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The Pleasures of the City

December 4th, 2014 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Long Beach, tourism

The city of Long Beach comes in for a lot of criticism. Some of it from me.

But it has some things going for it. Particularly down by the Pacific Ocean.

We spent our last night in California in Long Beach, and were glad to do so. Some scenery, some dinner, some Christmas lights.

We started at the Belmont Brewery. A micro-brew site with decent beer, good food and great scenery, when you are out on the terrace — which this time of year is covered in see-through plastic and heated.

Basically, you are sitting on the sand, when in the terrace, and the lights on the edge of the city illuminate your table. I could see the handsomely disguised oil island (often mistaken for offshore apartments, by visitors), as well as the lights of the port and the towers on Ocean Street.

I always order the “taster” selection of six local-made beers, about two ounces each, and most of them are fine. None are spectacular, and the “Long Beach Crude” (described as a “strong stout, pitch black”) always is last, and generally is a disappointment. (Guinness Stout, it is not.)

I usually order the chicken bleu cheese salad, but Leah had that this time, and I chose the mesquite chicken skewers with stir-fry veterables.

And mostly we admired the view, right there at the foot of Belmont Pier.

In some ways, it is not dissimilar from being on the Corniche of Abu Dhabi — except the weather in Long Beach is relentlessly mild.

We then drove over to the little Long Beach neighborhood of Naples, in Alamitos Bay, three islands set off from the mainland, with the biggest nearly surrounding the second-biggest (Treasure Island), all of which leads to a system of canals and some wonderful views and expensive housing — where residents thoughtfully leave open the curtains to you can look into their front rooms without peeping.

Naples also is known for going big on Christmas decorations. Lights everywhere, seeming to warm the night and reflecting off the dark waters of the canals.

We took a leisurely walk, crossing bridges, circling the island, appreciating the lights that had been put up early in the month. (It gets better, closer to Christmas, when the gondola tours go up and some of the residents come out. It is the sort of neighborhood where people say “hi!” to people they pass.)

We then cruised down Second Street, the business strip of the highly prized Belmont Shore neighborhood, a place I knew intimately growing up. And if it has become a bit too precious, with too many eateries and yogurt shops and taverns and not enough real-world businesses … it still is a pleasant place to be, even just to look around.

So, Long Beach. More than a few bits of it are nice. And if you have been around enough to find them, the city compares favorably with any beach city in Los Angeles County.


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