A Magical Last Trip of the Year

What a wonderful year for travel. Our final destination of 2023 was with our dear friends Marty and Lisa…the perfect get-a-way.

Lisa secured this beautiful Cabin at the Big Sur Lodge in Big Sur California. Big Sur is a famous enclave that boasts forests of majestic redwoods, streams, waterfalls, and of course the Pacific Ocean. Views from the not so distant cliffs afford the participant with an unparalleled panoramic seat to the vibrant sea below.

The Monterey aquarium was first on our list to visit. Each of us had been to the Monterey aquarium decades before, but not in the last ten years.  We were most certainly not disappointed by the colorful and creative displays. Each area presented different views of the tide pools to the deep ocean.

To think that all of this marine life was literally within a fingertips reach away was truly amazing. The coral reefs with their bright colored fish weaving in and out made for an almost hypnotic display.

Other equally interesting and vibrant displays involved the jelly fish. Their canopy of jelly floating effortlessly (usually back lit with a bright blue light), showcased their smooth transition from the top of the tank to the deepest recesses of their ocean water hide-outs.

The Sea Otters were in rare form as they look somewhat human as they groom themselves to the delight of the crowd gathered around their domain. Each area at the Monterey Aquarium is carefully designed to engage the guests and add a wonderful educational narrative.

After the self-guided Aquarium tour we ate at our favorite restaurant on Cannery Row. The Lalla Grill Oceanside is best known for Clam Chowder and other seafood delights. Marty and Lisa enjoyed the atmosphere, view, and of course the food.

Later that day we enjoyed dinner at Carmel’s Bistro Giovanni. Each day and night along the way led to wonderful conversations with Marty and Lisa and excellent culinary delights shared by all.

Our fourth day was wine tasting day. We loved the Bernardus winery with their focus being a Bordeaux blend, pinot noir and chardonnay. After about eight glasses of wine, we purchased the Bordeaux blend and were placed on the mailing list.

Then it was off to a French restaurant for lunch. Excellent sandwiches were enjoyed by all as they provided us with the fuel we needed to make our way to the next winery, Talbot.

Talbot was an exceptional experience with wines that accurately reflected the terroir of the region. After purchasing a couple pinot noir varietals we were off to dinner at Clint Eastwood’s restaurant, the Carmel Valley Ranch. This was like stepping back in time.

The Ranch offers a wonderful piano bar with guests singing to their hearts content. This was a sensory experience heightened by the topography of the land. The ocean air, exotic flowers, and a beautifully restored resort added to the excellently prepared food. Although it was cold outside on the patio where we sat, large heaters provided the warmth to make the outdoor space comfortable.

Our last day in the Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey area afforded us a memorable dining experience. We dined at the Sardine Factory, a world renown dining institution which has been a cornerstone of the culinary scene in Monterey since the 1960’s.

The four course meal met and even exceeded our expectations. The food, paired with a Gruet sparkling wine from New Mexico and then a Gruner Veltliner white wine from Austria (with our entrees) enhanced the flavors of both food and wine.

If you have a chance to venture to this magical area, take time to enjoy the sunsets, vistas, and of course some of the best seafood in the world.