Showing posts with label Carmel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carmel. Show all posts

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Christkindlmarket and Dog Friendly Carmel

It was a busy and exciting day before as I took my service dog (then still in training) Teddy to Carmel, Indiana. My friend Jaimee stayed over with us at the Home2 Suites by Hilton. It was a bit of a tough night getting the little guy to sleep on his first overnight in a hotel.


We had requested a corner room, so no one seemed to be disturbed, but we were ready to get out of the hotel suite and let him run around outside.

After breakfast, which is included at all the Home2 Suites, we decided to check out one of the pet friendly city’s dog parks. I had asked around and Clay Terrace was mentioned as a good one by a few people. Teddy definitely agreed and it gave him a chance to burn some energy before he was back on my lap on the scooter “working.”


We were on our way next to the Carmel Christkindlmarkt. This was my second trip there and I was happy to be back as it was my favorite in the U.S. The market, which does not have an entry fee, is a yearly event filled with food, gifts, performances, and an ice-skating rink.


I had to sample the Glühwein, a spiced, warmed wine that I had enjoyed when I visited Christmas markets in Europe. I can also never resist a warm Bavarian pretzel when I go to one of these markets.

I purchased a few things from holiday booths (they have Christmas and Hannukah), and we walked around for a while, but it was an extremely cold day, so we headed to the car after about an hour.


Before leaving Carmel, we stopped at a chain famous in this area, Jack’s Donuts. I got a peanut butter roll to take go and even found some doggy bakery items for a treat for Teddy.


I dropped Jaimee at her Indiana home.  It was just under two hours west to Champaign and I was driving with the sun as it set. It was a beautiful way to end the day, and what would be the first of many trips with Teddy. 

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Carmel, Indiana: Teddy’s First Trip

This trip was very different from any other, even though I had been to Carmel, Indiana, before. This was my very first trip with Teddy.

Although Teddy was born and came to me during the pandemic, he was definitely not a puppy I got because of COVID isolation. I had planned for two years to get a yorkie.  

I had grown up with a dog and realized soon after we got him I was allergic. I had to avoid dogs for years. Then, a friend came to stay with me for a few weeks and I realized that I didn’t have a problem with the hair (and no dander) of the breed. I prepared financially to get and support a full bred Yorkie. He came home with me in August, 2020.

Teddy is more than a companion. I’ve also trained him as a service dog. He can bring me things, such as pills, glasses, and my inhaler. He also senses drops in my blood sugar and blood pressure. Last, but certainly not least, he comes to comfort me when I’m upset or having breathing issues.

The pandemic definitely slowed down one of the most important parts of his training – taking him to public places. He had been to Rural King and a few local restaurants, and I was ready to take him on my trip to Carmel.

I picked up my friend, Jaimee, along the way. She lives in nearby Indianapolis. There was a travel showcase there for journalists to check out all the places to go in Indiana. I was on my scooter with Teddy on my lap.


Teddy wasn’t used to all the crowds at first, but Jaimee took him outside a few times so he wouldn’t disturb anyone. We made it through, and I collected information on places I’m still working on getting to. Indiana is filled with towns, large and small, that are hidden treasures.

From there we headed to Carmel, about a half hour away. One of the reasons we chose to stay there is because it’s very pet friendly. Service dogs are allowed everywhere, but since this was Teddy’s first getaway, I felt that he wasn’t trained enough to go into places that aren’t pet friendly.


We stayed at Home2 Suites near downtown. It was my first experience in one of these properties even though I have stayed at Hilton’s other brands a lot. It was a good choice. The room was extremely large and had a very well-equipped kitchen. There was also a couch for Teddy to get comfortable on.

After we got our things settled in and I had a chance to put my feet up for a while, we went to Carmel’s Peace Water Winery. This is an unusual place for a few reasons. First, they consider themselves “Indiana’s Napa Valley Winery.” All the grapes come from California for the Peace Water wines.

The second thing that makes this place so special really impressed me. They donate 50% of their net profits to charities, some local, and some worldwide. You can see exactly where on their charity wall, located at the winery. They have three different locations. All are in the Indianapolis area.

We sampled some wine, and I settled on Wishful White, a blend, as my favorite. Teddy was comfortable in this dog-friendly atmosphere, and we decided to do as we saw others and order some food from Muldoon’s down the street to go with the wine.  

