While on my way to Sydney, due to the Delta Meltdown, I spent an unplanned day in Manhattan Beach, California. My hotel was in El Segundo, near LAX. In contradistinction with A Tribe Called Quest, I did not leave my wallet. I wasn’t sure what to do, but Twitter and Facebook friends came up with suggestions. I chose the Beach in part because it was close, in part because a friend who I went to high school with, in Maryland, and who now lived in Michigan, also happened to be in Manhattan Beach for a Seder that night, to which he generous and surprisingly invited me, and I figured it would be easiest to coordinate. Since I didn’t remember him being Jewish this was doubly surprising, since it wasn’t actually Passover yet, it was triply surprising; but he married in, and this was at his inlaws’ house, and this is when they could get everyone together, including apparently stranded travellers.
I took a Lyft to Manhattan Beach. I wasn’t sure exactly where to be dropped off, but had the driver drop me off at an interesting corner near the center of town. Like so many desirable places to walk around, with nice amenities (the beach, the sunshine, the ocean) and good access, it is a place with too much money. If you are reading this blog, you can’t afford to live there.
Coming out of a dreary, if not especially cold, Minnesota winter, the sunshine and warmth of LA is welcome. Manhattan Beach is known for its Boardwalk, its pier, and as the home of the Olympic sport of Beach Volleyball, the way the ancient Greeks would have played it if they had beaches, balls, and nets (wait, they had all those things). I also discovered Acai Bowls here. These are too hip to have made it to Minneapolis, but they are common in Sydney now. The ones in Manhattan Beach at Paradise Bowls are still in my mind better than the one’s I have had so far in Sydney (which have ranged from very good to not very good).
The history of Manhattan Beach (map) is, like so many things, dependent on the railroad as shown in the picture of the sign at the pier, though the Wikipedia article misses that. There are other interesting aspects:
The land in Manhattan Beach was formerly sand dunes. During the 1920s and 1930s, builders leveled uneven sandy sites and some excess sand was sold and shipped to Waikiki, Hawaii, to convert their reef and rock beach into a sandy beach. The sand was also used to build the Los Angeles Coliseum and portions of the Pacific Coast Highway.
Walking from the Beach to the inland house where the Seder took place was hillier than I imagined, and it is clear, no one walks in LA County. Away from the Beach the landscape is American suburban. You can see my Photos of Manhattan Beach here