Big Sur: LA to Cambria


Mon 29 Aug: LA to Cambria

Coffee in The Grove

Said goodbye to Rebecca and her lovely house in LA.I still felt we hadn’t done LA justice at all; I’d wanted to see The Grove too, so we headed there for a breakfast coffee and pastry. Parking is free if you buy something – anything, even a newspaper – from one of the shops. Took a wander through the fish market and cafes, then headed along the pedestrianized streets, squeaky clean and really attractive, very upmarket. Would have loved more time here! Sat in the morning sunshine enjoying a Latte and pastry in a corner café, sitting under big yellow sunshades. It was all very quiet.

Santa Monica

Then it was a quick drive up through Beverly Hills again as we realised we hadn’t been down Santa Mon- ic – a Boul – evard yet! (Sheryl Crow’s great song playing rhythmically in my head). Had to do that though it wasn’t, to be honest, anything special though Santa Monica was. We then made the mistake of sticking to the Boulevard itself to get down to the coast, instead of using the Freeway and it took forever.

Got parked in an underground car park near the beach and pier and headed, in the heat, onto the front. What a really nice place! Very tidy and clean and lined with tall palm trees. Immaculate beach and of course, we can never resist a wander out along those lovely old piers. Lots of restaurants and gift shops. Decided to have a coffee and just sit by the ocean and enjoy the gulls crying and the happy , lively atmosphere. These Southern Cal beach towns are very attractive. Venice however, would have to wait till next time. We had some mileage to get under our belts.

It was lunchtime by now, much later than we’d meant to set off. Back onto Hwy 1, up through Malibu again on a fast road, busy but ok. Managed to miss the turn off onto the Santa Barbara by- pass and headed into fruit farm country for a good15 mins before we realised we’d lost the ocean! Groan. Had to turn round and reverse, not easy with no turn – offs and tractors bumping along all over the place. How can you miss the Highway 1? Well, if you’re us, you can. Numpties!

‘Thar she blows’ at Pismo Beach

It was an uneventful drive up, not particularly scenic or interesting until we arrived at Pismo Beach. Stopped for a stretch of the legs and a wander along another pier in glorious sunshine. It looked a pleasant, family orientated place, all spades and sandcastles. The beach was huge and went on for miles into much lonelier looking territory which was more appealing. We were just surveying the ocean, when we spied the blow of whales! One…two…another…hard to tell, but around 6 in total (we presumed humpbacks) making their way north.

I was really keen to see the other towns round here so we stopped also at Avila which was ok. It looked quite a tidy wee place with an attractive oak lined golf course sitting inland. Very nice but not somewhere I would have wanted to stay as such.

Whizzed past Morro Bay as time was getting on now and finally, signs for Cambria appeared. I liked the look of it immediately, the nicest place we’d seen so far on the drive, a bit like Carmel.

Cambria at last

Found our Airbnb quickly, a really lovely house of which we had the whole upper portion. Excellent views to the ocean and really, it was just gorgeous accommodation all round. We had a large sitting area, with big picture windows, a fridge, nice bathroom. Decor was very beach housey. Loved it. It was in the coastal part of Cambria (the main village with shops is inland a little),the opposite end to Moonstone Beach and bordering the Fiscalini ranch.


Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill

Decided we’d eat out tonight, so dumped a bag each with a change of clothes in the house and drove to Moonstone Bay , where there was quite a choice of dining places in a great location overlooking the ocean. Plumped for the Moonstone Beach Bar and Grill, mainly because it had a great location and outlook over the beach across the main road.It was very busy but we got seated in a good spot. Chris ordered clams to start and I had Coconut Prawns, which I’d grown to love here. Both were quite good – my prawns weren’t quite as tasty as in Geoffrey’s in Malibu and were about the same price. Then I had steak and garlic mash while Chris chose a Californian speciality, a sort of seafood stew called Cioppino. My steak was fine but the mash could have done without the garlic added which was unpleasantly strong (what’s wrong with just serving a big plate of creamy buttered mash?) Chris will eat most things but much as he likes seafood, he didn’t enjoy his own dish at all. Having gone to Boarding School in his teens, he’s very good at finishing whatever is in front of him, but the way they’d cooked and marinated the shellfish wasn’t to his or my palate at all. Overall, it wasn’t our best meal out. The woman serving us was quite brusque too; it was one of the few poor service experiences we had in three weeks. Ah well, the location was good.

Had a short walk along the boardwalk, bordering a lovely bit of coastline with beautiful wildflowers. Then the lovely sunset was over sunset was over, We had packed a lot in the day but that meant we ran out of time to enjoy Cambria and that great house more. Definitely tried to see and do too much.

Previous Day California: 2 nights in LA   Next Day  – Big Sur coast: Cambria to Carmel


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