Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Travel Soothes the Soul

You might have noticed I took a few days off from my Update Desk duties earlier this month.

Good morning, it's Sara Celi.

As I've said in earlier blog posts, I've been spending a lot of my free time on the West Coast with my husband, who is out there temporarily. Recently, I took a few extra days to make the most of my limited time in California.

I was sure glad I did.

On day one, we headed north.

We'd talked in the past about visiting Santa Barbara, a small beach town just north of Los Angeles, and on this visit we buckled down and made the hour and a half drive through the hills to central California. I didn't know what we'd find when we got there.

Boy, was I surprised.

Santa Barbara is one of those small towns that plays much bigger than it's population count might lead you to believe. It's home to UCSB (a team my WKU Hilltoppers often play in sports), and has the sleepy, laid back cadence that often comes out in the best college towns in America. It also has a gorgeous beach and a bustling downtown that's full of shops, restaurants, bars, and museums.

Sean and I stopped for lunch at The Anderson's when we got into town. It's a small cafe and Danish bakery on the main downtown strip. We had a quiet lunch, and as we left the woman behind the counter let me try a sample of their marzipan tart. It might be one of the best desserts I have ever tasted.

After lunch, we spent about three hours walking the blocks that make up Santa Barbara's downtown. Most of the central business district looks like a small Spanish settlement, with stucco and twisted wrought iron to decorate the storefronts. On this sunny late winter day, neither of us could think of a better place to be that walking in the downtown.

What I loved most about the area around Santa Barbara was how drastic the landscape changed. The town itself is right on the Pacific, but as we left the town that afternoon, I watched the rolling hills of Central California open up like Tuscany.

We were on our way to Solvang, CA. More on that, tomorrow.

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