Posts Tagged With: california travel blog

Two Harbors, Catalina

I visited Two Harbors 2 years back, in December of 2012. We took a ferry (Catalina Express, if I remember correctly) from LA. It is a 45 minutes ride from the shore. Beware, if you suffer from motion sickness!

Two Harbors is actually a small village located on Catalina Island. The biggest town there is Avalon, which is 18 miles before Two Harbors. Your ferry will first stop at Avalon and then more on to Two Harbors. Avalon is the more popular destination of the two. We went in for Two Harbors for a more serene weekend.

Avalon island

two harbors

two harbors 1

Because we went there in December, it was obviously cold. Nights were unbearably cold (at least for me because I was new to USA that time and I was too used to the Indian tropical climate). Most of the people who were there during that time were looking at relaxing and we didn’t see a lot of activity around. Otherwise, you can involve yourself in activities like fishing, cruise, glass bottom boat rides, night walks and camping. There are lots of camping facilities available.

catalina island

Evening views

two harbors island 3

This side of the island is pretty small and walkable. There are hiking trails which will be your best way to explore the area and look at the entire shoreline. I unfortunately do not remember the name of the trail we took but it was fairly flat. It had a very low incline. It was pretty long and endless – I won’t be surprised if it went all the way to Avalon. The views were brilliant, the trail was flat and wide and quite a pleasurable experience.

two harbors hiking trail

The trail

two harbors catalina 1

First views from the trail

two harbors hiking

The shoreline

On the other side is the Isthmus Cove. There wasn’t much to do there except walk around, have picnic in any of the open areas and take in the beauty of the place. This area contains some private properties like cottages and boat houses. It was relatively empty and we could just wander around anywhere.

isthmus cove catalina

View of the Isthmus Cove from The Banning House

two harbors 4

Way to Isthmus Cove

two harbors island 5

These pretty things were the only company on that serene weekend

There is one General Store and just a couple of restaurants. The restaurant we had food at was pretty cosy and food was delicious. No regrets about scanty choice there!

Of all the lodges, I would recommend The Banning House. It is a historic place converted into a B&B place. It deserves a post of its own!

If you go there during summer, there is lots you can do. You can even explore Avalon while staying at Two Harbors. I will definitely like to visit Two Harbors again in a warmer season and explore it well.

More information: http://www.visitcatalinaisland.com/island-info/two-harbors

two harbors flora

The typical flora

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Categories: California, Photography, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Big Sur Food

I do not expect exceptional food when I go to a place merely 2 hours away from SJ. I mean, how different can things be?

Boy, I was so wrong!

We drove down to Big Sur during the 4th July extended weekend. As usual, the trip was about lot of hiking. But unlike typical touristy spots, where food options are limited and expensive, Big Sur had a lot to offer. Big Sur has wonderful restaurants offering all kinds of cuisines along PCH 1. It is a tourist place that has some worthwhile stuff to offer to tourists. Restaurants are done up thoughtfully, interiors are artistic and food is top of the line. Along with restaurants, you will see art galleries. Sometimes, art galleries and restaurants are combined. Imagine the combination?

We tried 4 restaurants in our 3 day stay and were completely blown away by what we got. Here is an account of my experiences and my recommendations.

Big Sur Coast Gallery & Cafe

You cannot miss it. It is strategically located right on the coast on a curve of the road. Ample parking and brilliant views of the ocean, not to mention the pleasure of looking at artsy stuff, makes this a must-stop place. We were tired after a tough hike (Ewoldsen) and wanted something to cheer us up. Coffee and a turkey sandwich, each exceeding our expectations, did the trick. Yummiest cafe-stop in recent times. We managed to get a place with a good view on the deck and then, we were in no hurry to get up!

coast safe big sur 1

The exterior

big sur cafe and gallery

The view!

coast cafe big sur

Turkey Sandwich

Big Sur Roadhouse

Another place where art and food come together. Tastefully done in wood, abstract art and greenery, the mid-priced restaurant is also located right on Highway 1. We went there for dinner and it was a good thing we reached early because soon this place was packed with couples, families and groups. Roadhouse offers local Californian cuisine with some Cajun flavours and Louisiana / Traditional Southern American dishes thrown in to create an interesting mix. Everything about this place was delightful – the servers, the interiors, the food, its presentation. Here are some appetizing pictures. Apart from all this, we also ordered a bowl of Gumbo, which was near perfection. My sweet white wine was a great accompaniment.

