June 12, 2011

California Dreamin' (Day 1)

As you know from my last post, I recently got back from a trip to California. A friend from college lives out in Burbank now, so I ventured west with another pal for a little reunion of sorts. It was only my second time visiting California, and given that the first time was for a family wedding, it was the first time I actually got to see and do things - beyond hanging out in hotels and partaking in many a champagne toast, that is.

I'm breaking the posts down by day, given my affinity for talking too much and getting overly into detail, thus preventing the mile-long post that would otherwise ensue. So here you have the tales from Day 1 of my three day excursion around California.

I flew into LAX Thursday night, and given the late hour and inevitable jetlag, did nothing but pass out. We were up early Friday morning, though, to head to Santa Barbara for a wine tasting tour with Captain Jack's Tours. The drive itself was gorgeous. I don't know why I'm still surprised by the palm trees and mountains that make up Southern CA, but they impress me every time. Santa Barbara was no exception. The weather was fantastic, though perhaps a bit chillier than expected, so we wandered around the beach for a little while before meeting up with our guide. We even stumbled upon an intriguing and artistic van and struck up a conversation with the hippy inside. Welcome to So Cal!

Soon it was time to get the wine tour started. Our guide, Peter, took us to three wineries around Santa Barbara - Santa Barbara WinerySummerland WineryCarr Winery - where we tasted about six different wines at each tasting room. This was my first time doing a wine tasting, so I was looking for a bit more guidance and information, but it seemed to me they assumed those tasting wine were wine connoisseurs. Not so. Peter tried to give us a few tips and tidbits, but my knowledge is still limited to only being able to differentiate between red and white (profound, I know). Still, it was great to taste all the wines and read the descriptions about what they pair best with. I also learned it doesn't take a full glass of wine to get tipsy. A few sips with nothing to munch on but some breadsticks will have you feeling happy all afternoon.

Peter did take us for lunch and an olive oil tasting, though, so there was some food to be had. Lunch at the Bay Roadhouse was delicious, but the oil tasting at Il Fustino was a bit bizarre. I love a good bread and oil plate, but this place expected you to drink the oil straight. No thank you! Fortunately we scrounged up some bread squares, but when those ran out, so did my interest.

To end the day, Peter took us to a local hang-out called The Brewhouse, which was recommended to us for their good food and house-brewed beer. The place is also known for their prawn dish featuring the Ghost Pepper, aka the hottest pepper known to man. My palette isn't brave enough for that challenge, but Peter and my friend, Steph, downed them. Their reactions ranged from a bit hot and teary (Peter) to crying, runny-nose, gagging, sweating, and eventually declaring the consumption of the world's hottest pepper as the "stupidest thing ever done; like swallowing a blowtorch" (Steph). Ahhh yes. Not regretting my lack of participation there.

We put Steph in the car (down a pair of sunglasses but up a stomach-ache) and headed back to Burbank. Before reaching home, we stopped at a look-out point off the famed Mulholland Drive for a view of Los Angeles. I love anything touristy, so I had a great time snapping pictures of the Hollywood Sign, downtown, the Hollywood Bowl, and anything I could remotely distinguish from a movie or TV show. 

All in all, a good Day 1. Come back for more about my trip to California, including (but not limited to) a horseback ride up Mt. Hollywood, Star Wars in Concert, and Disneyland!

1 comment:

  1. Oh gosh Sweets, how much do I love your first day of California beauty? I crazy want to frolic amongst vineyards and wineries when I eventually get there. (I'll skip the oil tasting. Umm.. really?) So happy to read about your wine tasting tour. And you know how much I love those pictures. I'm crazy over the Hollywood Bowl one (shocking, right?) and those gorgeous palm trees. *dreamy sigh* Great post!

    You look beautiful as ever! :o) Hugs and blessings!