I fell in love with California back in 1997. We came here for a short trip, all the way from Israel. I saw plenty of Europe before that, but I had never been to the US. We started our trip on the East Coast, then flew to the West Coast.
I remember my first impression of California. Everything seemed bright, sunny and spacious. People were friendly, driving around in their shiny convertibles. It was definitely more laid back than the East Coast or Tel Aviv, and people seemed more relaxed. The diversity of people and landscape was incredible, and so was the healthy, outdoor lifestyle. I immediately fell in love.
Two years later we came back to California, this time for work. We never expected to still be here, 11 years later, but we are. During those 11 years, I got to experience a lot more of California, and each experience made me fall in love even more. The Silicon Valley is amazing – a vibrant hub of technology and entrepreneurship. San Francisco is diverse and beautiful. Lake Tahoe offers great skiing in the winter. Napa Valley is gorgeous and so very tasty. We love San Diego’s warm weather, sandy beaches, and its colorful old town where we get to relax and sip margaritas (the kids love Sea World and the zoo, of course). And the gorgeous National Parks! We love Joshua Tree National Park near Palm Springs, and Yosemite is pristine and magnificent.
It’s not perfect, of course. California lacks four distinct seasons. The coast is almost always foggy and the Pacific Ocean is cold. There are so many people here! Roads are always congested. State taxes are ridiculously high, real estate is (still) overpriced, at least here in the Bay Area, and the state has had a string of unfortunate governors. With 12% unemployment and a huge budget deficit, the Great Recession has been tough on California.
Still, I love this place. Last week, with our kids’ school closed for the Jewish New Year, we decided to explore a region that we weren’t really familiar with – the Central Coast – and I fell in love with California, all over again.
I loved Solvang, a city that offers a taste of Denmark right here in California, including a taste of Aebleskiver – Danish Pancake Balls, sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with strawberry preserve. The entire experience was incredibly touristy – the whole city is basically a tourist trap – but it was different and fun.
The following day, I fell in love with the raw, untouched natural beauty of Channel Islands:
I enjoyed the amazing food and wine we got to try during our trip, including a fabulous meal at Olio e Limone Restaurant in Santa Barbara.
At the beautiful Pismo Beach, I just relaxed and allowed the amazing staff of the Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa to seriously pamper me. The combination of cool outside temperatures (65-70 degrees F), warm saline pool, and HOT jacuzzi was amazing – especially when we kept alternating between swimming at the pool and dipping in the jacuzzi. Breakfasts were SO SO good!
Cass Winery, Paso Robles
Reluctantly, we ended our trip, but not before stopping at Cass winery in Paso Robles and enjoying some great wine, a well-prepared lunch, and the best peaches I have ever tasted – one of them accompanied my cheese plate so of course we had to buy a bag of them.
I love my life, and am generally very grateful for everything, but if I could change just one thing, I would travel more.
Do you like to travel? Do you travel often?