The selection on the menu was pretty big and I settled on the New York Reuben with sweet potato fries, while Jaimee had a burger. There was a fudge covered cheesecake for dessert. Teddy had a few fries to go with his dog food. Like me, he prefers the sweet potato ones.

We headed back to Home2 Suites down the road. It was time to rest up for day two of Teddy’s first trip, which included a dog park and the Christkindlmarkt. We were hoping he was tired enough to sleep through the night in a strange place.


I was hosted on this trip, but opinions are my own. 



Monday, November 21, 2011

Exploring through Carmel and Pebble Beach

My friend Tracy picked me up at L’Auberge Carmel after I finished the delicious breakfast delivered to my room (included for all guests). We had a final full day of fun ahead in Monterey County. We were actually remaining in Carmel by the Sea, but moving to an adorable inn a few blocks down.

The Lamp Lighter Inn is actually a group of adorable cottages and guest rooms just a few blocks walk from both town and the beach. While it is called a bed & breakfast, it’s a lot more than both, with cute gardens, flowing wine and a deluxe continental breakfast in the morning.

We stayed in the Bluebird Cottage which looked like it belonged in a fairy tale (there is also a Hansel & Gretel cottage, so I think I have the right theme). It has a king bed and bathroom downstairs with an electric fireplace, and twin beds upstairs (witha teddy bear on each). The upstairs became Tracy’s domain.

There wasn’t long to spend admiring the room as we were soon off for our full day. After watching some of the Carmel by the Sea Halloween Pet Parade, we headed over to Wrath Wines, which has a tasting room located right downtown. The title of this winery came from a Led Zeppelin song and it seems to fit right in with the wines, which are a bit different from the norm. 

I loved their 2009 Wrath Syrah Doctor’s Vineyard and Syrah is far from my favorite wine. It was much more fruity and complex than most and I felt as if I was still tasting it five minutes after the sip.  Their 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Late Harvest was like no other dessert wine I had tasted from this grape. It was a combination of sweet and spicy and actually smelled like asparagus!

We took a drive down to the water for lunch at the Stillwater Grill at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, It is the location of one of the most famous -- and most beautiful -- golf courses in the world. It runs along the Pacific and we got to see both the ocean and the course as we enjoyed a great lunch. The fries and burgers (about the only things I could find on a menu full of seafood) were great and the Peanut Butter Chocolate dessert Tracy and I split was just incredible!

From The Lodge, we took the famous 17 Mile Drive along the Pacific Ocean. It was as beautiful as I had remembered. As much as I’ve gotten used to living in the Midwest, there is just nothing like a drive along the beach to relax me and put me in a great mood.

We changed quickly for dinner at a place where the owner is known for her good mood. Though Doris Day doesn’t get out much these days, she is still the owner of the Cypress Inn in Carmel by the Sea. As much as the wall shows tributes to Day, so do the policies. She is a dog lover and they are welcome here, with a “Yappy Hour” every day and a spot in the cocktail lounge when the lounge singer plays.

The evening started from cocktails from a menu of classic drinks with the motto “The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.” Each page was dedicated to a spirit and an actor, with drinks named (and explained) after others, such as the Mary Pickford:

Leblon, Bacardi Superior Rum, pineapple juice, Maraschino Liqueur and Grenadine-Created for Pickford in the 1920s by Fred Kauffman at Hotel Nacional de Cuba

After sipping a French 75, I sat down with Tracy for dinner. We started with the Roasted Vegetable Soup, which was just perfect on a night that was starting to get chilly. I then enjoyed the Penne Salsiccia, pasta with Italian sausage and onions in plum tomato sauce. Tracy really liked the Pan-Seared Scallops, with baby spinach and red truffled potatoes.

We retired early after a very long day and spent our final day slowly making our way through Monterey County toward San Francisco Airport.  We started with a walk down at the Carmel by the Sea beach and continued with a drive along the ocean until I was at the same airport I would return to a week later for my Sonoma trip.

A word of caution…. Dogs rule Carmel by the Sea this town and they are welcome in nearly every hotel, restaurant and store. I happen to love dogs, but I was a bit overwhelmed by day three. I started to have dreams that I was the only human left on earth (especially after the Halloween Pet Parade)!

