October 1, 2013

Inside The Most Eccentric Neighborhood in Los Angeles: Venice

I think all I can tell you about Venice doesn’t describe the ambiance and eccentricity that invades this unique neighborhood in Los Angeles.

Cómo disfrutar del barrio más excéntrico de Los Ángeles: Venice

Last June, I’ve visited the city for the second time. I knew for sure what I wanted to visit and where I wanted to walk. Venice was definitely on the top of my list.

During my first visit, I spent just a few hours there and I could see several people at the beach riding a bike. So, without thinking twice and knowing that it would be difficult to move around the cyclists, I went to rent a bike in Santa Monica, where I was staying. I rented it for 4 hours and it was quite an experience.

The breeze on my face, the beach on both sides of the bike lane, hundreds of people skating, walking, juggling; dogs playing in the grass and an aspiring female surfer, training on the sand, caught my attention. I’m from a big city that has no beach so here I felt so good that I wished I could live here for a while.

In 20 minutes, I was in Venice. And as you approach to the neighborhood along the Ocean Front Walk, you realize that the environment has changed: music, the smell of paint, costumed characters, fortune tellers, dancing homeless. I didn’t speak with anyone but once I was inside that ambiance, I felt a little bit crazy and wanted to be part of it!

It may seem that its name is not appropriate, but Venice has a history that no one would imagine when you walk through its streets. Abbot Kinney was the founder of the district. He had a dream and in the 1890’s, he fulfilled it. Kinney purchased a land at Ocean Park and in 1905, he built famous “Venice of America”.

His intention was to reflect the bohemian atmosphere mixed with music centers and art galleries. Also, he wanted to recreate the Italian Venice in California. In fact, if you move away from the busy promenade, you will discover a different Venice. Look for the street that gave its name to its founder and take a slow walk along its colorful modern delis and small gourmet food restaurants. Somehow, I felt the “Venetian Renaissance”.

There are two things I loved about Venice: art and skate park. The life and the environment is reflected by street artists flooding the neighborhood with their paintings.

If you go to the beach, you will see the sporty side of Venice. On one side of the beach, several basketball courts inhabit the landscape between the beach and the most famous outdoor Muscle Beach. There were trained celebrity bodybuilders, including Chester Yorton and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And on the other side of the beach, there is a skate park with many ramps and holes for jumping with various degrees of difficulty. To my surprise, two 7-year children handled his skateboard as if they were born with it. Many people watched and cheered whereas I was speechless. I couldn’t stop taking photos!

When the sun went down, I left the boardwalk because I knew that this area isn’t safe at night. Throughout the day, people drank and, for that reason, there were a lot of drunks, stumbling down the boardwalk, creating a lot of noise. Then, it was time for me to get close to Main Street and Abbot Kinney Street to enjoy a cocktail or a beer and be delighted by the happy hour at High Rooftop Lounge, the Erwin hotel's terrace.