California, Part 1: Santa Monica & Venice

The flight to LA wasn’t too bad, however the landing time was a bit awkward as at 11pm public transport is a bit sketchy and a taxi was out of the question as it would of cost around $50. Fortunately I got lucky, the guy I was sat next to on the plane lived in LA and was getting picked up by a friend so he offered me a lift. Worked out great, all it cost me was a pack of cigarettes for him as he didn’t want any money for fuel.

I was staying in Santa Monica, which isn’t really a top backpacker or surf destination, it’s a pretty big shopping district with lots of trendy restaurants and a few expensive bars. The beach and pier area don’t quite follow the same style though, it’s like something straight out of the 50’s/60’s with old buildings and rides as well as street vendors and performing artists scattered down it, a very cool place to hang out.

Santa Monica Pier.

 

After exploring Santa Monica I headed down to Venice Beach. It’s about an hours walk from Santa Monica, along some beautiful beach front scenery and past the original Muscle Beach (a fun place to people watch and actually do a bit of exercise).

Venice is practically the polar opposite of Santa Monica, most of the shops and bars are focused on one long street and the entire place has a huge hippy/stoner vibe to it. The stores sell an assortment of art, clothing, skateboards, surf gear, bongs and medical marijuana licenses (it’s practically legal in California).

The start of Venice.

 

One of my favourite parts of Venice was it’s skate park, which features some pool inspired bowls which the locals carve expertly.

Skater carving up the bowl.

 

After watching the skaters for awhile I headed down to the pier, there was a small swell and 3 guys out, made me wish I’d taken my board down. The waves weren’t amazing but they weren’t terrible. Unfortunately I never got the chance to surf Venice Pier myself.

Surfer at Venice Pier.

 

I loved the time I spent in Santa Monica and Venice, it’s a really awesome area to hang out and go for drinks, my favourite part of the place though is the crazy sunsets that take place there, absolutely spectacular.

Sunset at Santa Monica beach.

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