I wonder how their coffee must be.

big sur roadhouse restaurant

Southern Chicken Drumsticks

blackened catch big sur

Blackened Catch of the Day

big sur roadhouse 1

They don’t have this on the menu anymore but it was chocolate cake, chocolate and vanilla icre-cream with custard. Interestingly, their dessert menus keep changing according to the season.

Big Sur Lodge Dining

I usually do not eat at the place where I stay. Stay and food are two different things. Never ever have I had great food at the very place I stayed – until the breakfast at Big Sur Lodge. Amazing ambience (patio surrounded by trees and slight sound of water flowing in the stream below) and fantastic food. We went for Eggs Florentine and French Toast. The eggs were one of the best I have ever had. Breakfast is highly recommended here!

mountain lodge breakfast

Eggs Florentine

big sur birds

Steller’s Jays regularly haunt the patio and they don’t seem to be afraid of humans.

Nepenthe

I do not have to sing praises about Nepenthe. It is one of the oldest and probably the best restaurant in Big Sur. Might be a little pricey, but you pay for the view here. So, it is best to come here during day time or in the evening to watch the sun set. We did not have a complete meal here; just a cocktail (which was wonderful, by the way). Being a busy long weekend, the place was packed. Servers scurrying around, barely managing to answer questions, people sitting inches away from each other and a never ending stream of waiting crowd. I wouldn’t want to dine in this situation but otherwise, when crowds are low, this would be a delightful choice.

Do you have any other recommendations for Big Sur food? It is close to SJ, so I may end up visiting again and food is always a highlight for me during travels!

Categories: Bay Area, California, Photography, Restaurant Reviews, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Solvang In Pictures

California has its own little Europe corner. Head to Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County to enjoy your slice of Denmark. Solvang is known as the Danish capital of California. Solvang literally means ‘Sunny Fields’. Quitely aptly named, Solvang was created by a group of Danish teachers who were looking for a settlement away from Midwestern winters. But it was only in 1947 when Saturday Evening Post ran an article on the “spotless Danish village that blooms like a rose in California’s charming Santa Ynez Valley” that Solvang gained attention and attracted visitors.

Solvang decided to retain its Danish look and constructed buildings that offer a taste of Denmark in California. There are several quaint windmills all over the town and the half timbered houses are very typical Danish. Some other well known pieces are the copy of Little Mermaid statue from Copenhagen, bust of famed Danish fable writer Hans Christian Andersen and replica of Copenhagen’s Round Tower.

Solvang is a cute place to spend half a day. You can walk around enjoying the Danish feel of the place, take a surrey ride, browse through cute souvenir shops, lay around on the grass of one of their parks, enjoy some ice cream and Danish pastries. Oh yes, the food there is a highlight. I had had lunch at Paula’s Pancakes. Their French Toast was amazing.

Solvang residents celebrate many festivals. If you are lucky, you can experience one of their festivity celebrations.

Attractions: Solvang Festival Theater, Vintage Motorcycle Museum, Elverhoj Museum (check out old B&W pictures on their website. Quite enchanting).

Interesting facts: Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch is 10 miles north of Solvang.

Windmill @ Solvang

Brewery in Solvangsolvang main square

art shop solvang

 

copenhagen inn solvang

Hamlet square solvang

 

vintage bench solvang

Categories: California, Photography, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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