Heart at Carmel Plaza

2023 California Vacation Part 5

posted in: Personal Essay, Photography, Travel | 0

Day Eleven (Sunday)

Another day spent mainly in Carmel-by-the-Sea. We returned to out relaxing morning habit before heading to Stationæry for breakfast. We went there in 2019. Holly really enjoyed what she had, but I was more on the fence. We decided to give it another try, and we both liked our choices this time. I got a really delicious yogurt with a biscuit. Holly got their avocado toast. Although we really enjoyed it, we both thought it was overpriced, which is saying something since everything in a vacation town is overpriced.

We walked along the Scenic Drive, which lives up to the “Scenic” part. Well, I guess it also lives up to the “Drive” part but that’s less notable. The drive leads to Carmel River State Beach. I already posted about our visit there and our follow-up visit to the other side of the river the next day.

One thing I had in mind for this trip was visiting Robinson Jeffers’ Tor House and Hawk Tower, which Jeffers built himself, but I waited too long to reserve tickets. They were sold out. We did, at least, walk past it. It’s only open on Friday’s and Saturdays so we need to plan ahead better next time.

I finished my roll of Lomography 400 at Carmel River State Beach and switched to my Rollei Giro 105 with a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus. I took a few photos of Tor House…

…and then more photos on our walk back to downtown which included a fun microwave oven converted to a mailbox and a couple different views of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Clinton Walker House.

Once back downtown, we stopped in Pilgrims Way Community Bookstore to browse. Neither of us bought anything, but we love this shop and the “secret garden” behind it. Carmel-by-the-Sea has numerous small alleys and walkways. One runs alongside Pilgrims Way and opens into a back patio with more wares from the bookstore.

I didn’t take any photos of it this year, but I took one last year. It’s not much of a secret since they have a big sign announcing it. Those are the only 2 photos I have of it so I need to do a better job of documenting it next year!

We relaxed in our room for a little while before heading out to lunch at Yafa. We had gone there for dinner on our first 2 trips and then for lunch last year. Although we really enjoyed it for dinner, we might prefer it for lunch since it’s a similar menu and was less crowded the couple of times we went for lunch. We shared a delightful Mezze and couldn’t resist their Ouzo shrimp. And, of course, some Baklava and Turkish coffee.

While we were walking around Carmel-by-the-Sea, I took a few more photos with the Rollei. As I mentioned in my post when I first bought this camera, I was concerned about the sound the shutter made. Well, the shutter stopped working during our post-lunch walk. I was lucky that it functioned properly up until it stopped so all my vacation photos turned out, but I was disappointed that it didn’t quite make it until the end of our trip. This is the risk one takes buying used cameras.

The photos from that afternoon seem unaffected until the last one I took of the Svendsgaard’s Inn sign.

We resumed our afternoon wine tastings, this time at Blair Estate. It was our first time there. It was not among our favorite tastings.

For dinner, we finally got to Cultura, where we had planned to go the night our flight got canceled. We started with their chips and salsa, and we each ordered a trio of tacos.

Day Twelve (Monday)

Although we had been on vacation for several days, it was hard to believe that our last full day in Carmel-by-the-Sea came around.

We decided to wander back to Monterey for breakfast, returning to The Wild Plum. We had lunch there earlier during our trip but wanted to go back for breakfast.

We then drove to Carmel River State Beach (also know as Ribera Beach and Carmel Meadows) which is on the other side of the river where we had been the day before. Although it was quite cloudy, we still enjoyed the hike. Seeing the river form the other side was interesting.

I already posted about the film photos I took there, but I also took a few with my Samsung Galaxy S9+.

The trail we followed was on the short side so we were back in town a little too early for lunch, but it wasn’t too early for a wine tasting! We still had 2 more tasting rooms we wanted to get to. They are our 2 favorites so we wanted to make sure we got to both. We first went to Wrath before lunch.

Lunch that day was at Toro which was a good choice not only because the food was excellent but also because we were able to take a break from wine and share a pot of tea. We shared the Hamachi Carpaccio and the Geisha and Seared Salmon Rolls.

Then we went to probably our favorite tasting room, Caraccioli Cellars. The people who sat next to us at Toro were coincidentally at Caraccioli so we chatted with them a bit.

After a break back in our room, it was time for dinner. We had been aware of Seventh and Dolores but hadn’t gone there on either of our 1st 2 trips. It’s primarily a steak house and neither of us are steak eaters. They have other things on their menu, but it’s pricey so we never considered it for dinner.

Last year, we sat at their bar for a couple delicious cocktails and fell in love with the space, the drinks, and the service. This year, we decided to splurge and go there for dinner. It was definitely worth it. We had a fabulous non-steak meal. We shared a crab cake appetizer. I got Maple Leaf Duck Breast and Holly got the Vegan Bourguignon (portobello mushroom). We finished our meal with a couple Smoked Old Fashioneds.

Day Thirteen (Tuesday)

One of the benefits of not having a connecting flight on the way home is we didn’t have to leave early in the morning. For our first couple trips, we flew in and out of San Jose. Since those flights were really early in the morning, we drove there the night before and stayed overnight at an airport hotel. This time, we still stayed at an airport hotel but did it on a more amendable schedule.

Our flight from Monterey to Los Angeles wasn’t until around 4:30 pm so we had plenty of time to enjoy the morning and early afternoon. The only minor drawback was having to check out of Svendsgaard’s Inn by 11:00 so we would be homeless from then until we left for our flight.

We had our usual coffee in our room and then sauntered the 3 blocks to Village Corner Bistro, another place we discovered on our first trip that has remained a reliable go to for breakfast.

We took a last walk to the ocean. On the way, I finished the roll of Kodak Pro Image that I started in my Minolta X-700 for our Carmel River State Beach walk.

And took a final photo of the Pacific Ocean with my phone.

We went back to our room to pack and then checked out. Luckily, Svendsgaard’s Inn let us keep our car in their lot which made things a little easier.

We then went for a walk in Mission Trail Nature Preserve and the Roundtree Nature Plant Garden which is within the Nature Preserve. They are a short walk from the heart of downtown Carmel. I took only a couple pictures with my phone. I didn’t feel like loading a new roll of film so close to the end of our trip, and I had taken a few photos there on our visit last year.

For lunch, we returned to Alvarado Street Brewery and Bistro. We shared the same salad as we had earlier in the trip but shared the mushroom pizza this time. It wasn’t crowded so we were able to linger as we still had time before needing to get to the airport.

After lunch, we took one last walk around downtown before retrieving our car and heading to the airport.

We had a drama-free flight to Los Angeles and returned to the Sheraton Gateway where we had spent the night when our flight to Monterey got canceled.

We had dinner at Costero Bistro, which was a much more relaxing dinner since it was part of our plan. We each had fish and chips.

After dinner, we just relaxed in our room.

Day Fourteen (Wednesday)

We had breakfast at the hotel again and then caught the shuttle to the airport for our 11:30 am flight, another flight without any issues. The time change meant we got to Philadelphia around 7:40 pm.

We had a long wait for our luggage and then took a taxi to our apartment. We were hungry so we dropped off our bags and then walked to Loco Pez for a simple taco dinner in our neighborhood. Although we were amazed and disappointed that our vacation was over, having a late dinner at a neighborhood spot was a nice reminder that we like where we live.

We had a few more days at home before having to go back to work. I wrote about those days in my May 2023 Update.

It was a fabulous vacation, probably the most enjoyable I’ve ever had despite the hiccup of that canceled flights. We had talked about traveling somewhere else for vacation next year but our mood on our return was that we would really like another trip to Carmel and Monterey.

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