Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Rugged Coast of Big Sur

I'm a bit of a sucker for getting emotional over beauty (the Ginge will laugh when he reads that as he'd say I get emotional over pretty much anything and he'd be right). The natural beauty of the outdoors just does something to me. Open fields cry out to be run through, cliffs to be scrambled on, mountains to be climbed, seas to be swum in. The coast of big sur is one big heart-swelling sweet-shop of beauty. All along route 1, the road drops down on one side to the bluest of seas, cut by cliffs tumbling with bright flowers and succulents. I wish we had had time to go exploring around one of the little coves, but it was enough just to breathe it all in from the top. As they say in Local Hero 'You can't eat scenery', but it definitely makes it more delicious, so we stopped at Nepenthe - without question the most picturesque burger I have ever eaten and utterly scrumptious.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

On the Boardwalk

California is not new to me. In fact, it is a very beautiful part of the way I grew up. Thanks to a chance meeting of like-minded people on a train to Florence, almost thirty years ago, we have friends as good as family in the Golden State. Many of my childhood summers were spent road-tripping around and falling deeply in love with the wonderful country, so this summer was all about finding my California again and showing it to my boy. The warmth of the ground, the cool dampness of the pacific breeze, the smell of warm pine needles and that fragrant sweetness, which I can't quite put my finger on, the taste of cinnamon; all making me feel at home in my memories. This is Santa Cruz: home of the Beach Boardwalk, where you can half imagine you're a giggly girl of the 1950s, wearing a starched swing dress and peering nonchalantly at your strapping young date from behind a puff of candyfloss. Here we did things properly. We stayed at a Super 8 motel, rode the 1925 rollercoaster, strolled on the beach, dipped our toes in the pacific, caught the old train up to the redwoods,  went to the bowling alley, saw Berlin performing 'Take my Breath Away', walked along the coast to Natural Bridges, ate corndogs and churros and chilled out with a coffee and a book at Mr Toot's Coffee House in colourful Capitola. Definitely a place to lose yourself in imagination, which I feel we did to great effect. 

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Over the Bridge

Something that you may or may not know about me is that I love bikes! I've already said that I think the best way to explore a city is on foot, but I also think it's pretty awesome on a bike. Whizzing along with the wind cooling your face whilst beautiful views arise and undulate in front of your eyes isn't half bad for a day-out. Plus, you get a nice bit of free exercise (and a sore bottom, but we'll ignore that for now). On our penultimate day in the city, we cycled all the way along the Embarcadero, along the San Francisco Bay Trail, across the Golden Gate Bridge and down to a little town called Sausalito. It was a beautiful and varied ride with wonderful views and was a lovely way to escape the bustle of the city for a change of pace. It was pretty hectic on the bridge itself, but once we arrived on the other side, things calmed down again. Aside from the cycling, a particular highlight was catching the ferry back to the city. Its slow speed allowed us to savour the glorious low evening light as we headed towards the city skyline. We packed a delicious lunch of local produce from the Ferry Building and its farmers' market, ate ice creams as big as a man's fist at Lappert's and rounded off the day with a tasty burger back at the Ferry Building. We definitely replaced any calories we burned, but it was so worth it.