And so the last part of the loop back to LA began as we left San Francisco and motored south to Monterey for a short walk along Cannery Row. Lots of Steinbeck associations here, although as he is not an author I have read anything by these were largely lost on me! The old factories that remain have of course been converted into shops, hotels and the like, but reasonably well done and I would have gladly spent a bit longer there. If nothing else it would have been nice to visit the aquarium as I have heard good things about that. Still we did catch a glimpse of a sea otter floating out in the bay, which was cute.
From there we headed south along the "seventeen mile drive" through Pacific Grove past some wonderful houses, stunning sea views (with a couple of photo stops) and several golf courses (well, you can't have everything. I never did understand the point of golf). Lots of birds and a few deer were spotted, along with the inevitable squirrels - although seeing them on the beaches was a first. That took us into Carmel, about which I knew nothing other that Clint Eastwood had been mayor for a while. Another nice town - it reminded me a lot of Niagara-on-the-lake, which we have been to on every visit to Canada.
Heading South along Pacific Coast Highway 1 was the rest of the day in a nutshell. There are restrictions on vehicle size down there, so we swapped over to a slightly smaller coach for the afternoon. This was delivered to us in Carmel by a chap named Wolfgang, and he took our bus by other routes down to the hotel at Cambria. The views were indeed fantastic all down the coast - and we even had an enforced swap around of seating on the bus half way so that those who had been inland got the sea views for part two. The changeover was accomplished at Big Sur, where we had a brief break from cliffs, beaches and crashing waves in a grove of redwoods and other huge trees. Not as dramatic as Yosemite, and we weren't there long enough to do more than wander from car park to lodge and back, emptied of bladder but filling up on ice creams instead.
|The Pacific Coast Highway - looks much better than I can describe it!|
It is at this point that I realise what an atrocious travel writer I am as I really can't describe the pacifc coast with any of the sense of drama we actually experienced. I really wanted this blog to be more than a simple list of places we had been , but I guess I need to hone my craft a bit more. So we will continue in this vein for the rest of the holiday and I shall try to improve my style before our next adventures...
The Cambria Pine Lodge was our stop that night. When we were looking at the hotels before we left this one seemed to have the potential to be the best of the bunch. Located on the edge of town, in the woods, there was no easy walk to the town centre so we were basically a captive market for the night. We didn't really mind this, and had planned to have dinner there anyway to celebrate the birthday of one of our group, but the food was a little disappointing. Rubbery scallops that close to the sea could have been so much better. It was slightly made up for by there being music in the bar afterwards. Also, the room was nothing special and the whole place was in need of a little sprucing up.
Day Thirteen: Cambria to Los Angeles
The pervading sense of disappointment hanging over us from the night before was not dispelled by a hearty breakfast. Mainly because we didn't have one! Just a slice of toast as neither of us felt like eating, and certainly not at the buffet prices they were charging. That really was a case of captive market syndrome. Still, we were both immensely cheered up by the morning stop at Solvang.
This was somewhere that had not been mentioned in the brochure or itintery and was an excellent surprise. Originally founded by Danish immigrants it is a beautiful little town that quite took me back to my childhood holidays in Denmark and left a big grin on my face. OK, so you have to factor in wider roads and larger buildings (and the odd palm tree) but the general architectural style of most of the town centre draws on Danish cottages or public buildings. There are a couple of mock windmills, a littler than real mermaid and also a replica of the round tower in Copenhagen. I really could have stayed there all day - or even longer. As it was we had time to look around and also try some apple dumplings, which I don't think I ever managed in the real place.
Lunch and the early afternoon as at Santa Barbara where we got a group photo at the old Mission and enjoyed Clam Chowder which more than made up for the scallops of the previous night. I was a liitle disturbed by the Tsunami Zone street signs but it was a nice place to kill a few hours. And then we had the long drive into and through LA to reach our hotel at Anaheim. That was the Sheraton, which overlooks Disneyland and was to be our final resting place for three nights before we headed home. So that can wait for what will hopefully be the last of these entries (and I might then write about something else!).