Monday, April 30, 2012

Found Unusual Antiques and Art at Lunch, Capitola

I have a few words today and a very special treat with fun pictures.

I want to share with everyone this unusual antique art piece on the wall that I found when I turned around after I ordered my lunch in this Capitola bakery today.     

Unusual Antique Art

This is almost like visiting a museum - and during your lunch hour!  


Yum! My favorite bakery! Where is your favorite bakery? 

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Have fun today, off the beaten path ~~ The Fun Tour Guru

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Where Do You Find Cowboys, Missions, and the Movie, Vertigo?

“As I mosey on back to my Plaza Hotel room after eating my dinner grub, I decide to have a night cap at the Plaza Hotel Bar Room before I retire.”  Where am I? 

Which town has the Alfred Hitchcock movie Vertigo, cowboys, and a Spanish Mission in common?

Plaza Hotel

One of my favorite places that I never tire of when I want to escape the bright lights and city sights is a short thirty – forty minutes south of San Jose, keep driving past Gilroy.  Yep, it is a typical small western town with a main street.

San Juan Bautista State Historical Park

San Juan Bautista, CA. 

Why do I keep returning to this town?

I think one reason is that it has (almost - minus the cars) the same look even though this town spans over three periods of time – the Spaniards in the 1700s, gold rush days in the 1800s, and the early 1900s with James Stewart and Kim Novak filming Vertigo.  You will get caught up in your own fantasy era that you wish to connect to.  

Downtown San Juan Bautista
Inside helpful hint: Be prepared to feel shaking at times, as this town lies on the San Andreas Fault.  Yet, this town is still here today and with many fun events going on.

Mission San Juan Bautista is one of my favorite California Missions because of the historic buildings sitting around the park area; which overlooks agriculture fields in a valley.  If you can, plan your visit on the first Saturday of each month (during the summer) and you will find these buildings come alive through their Living History Days. Volunteer pioneer docents dressed in period costumes will take you on walking tours and tell you fun stories of what life was like in the early days - ask them about working in the stables and black smiths. 

Historical State Park

This mission was most likely made famous from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie, Vertigo.  Try to rent the the movie before going. Do you remember the famous scene of Jimmy Stewart climbing up the steps of the tower behind Kim Novak before she jumps?  Look closer, because you will not find this famous tower today.  The original tower was torn down because it was aging and rotten.  A disappointed Hitchcock after he discovered the tower was gone, had the tower matted in with an old painting of the mission using studio effects. 

Mission San Juan Bautista
My Favorite Things to Do Downtown

After taking the walking tours of the historical buildings and mission, I always have fun exploring all of the antique shops on main street and (of course, you should know me by now) I like tasting samples at the bakery.  

I stop for frosted margaritas and lunch on the patio at Jardines de San Juan (831) 823-4466.  Sometimes you may even catch the mariachi's playing here.  

Another reason to return is to visit other restaurants in town like JJ’s Homemade Burgers (831) 623-1743.  Or you might try: Basque Matxain Etxea Restaurant, Dona Esther Mexican Restaurant, La Casa Rosa, Mission Cafe, and the Faultline Restaurant.  (There are more...)

Inside helpful hint: A fun side trip that I found near town is to taste wines along the San Benito Wine Trail near by. 

What is your favorite part of this town?

"Now I best be getting back to my room at the Plaza Hotel to get some shut eye, keep this town on your list of things to do" ~ The Fun Tour Guru 

View from San Juan Bautista Mission
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Additional information about San Juan Bautista State Historical Park (dates, walking tours) at the California State Parks website. 

Images: Credited to DW (me)

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Best Socks and Wine Jelly Found in Carmel & Monterey CA

Why do I keep returning to this area?

 Everytime I go to Carmel and Monterey, I find something new or a different story.  Yes, I see many changes, with new stores, restaurants, and hotels – I always find one new interest that stands out – my find may even be a familiar shop that has been around for a few years.

On this trip, I found two specialty stores.

Visiting Carmel and Monterey was one of my first day trips after moving to California. There are different experiences to find between my favorite laid back Santa Cruz region thirty minutes away from my Silicon Valley office and the drive over to the southern side of Monterey bay.  Same bay, different experiences

I still get goose bumps on my skin as I head south along Highway One looking at the Artichoke fields when I visit these towns, Monterey, Carmel, and Pacific Grove, snuggled along the coast with the white sand and rocks between hills outlined of distinguishing Cypress trees.

On this trip, it was not raining, the weather changed frequently, between sunshine and fog all day. The waves in the bay are huge as they crashed upon the sand and rocks.  After a quick stop at Capitola Bakery to get some of my favorite bites, I continued my drive.

Below is a picture of my actual lunch stop with a view along the coast near Pacific Grove.   

I continued to downtown Carmel with only a couple of hours to spend on this afternoon.  I like to browse and get acquainted with any new shops and galleries on Ocean Ave. I wandered around quietly looking for unusual small gifts.

Socks in Carmel

When I darted down a small alley, I saw this Sockshop Carmel, wondering who would want to buy socks while they were in Carmel?

My error, as I found people smiling in front of the window display while gazing at these different types of socks. I followed these people inside and inched my way around the store taking the time to look at all the goodies.  Socks were found on one side and candles (Wicks and Wax) were on the other side.  

I admit I am not a fashion diva, I had fun exploring the different type of socks, from designer socks to specialty support of various activities.  My five minutes turned into an hour spent in this small shop. And yes, I got some fun purchases.

Gourmet Jams and Jellies
Continuing my walk, I admired the windows of a second store Kurtz Culinary Food Shop before going in. I really wasn’t interested in the tasting of sauces and jellies until I saw the small jar of Cabernet Sauvignon jelly.  Yum! I went closer to the display and picked up the jars to find several different types of wine jelly (Cab, Chard, etc). I tasted samples, swirling them in my mouth as I do when I taste wine.  The wine flavors were delicious! 

I forgot to take a picture, I did talk with the store clerk (part of the family) to find out the location of Kurtz Orchards, (*Will this be another trip for me?) where these products come from is Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON, Canada, with two specialty food shops – Niagara and Carmel.  Oh, and I now have two delicious recipes, Artichoke Spinach Flatbread and Peanut Butter and Niagara Harvest Jam Cookies.

My Insider tip:

If you forget your map, remember to find the Map Mural of downtown Carmel located behind the small shopping center located on Ocean. 

Sockshop Carmel and Wicks and Wax
Doud Arcade, Ocean & San Carlos, Carmel
(They have stores in Pacific Grove and Monterey Cannery Row, too)
(831) 624-6044

Kurtz Culinary Food Shop
SE Corner of Ocean Ave at San Carlos, Carmel
(831) 625-5267

Disclaimer:  I found these stores on my own journey, trip to Carmel. I did not receive any incentives or compensation, they do not know (yet) of this story. And, images are mine, please make contact me for permission to use.   

Finding fun stores in Carmel CA off the beaten path! The Fun Tour Guru