Newport Beach

You can’t really visit LA unless you go to the beach and one of my favorites has always been Newport Beach down on the Orange County coast.  My brother and I decided to make a day of it and we went for the champagne brunch at Woody’s on the marina; it is a true “bottomless” glass brunch and they brought us champagne and coffee for the better part of 4 hours.  The food was magnificent and we finally pulled ourselves away in the early afternoon and then walked over to the beach.  From the marina to the beach is only about 200 yards and across Pacific Coast Highway – an easy walk after a long breakfast break.  Along the length of the beach there are houses that some lucky few live in.  I don’t think you can find a house on the block for less than a million; we walked through this exclusive neighborhood and saw evidence of parties the night before: many beer cans and liquor bottles in the trash cans.  When we popped out on the other side we could see that the boardwalk was full of bikers, skaters and pedestrians from all over the country & from all over the world.  Despite the cool weather the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day.

The pier was covered with tourists as well as fishtermen and we asked them about their luck and they said that the fishing was poor this day.  We walked around and talked to some of the fishermen and we were told that they were not having much luck.  It seemed that all anyone was catching was mackerel and those aren’t good for much except being used as bait fish.  Some of the families were putting them into buckets (below) and I wonder if they were eating them?  I’d never eat one as they are too boney and fishy tasting.  We also saw one young man who caught an unusual looking crab; I’d never seen one like this before and it even had a barnacle growing on it.

The restaurant at the end of the pier makes a great bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich so we orderd a few and then we enjoyed lunch and the view.  Newport Beach is always very mellow and it is a good place to relax and get a little sun.  By the end of the day I had a bit of sunburn on the face; it is easy to forget how strong the sun is when the temperatures are low.  We did a little shopping and I bought my obligatory post card for my around the world post card collection; I usually write a diary entry on my post card and then mail it to myself.  I first started doing this on a European tour back in 1996 when I didn’t have any room in my backpack to collect souvenirs.  The postcard makes a great souvenir as it has a photo of where you visited, a short story and even has the date and post stamp from when you visited.  Some days, when it is rainy outside, I pull my boxes of post cards and reminisce about travels past.  Even a decade later, a look at a postcard and an old written note brings back some old memories that I probably would have permanently forgotten about otherwise.

As the day turned to afternoon we decided to hit a local watering hole.  Near the shopping area and boardwalk is Sharkey’s Bar; there were some playoffs that day and the place was packed out.  We ordered a beer and after a half hour or so we were able to grab a coveted seat near the entrance.  After being in a “dry” country for the past 12 months it was nice to have such a lively crowd around me, a cold beer and (ahem) some beautiful women to look at.  I am often amazed at the differences between the people in Orange County, California and lets say…  Texas.  Aside from the obvious accent there is easily a 15 to 20 kg (30 to 40 pound) difference.  My brother and I speculated whether or not the proximity to the beach (and a more scantily clad wardrobe) was the reason for so many “fitties” as I’ve heard them called by Brits (people in good shape or who are ‘fit’).  Either way, I wasn’t going to complain about the spectacular scenery; I sipped my beer and enjoyed the show as it played out around me.  Later in the evening a group of super-hero dressed patrons entered.  I wasn’t sure if it was a themed party or if they were a club that met on a regular basis but it added to the variety of the show.

I’m not sure if I was looking at Newport through the rose colored glasses of someone who returned to an oasis after being in the desert but it was a wonderful day.  If you have a spare beach day in Los Angeles, try to get down to Newport Beach, you’ll have a super time :-)


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