Santa Monica: it’s something you hear about in movies (a number of movies have been shot there over the years). As a kid growing up in decidedly unglamorous South Africa, it was just as mystical and unattainable as Never-Never land. Yet, here I was, in down-town LA, winding my way through traffic on the right-hand side of the road, intent on soon arriving at this fabled place. We’d just been on a ride through Beverly Hills and Hollywood Boulevard and were about to make a stop at the place we were looking forward to the most. Santa Monica is famous for a few things: the beautiful beach, the pier sporting a large Ferris wheel and the beautiful Californian sunsets on the pier.
We were just a few miles North of Venice beach, and quite a bit further South of Malibu (both famous LA destinations in their own right).
We’d vainly tried to get to Venice beach earlier but we came up with some difficulty navigating through the narrow one-way streets.
It seems as though most of the streets in the Venice Beach area are one way and that way is always “away” from the beach itself.
So, we settled on a Santa Monica sunset instead. I parked the rental car in the parking lot and we made our way out onto the beach itself.
The beach consisted of soft, powdery, snow-white sand, the crystal blue pacific waves mirrored the perfect blue pacific sky and I was immediately awestruck by the beauty of it all.
A boardwalk wound its way down to the shoreline so one could go to the beach without the inconvenience of sand between one’s toes.
At the shoreline, a man was working tirelessly on one of the most Indian sandcastle I have ever seen.
We turned left and climbed the stairs to what is arguably the most well-known pier in existence. It’s actually two piers, one built in 1909 to carry sewage and another built in 1916 for pleasure. Today, it was brimming with people and had a continual festival atmosphere about it. I guess the restaurants, rides, aquarium and other attractions draw people to this place all year around. There was a “strong man” showing off his ability to lift perfect strangers off the ground without leverage, a painter selling his hippy-friendly wares and some strange Asian guy who was presumably doing something very clever with a soccer ball and a row of glass bottles.
The pier still has some of the usual pier-stuff going on. I caught sight of some fishermen, a rather unusual escape chute and a sign which proclaimed here would be the perfect place to light up.
We passed slowly through the crowds, avoiding the Ferris wheel and other rides (we’d already been on enough rides at Disney Land) and made our way to the end of the pier.
Near the end of the pier we were treated to a lovely little Mexican restaurant (Mariasol Cocina Mexicana).
I had a margarita, as usual, as we awaited the fabled California sunset. The sky darkened and the sparse, thin, clouds blushed at the sun’s passing. We went outside to see the sun off.
The very end of the pier is covered in what I can only describe as amphitheatre seating. I can only describe it as such. It turned out we were not the only people interested in watching the sunset. We all just sat and watched in respectful silence as the sun descended. When at last, the final few rays of the sun dipped below the horizon, the crowd broke out into spontaneous applause. I have never felt such an feeling: as though we were personally thanking God, or Nature for the simple beauty of a sunset. Something that happened every day, something that has happened about a thousand times since my birth. “Encore” I yelled foolishly, to the amusement of those around me. I was sure we’d get to see another one in about 24 hours.
I have a video of the sunset here. It’s definitely worth a look.