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Pebble Concours 2015 winner Picmonkey 2015's Best of Show, the 1924 Isotta Fraschini

By Dan Clarke

June 28, 2016 – Even though the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is still nearly two months away, a heads-up may be timely. Car buffs not terribly deeply-pocketed may need time to adjust their budgets.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 19:52

Barnstorming the Back Country

Mark Curtsinger and Range Rover PicmonkeyMark will guide us through the woods

by Dan Clarke

We meet Mark Curtsinger in front of a restaurant on Dolores Street in Carmel. He will be driving us to our Land Rover Experience, where he will also be our instructor.

His first request is that we sign papers releasing his company from liability if something bad happens to us. I've just finished a nice lunch in the sunny courtyard of Le St. Tropez and am feeling quite relaxed . . . right up to this moment at least. Driving on cliffside roads in California and on the Amalfi Coast has caused me some trepidation in the past. The release is just a formality, Mark assures us and, as it turns out, we'll pursuing an inland course.

The press trip agenda has offered our group a choice this afternoon. We can visit a spa or opt for something called the Land Rover Experience. Just two of us intrepid souls take the latter route. Janet Fullwood, a freelance travel writer, will be joining me.

Mark drives us over to the Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley, which is home to the Land Rover facility. We're in a 2014 Range Rover Sport, which will be the vehicle we use for our introduction to off-roading. It has a 340 horsepower six-cylinder engine, which is sufficient to propel it from 0 to 60 in just under seven seconds—very quick for a vehicle this size. But as we get into the hilly roads just south of the Lodge, it's apparent that speed isn't the game here.

We're at one of four venues in North America that host the Land Rover Experience. In Quebec, there is the Fairmont Le Château Montebello. In Manchester Village, Vermont, it's the Equinox Resort and in Asheville, North Carolina the site is the Biltmore Estate. The Quail Lodge is well known for its restaurant and golf course and the atmosphere is a sort of laid-back elegance. Right next to this gentility is some rugged back country.

We climb into the hills just south of the Quail Lodge parking lot and after driving about 10 minutes Mark finds a fairly level place to stop. We get out and familiarize ourselves with our vehicle from the outside while he explains our pending adventure. There are some similarities between downhill skiing and what we're about to do, he explains. I wonder if taking a sports car quickly down a winding road is also similar. Apparently it is. Mark has made analogies that his tyros understand. But knowing a little theory doesn't assure success, I think as I slide behind the wheel for my part of the driving experience.

Range Rover coming down hill PicmonkeySome of our wheels were touching the ground

Our instructor explains each section of the course as we approach it. The roads, if you can call them that, are dirt. They wind. They go up and down. The surfaces are extremely uneven. There are dips and holes. Little rocks and big rocks. And trees. I'm no longer worried about plunging off a cliff and into the Pacific, but I am thinking that I don't want to damage this expensive carriage. Mark has the poise of a good leader or a good teacher. His instructions come across as suggestions, rather than commands. He obviously knows what he's talking about and doesn't seem at all stressed. At least a little of his confidence rubs off on me.

The Range Rover offers tools both mechanical and electronic to help us deal with the terrain. Braking and accelerating are aided by multiple options of our automatic transmission. A screen on our dashboard gives graphic information about things like whether all our wheels are in contact with the ground. This seems like wonderful technology that must make operating a vehicle in these circumstances much easier—for someone who's had more time to familiarize himself with it. I'm experiencing some sensory overload and decide to rely on a combination of natural intuition and Mark's good advice.

Range Rover dash display PicmonkeyDash display gives visual clues

While we never attain much speed, power is important. There are sections of our path filled with potential hazards. Once we decide on the line we want to take to deal with them, the judicious application of power and braking seems to be the key. There are no four-wheel drifts to get quickly through a corner on pavement, but even going very slowly our big and solid vehicle will slide a bit on these roads that seem to slant in all directions.

