Last November, I went for a conference in America. I took the chance to travel around California, and see if it could hold up to the best Europe had to offer. We started off in gorgeous San Francisco. Feeling a little jet lagged, we checked into Hotel Palomar. This is a lovely hotel in a very central location – recommended to us and now, by us. We were feeling a little jet lagged, so on our first night, we didn’t venture too far out. Luckily, there are lots of options in the area. We decided on a nice Chinese restaurant (I think it was called Fangs, but I was very jet lagged!).

The next day, our trip started in earnest. We walked EVERYWHERE. Along the wharf, to the Golden Gate Bridge and got some lovely pictures. We then walked back along Lombard Street and right back to the hotel. Needless to say, our feet were killing us. But our hotel is part of the Kimpton group, who really get hospitality. Despite the fact that we had missed the wine hour, they ended up giving us free drink vouchers for their bar. We took them up on this, and can we say, what lovely service!

Our last two days in San Francisco were barely spent in San Francisco, except for one lovely evening shopping for some amazing bargains in boutique stores. We also took a coach up to see the coastal redwoods in Muir Woods and also drove up to Napa Valley on Sunday. Napa truly deserves a post of its own and I think I will do one soon! As someone coming over from Europe, I think of it as Disneyland with wine!

Most of what I now think of as “California” came over the next two days. We drove down to Big Sur to stay at the Post Ranch Inn. I love different architecture, and this was certainly different. All they had to do to capture my heart was give me this table for lunch. That is certainly the best view I’ve ever had.


Most of my memories are now from walking around this gorgeous resort or swimming in their pools (and two hot tubs!).


The Post Ranch Inn is a beautiful hotel and its setting is superb. We also had a lovely experience in the spa. We did think that service at the reception could do with some improvement, however, we refused to let this ruin our trip. Happy to say more if some one else is planning on going.

So did it compare to Europe? Well, yes and no. I think the redwoods are marvellous. But you do get very similar, if slightly less dramatic, scenery in parts of Europe. I was disappointed by the over-reliance on cars and the snobbiness of expensive hotels/ restaurants in California, I think you see less and less of that in England now (although I’m not saying it’s disappeared). But the sheer variety of options, and the combination of nature within the city, made our visit very interesting. We also loved the gardens, the fresh fruit and veg, and the salads and food of California. And we could certainly appreciate why people would want to stay forever, it’s so very relaxing! But we missed the history and grit that Europe has to offer and only connected with California as a holiday destination.

We spent one last day with family before heading back to London. Thank you for the sunshine, California! We didn’t get too much more in 2013 as winter had started when we got back to London.




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