Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Xmas Xcursion Xtc!

This Year's final Holiday trip was not as grand as last year's (Hawaii) but still was as much fun or maybe more!
Some glimpses of the fun filled moments.

24th Dec. We started after lunch from Bay Area and drove for five hours towards Southern California. Ventura is the name of the city where we had booked our Xmas holiday abode. we stopped once for coffee break in between and reached Ventura at supper time. We had hoped to dine at the hotel itself but they closed early for the holiday. Since we are not big fans of McDonald's and Burger kings we went to the restaurant that the front desk person recommended. We ordered, hot and sour soup, egg rolls, kung pao chicken and rice. One of the worst Chinese we ever had. A revelation since we thought this was near impossible. Disgusted I came back and logged in to Yelp for future assistance.

25th Dec. We woke early morning to a cloudy sky. Denny’s was our savior. I ordered stuffed veggie omelet with muffins. SH ordered a Denny’s Special scrambled eggs and we shared a huge hot mug of chocolate mocha. The beach and harbor were off limits for the day since there was a wind advisory with waves being high - 20fts.
We decided to take a hike over the hills and headed towards nearby hill city Ojai. The drive was picturesque with beautiful hamlets amidst ranches and citrus orchards. The fruit laden trees looked wonderful and very pulp on both the sides of the road. It was soon drizzling and then the drizzle turned into a steady shower so we abandoned the plan to hike, instead decided to get lost among the hills. Just as SH kept meandering through the valley we reached Lake Casitas and on impromptu we decided to take a dekho simply because there was a ticket charge, which meant it had to be good. The rain drops receded by this time but it was windy and bone freezing chill. We braved the cold and spent a good hour walking around the lake watching the ducks and gulls going about their job. Lake Casitas is huge with patches of beaches around it. We gazed at the fall colors and lucky houses with owners who woke up to this view each day. When we got back into the car we realized it was 43F outside(Shivers!!).We drove back late afternoon. A piping hot white chocolate mocha along with holiday ginger and lemon cakes is so Christmas- Yee! The evening went by quickly walking by the harbor.
We headed back to Denny’s for dinner of Grilled Shrimp Skewers and Grilled chicken with rice pilaf, dinner breads and sides. This was rounded off with a hot fudge topping sundae. MERRY CHRISTMAS! We then drove in the direction of Santa Barbara just to watch Xmas lights and ended up on the boardwalk which was deserted. There was a beautiful lit Xmas tree and being there was so romantic. But then we realized that the few cars parked around were not empty. I am sure someone was upset on us just as we were!!

26th Dec. We woke up very early in the morning since we wanted to catch the 9am ferry to Santa Cruz, one of the islands that makes the group of NP Channel Islands. We planned to be back late afternoon to go for whale watching trip. When we reached the harbor we were told that the morning rides had been cancelled due to the high surf and tough wind forecast. So we chose to take the Channel Island ferry. Lightening can strike the same place twice, because the next place that we went for Chinese was worse. It was a crime to call that dung Chinese food. The two grumpy faces headed towards downtown to get some coffee and pastry to swish. SH spotted a busy joint where the customers appeared happy and the servers looked busy. The d├ęcor of the place was very European but the food options were mostly American fusions- Brownies with cream tops, wafers and crisps. I ordered a brownie with fruit toppings, cappuccino and SH ordered a Jalapeno bagel, white chocolate mocha. The food was so divine; it made us grin from ear to ear. Why does food rule our emotions?
All happy we headed to the harbor. The ferry ride to Santa Cruz Island (the biggest island among five islands under the NPS) was rocky. SH managed the backpack and avoided being rocked across the deck, But I pranced all corners of the boat taking pictures and making videos. Once on the island we took a mile long hike till Cavern point. We were breathless by the time we reached the top in spite of the short hike because of the altitude. 400ft from sea level in a span of half an hour. The view was gorgeous and as breathtaking as was the wind which almost blew me away.
We chatted long with the volunteer who was interested in knowing how many Indian languages I knew. And why I lived in India and not Bangladesh since we were Bengalis. Interesting question! Being an Indian is complicated- just the way we Indians like. We watched sunset on our ferry ride back, am I repeating “breath taking” too many times?
We got back to our hotel for some rest after such a rocking time (pun??).

27th Dec. After dreaming the whole night about desserts and frothy mochas, I was late for a breakfast so brunch it was again. We decided to go to the same awesome place. This time we ordered from the menu – crab cakes with Benito eggs, stuffed omelets with croissant and frothy creamiest white chocolate mocha cups. DIVINE. By this time we knew, this trip was turning into a bon appetite excursion. We drove to Santa Barbara to meet SH's cousin from Philadelphia, who was on a whirlwind tour across the west coast. Student’s life is the best- Carefree, no responsibility other than your backpack and more importantly youth. Priceless.
We were delayed by the young trekkers, who lost their way in spite of the Garmin help. After spending some time on the ocean front and the Cabrillo pier we started for Solvang. After an hour n half, we reached Solvang. Stunning is to say the least. Off the highway we passed beautiful vineyards and romanticized horse ranches before we reached the Solvang downtown. Between the hills of California we found a piece of Denmark. The houses were made in West European style, in keeping with the Danish spirits. The sight totally transformed us to a dream land that was so unexpected. We had done some research and knew that the bakeries and wineries were the highlight of the town. I had shortlisted three bakeries and all of them were a must. We took a map of the town and decided to take a walk through the town. There was a horse drawn carriage with footmen wearing bright red uniforms, giving the tourists a tour of the town. We were not sure how much time this ride would take, since we wanted to devote more time to our bakery tour, we had to forgo the carriage ride. It’s on the to-do-list for the next trip. The cyberShot kept shooting at every corner. Our first stop was at the Danish Mill Bakery. We decided to sit and gorge on some chocolate pastry and Danish almond wafers. One bite and we needed to order some more frothy mocha. It was an absolute high teatime perfecto. With a renewed vigor we started our expedition across the town. They have made quaint cottages, windmills, clock towers. The town also has a mermaid fountain, a smaller version of the Copenhagen mermaid. We visited Olsen Bakery and Solvang Bakery and ordered bread, Danish cookies, ganaches, strudels, almond Kringle and Danish wafers- this meant a lot of cream, sugar and calories but we have this one life to enjoy!Righteous So!
Reached bay Area by 9pm and ordered biryani, gosht to-gos.
Now I am going through the pictures again and again and reliving the past week.
What a wonderful way to windup the year.
I offer to raise a toast to many, many and some more years of fun and happiness.

See you all nextYear!! Happy 2009
Love, luck n’ laughter!


Goofy Mumma said...

Wow what a trip.My mouth is watering at the sound of all those amazing delicacies.I want too!! By the way, you have mentioned the better half's name in full I see, was it intentional? The photos are breathtaking.

A very happy new year to you and SH.

Spontaneous Mini said...

Oops. Rectified. Thank you. Come over, lets go for a holiday together.

eve's lungs said...

Lovely pictures and descriptions - I wish you had taken more food pics though :)

Spontaneous Mini said...

Eve- Ohh I did take pics of most of the wonderful meals and dessert plates. Probably will put them on my food blog with description. Food is a big priority, me says!