Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Californie, mon amie... (California '11 - #3)

Bleu, blanc, rouge
Today started on a French note...

I got up first while the two sleepy heads were still recovering from yesterday's busy program (and overexposure to sun, no doubt). By 9:00am, bags were packed and we were all ready to go. We walked uphill for two blocks, (our morning workout), turned right, and landed in front of a nondescript building at 530 Bush Street. The big French flag above our heads indicated that we were at the right place. Welcome to the French Consulate in San Francisco! From that point on, it took exactly one hour and ten minutes, that's right, under two hours, for us to provide at least ten pounds of official documents required by the French government; smile for our new passport pictures; give our fingerprints; chat with the friendly and efficient Consular worker, and bingo, we were out of there. I could not believe it. Dealing with the French Administration is not supposed to be that easy and, well, pleasant. Our appointed fonctionnaire (civil servant) was named Marie-Noëlle and she was delightful. She even offered to have our passports shipped to Seattle in about two weeks so we would not have to fly back to San Francisco (that's before I even got a chance to ask). She also took several pics of Junior (he looked very tired after leading the high life in the big city) until she got a good one! When we left, there were several families waiting so I knew we had made the right choice by arriving early. Au revoir Marie-Noëlle! It has been a pleasure meeting you. More about French fonctionnaires in a later blog... For now, it is time to get back to our California trip.

We walked back to the Westin Saint Francis and could not resist having breakfast outside on Union Square, right in front of our hotel. There was just too much sun. The sky was a perfect, deep blue. Not a cloud in sight. Fortunately, we found a friendly waiter. 

Bonjour, I will be your waiter today!
Then we were off. One last spin down Lombard Street, and we drove to mythical Highway  1, the road that will guide us along the California Coast for the next few days. Au revoir, San Francisco!

Watching a cable-car disappear in the rear view mirror...
We had lunch in a sleepy little a few miles inland, Half Moon Bay. I had a good time making friends with several local pooches (and their owners). I like dog-friendly towns but I get distracted. I have to pet every single one of them. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon driving down the coast. If you have ever followed Highway 1 you know how breathtaking and ever-changing a show it can be, especially on a sunny day. I am excited there will be many more hours of this over the next few days. 

Mid-afternoon, we reached Monterey Bay and stopped in Santa Cruz. The weather was in the upper 70s when we got out of the car. Incroyable! Messages from friends back home confirmed that not everyone was as lucky as we were. 

It was not peak season yet on the old wood boardwalk in Santa Cruz. The fun rides at the amusement park were silently sleeping, waiting for their weekend customers. Yet, there were so many sun worshippers on the beach! We met groups of young girls walking around in their brand-new bikinis, eating ice cream and laughing, and immediately felt overdressed. Looking at their pale skins though, I realized the Central Coast is barely coming out of winter. When in Rome, do as the Romans do... Les Boys rushed to a local surf shop and invested in a few t-shirts and a pair of flip-flops each. 

In Santa Cruz, life is decidedly a beach...

It may not look like it, but Les Boys are actually
taking a picture of their new flip-flops!
For now, we are in Carmel-by-the-sea, a small town South of Monterey. Elegant boutiques, charming and perfectly landscaped tree-lined streets, and lots of dogs. The city is so dog friendly that four-legged companions are allowed in boutiques, and restaurants (some even offer dog-friendly menus). You've got to love Carmel. Have I mentioned the boutiques? old-fashioned shop signs? Junior found a brand-new Fedora hat! He is pretty excited!

We will spend more time in Carmel this morning. Some "lèche-vitrine" (window-licking) a.k.a. window shopping for me, a walk to the scenic Carmel beach for Les Boys. Then we will keep driving South, all the way to San Luis Obispo.

1 comment:

  1. Merci pour les "tips" Daria! Unfortunately, we are not staying at the Madonna Inn but I was planning to check it out anyway. I found another place. You will understand why I picked it in a few hours and I certainly hope it is a "bonne surprise" ;-) -- The original Jamba Juice, definitely. I love Jamba Juice! A bientot!


Bonjour! I love hearing from you, my readers. To quote a fellow blogger, my friend Owen, "Comments are the icing on blogcake... Comments are the UFO in the twilight sky bearing news from other planets... Comments are raspberry vinegar in salad dressing... Comments are the cool balm of after-sun moisturizing lotion... Comments are the moment the band comes back out onstage to play an encore... Comments are the gleam in the eye across the room in a smoky bar... Comments are the rainbow after the rainstorm..." Merci for your comments! French Girl in Seattle