I've been reasonably successful in negotiating some of these obstacles without getting us stuck or damaging the Range Rover, so Mark poses another challenge. A recent group of drivers has participated in a team-building exercise which left residual slalom gates. Competing teams had points taken away when they failed to negotiate these gates flawlessly. Can I drive between the poles without touching them? Well, the road here slopes gently downward and it doesn't look too tough. However, as we get closer the gate seems only a few inches wider than we are, so it's going to be tight. I get the front end past these two poles unscathed, but we touch one of them before we've passed entirely though. How did that happen? Since it doesn't seem likely that the back half of the Range Rover is wider than its front, I figure that our road slanted in ways I hadn't realized and that we drifted just a bit on the loose road surface as we were passing though the gate. A few more of these slalom gates appear before I relinquish the the reins to my colleague, Janet. I get through one or two ok, but not all of them. No formal scorekeeping is taking place, but it's obvious this exercise could get intense in a competition.

Range Rover drivers view PicmonkeyDon't clip that tree while focusing on the gate

We haven't seen all of the property, Mark tells us as we are concluding our visit. Today the weather has been pleasant and we've had a fairly dry track. On another occasion it might be different. Rain could mean slippery conditions necessitating our choosing different routes through these hills.

All my prior experiences in four wheel drive vehicles were a while ago and none was in a Land Rover. Most of the time back roads meant back aches. Not so today, as our ride has been cushy on both paved and very unpaved roads. I've had fun and I've learned lessons about driving in rugged conditions that would apply to any vehicle.

Editor's note: The Land Rover Experience at Quail Lodge accommodates both individual participants and corporate groups. Further information can be found at www.quaillodge.com. This is the third in a series of articles on Carmel. If you're planning a visit, you should check out the Monterey County listings in Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to the sites of wineries and craft beer specialists in the area.   

Monday, 21 April 2014 11:05

Look All Around in Carmel

Carmel courtyard Look Up Look Down Picmonkey"Look up. Look down. Look all around."

by Dan Clarke

Think you know a lot about Carmel? After a walk with Gael Gallagher, you'll know a whole lot more.

A transplanted Bostonian, she has been leading tours on the Monterey Peninsula since 1984. Tuesdays through Saturdays she meets with visitors in the courtyard of the Pine Inn before leading them on a two-hour tour of Carmel-by-the-Sea. It's beautiful here. Anybody can see that. But even a frequent visitor will appreciate the area so much more after getting the stories and back stories from Gallagher. Part historical, part architectural, her tour also finds time to discuss the artists and celebrities drawn to the area over the years. The tour is a good stretch of the legs, too.

Ocean Avenue is Carmel's main street. It is avoided when my small group of travel writers accompanies Gael Gallagher on a typical walk through town. Nothing wrong with Ocean, but visitors will find that on their own, she explains. She'll take us to places we might not have seen otherwise. “Look up. Look down. Look all around you,” she tells us. Sometimes she has a story about some little thing we mightn't have noticed. Sometimes not. Maybe there is no story associated with some of what we're seeing, but we writers are having a richer experience after we take our blinders off.

Carmel tile PicmonkeyTile worthy of Spain or Portugal

We find that the Pine Inn, from whose courtyard we embark, was once called the Carmelo Hotel. In itself, this fact is not so surprising, as hotels often change names with different ownerships. However, the Carmelo was located at the corner of Ocean and the street that is now Junipero. Partially dismantled, the main building was rolled on pine logs down the dirt road that was Ocean Ave in 1906 to the corner of Monte Verde. There it became a part of the Pine Inn, several blocks to the west of its original location.

We learn that early residents opted to have all mail deliveries go to the Post Office, rather than to individual addresses. In fact, there really are no street addresses, at least not with traditional numbers. A business or residence, for instance, might be identified as being “on Seventh between Dolores and Lincoln,” sometimes with additional help such as “third house from the corner.” It's a literate little city, too. Over 3,000 of the 3,722 residents possess a library card. They read, but they also visit with their neighbors at the library, too. This sounds much more appealing than meeting your friends at a Starbuck's in the mall (There are no Starbucks or other chains outlets here, by the way, though there are plenty of spots to get a cup of coffee).

