Having arrived at Santa Ana airport and picked up our rental car, we headed directly to Venice, Los Angeles. Mr Pict’s two cousins work in the movie industry and both live in LA. Unfortunately, one was out of state during our visit but happily the other was still at home base. Indeed, cousin J and his family were kind and generous enough to let us stay with them at their property in Venice. J, L, and their son W have a beautiful home – as warm, eclectic, creative, and inspirational as they are – and we were delighted to take them up on their offer while also having the benefit of them as tour guides and wonderful company.
After so many hours spent in cars, planes, and in airports, we all desperately needed to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. The kids were also very eager to experience the beach. The house was only a few blocks from Venice’s famous boardwalk and beach so all nine of us got togged up and set out for a stroll. First stop was a bite to eat at a taco place. The setting was a bit rough and ready but the food was completely delicious and we all felt in a better mood post-munch.
Venice was founded by a chap named Abbot Kinney at the beginning of the Twentieth Century and quickly established itself as a tourist destination, offering a wide variety of entertainments. By the middle of the century, some dereliction had set in and the area was known for its slums but also for being a centre of creativity and particularly of counterculture. Venice today reflects all of that history. It was impossible to overlook the homelessness and crime in the area but it was also clear Venice remains a vibrant community full of buzzing activity, creativity, and diversity. I loved seeing all of the interesting architecture fronting the boardwalk. Many of the buildings were brightly coloured and painted with fabulous murals. There were also street artists and performers to catch our eye and entertain us as we wandered along the boardwalk. We stopped for a while to spectate skateboarding and were particularly impressed by some of the young kids. I never had any skill whatsoever with skateboards so to see such small kids doing incredible things was pretty absorbing.
The kids were eager to get into the water so we headed into the sand and towards the shore. Our youngest son has never been in the Pacific so he ticked off an item on his travel bucket list when he bounded off into the waves. The number of surfers in the water testified to the power of the water. The current was pretty strong and the waves were formidable so we insisted that our children did not swim out too far from the shore. They did not mind because they had a complete blast crashing around in the waves and burying each other in the sand. It was the perfect, most refreshing way to start our vacation.