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Another Magical Visit to SF Plus Palo Alto, Big Sur and Carmel!

Another Magical Visit to SF Plus Palo Alto, Big Sur and Carmel!

Oct 1st, 2009, 06:16 PM
  #21  
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Day 4 Saturday Sept 12th

I’ve already discussed the night of the thunderblast! Morning started gray and rainy, but by the time we walked over to the Ferry Bldg for breakfast, everything was wet, but no longer coming down. I had read on a Fodors thread about roli roti and informed my son that we were eating porchetta for breakfast. And we did. It was fantastic, but at that hour and after last night’s meal, I could only eat half of the sandwich. Dh ate an egg sandwich from Rose Pistola. I walked the market quickly and bought some tomatoes to snack on and had a nice chat with one of the farmers who sold Costa Luca Genovese tomatoes. They were beautiful – bright red, round with rippled tops. I bought bite size ones. I also bought some plums. Inside the market, I bought some Scharffenberger bars to take home and had a chat with the mgr about other chocolates. It was soon time to leave SF and we all shared a Boulette’s Larder hot chocolate before going back to the hotel. Our car rental was from Budget which has a desk in the Hyatt lobby. We had a lot of luggage because of dh’s move and the convenience made up for the higher price. The car was brought out front and we loaded up.

We took 101 to Palo Alto which took about 30 minutes on the highway. Once there, we checked into the Courtyard by Marriott on El Camino Real, closer to Mountview than Palo Alto, but everything is pretty close. We dropped our luggage off and drove dh to school. The rest of the day was the usual Bed, Bath and Beyond, etc. stuff. His apartment was very nice – although bare – and we met his roommate (who he traveled x-country with). We took the boys to dinner at a restaurant off University called Rangoon (recommended by iamq). It’s a small, quiet Burmese/Chinese place with excellent food and gentle prices. I believe our choices were all Chinese, but it was a startling contrast to the mediocre neighborhood Chinese restaurants (when you can find one) at home. I would match their $3.75 glass of Cabernet against anything I drank in SF for 3x the price!

Day 5 Sunday Sept 13th

We were pretty much on our own, letting ds do his thing and get settled in. Dh and I did a morning tour of Stanford (which I had done last March). Unfortunately the tower was closed and we missed that beautiful view. After a lunchtime snack on campus, we caught a docent led tour of the Cantor Museum of Art. It was about an hour long and perfect for a sampling of the beautiful and diverse collections housed here. The long-time docent was excellent, explaining not only details about the art we were seeing, but about the history of the museum itself. I definitely want to spend more time here one day.

After some late afternoon shopping excursions with ds, we had our last dinner with him (another iamq gem). We headed not more than ten minutes away to a restaurant called Calafia. The place is contemporary with great warmth to it and a staff to match. I started with the automatic salad (spinach, orange segments, jicama and citrus vinaigrette). Dh and ds started with duck dumplings. All good choices. We both had the outstanding lacquered beef short rib with roasted beets and horseradish mashed potatoes and ds had the fiery bottom BBQ pork rice bowl. At one point our table was cleared by the chef himself, Charlie, and we chatted with him a bit. Dessert was a peach blueberry galette. This restaurant is a real find (thanks iamq!).

We drove ds ‘home’ and it was time for goodbye (and hugs and kisses too)…...so sad for me!

Up next: San Simeon
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Oct 5th, 2009, 12:50 PM
  #22  
yk
 
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Hi CPG, I'm enjoying every word so far! And the food, OMG! It's amazing you only gained 2 pounds from that.

I'll be in NYC in mid-Feb... care for a GTG if you're around?
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Oct 5th, 2009, 03:00 PM
  #23  
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Hi yk - yes, yes, yes! I'll be around. I've got to finish this TR; I am not a organized as you or maybe the right word is diligent!
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Oct 5th, 2009, 09:20 PM
  #24  
 
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And I'm still waiting to hear how the weather/fog was for you in Carmel right after we left!
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Oct 6th, 2009, 06:09 AM
  #25  
 
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It was still there - big time !!!

Stu Dudley
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Oct 11th, 2009, 12:11 PM
  #26  
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Day 6 Monday Sept 14th

Up early and back on 101 to San Simeon. The drive took about 3 ½ hours. On both sides of the road, you could see very brown mountains, but from the mountains to almost 101 were lush fields that were emerald. It’s amazing how well irrigation can work when you have water available. It was mile after endless mile of farms – and these certainly weren’t family run farms. They looked like big business. We drove to Cambria and then headed north on Highway 1 to the Morgan Hotel in San Simeon. The hotel was ordinary and not that close to the ocean. I can’t imagine visiting San Simeon other than for visiting Hearst Castle or beginning the ride north along the Pacific. I was glad that I booked our tour for that afternoon. After having lunch at another nearby hotel (many places were closed), we headed to the castle. This was our first visit and we enjoyed it immensely. Once again, our tour leader was excellent. There was not a question that she couldn’t answer whether it was about history, architecture, art, the Hearst family, etc. What an amazing place! It’s remarkable how many items from Europe (ceilings, arches, gates, doors, paneling, etc.) have been brought to the US by the ultra wealthy. And not just the Hearst family – many of the very wealthy, incorporating these items in their homes or giving to museums. After the tour, we watched the last showing of the film which we also thought was very well done. It was now getting close to dinner time and we didn’t have a clue where to go. In our hotel, there was one of those binders with a collection of menus. Dh reviewed them and randomly chose a restaurant in Cambria called the Black Cat. It was small, charming with delicious food and a friendly waiter.

