Ok, I must admit in my touristy ignorance, I didn’t realise how cold San Francisco was, my childhood diet of Sweet Valley High, 90210 (1st Generation and 2nd) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer led me to believe that California was sunny all year round. But San Francisco was cold, really cold…and I don’t like being cold…though I don’t like being hot either, I’m difficult to please.
Mr Silver and I were now ready to start our road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1) and I thought of the craggy mountain and isolated beaches that we would visit. With this in mind I loaded the car with my ‘SilverSpoon emergency kit.’ The kit of course contained, thick black tights, shoes appropriate to wear with said tights and a thick jumper (obviously purchased in San Francisco as I’d bought no cold weather gear with me). It also contained some of the snacks that we’d been given at Cavallo Point such as artisan chocolate, apple crisps and nuts and water, Susan SilverSpoon (my mum) has taught me that the best preparation for any emergency, be it World War III, a natural disaster or a break down in the middle of the road is plenty of Evian.
The road trip section of our honeymoon was one of the parts we’d both been immensely looking forward to. The plan was to leave San Francisco and get on to Highway 1 at about 11, we’d scheduled a lunch stop in the pretty town of Carmel and planned to arrive in Big Sur around 4pm. In reality we left at about 12, struggled with the sat nav and finally got on to Highway 1 at around 12.30.
And this is how I looked at the beginning at the trip…
I was soon like this as each item from the emergency kit was donned! We’d been told that The Pacific Coast Highway was one of the most spectacular scenic drives in the world. And having had a fantastic time experiencing the Great Ocean Road
drive in Melbourne (which was also very cold), Mr S and I knew we were for a treat as our hire car hugged the curves of the winding coastal road steered skilfully by Mr S.
We passed through the bayside town of Monterey, famous for being the former home of John Steinbeck and immortalised in his novel Cannery Row. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to stop in the town that is brimming with history and culture as we wanted to make the most of our time in Big Sur. From here it is possible to take the 17 mile drive around the Monterey Peninsula to view Pebble Beach but we wanted the chance to get to Carmel, three miles south and appreciate what that town had to offer.
We were, of course running late, I’d planned to stop at a restaurant called Casanova, reputedly the most romantic restaurant in Carmel but they only served lunch until 3pm and the clock was ticking. With that in mind, Mr S put his foot on the accelerator, I looked in the fear at the craggy coasts and the sheer drop from the road.
‘Um…aren’t we going a little fast…’ my fears were correct as a police siren started blearing. I was very scared, were we going to arrested and put in prison? Would we have to abandon the hire car? We stopped in the nearby ‘parking lot’ (car park) and on hearing our British accents, the kindly policeman let us off, realising a speeding ticket was slightly pointless. Anyway, the interlude put us even further behind and we arrived in Carmel at 3.20, Casanova was closed.
I pouted at Mr S, but we soon found another lovely little restaurant.
A small family-run Italian restaurant that is actually one of a trio in Carmel. The interior had a rustic Italian style with bare wooden tables.
The food was delicious, but unfortunately not amazingly photogenic…
But it the local Monterey sole was beautifully cooked with a lemon sauce and perfect pasta.
And another shellfish stew went down incredibly well in the cold weather. I’d definitely recommend a lunch stop in Bistro Giovanni if you’re staying in Carmel or passing through.
Carmel is an incredibly beautiful fairytale town with charming houses that look like they’ve been made out of gingerbread alongside high-end boutiques. I had hoped to spend a few hours exploring the seaside town but we wanted to get into Big Sur before it got darker so with regret we had a little drive round Carmel and took a look at the stunning beach before we got back on the road again.
We got back on to Highway One and headed south along the coast…
The views along the Big Sur coast were the most dramatic that we saw while on the drive. Big Sur’s Cone Peak is over 1,500 metres above sea level so it’s no wonder we saw some very stunning views though some of the hairpin bends we experienced had me wincing.
Around 5.30 in the evening we arrived at the totally gorgeous Post Ranch Inn Hotel in Big Sur which would be our home for the next two nights (you can read about our experience there in my next post!). Minus all the stops and lunch etc, driving time from San Francisco to Big Sur was around three hours.
So two days later we were back on the road and continuing our journey south.
As you can see the sky was a little bluer and we could get our sunglasses out!
The plan was to visit the opulent Hearst Castle on the way to our next destination, Santa Barbara. On the way to our first stop we took a break for lunch in the small community of Lucia.
And a lovely little roadside restaurant with a view.
The restaurant’s speciality was Fish and Chips so Mr Silver had to have it.
And it was a dish of epic proportions… when he finished the WHOLE THING. I applauded.
‘You have climbed your Everest today, Mr S’
My dish was slightly more green and healthy…my salmon was just as I like it, a little rare in the centre. The roadside cafe was a brilliant find, the salmon was prepared better (in my opinion) than the food in some of the top restaurants that we visited.
A few miles North of Hearst Castle is Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Beach.
Here 1000’s of seals loll on the beach to rest, mate and molt, there’s plenty of boardwalks so that you can get really up close to the seals.
A few miles further South is the famous Hearst Castle, the extravagent home of newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst, we stopped off here for a couple of hours for a tour of the amazing property (but that’s for another post!). Before getting back on the road for a non-stop two and a half hour drive into Santa Barbara where we were staying for one night.
Mr Silver and I loved our trip along the Pacific Coast Highway, I only wish we’d given ourselves time to see more, it felt like we were constantly rushing to get to the next place with only a very few stops for photos. I’d love to do again but include a few more stop offs and more time in the places where we did stop. Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to come back 😉
In ‘real’ time my heavenly honeymoon is nearly at an end but I’ll be heading off to spend my final few days in Las Vegas. Please follow me on Instagram to see what I get up to in Sin City! http://instagram.com/angiesilverspoon