You will not find a better place in the world for pet lovers who can’t stand to leave their pooch home. However, if you are coming without a pet, stay in Carmel Valley and take a drive to Carmel by the Sea for a day trip -- it's definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Carmel From Valley to Sea

There’s nothing like waking up to a fresh breakfast delivered in a comfy cottage on an estate full of horses. That’s exactly what I had to greet me at Stonepine Estate. It was another hard place to leave, but I had lots to do on my journey through Monterey, California, and it was going to continue in Carmel by the Sea.

Our first stop of the day was at Tor House. This property is right on the Pacific Ocean and once belonged to poet Robinson Jeffers. Koleen Hamlin, the public relations representative for Monterey County , and I toured the house, learning all about the rich history of both the literary time period he lived in and the Carmel by the Sea house itself.

From Tor House we headed to downtown for lunch at Dametra Café. I learned about Carmel by the Sea, it’s celebrities (Clint Eastwood and Doris Day both live here), quirks (no mailboxes or addresses on buildings are allowed) and rules (no high heels or chain stores, but dogs were more than welcome). I also enjoyed a delicious Mediterranean meal that included: Baba Ghanoug, roasted eggplant with yogurt, garlic and olive oil served on warm pitas; Spanakopita, a spinach pie with feta cheese in phyllo dough; and Baklava, a sweet pastry made with honey and nuts.

After the lunch, we went over to Caraccioli Cellars, where they have some terrific sparkling wines. My favorite was the 2006 Brut Cuvee, made with 60% chardonnay and 40% pinot noir. It was very buttery and lightly oaked. From there we did some tasting at Galante Vineyards, where the Sauvignon Blanc was smoky and not my style, but I really enjoyed the 2006 Blackjack Pasture Cabernet Sauvignon, with lots of fruit in the front and a bit of white pepper, cinnamon and allspice on the back.

Our next stop was an unusual one as it combined a beautiful art gallery and some interesting wines. The Winfield Art Gallery belongs to Chris Winfield and it’s filled with contemporary paintings, photographs and sculptures that I would love to acquire if they would fit in my budget. The wine by Figge Cellars was a perfect accompaniment to the art, with the 2009 Pelo Pinot Noir my favorite.

We checked into L’AubergeCarmel, a Relaix & Chateau accommodation, for the evening and I thought I had landed in France a few weeks early. I especially loved the courtyard between the rooms, where you would find guests enjoying a glass of wine as if they were in a Paris café. My room was more than comfortable and I enjoyed a short rest while Koleen went shopping in downtown Carmel.

Dinner was at L'Auberge Carmel's restaurant, Aubergine, and Chef Justin Cogley and Executive Pastry Chef Ron Mendoza prepared quite a Tasting Dinner, which was paired by Wine Director Thomas Perez.

The Foie Gras with huckleberry and a puree of upland cress was a decadent as it should be and served with a 2009 Charles Hours from France.  It was followed by a tender Wagyu Ribeye with porcini mushrooms and marrow served with a 2008 Les Jumelles Pinot Noir from the Central Coast.  

After the main course we had a typical French Cheese Platter, served with a great 2009 Leojami Grenache from Monterey, before finishing the meal with a Caramelized Brioche, with apples and celeriac ice cream.  That came with a 1996 Grand Guilehm from Rivesaltes, France, which gave me a lot to look forward to when I head to that area in Roussillon in a few weeks.

It was a large meal and we decided to forego what sounded like it would be a great party at Caraccioli Cellars. I had two more days to go in Monterey and was looking forward to my friend Tracy joining me for them.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Exploring and Tasting Carmel Valley

Carmel Valley is one of the warmest places in Monterey with accommodations of all kinds. Koleen, the Monterey County public relations representative, and I were staying at some of the top properties in the valley (no argument here), starting with Bernardus Lodge.  I had such a great time there -- especially in the spa -- it was hard to leave, but I knew there was another great place at the end of an exciting day.

We were prepared to spend the day downtown after stopping to look at some great little hotels, like Tasa Hara Hot Springs Resort and Los LoralesLodge & Saloon. We then made a quick stop at the gallery of Jean De Luz, who collects everything from sculptures to Italian fountains from Europe to sell to homes around here. Then it was off to the wineries.

Our first stop was Parsonage, a family owned winery that only does 2,000 cases a year. I liked their 2009 Sonsrap Chardonnay. Which was done half in stainless and half in oak, giving it lots of butter, but not too much oak. I was surprised to see how much art there was in downtown Carmel Valley, even in the wineries.  The pictures at Parsonage were especially interesting, as was their wine.

