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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