我走到海滩边，看到一幢房子前有一块写着“旅馆”的牌子. I went to the seaside and saw a building with sign in front of it which said 'hotel'.
Authentic Chinese with my translation. This is in the past. But there is no 了. Is this a bit like the English historical present? Or is there an explanation to do with aspect? Is my translation using the past a mistranslation?