There are many art galleries and our tour guide tells that community really does have a history of being a community of artists. There were—and still are—painters, sculptors and writers, too. Jack London and John Steinbeck are just a couple in that latter category who didn't just visit, but lived in the area—at least for a while. We're led into Dawson Cole Fine Art, where we're encouraged to touch the Richard MacDonald sculptures, even spin them around on their swivel bases to appreciate all their angles. Later we visit Lulu's Silk Art Gallery, where we see an exquisite piece of silk embroidered on both sides—apparently, a couple of years work for two artists in China.

Carmel old couple in bronze PicmonkeyAn older couple we met in the park

Currently Clint Eastwood might be the most notable celebrity and Gallagher fills us in on his term as Carmel's Mayor, then walks us by the courtyard of the Hog's Breath Inn, the San Carlos Street restaurant and bar he used to own. Doris Day lives in retirement in nearby Carmel Valley, but is a part owner of the Cypress Inn at Lincoln and Seventh. Though Vincent van Gogh did not live in Carmel, a connection resides here. A table purported to be the one on which he took his meals when painting in Provence is in Casanova Restaurant at Mission and Fifth, one of the many businesses Gallagher introduces us to.

There is so much to see and so many stories to hear. There are times we pause for reflection and maybe an anecdote or two from our leader, but for the most part we are on the go. In two hours time Gael Gallagher relates an amazing amount of Carmel lore. She doesn't lack for energy and generally is in the lead as our little troupe steps briskly from location to location. But it's not just her physical vibrancy that impresses. She has the passion of someone who loves her community and enjoys telling us everything about it. Details about her tours can be found at www.CarmelWalks.com.

Editor's note: This is the second in our April series of Carmel articles. A Visit to Carmel appeared earlier in the month and several other pieces will follow. If you're thinking of visiting the area, you may want to first check out the Monterey County listings in the Central Coast section of Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to websites of area wineries and craft beer specialists.

Monday, 07 April 2014 02:33

A Visit to Carmel

 

Cottage in  Carmel PicmonkeyOriginal cottages are well maintainedby Dan Clarke

 

Never before have I written the word charming and won't now. A visit to Roget's Thesaurus may now be necessary, however, because Carmel is special.

Situated on the Monterey Peninsula, about 120 miles south of San Francisco, Carmel is actually more than one place. Carmel-by-the-Sea, the original settlement developed by James Devendorf and Frank Powers lies just west of Highway One. Carmel Valley is accessed from just a bit south on Highway One. It, too, is beautiful, but in a different way.

Like avocados, foie gras and cigars, Carmel may be a good thing that's an acquired taste. With no flashing lights and no obvious bells and whistles, it might be too subtle for some. I liked it when visiting with my parents long ago. Maybe I was a prodigy. Years later when my Rugby teams were playing in the Monterey Invitational Tournament on the nearby Polo Fields at Pebble Beach, I'd be sure the weekend included visits to Carmel for tea and scones at the Tuck Box on Dolores, a beer or two at a pub called the Red Lion and maybe a glass of wine at La Playa or the Pine Inn. These were genteel offsets to the rigorous competition of the weekend.

More recently I've covered the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where some of the world's most gorgeous automobiles are displayed one Sunday each August on the 18th fairway of that storied golf course. Afterward, I would swing over to Carmel for dinner where cars good enough to be entered in lesser competitions might be parked right on the streets next to my own more modest transportation.

