* * *Our wedding anniversary falls mid August. I decided #43 deserved a special departure from the ordinary. I chose a weekend escape to Santa Barbara. I always bring up the fact that we never had a honeymoon and, since there is no arguing with that, I get my way.
Santa Barbara is a sparkling jewel set between the Santa Inez mountains and the Pacific. It has a long history enriched by the Chumash, Spanish missionaries and soldiers, and the Mexicans before it fell to the United States in 1846.
Modern day Santa Barbara is characterized by it's Spanish Colonial architecture and red-tiled roofs.
The Santa Barbara County Courthouse, dedicated in 1929, is amazing. I have never seen such a beautiful building, so unlike the typical utilitarian buildings in most municipalities. Offices buildings for financial institutions and law offices also follow the colonial architecture.
|Santa Barbara County Courthouse|
|Interior of Courthouse|
|Interior of Courthouse|
|Shopping in Santa Barbara|
We decided to stay at the Spanish Garden Inn just a few blocks from State Street. State is the main drag for tourists: it is lined with restaurants and boutiques and terminates at Stearn's Wharf.
|Courtyard of Spanish Garden Inn|
What always strikes me as unique about Santa Barbara is its elegant, but easy-going attitude. There is a kind of peacefulness, even when crowded with tourists. You can cross a street without fearing for your life. Motorists patiently wait for pedestrians to cross rather than trying to run them over like they do in my neighborhood.
Naturally, the homeless tend to be attracted to the climate and beauty of Santa Barbara. There didn't seem to be so many panhandlers hanging around on our recent visit, but they are there. Where I live, the down-and-out stand on corners with crude cardboard signs and ask for donations. In Santa Barbara they take a somewhat different approach. They sing or play music or sell silk flowers. Some have adopted humorous and inventive ways of panhandling. Next to the Wharf, they lay down blankets and invite tourists to cast their change from the wharf. I mean, who can resist trying to hit the red hot lover category with a quarter?
Dinner was at the Bouchon (bottle cork). Great food, although the menu is somewhat limited. It is kind of hidden. A tiny little sign is about the only thing to identify this romantic little restaurant, located just off State Street on Victoria. There are plenty of wonderful restaurants to try in Santa Barbara.
It was a perfect day and evening. We could have stayed longer, but then we would have had to find a cheaper place to stay. The Spanish Garden Inn spoiled me for any other place. Oh well, any longer and I might have been tempted to shop for real estate.
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Now that you've visited my blog, I hope you'll check out my novel, Dreaming of Laughing Hawk. I'm always on the lookout for reviewers. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be a reviewer.