Carmel & Big Sur

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Taking Back Sunday goes south for a relaxing weekend in Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur! The first of the two part posts will be about cruising along the PCH or Highway 1 from Carmel down to Big Sur.

Friday night, JC arrived in Carmel-by-the-Sea and we went to Casanova to enjoy a nice dinner to start off the weekend. Casanova had a very charming vibe that matches the town of Carmel. We had spinach gnocchi, seared jumbo scallops, linguini alla scapesce, and creme brulee.

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We then headed back to hotel and made some s’mores in the fireplace.

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The next morning, we left Carmel around 10AM and headed down south for about an hour drive.  It’s an excellent view along the coastline, driving in and out of the fog and seeing the landscape change. There are several scenic points along the drive to stop at and enjoy the view. A worthwhile stop is at Bixby Bridge, particularly before driving over the bridge. It’s a great spot for pictures. We also highly recommend walking behind the bridge to get a view of the bridge and the ocean.

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For lunch, we stopped at Nepenthe, which came highly recommended by my co-workers. Unfortunately, there was too much fog that we were unable to see the famous view from the restaurant.  We were still able to enjoy lunch on the outdoor patio despite the fog.

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After lunch, we headed further south, down to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. You can park on the side of Highway 1 to avoid the parking fee. The walk is a very easy and short one to a viewing point for the McWay Falls, a waterfall onto the beach.

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After the falls, we turned around and headed back north to Pfeiffer Beach. There’s traces of purple in the sand.

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Another hike we were considering was in the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

In the late afternoon, we went to Refuge to enjoy some quality relaxation time. For $39, you can stay however long you want at the saunas (there is a eucalytpus steam sauna and a hot sauna) and pools of various temperatures, no appointment necessary.

We tried to catch the sunset in Carmel at Ocean Avenue and Scenic Road, but again, the clouds and fog were in our way.

We dined at Passionfish in Pacific Grove for our late dinner, known for its reasonably priced wine selection. The bread offered comes with a smooth garlic butter. In addition to its wine, Passionfish is also known for its use of sustainable and local seafood. We started off with the dungess crab cake with lime relish and had entrees of halibut with mushroom soubise, sugar snap peas, and warm bacon vinaigrette and tilapia with thyme mashed potatoes, soybeans, and red wine-balsamic butter. Neither of us are very familiar with our wines, but with the recommendation from our waitress for a sweeter white wine, we chose a half bottle of 2011 Selbach-Oster Riesling to pair with our dinner. Of course, there is always room for dessert and the banana bread pudding was a nice end to our packed, but relaxing Saturday.

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Photos by CH and via Yelp and Yelp

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