Monday, November 12, 2007

Should I Become a Tour Guide?

My friends have been pressing me hard to become a personal tour guide in the lovely and unique city of Santa Monica and Los Angeles area of Venice.

Why? As my writing career has not yet jettisoned to the six figure income I had envisioned, I am seeking both a distraction to balance my life and as an alternative help pay the bills.

Actually I love taking people around town to visit local haunts, off the beaten path walks, neat eateries and a myriad of the most hidden succulent architecture on the west side of the United Sates. Although I need to devote more time to writing I also enjoy tour guiding which may become an unintentional profitable distraction.

It all began with visiting friends and relatives who asked to be tooled around town showing them the on and off the beaten path in greater Los Angeles. As a ardent walker and bike rider I unwittingly became familiar with the unknown or little known underground Los Angeles. Realizing I honed my skills over two decades as I ventured outdoors breezing through uncharted local neighborhoods. So why not share my favorites experiences with others?

After visitors engaged in trekking the obvious tourist sites like Hollywood and Sunset boulevards, the original Farmers Market, Universal Studios, participate in TV show audiences and the ubiquitous Rodeo Drive they may desire a respite and see how the local LA lifestyle is more about neighborhoods than about the car culture which is dramatically changing due to the ever increasing population density and unattractive traffic congestion.

Neighborhoods, some of which have changed for the better or worse, are very much like marriage, they change but we'll never know the future of the direction it will take. We all have our favorites and with traffic issues inching gaining increasingly higher visibility and priority, more of us are building a community spirit by remaining and supporting the neighborhoods in which we live. There. Sometimes flowers unexpectedly emerge from unfertile soil.

As a resident of West Los Angeles I have the best of all worlds before me in that I'm fairly centrally located and can head to Beverly Hills as easily as Santa Monica. Not that one neighborhood is better than another but rather unique in its personalities. And we all have our favorites. Lately I've been settling in on the beach communities since I'm a bit more familiar with these streets and find an eclectic collection of unsurpassed architecture unique to California living. The key phrase being beach communities rather than the beach. We'll discuss that topic another day.

So, if I were a tour guide and we began at Santa Monica City Hall near Pico Blvd. and Main Street we could go in either direction of north or south. Let's begin with heading south for the time being. We'd take a few moments to admire the City Hall Artsy architecture and classic design and begin slowly walking down main street asking the small group to notice as many nuances as possible as the walk is quite an eclectic experience.

Walking down the original main street in Santa Monica long before indoor or outdoor malls were conceived we happen upon local unique shops, eateries, hotels, and small original shops where archetype dwellings flourish. We'll stop for coffee and a snack, continue to toward Venice where we'll view the original Venice plaza icon on Windward and the walk. Lot's of history there.

We'll make a diagonal turn to Abbott Kinney Blvd which entails too much history to depict in this writing. The group will usually be tired by then and we'll stop for lunch at a favorite cool spot the locals frequent. Afterwards we'll tool down to the well hidden Venice canals and saunter through the unusual alley courts of which even most locals are unaware.

Since by this time most will be tuckered out, we'll most likely take the BigBlueBus back to the central meeting point near the hotels where most of the lovely tourists will be staying to soak their feet and rest their heads.

And that's only the beginning. That morning tour is about 2 hours of being part of the unique people place and structures of Venice and Santa Monica. If energy still abounds a local home architectural walks might be available in the late afternoon or next day.

The northern tour is quite different and we'll offer details on that one later.

I trust this was a good introduction to a larger tourist topic. And of course the wonderful city of Santa Monica has a great web site for tourists and locals if you'd like to explore things to do on your own:

Thank you all,

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