Friday, May 6, 2011

2:2:2 CARMEL

It's a new Muse travel feature - the 2:2:2. This time, 2 places to eat, 2 things to do, and 2 ways to relax in Carmel, California.

The East Coast Muse and her lover traveled to the West Coast to meet up with six other couple friends for the Big Sur International Marathon the weekend of April 29-May 2. Don't be too impressed - she only ran a 10.6-mile race. Regardless - it was a wonderful weekend spent on the Monterey Peninsula. It was really the perfect weekend - the weather was gorgeous, the scenery breathtaking as always and the time spent with friends enriching (including a brief stopover in San Francisco to meet up with her totally platonic soul mate, the West Coast Muse). Here is the 2:2:2 based on this exciting weekend.

Katy's Place, in Carmel-by-the-Sea. A perfect little brunch spot in cozy Carmel-by-the-Sea with the most delectable brunch menu. Since my recovering-Austinite husband and I are deprived of good Tex-Mex in Washington, D.C., we both sprang for Tex-Mex brunch items: the huevos rancheros and the Mission Cookout, and we highly recommend both. Katy's Place also serves up amazing blintzes, French toast, and has an entire page of the menu devoted to different varieties of eggs benedict. You can't go wrong. But try to show up a little earlier than later - this place gets packed, and fast.

I'm really struggling to name just one other place to eat, because there are SO many wonderful places. But I'm going to recommend Roy's at Pebble Beach (although Casanova, also in Carmel-by-the-Sea is divine, with impeccable service). You may wonder why I'm recommending a chain restaurant. Don't be deceived. This is THE original Roy's Steakhouse, owned by Roy Yamaguchi, the James Beard award-winner, in the club house nestled in the Pebble Beach golf course with astonishing views of the ocean. Be sure to make your dinner reservations for the outdoor terrace at 5:30 p.m. - every evening at 5:45 p.m. a Scottish bagpiper strolls along the sea, piping his melodic and melancholy music for all to hear. You don't want to miss it.

I'm a runner, so I highly recommend a long run along the hills and the coastline. But if you're not feeling that ambitious, at the very least go for a long hike. You don't want to miss these views. Pack some water and snacks, and of course your sunscreen. It's always a bit cool along the coast, so you can use the sweatshirt you ended up tying around your waist as a beach blanket once you take a seat.

Do some shopping. Why not? Help boost this little town's economy (not that they need it, but hey - the shopping is great anyway). There is a nearby shopping center with stores such as Anthropologie, Coach, Cole Haan and more. Plus there is a plethora of tiny boutiques. One Muse favorite is Tea Rose Collection in Carmel-by-the-Sea (you know how we love tea). If shopping isn't your thing, you can also check out some of the nearby vineyards and do a wine tasting tour.

Stay at Vagabond's House Inn, in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The proprietor, Thomas, is the cutest little hipster-surfer you ever did see, and he's so kind, so soft-spoken, so gentle, so helpful. He makes the stay worth it in and of itself. Every room is a little different, and most include fireplaces and bathtubs (!) There is a wine reception every evening, and you can enjoy breakfast in bed or in the gorgeous courtyard, surrounded by rhododendron, camelias, and other lush plant life. You can literally feel yourself unwind when you walk into the place. And of course, be sure to walk around the adorable town of Carmel-by-the-Sea - you can walk anywhere you'd like to go and the pace of life is so nice and slow.

Go spend some time at the Spa at Pebble Beach. You may see a celebrity or two (Chef Anne Burrell was getting a massage at the same time I was!) and the spa menu is extensive. Bring your bathing suit, or rent one from the front desk so you can enjoy the sauna and jacuzzi after your treatment. A locker for your items and a lush robe and slippers to relax in are provided. Also, the ladies' locker room has everything you could ever think of needing, so once your pampering and treatments are over, shower and get ready for dinner or your next activity right there.

If you take a weekend jaunt to the Monterey Bay Area, this should keep you well-fed, with plenty to do...or not do. For more info on what's happening in Carmel, check out the town's fab website.

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