I was so excited about this cruise for many reasons. First, we would be stopping in California to visit family. It has been way too long since we had seen Brian, Antoinette and our lovely niece Francesca. Second, it goes without saying, especially if you have been following the blog over time that we love to cruise. And, third, we honeymooned in Hawaii back in 2000 and have always talked about returning.
We were actually going to be traveling with other members of our community. However, we went out to California a few days before the cruise and eventually meet up with our group at the airport on the day we boarded the ship.
Our flight was smooth although we did encountered a few delays making our arrival later than we had anticipated. We arrived at their home at about 2am. Fortunately, Antoinette left the guest house door open for us so we were able to just collapse in bed.
How wonderful it was to get a good night’s sleep and wake up to Brian bringing freshly squeezed orange juice to our door. The juice was delicious. The kitchen had been stocked with our favorite breakfast foods and coffee so, we had a lovely time just settling in and surveying our surroundings. The view from our door was beautiful. There was lush landscaping including giant Birds of Paradise, a trail down to the pool, and a view of the main house. I immediately fell in love with the house with its wrap-around porches on both levels and a bank of windows that overlooks the Pacific.
Friday was a school day so Francesca was off for the day. Brian and Antoinette decided to take us on a leisurely ride along the coast up to Los Olivos to visit the Demetria winery. They packed an al fresco lunch meats, cheese and fruit and off we went. I could not help but notice how brown and gray the hills looked as we drove along seeing firsthand the results of the drought the state has been suffering the last few years.
We arrived at the winery passing by rolling hills filled with vineyards as far as the eye could see. The winery itself reminded me of a scene from Tuscany. The sun was shining and the air was crisp making it a perfect day to sit on the veranda and enjoyed our lunch and five wonderful wines. We sampled two white and three red wines. Randy and I loved the 2011 ‘Eighteen’ Chardonnay and the 2011 Syrah so much we bought a bottle of each to take on the ship.
On our way back we stopped in a lovely town established in 1911 by a group of Danes who traveled west to establish a Danish colony called Solvang. The architecture of many of the façades and buildings were built in the traditional Danish style and the town is filled with bakeries and other wonderful shops. I loved the windmill in the middle of town. We just walked up and down the quiet streets stopping periodically in a shop to look over their wares. The bakeries were amazingly tempting but we settled for a sample of delicious fudge.
We headed back to the house to rest a little, freshen up and go to dinner. We went to a restaurant called The Lark in Santa Barbara. What a great choice. There was a chill in the air but the restaurant had these wonderful heaters and a wonderful fire pit around the outside patio that kept us toasty throughout dinner. The restaurant serves family style so, after reviewing the choices we decided to order the Fried Castelvetrano Olives, the Cheese Board, the Little Gems ‘Wedge’ salad, Mary’s Roasted Chicken and the Braised Beef Shortribs. Randy and I washed our meal down with a lager called Flying Dog Underdog Atlantic Lager. The entire dinner was mouthwateringly delicious.
Every part of the day was wonderful, but the best part of the day was reconnecting and catching up with Brian, Antoinette and Francesca. It was a very nice day indeed!
Tomorrow Randy and Brian are going in one direction, while the ladies are headed in another.