It can be as relaxed as you desire or as action-packed as you wish. Carmel, near San Francisco, assumes different proportions to allure travellers! Find out why you should visit this petite delight...
By: Aparupa Ray Ganguly, Hospitality Communication Professional
Posted on: August 29, 2012
It can be as relaxed as you desire or as action-packed as you wish. Carmel, near San Francisco, assumes different proportions to allure travellers! Find out why you should visit this petite delight…
I had gone to visit a dearest childhood friend in San Jose, California, when she decided to take me on a drive in her brand new Aston Martin down the Pacific Coast! It was a bright sunny day and the air was crisp and nippy. I never knew the Pacific looked so amazing. The view was stunning and the music my all-time favourite!
The 17th Mile drive to Carmel, a small, unknown wonder, was undoubtedly the most gorgeous drive of my life. My first impression of Carmel was that of a quaint little beachside town, tucked away in the Monterrey peninsula. Windy days and waves pounding against the harsh cliffs made for a breathtaking sight. Dotted with Cyprus trees and offering awe-worthy views of a rocky beach, it can easily be mistaken for a charming little European village by the sea with its ginger bread cottages that look straight out of a Hansel & Gretel storybook.
A love affair
We arrived at Carmel and made our way to The Flying Fish Grill for a fabulous meal that comprised fillet of salmon, grilled to perfection, along with a rocket leaf salad and some chicken spring rolls. I must confess the solitary glass of Californian pinot noir that I downed was some serious fine wine from the Napa Valley! An endless round of conversation was punctuated with bouts of happiness and laughter. Our meal came to an end with a portion of decadent chocolate mud cake that came with a swirl of tangy raspberry sauce. Simple enough menu, but made like a meal at a five star!
As we strolled down the streets of Carmel, the meandering road led us to a string of hip restaurants, chic boutiques and art galleries. The place exuded an artistic, creative vibe. We stopped by at quite a few galleries with each of them featuring a specific type of art. Lisa's Studio, for instance, featured the work of an artist known for her sketches of Carmel and the surrounding areas. Check out Robert Knight Gallery for a collection of fine art photography, most of which seems inspired by nature. As the day ended, a velvety indigo dusk hung over the town.
After a long walk around the boardwalk that bustled with lively restaurants, we decided to stay the night over and went on a hotel hunting spree. Of all the places we hopped around, The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach, absolutey swept us off our feet! Set amidst a sprawling golf course, with Monterrey pine forests, landscaped gardens and spectacular views of the ocean front, it offered a very private and exclusive stay. The fact that Pebble Beach is home to celebrities like Brad Pitt and Clint Eastwood gave us another reason to set camp here. And the service here leaves nothing to be desired.
The Carmel Valley Ranch is also a magical place to stay in. Set in a gorgeous native Californian landscape, it is surrounded by towering oak trees. The ranch boasts of a 18 hole golf course caressed by rolling hillsides and vineyards and their Lavender Gardens also make it a perfect place to rekindle the romance and unwind in the lap of nature. Taking the experience a bit forward, Carmel happens to be a dog-friendly city. Almost all hotels allow guests to bring in their dogs or other pets!
The social side
Though the town may seem quiet on the outside, it has a lot to engage. If you are looking for some peace, then the calming, relaxed atmosphere of Carmel makes for the perfect setting to indulge in spa rituals. Book one at Signature Day Spa which is a full-service day spa specializing in herbal body wraps and facials.
A little music won’t hurt either, so step into the Carmel Bach music festival! Walk into The Gallery Café at Pebble Beach which serves home style meals for breakfast and lunch. Or you could stop by at The Cheese Shop which features artisan cheeses and a selection of wines which come from the Paso Robles region, south of Monterey. Visit The Bountfiul Basket, yet another store known for its boutique wines, olive oils and vinegars. Or go into the heart of wines with a drive to Galante Vineyards, an estate vineyard located south of Carmel. Their wine tasting hall is open daily until 6 pm.
When in Carmel, an absolute must-do is Point Lobo’s State Reserve Park. With magnificent views of the Pacific and noisy sea lions at play, the park is the highlight of the city. So if hiking, whale watching or scuba diving is your thing, this is where you ought to be. The park is probably most scenic at sunset as the Cypress trees reflect the crimson hue of the twilight sky, and beckon you to stay on.
Take the kids to The Pebble Beach Equestrian Center, a kid-friendly stable, offering horseback riding lessons and horse shows. The Monterey Bay Aquarium, just a four-mile drive from Carmel, lets children get up and close with animals such as sharks, otters and sea turtles.
Our short, impromptu holiday at Carmel came to an end, far too soon. I was a tad disappointed that I didn’t bump into Brad Pitt, but the drive to the beautiful city of Carmel made up for it. It left in my mind an unforgettable travel memory of a trendy town with a bohemian soul! When you are in California next, make sure you leave your footprints in Carmel!
A seasoned hospitality communication professional having experience with brands like The Imperial New Delhi, The Park Hotel and others, Aparupa comes with an unquenchable thirst for travel. She believes creativity is the ability to imagine something that never existed and travel fuels creativity. Eclectic and personalised, her frequent sojourns have spurned travelogues that are fresh and inspiring with a poetic narrative. Follow her on lovemy30s.wordpress.com