We passed byÂ Jan de Luz, located on Delores and Seventh Avenue, Oprah’s favourite store, and one I wanted to get back to. Who wouldn’t want to? But, I didn’t. Another reason to return!
Carmel-By-The-Sea or Santa Cruz? Which one should we focus our time on I asked my girlfriends at a dinner just before our trip. Carmel, without question, was the unanymous response. So, Carmel it was.
Happy Birthday, Lauren! Here she is, lovely at 29. She booked this day off while we were visiting, so we decided this would be ourÂ “Carmel Day” as it would be so much fun to share it with her. We would spend the day investigating whatever we could take in. I saw that Gale Wrausmann was offering a walking tour when I was investigating the possibilities the night before we were to leave. It started at 10 am, so we left at 7:45 (poor Lauren) and arrived in this beautiful artistic retreat exactly two hours later.
I could not get over the greenery and the quaint lovely little cottages.” It is a cottage town.” Gale reminded us as we all “ooohed” and “ahhhed” atÂ our first stop.
Gale said that a columnist from the New York Times wrote about a tour he had taken with her upon his return, “Keep your wallets in your pockets, and open your souls when you visit Carmel.” I would concur. I was moved and inspired in Carmel. A part of a day was definitely not enough. We need to come back. For sure. The lower arched window above the green roof was a loft where Salvador Dali stayed and painted one summer in the early 1950’s and his stay is accompanied by an outrageous story of a party he through is a hotel there. This little town is steeped in this kind of history.
I almost got left behind at this cottage. I kept waiting to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs come out. Is it not charming? I didn’t know that such adorable cottages actually existed. I thought they were just figments of the storybook artist’s mind.
And, here is the city hall that had to have its meetings relocated during Clint Eastwood’s term as Mayor of Carmel. Too many visitors came to the council meetings!
This is a town of artists and celebrities and dogs as you can see from the special little doggie door cut to the exact proportions of Wellington, above. Doris Day is the part owner of the Cypress Inn in Carmel, pictured below. She still lives in town, and has been instrumental in leading this already dog friendly town to amusing extremes. In her hotel, not only are doggies welcome, but they have their own bed in each room, and get turn down service with a doggie treat left on the pillow. They are also encouraged to attend “Yappy Hour” at the bar. What fun! What charm!
The sign on the bar reads:”Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy.” Humor and whimsy abounds in this little sanctuary. I found myself walking around with a sideways grin pasted on my face, and my eyebrowsÂ dancing in mid-air above myÂ head in awe of the constant barrage of delights around each corner. Hidden gardens were definitely the modus operandi within this cottage town. They were everywhere, yet would have been impossible to discover without Gale leading the way.
And then, the famour L’Auberge Hotel. Not only is it an exquisitely beautiful place to stay, but the restaurant is world class with chefs Christophe Grosjean, Executive Chef, and Ron Mendoza, Pastry Chef. One comes from The French Laundry, and the food is widely acclaimed. The rooms are from $600 ro $1000 American dollars a night, not incuding a $25 dollar service fee, or tax. Doris Day’s Cypress Inn is a far better deal from $150 dollars a day to $400 dollars a day. Just pop over to the L’Aubrege for dinner! Although, there are so many really unique foodie destinations in this area, it would be hard to plan a stay and get to them all!
A peak into the formal dining room, and then out to the hidden patio. It would be the perfect place for morning coffee, or a light and lively fresh local lunch.
Gale then takes us across a couple of streets, and around a corner and down another path to a garden that has been planted with all of the plants named in the Bible. And, all are clearly labeled with their Bibilical reference. That was a fun peek!
Then, around another corner to a newly revitalized zen garden at the back of a florist shop. The apple trees on the yellow wall froze my in my tracks. I had seen paintings of this kind of tree, but didn’t know it could actually exist. Good morning, Valerie!
And to the old movie theater which is now a bank, but, as a nod to its historic past as the location of the first movie theater (and the only one), the bank has a flat screen TV on the wall, curtains and all, and a vast selection of movies that one can come and watch on a rainy afternoon for free. Popcorn is provided and made on the spot in the standing machine. Another eccentric and fantastic little Carmel find. Once again, we wouldn’t have found it without Gale.
The town park nearby used to be a refuge for the hippies in the 60’s It got to be such an infestation of transients sleeping in the park, that the town council put its always “out-of-the-box” thinking caps on, and decided to put in a sprinkler system. This they did, and set it to run randomly so there could be no predicting the next shower in the park. That solved that problem!
Lauren is on her way to yet another hidden garden. There were so many. The anecdotes of the past brought this town to life for us. It gave us a strong desire to return. There is Clint Eastwood’s hidden restaurant, “Hog’s Breath Inn“, and the one we had lunch at: Cassanova. Charlie Chaplin purchased it for his servant, and she owned and ran it for 50 years. It is currently under new ownership and is a labyrinth of little garden spots under one roof. There is the special van GoughCassanova” that is featured just before this blog entry. room that features the very table van Gough ate his last dinner on before he died. This is the restaurant called “
Just before hugging our new friends good-bye, we discovered that one had a 34 year old single son. Lauren had gone to get the car. We exchanged e-mail. Who knows, maybe in the future, they will meet! Life’s posible adventuresÂ must be pursued!
Thank you, gals, for insisting upon Carmel. You were right. No one should miss it. You must take Gale’s tour. You must head to the beach. And, you must stay a few days. Ask Gale where Doris Day lunches at. You may just run into her, and many others that have madeÂ Carmel-By-The-Sea home.