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Huntington Beach's Old World Village: : Easygoing Vendors, Hard-to-Find Wares

June 24, 1993|ANNE MICHAUD | Anne Michaud is a staff writer for The Times Orange County Edition.

Old World Village in Huntington Beach is a scratchy recording of the Blue Danube, a scuffed wooden shoe, a slightly flat stein of beer. The village of shops and restaurants reflecting European cultures has seen shinier days.

But the imported wares sold here are hard to find elsewhere. And there is some good bratwurst, friendly shopkeepers and fine outdoor cafes.

The village opened in 1978, a mock European town with apartments built on a second story above the stores. There's a small-town mix of shops and services, now, from a tailor to a hotelier to a church.

What sets this village apart from the real thing is its Disney-like cuteness--murals painted on the buildings' white walls and the piped-in Old World music.

Weekends are the best time to visit the village. It can be too quiet during the week, and some of the shops are closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

11 to 11:30: Step into the Elegance in Time clock shop, and you're in a forest of tall grandfather clocks. There are wall clocks, here, too, in art deco and modern as well as traditional styles.

The most fun here is to be had at the wall of cuckoo clocks. One cuckoo clock is carved with a beer hall in mind, and, to signal the hour, a beer mug appears instead of a cuckoo bird from behind the door.

11:30 to noon: The Coffee Mill gift shop, naturally, sells whole bean coffee and tea.

It is also packed wall-to-wall with unusual items: a table inlaid with a chessboard pattern, and wooden chess pieces to match; a carved box fit to hold a Bible; a collection of beer steins; white plates with scenes of Holland painted in blue.

Noon to 12:30: A shopkeeper at Lady Desiree's Bewitchery described the store as an "open things up and sniff your way around kind of place." Soaps, bath salts, oils and incense scent the air in this tiny shop.

The items have names such as Virility, Weight Loss, Success in the Arts and Marriage-minded. There's even a how-to book for modern witches.

12:30 to 12:45: Most churches are locked these days, so the open doors of the German Community Church seem old-fashioned. The inside seems very German in its simplicity: sturdy wooden pews and just one artsy window, above the altar.

The interdenominational church holds services each week in English and German.

12:45 to 1:30: Sausage, sauerkraut and goulash soup are the specialties at the Old World German Restaurant. Full dinners can be had for about $7 to $10. Weekday luncheon specials (such as beef stroganoff or boiled beef) are $4.95.

The restaurant also serves some unusual schnapps varieties: Jaegermeister (herbal liqueur), echte kroatzbeere (bramble juice liqueur) and slivovitz (plum brandy).

1:30 to 2: The Old World Bakery serves coffee in dainty china cups. Take one outdoors to a cafe table--along with an apple strudel, perhaps, or German apple cheesecake--and enjoy the parade of people.

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