Big Sur

On the way to Pismo Beach, where we’d have to stop for the night, we took a detour through a shaded pine forest and a small canyon. We had read about a little secret spot that we wanted to check out but it wasn’t clearly signposted and we weren’t exactly sure that we were on the right track. After a couple of wrong turns we eventually arrived at our intended destination: Pfeiffer Beach.

pfeiffer_beach (4)

Pfeiffer beach

Pfeiffer beach

Taking the obscure, unmarked turnoff and wondering if you’re lost whilst driving among the pines is worth it; Pfeiffer beach is secluded and gorgeous. Lined with pine trees, with its purple sand (apparently caused by manganese garnet, whatever that is!) glimmering in the sun:

Pink sand

It’s a lovely place to chill out and enjoy the sunset (though it’s apparently too dangerous to swim because of the strong currents and jagged rocks).

pumpkin

After Pfeiffer, we got back on Highway 1 and cruised for a bit along the rugged and wildly beautiful Pacific coast.

pacific_coast_rocks

bixby_bridge

big_sur

(Doesn’t it remind you of this? Though it was actually shot further north, along the Oregon coastline, looking at these rocks made me feel quite nostalgic somehow). We drove on along the coast of Big Sur, stopping every now and again to look for whales on the horizon (but none were to be seen), till we reached Pismo Beach.

Pismo is a neat little surf town on the Pacific coast – it has sandy, unpretentious beaches with good surf, a cool campsite on the beach, and friendly people. It also apparently has a lot of clams – though we didn’t stay there long enough to confirm that… We found a nice spot near the beach, lit a fire and had another delicious bbq dinner.

pismo_campsite

In the morning, the nearby beach was empty and quiet.

morning_on_pismo

(Chris thought this log looked like a crocodile and took about a hundred pictures of it. It sort of does, doesn’t it?): 

pismo

The town was just as empty and quiet as the wintery beach. Whilst we were walking around looking for breakfast, we discovered Pismo’s version of heaven on earth: the Old West Cinnamon Rolls bakery. Drawn by the smell, we stepped into this cinnamon roll madhouse and i’m surprised we ever managed to leave. We were too preoccupied eating to our heart’s content to take any decent pictures there, but it’s ok, because pictures can’t convey that glorious smell anyway. I’ll just say one thing: if you ever happen to travel the west coast, these cinnamon buns are definitely worth a detour.

After Pismo Beach, we had to abandon the coast and drive on through the lovely Santa Maria valley. The road is lined with vineyards – the valley is one of the most important viticultural areas in the States, producing especially pinot noir and chardonnay varieties. We’re quite used to going wine-tasting around Alsace – i wondered what it would be like to try the same there… probably different, though just as much fun (one more thing on the list of things to do next time around!)

wine_country

We reached the coast again at Santa Barbara, where we decided to stop for a little stroll and coffee.

santa_barbara_wharf

santa_barbara_train

santa_barbara

The city exudes an air of wealth and prosperity – everything is so neat, orderly and well-groomed. A little bit too well-groomed for my liking…. It was quite funny walking around there – i kept thinking of this show that my grandma used to watch when i was little. It made me chuckle – Santa Barbara really feels like a soap opera.

santa_barbara_courthouse

Bonus picture: worst. dentist. name. ever:

hurtado

Chris got nostalgic as we walked past a place called Mac’s, which claimed to be an “authentic british fish & chip shop”, so we concluded our tour of Santa Barbara with a stop there – it was surprisingly good, and Chris was so excited after being away from home for so long!

After our little taste of England, we left Santa Barbara determined to reach LA that very evening – and so we did, though not without getting a little bit lost on the way. We took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in one of the not-so-nice neighbourhoods of Oxnard (we stopped to ask for directions at a gas station and realised that the cashier was sitting behind bulletproof glass). It didn’t seem like a great place for a couple of tourists to hang out (and reading a little bit about the place later we realised that Oxnard actually has a pretty big gang problem and quite high crime rates), so we were admittedly a bit relieved to find our way back to the coast before nightfall. We were getting closer!

But first, we had to find a place to watch the sunset. I’ve mentioned the LA sky before – i don’t know what it is, but it’s just the most amazing sky i have ever seen anywhere in the world. We were near Malibu when the sun started going down, and we decided to pull over and go down to the beach. And there, the most gorgeous sunset imaginable awaited us. It was so impressive, in fact, that i actually decided it merits its own post. So, next up: sunset on Malibu beach.

Tell us what you think!

*