As much as we love third world countries, remote Caribbean islands and quaint Mediterranean ports, it was pretty fantastic to reach California’s Santa Barbara (by land…having left Bandit in Guatemala).
This is sophisticated civilisation at its best with some astonishing houses, wonderful bars and restaurants and fantastic shops. The city centre is spotlessly clean and green and then there are the gorgeous sandy beaches. It was the perfect spot to relax and catch our breath after a busy week travelling through Guatemala, Belize and Mexico and before the 12 hour flight back to New Zealand.
Perched between rugged hills and the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara is scenically spectacular and many areas are beautifully landscaped with some lovely Spanish style architecture.
For shopping starved sailors the retail therapy was magic although you can probably smell the credit card burning – ouch! We were here visiting former Marlborough friends Frank and Maria Nelson who have lived here for nine years. During that time they’ve been gainfully employed in the newspaper and medical fields respectively. In his downtime, Frank has become an expert date scone maker!!
They have a wonderful lifestyle – enjoying the best of what California has to offer and working and saving hard to ensure they can travel to far flung destinations (including NZ) whenever possible.
In fact it was Frank and Maria who inspired us to leave Marlborough eight years ago and embark on our own overseas adventure. Their wonderful exploits around the world (including a long stint Animal Aunting) made us realise there were endless opportunities out there provided you were brave enough to take the plunge.
As always it was wonderful to catch up with them and hear of their latest adventures and plans for the future. Frank and Maria totally spoilt us and gave us a very memorable three days enjoying lots of sightseeing and the usual eating and drinking.
The weather was fantastic – clear and sunny but the temperatures were a little cooler than the 40 degrees we were used to. Still, we managed a couple of dips in the pool.
We had a wonderful fish meal out at a restaurant just up the road from Frank and Maria’s apartment and breakfast out at a trendy outdoor cafe we walked to along the beach.
On Sunday we went to the Mission where an annual chalk art competition was being held with some fantastic and creative works on display.
Such talented people and such a vibrant atmosphere helped by the beautifully clear and sunny day.
All too soon we were back on the Santa Barbara airbus and headed for LAX to catch our late night flight to Auckland. Then Golden Bay beckons where we are spending the New Zealand winter running the Pohara Beachfront Motels. Watch this space!