parking Garage, we turned right, and parked in the local $5 a night court house car park. Don’t know about you, but I don’t mind walking across the street to save 80 bucks!! I’d probably walk even further.

Hats off to Suz for spotting this tip on trip adviser, and also to the traveller that posted it in the first place.

The Hilton Santa Monica – That will do!!

At this point it was 10.30 am, and we didn’t really expect our room to be ready, but it was. We checked in, and dumped our bags, marvelled at the “suite” we were given, a lounge, bedroom and bathroom!!

We then decided to head straight down to the pier, with a busy day planned. Santa Monica, down the coast to Venice Beach, up the coast to whatever is there. To do this, there was only one thing for it. We hired bikes!!!

Ready for the bike ride
Ready for the bike ride

We resisted the urge to get a tandem and opted for the normal.

Suzanne chose a very fetching blue colour, and I went for manly black.

We decided to jump straight on the cycle path, and head towards Venice. We were ready to enjoy the beach, the boardwalk, and the canals.

The bikes were dead easy to ride, and riding along with the vast beach and the pacific on our right hand side was a toal pleasure. We inched ever closer to Venice, looking out for the characters we were expecting to see, and we weren’t disappointed. First was was a 60ish year old woman, in cycling shorts and a vest top, plugged into her iPod, more dancing along then jogging!! She seemed happy enough. And who wouldn’t be on a Californian beach!

Cycling Santa Monica and Venice Beach

We stayed on the cycle path until we were at the furthest point south of the Venice, as we decided to walk back up the boardwalk. One of the furthest points south we wanted to see were the Venice canals. An intricate little maze of waterways, with a 2 foot wide path for us to walk around. On one side was the water, the other, smallish but beautiful little houses. Each with its own gate onto the canal, most having a small rowing boat of some kind tethered to the gate.

When we had walked around here we headed back to the beach, for the walk up the Boardwalk. Then the character spotting started. The bodybuilders on surprisingly small muscle beach, the musician trying to hand you CDs of their work, the artists selling what has to be said, in most cases very good pieces.

We continued

Venice Boardwalk 'doctors'
Venice Boardwalk ‘doctors’

The “medical” shops offering marijuana, the endless tshirt shops, the local drunks shouting from the benches. The loin cloth wearing snake charmer, brandishing rubber snakes standing on a step ladder. The unfortunate homeless people looking for handouts. A single table with a kind soul handing out soups for these same homeless people. A group of 4 carrying signs shouting and preaching The Lord handing out cards……I am certain I have missed something, but you get the idea.

We cycled back, and after a quick hot dog listening to what has to be said not a very good busker, we ventured north of the pier, which was a different word. Hardly anything there. We had to cycle about 30 minutes before we found a little cafe place, called Back to the Beach, where we had a drink in the sun, overlooking the beach.

It was then back down to the pier to drop our bikes back, and head back to the hotel to head out for the evening. On the way back, as we exited the pier, there was a man with 2 real snakes, offering them to people to hold. This put the heebee jeebee’s up Suzanne, so we scurried passed quickly.

Our evening in Santa Monica

We had a quick freshen up, we headed back down to the pier for dinner. Bearing in mind it was a Thursday, and the place was packed.

There was gridlock on the streets, and not much better on the sidewalks (pavements to the English). Reason being, there was a free Reggae concert being played by Jimmy Cliff, people seemed to like him! The police stopped us getting onto the pier one way, due to the number of people on it. (and not because of the crazy woman standing next to him shouting “there’s a bomb scare!!”)

We squeezed onto the pier eventually, and tried to find a bar, walked into a very packed one and it was clear from the smell (we were young once, we know the smell:) a few people in there had some kind of medical condition, and had been to the “doctor” on Venice Boardwalk.

We managed to get a table at a place called Blue Plate Taco, and enjoyed a nice meal. We stopped at a bar on the way home, for some rest for tomorrow’s big day at Universal Studios.


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