Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Solvang and Santa Barbara

We searched around for a place to visit during the Labor Day three day weekend; a place that wouldn't have too many people visiting for the extended weekend.  A couple people had suggested Solvang, as it is a small, Danish town that might not attract too many people, and might appeal to our liking.  So Sunday morning, we got in the car and drove about 90 minutes to Solvang, CA!

Along the way, we drove through Los Padres National Forest.  This was a fun little mountain drive with a Vista lookout on the way back down.  It wasn't too great, but we were only 20 minutes from our hotel at that point.  We arrived in town right before lunch, so we parked the car at our hotel, the Royal Copenhagen Inn, and started walking around.  We walked by Olsen's Danish Village Bakery, which I had read was probably the best in town.  I saw a lot of tasty looking things, but I decided on something that looked unique and delicious called a Danish Waffle.  It was two long and narrow fried puff pastries made to look like a sandwich, with butter cream and raspberry filing.  It was awesome!  We walked around a few more minutes and since we weren't quite close enough to all the Danish restaurants, we ate lunch at a place called Succulent Cafe.  It had only been open a week, but the fare was pretty unique and good.  I got BBQ meatloaf, served as an open-face sandwich on a piece of cornbread, topped with thick bacon and melted cheese.  It also came with a side of olives, YUM!

After lunch we checked in our hotel, got the stroller, and started walking around town.  It is a cute, little Danish-inspired town, settled by Danes about 100 years ago.  We stopped in a fair amount of shops and bakeries.  We had some famous Aebleskivers, which were yummy.  I had interest in visiting the local museum, following Danish history.  I learned at 3pm that it would close at 4, so we headed down to the Elverhøj Museum.  It is suggested donation to enter, and a few ladies there giving out tidbits about the museum and the history of the town.  It was easy to see in 20-30 minutes, and had a lot of neat information.

After visiting the museum, we decided to walk to the hotel, ditch the stroller, and head to Hans Christian Anderson Park.  Along the way was the old church, so we stopped in to take a look.  The park was not quite as we imagined; we should have driven because it is rather large and not much close to the entrance we were near.  There was, though, a skate park and a small playground area, so Nolan played a little while we watched the skaters.  It was getting hot and we were starting to get hungry, so we headed to the hotel to clean up and figure out dinner.

I really wanted something Danish, but Kacey really didn’t care, as long as there was something she would like.  We were trying to decide between the Little Mermaid (we had heard good things) and Bit O’Denmark.  Since the later was one of the oldest things in town, we figured we would try that; and they had a fairly diverse menu.  I ordered the Combo plate with Frikadeller and Medisterpolse, with red cabbage and potatoes on the side.  Kacey got a large cheese plate and Nolan got pasta.  Nolan was starting to act up, probably because he was tired, so we paid up and headed back out to cruise the main street and head to our hotel.

By 8pm, the main street was dead.  Only a couple shops were left open, and while Kacey checked out a few, I took some pictures of the buildings lit up at night and found a place for Nolan to go potty (not easy).  On our way back, we walked by a fountain we had seen earlier that day.  I had previously seen that there were little lights all over it so during the day, I told Nolan we would come visit it again at night and it would have lights.  Sure enough, it did!  I took a few pictures of Nolan checking out the lit up fountain and by then, it was cold out so we headed across the street to our hotel.  We were pretty tired!

The next day we woke up ready to enjoy our Danish continental breakfast at the next door Mortensen’s Danish Bakery.  We were treated with a drink and a pastry.  I got a blueberry Danish, Nolan got a raspberry boat Danish, and Kacey got an apple turnover.  They were pretty tasty, but I was still hungry so I ordered a Danish Waffle from this place as well.  I think Olsen’s was better, but they were both very yummy.

Our itinerary for the day was to check out a yarn store and visit the Old Mission Santa Ines before getting on the road to visit Santa Barbara.  The Old Mission wasn’t that interesting, but it had a nice little tour, some old art from the region, and the church to walk through.  There was also a nice garden that Nolan ran around in for a while.  When leaving, there was a nice view overlooking a valley that kind of reminded me of what it looked like exiting a church in Tuscany.  We headed back to our hotel to retrieve the car, but not before Kacey stopped at the Olive Oil store to check it out.

It didn’t take too long to reach Santa Barbara.  We found a parking spot on the street, next to the beach, and next to the Santa Barbara Fish House.  Kacey was ready to eat, and it looked good, so we headed in.  Our food was pretty good, and reasonably priced, so it was a good decision.  We walked across the street to the beach area and walked around for a couple minutes.  There was a bike path with surreys, so we decided to get one for 30 minutes and ride up and down the beach.  It was a nice little ride, but we were tired and ready to fight the traffic to get home.

Pictures from Solvang

Pictures from Santa Barbara