Friday 6 June 2014

LA Beaches (In Transit)

In the course of my journeys as a travel writer, I often make notes about ideas for articles which I hope will sell later on.

Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they surprise me by selling years later.

Occasionally though, an idea goes nowhere.

Such was the case with my half-day in Los Angeles, USA, back in September 2009, when I was en route to Montana with a group of journalists for a hosted tour.

I didn't want to venture too far from the hotel near LAX, given time was limited, so it occurred to me that a walk along the nearby beaches might make an interesting story for Australian travellers similarly transiting LA with time to kill.

I started from the shopping strip at Hermosa Beach. It was about 8.30am on a Wednesday, not a time you'd expect much street life; however, there were plenty of joggers, walkers, dog exercisers and cyclists passing by.

There were some fun business names here too: Baja Sharkeez, Cafe Bonaparte, Fat Face Fenner's Fishack.

The pier looked attractive, stretching out into the Pacific. I was surprised though at the flatness and depth of the beaches, quite different from the dune-backed Australian beaches I was used to:

This spaciousness lent itself well to beach volleyball courts, and I could see plenty of these...

... along with a statue honouring local lifesavers (known as lifeguards to Americans):

From the pier, I could see a real-life lifeguard setting up traffic cones to mark the patrolled swimming area:

Walking south along the shore toward Redondo Beach, I passed by houses which were built right up to the edge of the sand, no doubt occupied by the rich and/or famous. A good opportunity to examine some of California's distinctive Mediterranean-inspired architecture:

After an hour or so I reached Redondo Pier. This was quite different from the fingerlike Hermosa Pier - instead it was an enclosure of concrete, timber and steel, sheltering an off-limits stretch of rocky beach.

Redondo Pier clearly had a lively personality at a more festive time of week. Along one arm were arrayed a number of small timber restaurants - Chinese, Italian, seafood - with views over the water.

There was also a Great White Shark exhibition, and a stall selling hot dogs on a stick. The atmosphere was definitely that of a popular seaside pier from a century ago.

But it was mid-morning on a Wednesday, and entirely the wrong time to witness its energy in full flow. So I prepared to leave.

But before I caught a taxi back to the hotel, I ordered a hot dog (sans stick) for $2.50, laden with mustard, onion and pickles. It was good.

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