Playing TOURIST in Venice Beach, California

I have lived here in Southern California my whole life. And because of this, I often forget that I'm in the middle of a travel destination and that the sights I take for granted are things that some people travel halfway around the world to come see. I decided to remedy this by playing "local tourist" a little more often. So this past weekend, my husband and I paid a long overdue visit to Venice Beach. I hadn't been there since I was about 13 years old, and wasn't quite sure what to expect. A bit of background: the area was originally named "Venice" largely due to the canals that were opened in 1905. And a small section of the original canals still remain, connecting an area of upscale housing. However, Venice Beach is probably better known for the 2.5-mile stretch of sidewalk next to the beach... filled with open air vendors, street performers, and the area of Muscle Beach (where Arnold Schwarzenegger used to work out).

You will see a little bit of EVERYTHING on that tiny strip of sidewalk. It has been a longtime artist community, and you will still find artists (musical and otherwise) along the way. Several murals are featured amongst the brick walls, including an ever-changing wall for graffiti artists to use (as long as they get the proper permits to contribute). I saw people on bikes, skateboards and rollerskates doing stunts. I stopped to watch a juggler. I spotted hare krishnas walking down the street, followed by a heavily tattooed person in a speedo. I passed an African drum circle. I spotted several tarot card and palm readers. I even saw a freakshow. I'm serious... an actual freakshow. Though I'm not sure what was inside (I wasn't quite brave enough), the "wolfman" came out to say HI to the crowd, and there was a pair of 2-headed turtles swimming around in a tank out front. Jeepers!

There was just SO MUCH to see. And it was all so... strangely beautiful.

Here are pieces of my photographic journey.

On a sidenote: I had SOOOOO much fun taking this next picture. Not just because I fell in love with the lines and angles of this brick building, or even because the seagull flew past at the perfect moment. Nope... this picture was just FUN to take. Imagine this: I was standing close to the building, looking up. And out of the corner of my eye, I kept seeing passers-by look up at the building, as well... trying to figure out WHAT I was looking at that was so interesting, making me laugh each time it happened.

I briefly handed the camera over to my husband...

And I was able to capture HIM in a few random shots, as well.

Now, back to the scenery...

As you can tell from my images, I spent most of my time studying the crowd in general rather than focus on individuals. However, this next girl caught my eye. With the tattoo of the flock on her back, and her hair reminiscent of a sunset, I knew I had to capture her image. Luckily, she was friendly and agreed to pose for me for a quick second.

After the boardwalk area, we walked the few blocks to the canals. (Thank goodness the streets were closer than they looked in my iPhone map!)

Venice was an awesome place to start my photo safari. I can't wait to see what I find next.

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