On to Big Sur!

Day 7 Tuesday Sept 15th

We started our day with an included continental breakfast at the Morgan and then began the glorious ride north on Highway 1. It is everything one hears and reads about………absolutely magnificent. It was crystal clear - no fog! - and there were many, many vistas to stop at. Some were on curves where you couldn’t see the oncoming traffic and we bypassed many of those. Each overlook, even ¼ mile apart, has its own special beauty. On one overlook, off a trail without a guard rail, stood a woman painting. She was totally oblivious to anything around her except of course her subject matter: the exquisite coast. At another vista, there were no other people or cars around. The only thing near the rocks and bushes at the edge were a pair of men’s black leather dress shoes without laces. It was so odd and out of place that I had to take a picture of it. It was almost like a prop or a piece of art meant to provoke conversation! We continued our drive and stopped at Nepenthe for lunch in the café. The weather was gorgeous and the view spectacular. Everyone seemed to be in a state of hushed euphoria and we were too. The birds coming close to everyone’s lunches were entertaining – crows and another type that were charcoal and blue – quite beautiful.

Soon we arrived at our hotel, the Ventana Inn. This was a splurge and it was lovely. We were escorted to an ocean view room that had the most beautiful bathroom – large with limestone surfaces. And everything was separated – the huge tub, glass enclosed shower, also very large, sink and vanity, etc. The ocean was far off and it was hard to tell if I was seeing clouds or fog. The grounds of this hotel are beautiful – well manicured plants, flowers and forest with coastal redwoods. In the foreground of our room’s view was brown, UGLY grass – a very large patch of it – very odd amid the very green beauty of all else.

We changed into bathing suits and headed to one of the pools – also quite beautiful, relaxed surroundings until we were attacked. Insects rarely bother me, but these small black flies were relentless. It became impossible to stay by the pool. I decided to visit the concierge knowing that she couldn’t get rid of the flies, but this was our afternoon (after running full speed for 6 days) to relax at this expensive resort. While I was at it, I complained about the UGLY view. I felt that no one should sit on their terrace and face that brown wasteland when all else was exquisite at Ventana. She explained that when there were fires in the area last year, fire trucks came through that open part, damaging the grass and it hasn’t ‘come back’ yet. She offered to change our room and I was showed a similar room that faced forest. It wasn’t as bright as the first room, but the forest with redwoods was beautiful – and serene. Someone quickly helped move all our stuff (we had half unpacked) and it was done before dh ever left the pool area. At 4pm, the hotel hosts a wine and cheese hour which had a beautiful selection of cheeses, fruit, caponata, hummus, etc. We snacked outdoors near a fountain, had a couple of glasses of wine and were feeling no pain. There was also a gentleman giving complimentary chair massages. I was soon more relaxed! Back at our room: I am a person who dislikes baths. In fact, I haven’t soaked in one in at least 20 years. Even hotel soaking tubs don’t tempt me – at least, not until now. That bathroom was so lovely – and pristine – that I had to have a bath, followed by a great shower in the oversized stall. I was definitely relaxed.

A credit towards dinner was included with our room and we dined in what is called ‘The Bistro.’ This is not the regular restaurant which was closed due to damage from a kitchen fire. It was to reopen in a few weeks. Dinner was a delicious end to a beautiful, relaxing day.

Next up…..Carmel
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 12:21 PM
  #27  
 
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>>We changed into bathing suits and headed to one of the pools <<

Must not have been the pool that is "swimsuit optional".

Stu Dduely
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Oct 11th, 2009, 12:23 PM
  #28  
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Ha Ha - right you are! The black flies must have had a feast there!
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 12:42 PM
  #29  
 
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Jeeze - I can't even spell my own name correctly.

Last time we were at Ventana (at least 12 years ago), only a small out-of-the-way section of the lower pool area was swimsuit optional. The area was hidden behind bushes, so it could not really be seen by the the others around the pool. When we were there 3 weeks ago, I noticed that the entrance to the pool area had a big sign that "advertised" swimsuit optional for the entire pool area. Nobody was sunbathing when we were there - it was a bit chilly. I'm sure the sauna & bath at this lower pool area is also swimsuit optional (it was 12 years ago). The large bath (singular) has a men's area, a ladies area, and & "mixed" area.

