What kind of name is that? I thought to myself as I found the town on Google Maps. Carmel is by the sea … isn’t that obvious? Pushing the annoying redundancy out of my mind, I hoped out of the car and marched to the beach, brothers and Cousin Ben in tow.
I hate the beach, but I also am peculiarly drawn to the sound of the violent, graceful waves, the salty air that plays with your nose, and the vastness of the landscape. People seem to have this notion that all of California revels in glorious weather, with warm breezes and inviting ocean. Southern California, maybe, but up north? Chilly. Really, that’s being generous. Icy or stinging, that’s a bit more accurate. Such was the water at Carmel-by-the-Sea, but the water did not dampen the town’s charm nor its beauty.
There is a walking path that stretches along the coastline, providing magnificent, serene views of the ocean and the quaint homes that make up the neighborhood. At the end of the path there is an outcrop- rocky, but if you’re willing to climb, you are met by the peacefulness of the sea and a gentle breeze. The ocean stretches endlessly before you, and there is an excellent view of the coast extending north and south: Pebble Beach (which is actually not a beach(?)) to the north; and imposing hillsides and forrest to the south.
Venture into town, and it’s like stepping into a European countryside, although the cottages are sandwiched together, as is characteristic of California. The streets are narrow, the architecture charming, and you’re sure to find a good pastry or two. One shop sold a lovely, delicate cinnamon pastry—perfect after a long walk along the coast.