We went next door to Boekenoosen Vineyard and Winery, which has a big collection of wines, including a Dijon/Pommard Blend. The wines were a bit dry for my taste, but Koleen was a huge fan of the 2009
Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir.

I was really impressed with a number of the wines at Chock Rock, including the 2010 Chardonnay, which certainly didn’t taste like it was 100% barreled, and the 2009 Monterey County Pinot Noir, full of fruit with less pepper than most.

After all the rich meals, I was craving something simple and vegetable filled and I found it at Café Rustica. The pizzas, with a thin and flaky crust, were a perfect break from the wining tasting and quite large. It looked like we hadn’t even made a dent, but we were both quite full.

Our last winery stop was at Carmel Hills Winery, which had an interesting Unfiltered Chardonnay. Then it was off to the place we were staying for the night – Stonepine Estate.

We toured the estate and I could easily understand why this was such a popular place for weddings. The landscape was so immaculate and the grounds and chateau looked like they belonged in France. As lovely as it was, I was most drawn to the horse stables. This is the home to many retired thoroughbreds and I could have pet them all day, dreaming about my riding days.

The chateau at Stonepine Estate has some beautiful rooms, but we had our own little (ok, not so little) cottage. It is called Hermes and as if the perfectly appointed rooms weren’t enough on their own, I had a masseuse waiting in my bedroom! Sage gave me a relaxing massage and I got to relax a little while after.
Dinner was a quiet, but elegant, table for two as Koleen and I headed up to the main chateau on the estate. We started with champagne and hors d' oeuvres in the library (of course) and enjoyed some of the chef’s specialties.  He had me at the start with an Eggplant and Fresh Mozzarella appetizer.

We got back to our little cottage at a reasonable hour and watched a little television in the very comfortable living room before I retired for the night. We had a much busier day ahead, as we were heading into Carmel by the Sea.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Re-Discovering Monterey in Carmel

As a child, my family frequently traveled to California. I have fond memories of Monterey, especially the stop we always made at the Dennis the Menace Playground.

I had actually only been to the area twice as an adult, once with my friend Jaimee, when I discovered the first wine I would ever remember by name (Jekel Johannisberg Riesling) and a second time take my daughter to the Monterey Aquarium when it first opened. I knew this trip would be different than any other to Monterey County and I was excited to discover the first class hotels, fine dining, wineries and, of course, scenic coastline.

The trip didn’t quite start out the way I would have liked, with an hour and a half on the runway, followed by a bumpy four and a half hour flight and a bus ride, but things immediately started to feel better when I saw the Pacific Ocean.

Koleen, the public relations rep for the county, was waiting for me on the other side and ready to show me around Carmel. It was going to be a quiet day, which was fine with me since I had been going since 1:00 am Pacific Time. We quickly checked into Bernardus Lodge and I was handed one of the best Sauvignon Blancs I’ve ever had, made right at the Bernardus Winery.

My room was beautiful and had a big deck that showed not only the property, but the mountains in the background. I also had a the Bernardus welcome of three bottles of wine, popcorn and Purple Haze Goat Cheese and other goodies, which all guests receive upon check-in. 

I continued my relaxing state by checking out the property and landing in the spa. All guests (whether or not they take advantage of purchasing from the array of treatments) have use of the spa at Bernardus. I alleviated all my travel stress in the Hot Plunge Pool, followed by sometime in the Eucalyptus Steam Room and a finish in the Sauna. (Bernardus also has an outdoor pool that is heated to 80 degrees and open all year round.)

I think I could have easily drifted off into eight hours of wonderful sleep after the spa, but we had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant scheduled and I didn’t want to miss Marinus, a restaurant known far and wide in these parts. We were joined by Sue Dryer, Director of Sales for the hotel, who helped guide us through some of the courses.

While I can’t have seafood, my tablemates could, and they loved the Lobster. I had the delicious Portobello Mushroom Soup with goat cheese, chive, white truffle oil. We then shared a serving of the Truffle Risotto, which was just absolutely incredible.

For a main course, I enjoyed the Colorado Lamb with Morel Mushroom, Summer Squash and Baby Carrot in roasted garlic jus. I hardly had any room for dessert, but sampled a tiny bit of everything that came to the table in our dessert extravaganza.

Soon it was time to head to bed. I was more than ready to get some rest before I headed out for a day of wine tasting in Carmel.