We took a day trip out to Newport Beach and Balboa Island because it is one of my favourite places to wander. Balboa Island is so serene and peaceful with awesome American style holiday homes, a quaint village and stunning water views. Grab a frozen banana and wander around the perimeter of the island. I suggest parking the car at Newport Beach and catching the ferry over. You can driv but I really believe it is best walked, especially on a divine, sunny California day. When we went it was Halloween so of course all the houses were dressed for the occasion, let the pictures speak for themselves!
My day began with a wake up coffee at Cafecito Organico in Silverlake, Los Angeles. I have always been a fan of Cafecito Organico. The coffee is brilliant and the cafe always has a relaxed, arty vibe that I crave. It is the best place for people watching and feels like a locals hang out which is what I seek.
The drive from Downtown LA to Santa Monica is actally quite hectic; the roads are really crowded so even though the distance is short, time may not be on your side. Once in Santa Monica I recommend wandering down Montana Avenue home to many cute boutiques (and the yummiest Acai Bowl I have ever had), then head to the pier. The Santa Monica Pier has a cool, retro vibe but is extremely touristy. Back from the beach Santa Monica also has heaps of cool shops, restaurants and bars that you can stop at on your way down the coast towards Venice.
I had always wanted to visit the Venice Canals; they look beautiful and romantic in the movies so we prepped the camera, found an awesome carpark and eagerly headed towards the canals. As we climbed a quaint bridge we stood over a green -or was it brown- slimy canal. California’s drought shows remarkably when you are standing over the Venice Canals.
Next we headed out to Venice Beach for a little people watching. It was getting late by the time we got there, about 5pm so most of the shops were closing. We headed down to the skate ramp on the beach and relaxed for a good 45 mins while being mesmerised by the skaters before a short stroll down the boardwalk.
What struck me most about Venice Beach was the large number of homeless everywhere…and I mean everywhere. It is shocking to me that a rich, western country such as the United States of America can tolerate such poverty. What is more shocking to me is that hundreds of homeless people can exsist in such a busy tourist area…don’t people stop and ask what the government is doing to help these people? Are people just turning a blind eye to this issue? Because when you look at pics of Venice, you rarely see a park lined with tents pitched by the desperate and destitute. Where is the government support? This was an issue that was repeatedly brought to my attention as I drove around LA, it really is truly shocking. I was asked for money everyday. I even had one desperate woman knocking on my window at the gas station asking for money. The only other place that has happened to me is in India…honestly, some corners of Los Angeles are reminiscent of a third world country.
Despite all this, I love LA and always look forward to visiting. It has got this cool, alternative and relaxed vibe along with great food and great fun but it would be rude to ignore the issue of homelessness and reflect on how blessed and fortunate I am to live the life I do.