The Wine Valley Inn is arranged like a tiny Danish village, with rooms tucked in hidden staircases and under peaked rooves. Finding one's room isn't always easy, but it's fun. And don't expect porters; you have to carry your own luggage. There's a working clock tower, crooked chimneys, flower boxes full of Lobelia, marigolds, geraniums and violas, and patinaed copper rooves. I found my room in no time--past the outside fireplace, up the elevator, left, then left again, forward and up a short staircase, angle to the left, then right and up the two steps that comprise the front step with a Scandanavian railing, where a little floor-level cottage window sits beside a hidden door. Room 311.
|The door of Room 311.|
|Europe in California.|
Solvang is nothing like it was when I was growing up there. The buildings have gotten older and more authentically European, and the newer buildings have been built to further replicate a 19th-century Danish village. Flowers line the sidewalks and the aroma of pastries and cakes waft from the bakeries, many which I remembered from my childhood and which are now run by the grandchildren of people I went to school with. The newest additions to the town are the wine tasting rooms and wine bars that seem to be in every other storefront. The Santa Ynez Valley produces some of the best wines on earth, something we'd never dreamed of back in the 1950s and '60s. One of the best things is that the city has banned all franchises. You won't find a Ben & Jerrys, a Starbucks, or a McDonalds anywhere within the city limits; all businesses are locally owned and run.
|The Spanish half-block of|
I bought some cheese, Wasa, and fruit and went back to the hotel. Later, I went down to the nightly wine tasting and had a nice chat with the woman who was pouring. And I discovered the Valley's newest treasure, a dry rosé, which I loved. She told me it was sold in a certain wine tasting room on Copenhagen Drive; I made a mental note to stop in the next day.
|1711 Laurel Drive.|
|My childhood looking|
back at me.
|Our pastures, now vineyards.|
|The gardens of Mission Santa Ines.|
|My favorite place to pray|
when I was a child.
Next: Carole's serene ashram in the center of busy Ventura.