Well, another trip of course! A few weeks after returning from Iceland we were feeling down in the dumps. There’s always the initial high in the week after you return from a great trip; sharing stories, posting blogs, looking at photos, recalling scenes from all the adventures. And then, like a ton of bricks you’re back to the normal day-to-day. We’re lucky in the fact that we are pretty happy with our day-to-day but let’s be honest, it doesn’t trump strolling through the streets of Paris or climbing glaciers in Iceland.
We’re like hounds on a duck hunt when it comes to sniffing out travel deals. Like we’ve mentioned, we miss California so when a last-minute deal for roundtrip tickets to Santa Cruz popped up for $189 each, we jumped on it! It also doesn’t hurt that we have two very dear friends who happen to live smack dab on the beach and two more who were willing to drive up from L.A. to hangout for the weekend. Score!
It was also exciting because in the years we lived in California we never made it up to Santa Cruz, so it was a new destination to explore. Santa Cruz is a mid-sized beach town. It’s uber chill with an anything goes attitude. It kind of reminds me of a cleaner version of Venice Beach. The downtown area is lined with character and chock-full of independently owned stores. A few chains like GAP and H&M have made their way in but not without resistance from the locals.
True surfer dudes lined the streets armed head-to-toe with Hurley gear, shaggy hair and skateboards. In this town, it’s not just a fashion statement; it’s a way of life. I’ve never been a fan of the flat billed hat look but here, it works. The shop owners were friendly, welcoming us with a very relaxed “what’s up?” Not with attitude mind you, with a genuine suave coolness that can’t be faked. If you’re a bookworm definitely make a stop into Bookshop Santa Cruz, an independent bookstore. A rare thing these days, it’s always nice to encounter one that is flourishing (or at least appears to be). They have a great travel book section and tons of quirky gifts. Our favorite shop? A twist on the original pop-up shop, a permanent yard sale just outside of downtown featuring an assortment of flannels.
Some of the friends we were visiting are former Slugs so we spent one of our afternoons strolling through the UC Santa Cruz campus. WOW. What an amazing campus! I’m not sure that I would have ever made it to class. The university is tucked away in a beautiful forest overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Monterey Bay. It’s pretty common to see deer grazing on your way to class. That alone blew my mind! Sure enough, we saw more than one during our short walk.
The campus is set up very differently from most universities that I’ve seen. All of the buildings are very spread out and there is no central meeting place or courtyard like most colleges. Due to the rise of protests, counterculture and general unrest in the mid-1960s, the school kept all of the buildings and dorms spread out, making it harder for students to congregate in one area should they want to run-a-muck.
Learning to surf comes shortly after baby’s first steps or at least it seems. Men, women and children of all ages could be seen toting boards to the beach throughout the day (even despite the cooler temps). Dad’s teaching their youngsters to catch the waves at just the right moment and teenagers testing their limits floating further and further away from the shoreline. It was pretty cool to peer out upon a sea of surfers in the middle of December.
We learned all about the history of surfing culture at the Santa Cruz Surf Museum. The museum has a great collection of surfing paraphernalia set in an adorable small lighthouse right along the water. The Santa Cruz coastline is actually among an elite handful that have been established as a World Surfing Reserve.
The most interesting thing we encountered in Santa Cruz was not a museum, breathtaking scenery or a historical landmark. No, it was something much more strange…and much more low brow. THE BACON BOMB. We met the bacon bomb at a great little breakfast and lunch joint called The Harbor Cafe. Our innocent brunch quickly changed its tune with the introduction of this strange cocktail concoction. The bacon bomb consists of champagne, red bull, a shot of Jameson and a thick salty slab of crispy bacon. It sounds like a strange medley but surprisingly the odd combination works. I’ve also heard it’s a great option if you’re in need of a little hair of the dog.
Cheers to Santa Cruz!