Monday, July 29, 2013

West Coast Adventure

We just got back from a week in the San Jose area of California.  We headed west to meet our son's fiancee's family who live in San Jose.  Our son and his fiancee live in Los Angeles but they also took most of the week off to head north.  They wanted all of us to tour their wedding venue in Carmel.

We had a wonderful time meeting the family, and I think the feeling was mutual.  They went out of their way to be sure that we enjoyed ourselves.   My husband and I stayed at a very comfortable hotel about 5 minutes from their house and we spent our days playing tourist and most of our evenings sharing great Vietnamese food at their home.  Our first night however, we met V's parents (without the kids!) and we went to Santana Row in San Jose for dinner

Our biggest adventure was our trip into San Francisco the first day.  Although I'd been to SF once before, my husband had never been so he wanted to see a few of the major sights.  Unfortunately, it was pretty foggy all day, so he didn't get the great view of the Golden Gate that we'd hoped for.

 We drove across the bridge, stopped at the park, and then drove back.  We had a slight problem ---- there's a toll on the return trip, but you have to have a toll plate/transponder, which we didn't!  And there's no place to stop and pay cash.  So we can expect a bill in the mail evidently.  The car rental company told us not to worry.

Afterwards we drove to Union Square and found parking under it.  We hopped on a double decker bus and took a tour of the city.  It was a very cool day, but I appreciated the refreshment after the 90°F plus days we'd left behind.  We had a slight adventure as we started the wrong way down a one way street on our way back to San Jose, but fortunately traffic was VERY light.

One of the places my husband wanted to go was to Castroville, the world's artichoke capital.  Artichokes are one of his favorite veggies.  So off we went.

We ate fried artichokes and tacos from a food truck at Pezzini Farms, also in Castroville.

And we saw lots of fields filled with artichokes and strawberries:

We bought a half flat of strawberries at a ridiculously inexpensive price at least as far as East Coast prices go!

On Wednesday, the combined families headed to Carmel where the wedding will be held next year.  They've chosen a venue called The Holly Farm.  It's a lovely, very private space - about 6 acres which will be all theirs for the event.    We had a tour and sipped some lovely wine.

And of course we went visited the beach in Carmel and we drove the 17 Mile Drive in Monterey.

                                                             (The engaged couple!)

We were in Gilroy on Friday for the start of the 3 day Garlic Festival, another highlight of the trip.  Talk about perfumed air!!  This was a lot of fun!

Of course we tried the garlic ice cream which was delicious!

We tried on garlic hats

I ate garlic calamari accompanied by garlic bread.

We made another trip to Monterey to visit the aquarium, and spent an evening at a neighborhood block party.   The engaged couple had a street artist make a portrait of them.

On the last day of our visit, we went to V's parent's house for a pig roast.  Pig roasts are a tradition to celebrate events like engagements.

 This was a lot of fun, and we met dozens of  V's family members.  We ate LOTS of Vietnamese food, most of which I can't pronounce.  One of my favorite dishes (beside the homemade pho) was a noodle dish.  A flat "pancake" of rice noodles was rolled up with minced chives/green onions that had been sauted in oil. Then a yummy garlic fish sauce was trickled over them.  I didn't get a picture, and I need to find out what type of noodles they were because I would love making them.  I also don't know what they're called!

We had to leave the party while it was in full swing so that we could catch our red-eye flight home.  It was a great week, and I've decided that I'd consider moving to the area for retirement!  The weather was beautiful, and there were lots of areas that were not too-congested.  The more I visit California, the more I think I'd live there!

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