When a recent invitation came to join a few fellow journalists in further investigation of Carmel, I didn't hesitate. There are more stories from that visit than can be told in just one article. Today begins a series of them.

fountain at The Vagabonds Inn Picmonkey Courtyard fountain at Vagabond's House

The vibe in Carmel is more old money than new. There's a lot of tweed and cashmere worn here and both locals and visitors seem relaxed and comfortable. They're friendly, too. Trudging back up Ocean Avenue from a morning walk to the beach (“six blocks down the hill, twenty blocks back,” as one of the locals explained it), I glance into the open door of the realty office of Alain Pinel as I turn at the Dolores intersection. “Nice day, isn't it?” a man at a desk says to me. Indeed it is. There's a little overcast, but we both know the sun will likely burn through in an hour or so. Having noticed the property listings in the windows of this and other real estate offices, I half-jokingly ask the fellow if the sweet spot for residences is between $2 and 2.5 million. There are some nice ones at that price, he responds, but also some closer to a million. We share five or ten minutes of cordial conversation. I learn that Jack Gelke came to the area quite a while ago when attending the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. He met his wife-to-be here and returned to stay. Jack seems a friendly and easy-going guy—the kind of realtor I'd want to do business with if only I could afford a home here.

Jim at Greens Camera in Carmel PicmonkeyJim at Green's Camera CenterOn this visit I stayed at The Vagabond's House at Dolores and Fourth, which is just a couple of blocks off Ocean Ave. A small, two-story property, it's obvious that the place was built in another era. It's also obvious that it has undergone restoration and substantial upgrading. The front office staff all seem very competent, but relaxed in a friendly sort of way. Room Twelve has a fireplace, separate tub and shower and radiantly-heated tile floor in the bathroom. The towels are longer and thicker than most. A light breakfast and pot of tea or coffee is delivered each morning.

On the second day in Carmel my new Olympus locks up and I'm reduced to taking pictures with my iPhone. Figuring the larger neighboring city of Monterey will have a camera shop that can help me, I return to Vagabond's House and ask the desk clerk if he knows such a place. He replies that I needn't drive over to Monterey, as there is a camera shop just two blocks away. At Green's Carmel Camera Center at Fifth and San Carlos I meet Jim. I discover he's originally from King City and, while new to Green's, worked with cameras for 20 years in Monterey. We shoot the breeze while he takes a look. I notice boxes of film—artifacts of another era—on shelves behind him. This is a serious camera shop; one I surmise that can serve needs of photographers more sophisticated than I. Jim fiddles with the Olympus a bit and shoots my picture. Voilà! It seems to work now. He can't exactly explain what he did, but tells me—and not in an immodest way—that people frequently hand him broken equipment that will work in his hands. He's a healer and he refuses payment for his labor. I shoot his picture before departing with my reborn camera.

Brophys Tavern logoWe visitors have been seeing the sights each day and enjoying the hospitality arranged by our hosts, but on the way home from dinner each evening I stop for a nightcap at Brophy's Tavern, which is just a block up the hill from my digs. It's a comfortable spot and, but for the five or six tv screens showing sports, seems to have a traditional pub atmosphere. Audio for all those screens is mercifully turned off, so conversation for those at the bar and at the tables is possible. My drink the first evening is a craft beer at $6 for a pint. The second night I'm in the mood for maybe one glass of good whiskey. The barman is wearing a Cali baseball cap in a style that covers the top of his ears. He doesn't look like any of the guys who poured for me in Edinburgh, but he's pleasant and seems to understand single malts. He has several options in the category, and holds up a couple of esoteric bottles he assumes I might recognize. His trump card is a Glenfiddich, a label with which I am familiar. But this is the 18-year old Glenfiddich and better, in his opinion, than a couple of the other more-exotic options.

It is splendid. I am getting down to the last couple of sips when Cali pours a substantial refresher of the 18-year old into the glass. That's happened to me with beer, but never before with a call whiskey—at least not in a house where I'm a stranger. Our group of writers has been walking the streets and lanes of Carmel all day and into the evening. I'm getting tired, but Vagabond's House is just a block away—and downhill. The tab for my drink is $19 and I add a decent tip before heading for home. All's right with the world.

