As commented on the first entry of this journal, after arriving at Long Beach, I took a few pictures of the strange signs surrounding the metro station, and decided to walk towards the Pacific Ocean. It was time for a day by the beach.
A wide avenue led downwards, allowing generous views of the area surrounding the shore. Having arrived unprepared, the sight was a bit strange. Along the way down was a large structure by my right and then the shoreline was unclear. I failed spotting a proper access path to the beach. Big ships adorned the horizon. Over-trusting my (non-existent?) traveler’s special senses, I decided to advance until the water front. A beach must appear. After all, I was at "Long Beach," wasn’t I? Mmm...
Meanwhile the large structure turned out being the Long Beach Convention Center. Being just a large rectangular structure it was of little interest, but it was surrounded by an awesome park, which later I discovered was part of a complex of several parks separating the town from the shoreline. An artificial pond undulated here among a large green area and reflected in its waters the surrounding buildings. Next to it a bridge allowed crossing a wide avenue and reaching the waterfront. Eager to enjoy the beach, I crossed it and entered a different world.
A narrow path advanced through a beautiful and large park. Several structures were amidst it, an obvious amphitheatre, a Chinese pagoda styled building and the Japanese Tokyo Restaurant were obvious. Palms, a flat fountain, and an elegant Navy Memorial were an expected must. Yet, I wanted to see the beach and until now the only related sight was the nearby Ocean Boulevard.
At certain point the path became a waterfront promenade. There were docks and a few ships of various sizes and ages attached to them. I couldn’t but wonder for a second time since I had arrived at Long Beach where were all the people; where was my beach?
A prominent sight was a large and elegant looking ship called the RMS Queen Mary. A 1936 art deco ocean liner, it is permanently docked at Long Beach. It was the fastest in the world between 1936 and 1952 and it was longer than the Titanic.
Whale watching tours were offered nearby. A gate over a side path announced this was the Pine Avenue Pier; across it was the avenue of that name. The place was awesome; I have seen many parks but few could compare to this. The fact it was located next to the ocean played an important role in this, fresh and salty breeze refreshed me. Yet, there was no beach. On the contrary, the most I advanced, the bigger the ships along the promenade became.
At least, I reached what looked like the end of the promenade. It ended abruptly over a large water body. The water was vertically under me; the transition between land and water was brutal. In the distance, huge vessels disappeared behind the fog. There was no beach in Long Beach.
By then, I began suspecting the truth. Not that it was very difficult; I had never seen such large cranes in public beaches. Their quantity was also suspicious. But it was becoming late. In a desperate move I walked backwards all along the park and reached the bridge over the wide avenue. I had walked around the Long Beach Port which is the second largest in the US. Together with the nearby Los Angeles Port, they are the main entry port of Chinese merchandise to the country; most of the American Christmas gifts walk this path in their way to their final homes. The park was extraordinarily beautiful, but of course it didn’t have any beaches.
Awakened, I began walking south of the port, to the place I now suspected where the main beaches in town were. I reached the Rainbow Lagoon (which is connected to the Rainbow Harbor) and the Marina Green Park, which delimited the avenue and were connected to the convention center and the Pine Avenue Pier parks, creating an awesome green body. The ponds in them couldn’t be bluer. It was with no doubt one of the most beautiful places I have seen, yet I still couldn’t spot even an inch of its famous beaches.
At certain moment I saw the access path to a still distant beach. Then I looked at my watch and discovered – for the umpteenth time in my life – the Cinderella Syndrome. I barely had time to run back to the last metro train to downtown Los Angeles.
Had serendipity worked against me this day? Not exactly. Had I prepared myself to the visit, I would have found the beaches rapidly and spent a couple of hours in them. Yet, I have seen many beaches in my life, but very few parks with the beauty and awesome location of the Pine Avenue Pier and its adjacent counterparts.