It may be a touristy cliche strolling down Venice beach with an ice cream, gawking at the rollerblading girls in bikinis, the street performers, the body builders at Muscle beach and getting surprised that the Baywatch towers and cars look exactly like in the series.
But I loved it!
Spending a day in Venice Beach also made us realise its neighborhoods are more fun than the ones of West Hollywood (where we stay), though it’s true we haven’t got our head around local things in Hollywood yet, part from understanding that the area – just like Venice beach – truly EXIST on earth (and not only on Television).
Indeed, I’ve been way too prejudiced about this place. Somehow I wasn’t specifically interested in neither Venice beach, Santa Monica or Hollywood. I simply thought I knew them.
You know, when you’ve got a destination so interpreted (involuntarily or not) through images for so long you think you know it. That’s one of tourism’s logics. The travel industry lives on people’s imaginations of places. Depending on your interest, tastes and presumptions, you’d think of a destination as different or indifferent, a-must-see, or not interesting at all, paradise or hell.
Personally I think most destinations are interesting even though I don’t picture myself loving that specific place due to my assumptions of its features and energies. Still, I always desire to see new places, so I can understand them better and make up my own mind about them.
Thus, I really found myself getting surprised while walking and biking around on Venice beach. I kind of expected Hasselhof and the bike cops from that stupid series (I watched when I was 17) to turn up around every corner. I understood I had many more prejudices than I was aware of. And I’m starting to realise that L.A is everything and nothing like the stereotypes we’ve been told.
The places from telly do exist. Yet, it’s all so much more low key than it is on telly… (hah!)
In real life, lots of interesting, chill & fun people turned up wherever we went, with big smiles on their faces – interested in chatting. Everybody I saw and talked to struck me as very welcoming towards the hordes of tourists occupying their streets.
Now, I’ve not doubted Americans friendliness. I certainly became aware of that during a visit to the country (East side) in 2006. I guess I’ve just forgot how important that is for a place to feel good – especially when you’re only visiting a day or a two and don’t have the time to get under everybody’s skin.
Although, friendliness is one thing. I can honestly do without it when I travel, as long as people come across as genuine. Thing is, they do in Venice beach. Moreover, the locals (or whoever live here and create this place into what it is) seemed truly respectful towards the locality of the place.
Saying that I refer to the low branding on site and the vast variety of all kinds of random small businesses and organisations existing in one small place. Just a stone throw away from the touristy Venice beach strip there are plenty of more residential streets, all with colorful buildings and people, many with hipstery corners and small restaurants and shops.
And. The Californian cherry on the top is that extra liberal, somewhat edgy and always good old American outgoing touch of theirs.