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles about Carmel. The second of these is Look All Around in Carmel. Others will run later in April. If you're planning a visit to this area, check out the Monterey County listings in the Central Coast section of Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of Lodging and Dining options in Carmel, as well as other communities on the Monterey Peninsula. Also in the directory are links to the sites of area wineries and craft beer specialists.

Friday, 04 April 2014 13:33

Wine Pick of the Week for April 4, 2014

Caraccioli Brut Rose bottles Picmonkey2007 Brut Rosé

 

Caraccioli Cellars

Santa Lucia Highlands

Alcohol: 12%

Suggested Retail: $57

 

Taste California Travel  discovered this week's 'Pick' on a recent visit to Carmel. In an all-too-brief visit to the winery's tasting room we had time to try the Brut Rosé and a still wine, their 2009 Pinot Noir ($47).

“Most Monterey County wineries are situated close to their vineyards. While they have access to some wonderful fruit, most of the vineyards supplying it are off the tourist track. Lately these wineries have been opening tasting rooms closer to where the visitors are—the City of Monterey, Carmel Valley and the City of Carmel, itself. We'd not visited the Caraccioli Cellars tasting room on Dolores Street in Carmel by the Sea, nor in fact had we even heard of Caraccioli. It was a delightful surprise. Though the room has a sophisticated vibe (appropriate for quality sparkling wine), the servers were friendly, as well as knowledgeable.

“Though Caraccioli Cellars has very small production (less than 1,000 cases of the 2007 vintage of our reviewed wine were produced—759 of the standard 750ml bottles and 115 magnums), it has attracted a world class winemaker, Michel Salgues, who made wine for Roederer Estate for 20 years. He's now doing consulting and works with the Caraccioli's other winemaker, Joe Rawitzer.

“The 2007 Brut Rosé pairs the restrained power of great California fruit with the elegance and style of French Champagne. It's fuller, rounder than any blanc de noirs and even more so than most rosés, but still expresses a delicacy. The rest of the afternoon could happily have been spent tasting other Caraccioli wines—or maybe even having another glass of the rosé—but we'd spent enough time to discover an exemplary sparkling wine.”

Sunday, 06 January 2013 16:18

July 15-29, 2017 Carmel Bach Festival

Region: Central Coast     City: Carmel     Contact: http://www.bachfestival.org/

Wednesday, 12 September 2012 11:10

72 Hours in Carmel-by-the-Sea - An Insiders Guide

As visitors arrive in the quaint coastal Central California enclave of Carmel-by- the-Sea, a collective sigh of relief is carried on the cool ocean air. Park the car. You won’t need it for the next 72 hours. Welcome to the insiders guide to Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA. 

Day 1: Pop the cork and celebrate with a refreshing glass of sparkling wine at Caraccioli Cellars, just the way to ease into your stay. Before checking in to one of the 45+ inns or hotels,  check out the shopping – day 1 begins.

Stop in at the Carmel Plaza and welcome our newest neighbor Kate Spade to the village. A shot of color adds a bright cheery feel to the already flower lined promenade. Across the way visitors will find Blue Lemon, where jewelry-making classes can be scheduled and taken or hand crafted designs can be purchased. If visitors are lucky Pamplemousse on Ocean Avenue may be hosting one of their prominent trunk shows, displaying their eclectic wares. For the eco-conscious, Eco-Carmel on San Carlos between 7th Carmel Beach PickmonkeyCarmel Bay through the Cypress trees.& 8th offers unique, earth friendly products. With many more options lining the streets of Carmel-by-the-Sea, it may be time to stop in for lunch and a quick nip to settle into “vacation mode.”After working up an appetite from shopping, experience the latest expansion of David Fink’s empire, 400°’s Gourmet Burgers & Fries. Burgers, fries, hot dogs, and shakes as well as kids meals are all on the menu. For a more refined lunch, try any of the Firok Shield’s family restaurants (he has three in Carmel), or Portabella on Ocean, located within a quaint Comstock cottage, or Patisserie Boissiere.

