Tag Archives: Santa Cruz

USA Road trip, 2007: Part 2

I’d only heard of the town of Barstow in a Sheryl Crow song, so was surprised to find that it was a town of bail bondsman and cheap motels. Even the local gas station attendant didn’t know where the centre of town was! I guess it was a song about Leaving Las Vegas; and Las Vegas it most definitely was not. We found a deserted cheap Mexican restaurant, had a huge burrito and retired early.

The next day, my husband-to-be (HTB) and I drove through the Napa Valley, clearly in the off season as none of the vineyards were open for business. We bunny hopped up Big Sur in a storm to avoid possible falling rocks and got the most crazy brooding photo of Point Sur.  I braved the weather to see a beach full of Elephant seals and stop at Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

Hearst Castle was my absolute favourite part of the road trip. We saw zebra’s grazing on our approach to the mansion, had a hot cup of seafood chowder and took the first timers tour out of the 6 different ones that are offered.

Starting at the gorgeous blue Neptune pool on the terrace, the guide took us to Casa del Mar guest house where I was quite taken with a painting of French princess. The Casa Grande (main house) was decorated for Christmas with a tree made entirely of red Poinsettia plants in the main hall. We continued on through the refectory, the dining room and the after dinner room. There was a private cinema and the indoor Roman pool which I wanted for my own.

Our stop that night was in Monterrey Bay where we saw sea lions and otters from the pier. It was a place I wished we had stayed longer on our trip.

We went to Santa Cruz, but it was the one week of the year that the boardwalk was closed. Instead we saw classic blue lifeguard towers, spotted fur seals and envied at the nice houses on Pacific Ave at Beach Hill. Dinner was at a restaurant on fisherman’s wharf from where we watched the sunset over Cowell beach.

Our last stop before hitting San Francisco was the Big Basin Redwoods State Park. We went to Redwood circle, Old circle, Chimney tree and Redwood burl. The tall trees, like the father and mother of the forest, reminded me of Yosemite and the squirrels looked quite at home here.

Related posts: Grand Canyon, 2007, Las Vegas, 2007, USA Road trip, 2007, Disneyland, 2007, Los Angeles, 2007, USA, 1990

Spain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond Barcelona

In Madrid, Sarah and I saw the Palacio Real and views of the city from the Campo del Moro. The red buildings in Plaza Mayor reminded me of Place des Voges in Paris.

We went to the pretty enough Parque del Retiro, saw the Monumento a Alfonso 12 in the middle of a big lake and walked down the Paseo le Argentina to find the Crystal Palace.

After Barcelona, I found Madrid disappointing. Perhaps it was the fact that Madrid is an inland city and I preferred the coastal Barcelona. Or maybe it is the people you know that make a place.

In Granada, we went to see the Alhambra. Most impressive fortress/palace EVER!

The Generalife gardens were simply beautiful- especially the three fountains of the Mirador and the interesting Escalera del Agua which are stairs with a water handrail.

We went to the Patio de Los Arrayanes, saw the famous lions of Patio de Los Leones and visited the Torres Bermejast with its majestic views of Granada.

Nearby, we journeyed to the Albaizin white washed Moorish quarter and got lost in the Sacromonte gypsy area with its cute little cave houses built into the mountain.

In Seville, we stayed in the Pension Orense in the Santa Cruz area. We came to see the Los Gallos flamenco dancing show and drink sangria.

The next day, the well known Plaza de Espana was first on our list and did not disappoint. Just magnificent.

We took a guided tour of the Plaza de Torres de la Maestanza, the oldest bull ring in the world, which is still in use. The animal rights activist in me balked at the bull’s heads on the walls with ears cut off as trophies, but the traveller in me respected this cultural traditional of Spain.

We headed back to Barcelona for the Festival of the Dead, fireworks and more drinks in a Mexican bar.

Republished on Travel Spain daily paper.li.

Related posts: Spain, 1997, Part 1: BarcelonaFrance, 1997, Part 2: The South of France, France, 1997, Part 1: Paris, Belgium, 1997, Holland, 1997, England, 1997, I first started travelling, By special request, Home is where you make it, I first started writing