Oh my, I have well and truly left my heart in California. What is there not to love about the most spectacular ocean views, permanently good weather, amazing food and free parking everywhere?! We started our jam-packed ten days in San Francisco (my new favourite city) before picking up our brand spanking new Ford Mustang and hitting the Pacific Coast Highway. Through Carmel, the Big Sur, Santa Barbara, Malibu and Los Angeles we went, ending in San Diego (my new second favourite city) where we very sadly flew home from on Friday. It was an awesome one-of-a-kind romantic adventure, folks. Here are my highlights…
All pictures are my own (can’t you tell?).
My New Favourite City
Before we left everyone kept telling us how much we’d love San Francisco. I was worried it may not live up to the hype but as soon as we got there it was true love. True love, I tell you. We were only there for two nights but in that time we squeezed in Union Square window shopping, a city bus tour, Alcatraz (amazing!), Pier 39, the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and the North Beach bar scene. This is a city with soul, sights and s**tloads to do, and I am already gagging to go back.
Oh gawd, the foooood! There was so much good food- and as massive foodies we knew that meal times were going to provide many of the trip highlights. From clam chowder in a bread bowl (San Fran-stylee) to jambalayas, fresh fish, beef tacos, sushi, pancake breakfasts, a mahoosive 48oz Porterhouse steak, and of course, a cheeky Jack-In-The-Box (roadside burger and fries- it had to be done), we were so well fed it’s a wonder we’ve not come home 4 stone heavier. I think our favourite meal though was on our second night in San Francisco. We’d consulted Trip Advisor and honed in on a little Italian seafood joint in North Beach called Sotto Mare. Here we were squeezed in at the bar overlooking the kitchen (the restaurant was packed) and feasted on what they call The Best Damn Crab Cioppino. And by jove it was. Crab, clams, mussels, shrimp and squid packed in to a bowl of spicy tomato-ey herby goodness with a few penne tubes thrown in and fresh bread to mop up. I’m literally salivating at the memory.
… Santa Monica beach. Even though we decided to stay in West Hollywood, we spent the afternoon of our full day in LA in Santa Monica. I’d been looking forward to this excursion as I had imagined sun, sea and life… and it didn’t disappoint. Paul commented that he’d never seen such joy on my face as we cycled the three miles to Venice Beach Pier and back.
We cycled, we sunbathed, we people watched, we played on the numerous gymnasiums along the beach (for the record, I can hang from rings upside down, Paul can’t),
we I ate ice-cream on the pier… ’twas a truly glorious afternoon.
I’d decided I was going to play the honeymoon card as much as possible in the hope of getting an upgrade here or there. Whilst our dreams of a move to first class on the plane were scuppered at check-in (the lady took my extreme friendliness as reason to be suspicious and I later got ‘taken aside’ to be thoroughly searched right before we boarded- cheers), a couple of hotels took the hint, and we received our first hotel upgrade at the Ventana Inn & Spa in the Big Sur. Seeing as even the cheapest room was our ‘splash-out’ of the whole trip, this was quite a coup, let me tell you.
The Ventana is by far the nicest hotel Paul and I have ever and probably will ever stay in. More a set of luxury eco lodgings than a hotel, they pull out all the stops to ensure you have a serene, beautiful, romantic time. Think ocean and mountain views, guided walks, morning yoga sessions, two beautiful pools (one ‘clothing-optional’!), Japanese mud baths, staff at your beck and call, fire pits and outdoor dining… we were only there for one night but it was very special.
A Road Trip To Remember
Of course, we weren’t walking to all these fabulous places. Our ‘ride’ for the trip was a Ford Mustang Convertible, and driving along the Pacific Coast Highway with the top down was just as thrilling as I hoped it would be. Although opting for GPS over an actual map was probably the less romantic option, it made the whole drive so easy and we got to enjoy some of the most spectacular views instead, with minimal arguments! (I said ‘minimal’, not ‘no’ ;))
If I could go back and do it all again I would probably make some minor changes to the itinerary. As we kicked off in such style with San Francisco and the Big Sur, our enthusiasm was stalled in Santa Barbara which we found just a bit bland. (And full of young Americans getting wasted!) And although I knew San Diego was going to have LOADS to offer, we were a bit tired by the end of our trip and probably didn’t use our time there effectively. So perhaps in retrospect we should have done an extra night in San Francisco (we loved it so), cut out Santa Barbara altogether (although we had some fab food there), stayed in Santa Monica instead of West Hollywood and done three nights in San Diego instead of two… but that’s just me being picky. As life experiences go it was a phenomenal, epic, romantic trip and one that EVERYONE should do at some point.
California, we’ll be back.
So tell me, who else is planning a California honeymoon?? You will LOVE it! Would love to hear from you if so…