Time to walk off lunch and prepare for the remaining hours ahead. Make your next stop the Carmel Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center on San Carlos between 5th & 6th. Here you can pick up the Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea wine tasting passport, which is good all weekend long and can be used at your leisure. Be sure to stop in at the newest tasting room, Manzoni Cellars.

Upon arrival at the hotel, you'll be welcomed by one of the friendly innkeepers in our city. One of the many unique aspects of the square mile of the Carmel-by-Sea is that the innkeepers staff a 24 hour reservation line. If visitors call and there is the proverbial “no room at the inn,” then they will continue down the list of properties until they find a property with a room available. It's not a matter of competition among inns, just a desire to please the guest on the end of the line.

As the evening ensues, be sure to check the schedule for one of the upcoming events in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The Sunset Center (www.sunsetcenter.org) is spectacular and worthy of top national performances with an amazing cast of performers scheduled including Kenny Loggins, Bob Newhart, A Rock Tribute to Led Zeppelin, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Ira Glass and many more. Though you won’t need your electric car for another 48 hours, there are four stations available at the Sunset Center offering free service if you would like to charge it.

And the sun sets on day 1.

Day 2: A morning stroll along Ocean Avenue leads to one of the most pristine beaches in America. If a four-legged friend is your travel companion, this beach is leash-free for dogs. If you would rather not get sand between your toes, turn left on Scenic Avenue for a gentle walk along a guided path. With Point Lobos to the South and Pebble Beach to the north, a more stunning landscape and stretch of coastline would be hard to find.

Stop off for breakfast or coffee at a local eatery. You won’t find any chain restaurants or fast food in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Em Lee’s has been open since 1955, so they have lots of practice serving up a fine breakfast. If coffee and a pastry is more your style, on Ocean Avenue you will find Carmel Bakery, Carmel Valley Roasting Company and Carmel Coffee House. And just off the beaten path, you will find Pastries & Petals.Carmel Courtyard PicmonkeyPath to courtyard has old world feel.

Before you get back to your inn, be sure to check out a few of the more than 40+ courtyards that grace the village. The newest mayor of Carmel, Jason Burnett, has been seen favoring El Paseo Courtyard, where visitors will see a sculpture done by Jo Mora in 1927, who also did the sarcophagus of Father Junipero Serra at the Carmel Mission. Visitors and locals are often surprised by the public displays of art that are found in side courtyards as a little delight for taking a “road less traveled.” As a side note, it has been over 20 years since “Dirty Harry” was mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, but visitors continue to ask, “Is Clint Eastwood still the mayor?” We are not sure which courtyard is Clint’s favorite, but highly recommend are the Court of the Fountains, Piccadilly Courtyard and Cinderella Lane.

The community has been renowned as a mecca for artists, writers and musicians since the turn of the last century. American Style named Carmel one of its “Top 25 Art Destinations in the U.S.” in 2012. The remarkable artist enclave tucked between Big Sur and Pebble Beach has Bohemian roots reaching back over a hundred years. It has been a retreat for the likes of Salvador Dali and Ansel Adams and some of the over 100+ art galleries in Carmel-by-the-Sea still display their work. The Carmel Art Association (www.carmelart.org), established in 1927, is celebrating an 85 year history. With 200 active members made up of local artists, the association also has the unique distinction of being the oldest gallery in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Perhaps you'll be in town on one of the many days when an event is hosted. The fall lineups at the historic Golden Bough Playhouse, the intimate Circle theaters, and famous outdoor Forest Theater include Beauty & the Beast, Julius Ceasar, and Much Ado About Nothing. (www.pacrep.org). Carmel Authors & Ideas Festival arrives in town September 28-30, (www.carmelauthors.com/festival). The Carmel Chamber of Commerce hosts their 24th Annual Taste of Carmel Masquerade Ball Thursday, October 4th, 6pm-9pm(no mask necessary). (www.carmelcalifornia.org). The Carmel Art & Film Festival, October 10-14, (www.carmelartandfilm.com) was founded in 2008 by fine artist Tom Burns and Erin Clark. The festival gives artists a platform and voice to pursue their creative visions and share them with the world.

