Day 15 Carmel and the Big Sur

Trip Start May 16, 2008
Trip End Jun 03, 2008

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Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, May 31, 2008

We woke up this morning about 8am. The sleep was comfortable enough although we did have to leave the supplied fan going overnight as the room was a bit warm and the Wayfarer Inn does not do aircon.
Shower time is interesting as at check in they have to explain to everyone how to operate it. You switch the mixer tap on, get the water to the temperature you want, you then have to pull the ring located at the end of the bath tap DOWN, this will then switch the water to the shower head. And in case you are interested, the wee timer on the wall is for the hot air heater for the fan in the bathroom. The fan, when in extractor mode, does sound a bit like a turbine so probably able to hear it in the room next door. We didn't have any problem with noise form other rooms, but I think the ones adjacent to us were empty.
Breakfast. Downstairs breakfast is laid out do it yourself style. There is cereal, bagels and breads for toasting (when toasting the bagel put the cut inside face to face outboard of the toaster and select "Bagel" button which then switches on one side of the element - otherwise you end up with a burnt bagel as I did first attempt!) There is also a waffle maker with pre-measures waffle mix in cups. Various teas and coffees are available as well. We had breakfast and went for a walk downtown and along the beach. It was cloudy with a brisk breeze blowing. Catriona tried dabbling her toes in the Pacific which she concluded was "bloody freezing". I decided to take her word for it :)
We walked back along through the maze of art galleries and jewelry shops back to the Inn and collected the car. Off we went heading south towards the Big Sur. It is a world famous scenic drive down the Pacific coast. It was nice but it was very familiar scenery to us living on the NW coast of Scotland (windy roads and sea we do a lot of). We stopped at various points along the way for the obligatory tourist photo op. Just like our roads, the tourists drove too slow for the locals liking.
We pulled off the road down to Pfeiffer Beach, watch out for the turn off at Sycamore Canyon Road as it's a small opening off the main road and not signposted for the beach until after you actually get on it. It's a single track narrow road down to the beach. Entrance is $5. There are toilets down there but nothing else so bring your own drink, picnic etc. 2 minutes further down the main road south of the turn off at the Big Sur Bakery. It was a bit breezier down on this beach even though the sun was now out and there was blue skies, shorts and t shirt was maybe a bit optimistic! People were huddling behind rocks for shelter. We walked along the beach, the setting reminded me of the movie From Here to Eternity but I IMDBd it afterwards and that was filmed in Hawaii but it looked the same.
Unfortunately we had forgotten to take our books with us otherwise we may have stayed a bit longer as we had found a nice (but slightly sandblasted) site by some rocks.
We took off again heading back south down Highway 1 to have lunch at the Nepenthe. The parking lot was full so we parked down off the main road along with a few others and walked up the steps. The restaurant was busy and there were people queuing, so we went into the Café Kevah which is below it. It has great views along Big Sur with a Hawk hovering overhead and a few Jays jumping about trying to get some food. We had Black Forest ham Panini sandwich with smoked Gouda, arugula and Dijon aioli on sourdough and Reuben Panini sandwich with thin-sliced pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on marbled rye (glad I can cut n paste these from their websites!). They came with a very generous side salad. Both sandwiches were very tasty indeed.
After that, we headed back North Highway 1 to Carmel and the Inn. We parked up, grabbed the laptop and a book and wandered down to Ocean Avenue for a coffee at the Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Co. for a coffee. They have free wifi so I uploaded today's pictures and while I was there looked up the coffee house on TripAdvisor. I took a couple of photos there and then, uploaded them to TA and did a review! Can't get more up to date than that. They didn't do a good job of clearing tables (for not very good read "didn't clear up at all!").
We then went back to the Inn for the free cheese and wine. The skies were clouded over back in Carmel so it was a bit chilly now but still sat out on their patio. The place seemed to be having a good turnover of guests, maybe as it's the weekend they are getting busier.
I booked our shuttle trip to the airport next Monday with Lorrie's. I needed to print out the reservation so asked at the desk if they would do that for me. No problem they said so I emailed it to them and they printed it out. Great service.
As it was after 6pm and getting chilly in my shorts, we retired to the room to wash and change for this evenings meal. We now appear to have guests next door as we can now hear the torrent of water from their shower. Lets hope they are no realy risers. We opened a bottle of Schugs Rouge De Noir fizz to start our evening off. I figured out what had gone wrong with the opening of the fizz that nearly took Catrionas head off - Wawona is at about 4000ft above sea level so the bottle would have been pressurized up. No such problem with this bottle. Very nice fizz it is too.
Whilst in the room we watched some TV. Man, Americans get a lot of commercials, every couple of minutes it seems there's a commercial! I had to laugh at one news story about a town who's police force is so skint some of its officers have started using golf buggies to patrol instead of police cruisers as they can't afford the petrol/gas. The cruisers do THREE miles per gallon. 3MPG! What are they, tanks?? Join the real world, in the UK our police have BMWs that can still catch criminals at over 200MPH and still do over 30MPG. You guys have really had it so good for too long.
While I have another spare minute. Carmel loves dogs. No, really, everything is dog friendly. The Wayfarer Inn allows dogs to stay; a lot of the shops have doggie water bowls and biscuits for free outside for them. There are dogs everywhere; there are doggie poop bag dispensers on street corners. There was a dog inside a car (yes, the windows were partly open) barking away. One couple walked passed and said "that dog has issues". Yes, I'm sure they have dog therapists round here. You're all barking mad.
What else? Oh yes, 4 way stoop signs and pedestrians. 4 way stops take a bit of getting used to - it's like a 4 way game of chicken. But pedestrians, cars ALWAYS stop for pedestrians here. Do that at home and you'll be run over. Takes a bit if getting used to.
We had looked about at where to eat, we didn't fancy Italian again and Tommy's Wok gets no.1 slot on TA so I thought we would give it a go.
We took a walk down after 8 pm, the place was busy and lively (read, loud - mainly from just a couple of tables), we were seated straight away and given a pot of Jasmin Tea.
We ordered Pork Pot Stickers (Home-made d umplings stuffed with ground pork, Napa cabbage, green onions and ginger served with Tommy's Special Sauce), BBQ Spareribs (4) Meaty pork spareribs marinated and roasted in Chinese BBQ sauce and Hot and Sour Soup (t ender slices of chicken breast, fresh tofu, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and egg drop in a chicken soup)
The soup was certainly hot and tasty. It was not particularly sour though, it could have done with more vinegar. The ribs were succulent and meaty. The Pot Stickers were as good as the ones we had in Chinatown and we don't know what was in Tommy's sauce but it certainly was special!
The main courses were Lover's Prawns (Half s picy p rawns marinated in Tommy's special sauce, then sautéed in a light wine sauce and Prawns sauteed in a spicy garlic, ginger and chili sauce plus Kung Pao Chicken (Spicy d iced chicken sautéed with celery, water chestnuts, zucchini and bell pepper in a spicy sauce garnished with peanuts.
Both were extremely satisfying, the prawns were large and plentiful.
As usual, we ordered too much and could not finish the mains. Total cost was $60 including tip. We had a walk around the block before going back to the hotel and finishing the bottle of Schug. Both our Fortune Cookies had the same message "the star of riches is shining upon you" - must buy a lottery ticket next week when we get home!
Tomorrow we hit the road for Santa Cruz.
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