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Santa Monica

Santa Monica

Sunday (continued)

Forget Hollywood, THIS is where the movie stars hang out! Palm trees on almost every street, sunny skies, fresh ocean air, and the beaches, well...

Santa Monica Beach Santa Monica Beach

This was Baywatch country, although I hear filming was moved due to too much publicity. Film crews frequented the town to shoot scenes for movies and I heard of movie stars who hang out at muscle beach. This I had to see!

For the rest of the day I checked out the shops in the very friendly pedestrianised shopping plaza; this place had every cool shop there was, from clothes to toys, souvenirs (surprisingly not all that tacky) and Super Pretzels! The Super Pretzel is shaped exactly like an ordinary pretzel but is doughy like a bagel, dipped and coated in sugar, cinnamon or other things. I had an apple and cinnamon Super Pretzel - the best American food item I had sampled yet.

Street performers were of a high standard too, reminding me greatly of Paris. Even away from the shopping plaza the shops continued - more mundane shops like motorist discount centres and supermarkets, and not a residential area in sight!

Presently I retired to the hostel for the evening, there was plenty to do there, even a TV lounge.

Monday

I read about Venice Beach in my guide book (using it at last!), it was a good walk along the beach, and on the way I could visit Muscle Beach and hope to catch a glimpse of some movie stars. I walked along to the beach, had a chicken sandwich from a beach-side food stall and set off South. In amongst the skaters, cyclists and joggers on the pedestrian path (pictured above) I could almost believe I was in a movie, when you see someone jogging or whatever. It took about an hour or so to reach Venice Beach, and what a sight it was! The main attractions were the street vendors here: artists, masseurs, clothing stalls and shops, crafts, fortune tellers, even the beggars were inventive! I was accosted by a lady in need of some dental care who challenged me that she could tell me where I got my shoes... I was sure it would be a trick, but I went with it; "OK, if you can tell me where I got my shoes I'll give you something", I said, "I'll tell you where you got your shoes,", she said, "you got your shoes on a sidewalk on Venice Beach, California. That's where you got your shoes!" So I had been suckered, but it was a very cunning play on words which made me smile. Another guy was well known for his trick - he wore a sheet like an arab outfit and rollerbladed alongside people playing his electric guitar (with portable amp!) until they gave him some money to go away!! One of the most interesting sights was a spray painter who made his pictures using only canned spray paints and some items for masking off areas of his canvas, I saw him paint one picture from start to finish.

Venice Beach Venice Beach

In the picture above you can see a blue building with a murial on it in the distance, which is a painting of a building with a guy absailing down it! It is actually a painting of the building with the Skates sign on it. Further along there was a strongman who balanced things in his teeth - some poor girl on a chair, a cooker, a fridge! I ambled along taking it all in; the beach was only yards away, the sun was beating down but a cool gentle ocean breeze was blowing. In one of the souvenir shops I saw many hats on sale, thinking about my plans to visit Yosemite I thought this would be a cool place to get one from - I settled on a warm looking LA Lakers hat. Outside I bought a dish in which the guy had painted a sunny ocean scene in 3D relief using oil paints.

Muscle Beach There were two Muscle Beach sites - one was the original where the likes of Kirk Douglas had been a regular - another was a modern outdoor gym which included basket ball courts, changing rooms and an area with gym equipment which you had to pay to get into. I didn't recognise any movie stars, but apparently someone from a recent movie (which I hadn't seen) was there and is probably in my picture. They filmed White Men Can't Jump on these very courts, wooow.

By the time I got back to town it was almost dinner time, but as I was walking through the hostel I managed to drop and subsequently break the dish I had just bought! Luckily it was still in its celophane wrapping so it held together. I bought Pot Stickers from a local supermarket for dinner but they didn't turn out too well. That evening there was a Hollywood awards ceremony on TV, how appropriate! Nah, I'd seen all that. Nothing new there.

Tuesday

I left the hostel and made my way into town, I picked up some superglue from the motorist discount shop to fix my painted plate with, then got on the bus back to LA - the only way to get to San Pedro/Long Beach by public transport was via Union Station.