The Big Sur and Santa Barbara, California

The next morning we woke up early, parked the car by the sea front and headed to the Fisherman’s Wharf area of Monterrey. Fisherman’s Wharf, the historic fish market , is made up of a row of stilted wooden shops lining the pier. If you’ve ever seen the film Jaws you’ll understand what I mean when I say that the area had a distinctly Amity-like feel about it! Nowadays the fishing industry of the city has died down in the wake of tourism and the old shops are home to various charter boat companies for Whale watching tours. If we had spent longer in the city this would have definitely been on our to do list – apparently Monterrey is one of the best spots on the West coast to see Humpback Whales, Killer Whales and dolphins.

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Having wandered for a little while we headed back to the car ready for the day’s drive ahead. After a short time on the road we stopped off at the small beach town of Carmel. Carmel was recommended to us by Veronica’s parents so we thought we would stop off and have a look around. Carmel is known for its white beaches and its fairy tale like cottages which line the streets. The buildings look like something out of an old English village. We dropped off the car and had a wander to the beach which was absolutely beautiful. Having walked up the shore for a little while we noticed a pod of wild dolphins in the near distance which was amazing to see.

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Hitting the road again we headed towards our next main destination – the Big Sur! I’ll let the photos of this stretch of the drive do the talking; the views were completely amazing. As was the famous Bixby Bridge which was incredible to see straddling the cliffs.

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After spending some time at the bridge we drove up towards the Big Sur Bakery for some delicious pastries, coffee and smoothies. The Big Sur Bakery is a big log cabin and has such amazing food on offer that they’ve recently released a cook book – I’ll have to make sure to add that to the Christmas list. Full up and satisfied we hopped back in the Mustang and carried on with the beautiful drive.

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Further down the coast we made our next pit stop at Piedras Blancas to see the Elephant Seals. The beach was absolutely rammed with seals (which were huge!) – we were able to get really close which was amazing to see. You could tell there was a real hierarchy within the group with certain seals fighting for the best spot on the sand. We could have spent hours watching them.

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Next we made our way up to Hearst Castle. Hearst Castle is a historical estate with mansions and extensive grounds. We didn’t want to pay for a guided tour (which apparently took a few hours!) so after having a wander and a drink in the grounds we hit the road again.

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Next on our route was a short stop at Harmony, a small ex-dairy settlement boasting only 11 residents. Harmony felt like a small hippy town if I’m honest. There was a few out buildings housing various crafts including a glass blowing shed, a wedding chapel and a couple of residences. The town was lit up with strings of lightbulbs hanging from the rafters and various photo opportunities which travellers could take advantage of. It definitely was an interesting place to see.

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Hitting the road again we carried on for a little while before stopping of at the small roadside town of Cayucos, enticed in by the road signs advertising delicious treats at the Brown Butter Cookie Company. After sampling many of the delights on offer we hit the road again and made the last of our day’s journey before arriving in Santa Barbara.

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We arrived in Santa Barbara early evening just as it was starting to get dark. Once again we didn’t have any accommodation booked, however this time round we found it seriously difficult to find a room for the night. The motels were either fully booked or completely out of our price range (Santa Barbara was certainly living up to being posh and oh so expensive!) Eventually, after a string of rejections, we found a motel with room at the inn. We stayed at The Beach House Inn which was a family run business and was everything we needed with spacious rooms and even our own kitchen. After dumping our bags it was well and truly dinner time so we headed into the main town to find something to eat. Unfortunately by the time we arrived most of the restaurants on State Street had annoyingly closed their kitchens (at about 9pm!) so we had to settle for a very average burger at the Santa Barbara Brewing Company. After we had eaten we wandered up further and spent the remainder of the evening drinking beers and listening to the live Reggae band at Sandbar.

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The next morning we woke up early and decided to wander around Santa Barbara. I feel that Santa Barbara is one of the places you grow up hearing about whilst watching US TV so I was really excited to actually be there. It felt a bit surreal! It was a pretty cloudy morning but we wandered up to the top of the pier which gave nice views back out across the city. Back on dry land we wandered up the palm tree lined streets of the downtown area past the very expensive looking boutique stores. Miles wanted to look for a new skateboard so we spent a bit of time on the main shopping district.

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Fully shopped out we headed for a well-deserved brunch of Huevos Rancheros at D’Angelos which was absolutely delicious. We had an interesting table sitting next to us, an English woman who had obviously lived in the states for a while was talking to a young American girl about her upcoming auditions – we were obviously getting closer to Hollywood! After a final wander around the town we packed our stuff, got the car going again and hit the road. Next Stop Los Angeles!

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