Carmel Cheese Shop PicmonkeyChoose cheese for your picnic.Ready to begin Happy Hour? By all means, go where the locals go: Terry’s Lounge (inside the famous Doris Day’s Cypress Inn) offers Yappy Hour and live music for you and well-leashed guests. Il Fornaio has the best deal in town with a $5 menu including select food, wine and cocktails, plus $3 beers. Or, if visitors like an atmosphere of see-and-be-seen, then Vesuvio is open, with expanded Starlight 65 lounge rooftop deck with a great happy hour. It serves an “Adult Happy Meal”—complete with gourmet cheese burger, fries and your choice of a Rum & Coke or Whiskey & Coke. If pubs and cheers for beers is more up your alley, than Brophy’s Tavern is the place for Monday Night Football, and Jack London’s has regular live music and sports TVs. A.W. Shucks on Ocean Avenue remains a locals and visitors favorite oyster bar and grill respite.

After a busy day, grab a picnic basket and a bottle of wine with delectables from Salumeria Luca, The Cheese Shop, Bruno’s Market, or Nielson Brothers Market and walk down to the beach. Watch the sun as it sinks into the Pacific, than cozy up and gaze at the stars while you enjoy your wine, listening to the sound of the surf on the sand.

If you still need something to nosh on after star gazing, Mundaka serves dinner until 11 with house music and old movies shot onto the wall; at Gabe Georis’ restaurant you now are able to get a mixed drink since they acquired the new liquor license. As you belly up to the bar, take note of the reclaimed wood from Big Sur. Demetra Café and the newly expanded Constance lounge are also a fantastic option, with spontaneous singing, and cork popping.When you are at Demetra, you’re part of the family, opa!

Day 3: Greet the morning with a soothing yoga class on the beach offered by Lululemon (www.lululemon.com/carmel). Or if the sirens of the water call your name, then learn to surf with Noah Greenberg of Carmel Surf Lessons (www.carmelsurflessons.com)/ He's been teaching surfing since 1986. Noah provides all the equipment and offers groups or private session. Work out the muscles and stop in at one of Carmel's day spas to primp and pamper yourself before you get on your way. Signature Day Spa (www.signature dayspa.com) is a full service salon ready to work out the kinks.

You’ve worked up an appetite now, and rest assured it can be assuaged with Carmel Food Tours. This newest tour in town offers tastings of foods and wines that help visitors become acquainted with the unique history and culture of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The food tour takes visitors through passageways and alleys before arrival at each culinary destination. A favorite stop among guests is La Bicyclette Restaurant. Walter Georis is best known for his famous Casanova Restaurant, but La Bicyclette is another of his success stories. All of the tour restaurants, tasting rooms and shops are pleased to spend time with the tourists and can explain in detail what they will be tasting.

Since you have enjoyed your stay and now are an insider, you shouldn't go without knowing some quirky laws to share with your friends when you get back home. By now you’ve become aware that there are no addresses on businesses or cottages. Carmel’s founding fathers rejected the practice of house-to-house mail delivery in favor of a central post office to encourage neighborly visits in town. Visitors will not find parking meters, streetlights, or sidewalks outside of Carmel’s downtown commercial area and permits are required for high heels. No hot dog stands are allowed and you can thank Former Mayor Clint Eastwood for repealing the law originally on the books for no ice cream eating permitted on city streets.

Carmel-by- the-Sea lives up to its reputation as one of America's top travel destinations with a host of exciting fall events during the best weather of the season.

Carmel-by-the-Sea's official travel website is www.carmelcalifornia.com.

TravMedia sources contributed to this article.

Editor's Note: If you are thinking about a visit to the Central Coast, visit the Resource Directory of Taste California Travel. There you will find links to the websites of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to nearby wineries and beer-centric establishments.

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