Carmel-by-the-Sea

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One of my favorite things to do in the whole world is travel.  I particularly like travelling back to my favorite places and Carmel, California is one of them.  I lived in the San Francisco East Bay Area for 14-years before relocating to central Texas.  Places like Tahoe, Santa Cruz, and Carmel were in my backyard and I visited them as often as possible.

Recently, my husband and I went home for a visit and Carmel was the first road trip we took from our home base in Concord.  I couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather.  Down on the beach I even got to wear a sweater!  It was sunny, breezy, and most importantly . . . NOT humid!

Before heading to the beach, we took in a little shopping downtown.  I am convinced that if you can’t find it in Carmel, it may not exist.  The shopping there is incomparable simply because of the sheer number and variety of shops.  Not to mention, each shop is unique.  No cookie-cutter buildings here.  Stone paved alleyways, fountained courtyards, and lush greenery add charm and beauty.  Outdoor malls as well as family-owned shops carry everything from tobacco to artisanal soap and skin care.  There are quaint coffee shops galore, and cozy, tucked-away restaurants.

One of our first stops was Thinker Toys on San Carlos & 7th, where we found an awesome stuffed turtle for our daughter.  There’s the Hat Shop Carmel at Ocean and San Carlos if chapeaus are your thing.  We also stopped in at the Soiled Doves Bath House on Dolores St. and chatted with the lovely proprietress – Betsy Durnell. The shop is located in an historic cottage built in 1926 and originally owned by one of Carmel’s first business owners, a woman. Ms. Darnell sells all kinds of soaps and skincare from local sources as well as from all over the world.  There’s also an interesting story behind the name of the shop, which you can learn about on their website.

After strolling through shops, we stopped for a yummy panino at Salumeria Luca Italian grocery and deli, also on Dolores St.  It’s cute and quaint, like Carmel itself, and the food is delicious.  After lunch we hit the beach.  I’ll admit, I’ve never been to any of the famous beaches outside the U.S., so I can’t speak to those.  Of all the beaches I have seen, Carmel is the most beautiful to me.  The color of the water, the sand, the dolphins that can often be spotted just offshore, all make it incomparable in my mind.

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The beach is my happy place, and the beach I am the most happy at is Carmel.  The charming town itself is just icing on the cake.  I don’t need to travel outside the U.S. for turquoise waters and soothing ocean breezes.  Just send me to Carmel.

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