Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Greek Festival, Santa Monica Pier and the Venice Whaler

Yesterday, Jeri and I went to the 2008 Greek Festival in Los Angeles at Saint Sophia Cathedral on Normandie Avenue in Los Angeles. It was supposed to be a really big event, lot’s of good Greek food, entertainment and Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson were the guest hosts. Their website made it sound like it was a really big to do. I was really looking forward to it. I had small breakfast so I would be at my full eating capacity when we got there.

I needn’t have bothered. I can’t remember when I have been so disappointed. It was so small that within five minutes we had made a complete circle and seen everything, which wasn’t much, let me tell you. It cost five bucks a piece, which I thought was a bargain, until I actually went inside. It was a small commercial rip off with nothing to do or see. There were several eating booths and I thought, “well at least we’ll get some good Greek food.” We walked around a bit and decided to get some lamb, with rice, feta cheese, olives, small tomatoes and Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves). The plates were $13.50 a piece., but again I thought “what the heck, at least I’m getting some real Greek food“. I mean, if not at a Greek festival being held at a Greek cathedral, then where. Right?

I should have eaten at McDonalds because if this wasn’t the worst meal I’ve ever eaten it was at least, in the top five. The lamb, was cooked and that was it. Nothing Greek about it. just cooked, overcooked in fact, dried, tasteless lamb. The rice was tolerable, the Feta cheese was decent, but barely the size of a small pinky. The olives thankfully were from a jar and were the only good thing on the plate but hardly worth the money we paid. I paid $27.00 dollars for the privilege of eating junk. The sodas were $2.00 a can. I was trying to make the best of it but once we were done there was nothing to do. We already covered that in the first five minutes. We passed by a Greek pastry booth and got some baklava and cookies. Those were just okay or maybe by that time I was just soured on the whole experience. They did have some dancers there but the way everything was laid out, you couldn’t really see the dancers unless you were right up front. Tom Hanks and his wife Rita stood up, said a few words and thanked everyone for having them there. Poor Tom and Rita, at least Jeri and I were able to leave immediately, they had to stick around for three days and keep a smile on their face. That’s why they get paid the big bucks.

We were going to go home but I told Jeri let’s just take the 10 west and see what’s ahead today. The kids are grown up now but we still have the habit of rushing home as if the kids are waiting for us. They aren’t. We ended up at the Santa Monica Pier for awhile. We were going to eat at Bubba Gump’s on the pier but the food looked so commercial and I had already wasted money on junk earlier in the day at the festival. I was on a mission to get something good to eat.

As we were walking around I was craving an ice cold beer. Then It hit me. The Venice Whaler is just down the road in Venice. The Whaler was recommended to me by my friend Brian from Detroit. He was in town a while back visiting his cousin and stopped there for some beer and food. I had no idea where in Venice it was but somehow I found it. We weren’t disappointed. I parked the truck and we walked over to the Whaler. It’s two story building, a bar and restaurant. We headed upstairs first and it was really crowded with locals having a good time, watching a game on one of the televisions. The bar was packed and there were no tables so we went back downstairs. It was little quieter than upstairs but still filled with lots of people. A game was on the television and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Jeri got a Miller Lite and I had Sam Adam’s. They were ice cold and went down real good. We settled on the Fish and Chips. They were good. What really made it nice, was our table was right next to a big open window, more like French Doors really, so we were practically eating Al Fresco. The beach was just across the walkway. We took a walk on the pier and around the area. I made a mental note of several restaurants, including an excellent Italian Trattoria that we had eaten at years ago, a Mediterranean restaurant, a Mexican restaurant and several small cafes.

It was late by the time we left for home. I was a little unfamiliar with the area since it had been years since I had been to Venice. I found the freeway on ramp but it was closed. It took me a while to find an on ramp. In fact, I was sort of lost and just could not find an off ramp, and I’m not the kind of guy to ask anyone either. I could almost hear Rod Serling in the back seat saying to someone, anyone “ A couple; one idiot and his wife, in search of good Greek food and a good meal have instead found themselves searching for an eternity for an on ramp,.. to the Twilight Zone. My wife thought she heard something too. Eventually, I found an on ramp and headed home. The Greek Festival was a joke and a dud but all in all it was good day.

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