Tuesday, November 2, 2010

California Dreamin' - Santa Cruzin'

 San Francisco's Siren song kept David and me enthralled for days, but we had a birthday to celebrate in Santa Cruz and more scenic delights waiting down the road.  It was time to move on.
Our friend, Bonnie, is a textile artist who is currently on display at the Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz.  She gave us a tour of her charming beach-cottage-turned-permanent-residence just a block from the sea, led us on a tour of the beaches and the eclectic downtown area, and showed us her work on display in the museum. 

If only we'd had more time, we would have loved to explore some of the county's fourteen state parks or the boardwalk bordering the sea, but we wanted to celebrate Bonnie's birthday, so we headed to an oceanfront restaurant.

It was a good choice. There's nothing better than excellent food, good companionship, and a perfect sunset to end the day.

Practicalities -
Click for more information about Santa Cruz or the Museum of Art & History.

Monday, November 1, 2010

California Dreamin' - On to Monterey

MSNBC says Monterey Bay Aquarium is, “one of the most enchanting aquariums in the world;” Coastal Living lists it number two on their USA list; and the Parents website ranks it number one for children, so David and I were anxious to see what all the fuss was about.

View through aquarium window
We love our Birch Aquarium in San Diego, but after four hours in Monterey's gem, we can understand why Monterey Bay Aquarium received such effusive reviews and high rankings.

Vacation Rental Apartment Advantages

David's and my casa rental in San Miguel de Allende
Steven James Snyder describes his experience renting a vacation apartment in Paris in this Time magazine piece.
For most travelers, hotels mean security and reliability—a standard level of service when sleeping away from home. But they can also be dull or cheesy, as far removed from an authentic local experience as your house is from the nearest tourist trap. They tend to be expensive too, all of which explains why my wife and I steered clear of hotels near the Louvre or the Champs Elysées when we planned our September trip to Paris. We didn't want to be surrounded by American chain restaurants, souvenir vendors and a constant parade of tour buses.

Instead, we searched the Web for vacation rentals, eventually zeroing in on a ground-floor apartment in the Marais neighborhood that charged half as much as a boutique hotel two blocks away. We asked questions about the property via e-mail and used PayPal to make a deposit. Two months later, at 10 p.m. on a misty Monday, we emerged from the Breguet-Sabin Métro stop and started wheeling our luggage down empty streets. With no cell-phone coverage and only a street map to guide us, we were more than a little nervous: Would the owner be there to hand off the keys? Would the apartment look as advertised? Would the address even exist?