Stu Dudley
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Oct 11th, 2009, 12:55 PM
  #30  
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When we checked in, the concierge told us about both pools and the options - very clear about it. Did you stay over recently or just visit?
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 02:52 PM
  #31  
 
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Just visited. We stayed at the Big Sur Lodge.

Stu Dudley
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Oct 11th, 2009, 03:33 PM
  #32  
 
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CPG: You may be surprised, but many of the Central Coast farms you passed are family owned and operated as well as big. This is where most of the lettuce and veggies in our markets come from. My sister works for a broker in Salinas and one of her top customers is a market in NYC Chinatown.

Enjoying your report and glad you love our state.

MY
MichelleY is online now  
Oct 11th, 2009, 03:34 PM
  #33  
 
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Doggonit. We didn't even think to visit some of these lodges on our lesiurely drive of Big Sur.

Glad you had a clear day... we did too the day after you! Poor Stu though the next week!

Was this your first trip to Big Sur?
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Oct 11th, 2009, 04:04 PM
  #34  
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Stu - What's Big Sur Lodge like? (for future reference)

MY - I am very surprised! I am even more surprised that one of the biggest customers is in Chinatown! I've become very interested in farming since my other ds became a farmer in NM - it's a whole different life to what I'm accustomed to, to put it mildly! When we passed those farms, my dh said that maybe ds should look into the area. My reaction was not positive. It seemed like there was NOTHING around except the farms. Where do the owners and the workers live? And btw, we saw almost no people in the fields. And yes, I do love your state (what I've seen so far); it is diverse and quite beautiful! And I fell in love with SF last year (you should read that TR).

4sharie - yes, first time. I've only been to SF and north up the coast and over to Sonoma (just Healdsburg) and Napa. But with ds there for the next few years at least, I'll be back!
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 04:53 PM
  #35  
 
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Dear CPG: I have read your previous reports and found your last trip to SF report very helpful. I was just in NYC in Sept. for the first time and had a terrific time.

What does your son farm in NM? The veg. farms in the Salinas Valley are very productive. They can get 3 crops a year of veggies. Most of the farmers and workers probably live in Salinas, Soledad, King City etc. Some may live in camps set up by either the farm owners or govt. The only time you will see people in the fields is if they are planting, irrigating or harvesting. For someone like you coming from NYC, it is true, there is NOTHING around. Whole different lifestyle. You have to drive everywhere for everything. I live near Sacramento and drive about 17 miles to the market. So if I run out of something, I don't run to the store. It is so funny, my mom lives in a small town of about 30,000 and she runs to the store sometimes 3 times a day!!

Many of the bigger growers of lettuce and veggies also have operations in Mexico, S. California and Arizona. This keeps the produce in the stores year round.

Have you been to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe yet? Maybe for your next trip.

MY
MichelleY is online now  
Oct 11th, 2009, 04:56 PM
  #36  
 
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It's actually in Pfeiffer State Park. Rooms are large. One story, 1970 type accommodations. Several of the rooms are grouped/attached together. Very spread out. There is a large pool in the center of the complex. It is surrounded by redwoods, but gets plenty of sun. Nothing fancy, but certainly less expensive than Ventana. Rates are a lot less expensive on week days. We've stayed there twice, and Ventana 5-7 times.

Stu Dudley
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Oct 11th, 2009, 05:46 PM
  #37  
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Michelle - just read you TR and posted on it - enjoyed it very much! His season is almost over because there will be a frost soon, but he's grown different lettuces (arugula, radicchio, etc), chard, broccoli, tomatoes, khale, beets, braising greens (not sure what this is), garlic, onions, carrots and squash. We needed to make a pit stop for dh off 101 and the 'town' was a vintage 1940 gas station with a latrine! You couldn't pay me to go in there! And dh regretted making this stop! There was literally nothing around. Haven't been to Yosemite or Tahoe yet - I'm still quite the newbie.
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Oct 11th, 2009, 09:15 PM
  #38  
 
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I also just realized you are in charge of the WW thread. I lost about 20 lbs. after my daughter was born, but that was 16 years ago. I now need to lose twice that much. I go to a meeting, then don't go back for months. I never get anywhere with this weight. I want to go thru your thread and get re-motivated.

The farms you saw in Salinas Valley are big time. Most are family owned, but very, very big. Is your son farming on his own or working for someone? How did he end up in NM from NYC?

I am glad you enjoyed my NYC report. I would really like to take my DH there some day.

MY
MichelleY is online now  
Oct 12th, 2009, 03:35 AM
  #39  
 
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Bookmarking to read later. CPG, your DH is all better?
TDudette is online now  
Oct 12th, 2009, 04:48 AM
  #40  
 
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Wonderful wonderful report CPG!!!
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