(Where Dirty Harry buys croissants.)
The Pacific Coast Highway is more than just a good driving road. There are an infinite number of interesting places to stop and look besides the common ocean-side pullouts. The PCH periphery offers a multitude of interesting towns which have their own character and attractions.
One such place is Carmel-by-the-sea, at first an unassuming beach town along California Highway 1. Once you explore a bit though, you find out that all is not as it may seem.
Carmel-by-the-sea buildings have no street numbers, nor are there streetlights. There is, however, an unusual abundance of exclusive and expensive automobiles not limited to GT-R's, Astons, Porsches, Mercedes-Benzes (S and G classes, and classic SL's), Ferraris, Bentleys...
The town is full of 'cottages', some of which are on sale. The cheap ones are guaranteed to be under a million dollars. I promise. So do the realtors.
The place is also home to Dirty Harry. He does exist, and he does live here. He was even the mayor at one point. Of course, I don't need to tell you that crime is not a factor here. Nobody feels that lucky.
Despite the fact that the town has a population of about four thousand people (and eight hundred dogs!), it's not in any way in the middle of nowhere. Tourists almost outnumber residents, and both of the malls boast good stores, like Louis Vuitton, and things of that nature.
There is a multitude of those stores that you see in American movies taking place in small towns. You know, along the lines of the idyllic "old-timey" Christmas-gift toy store, which happens to be one of Carmel-by-the-sea's shops... I wouldn't be surprised if those movies were filmed here.
In the (far) bigger of the two town malls, there is an authentic French patisserie that is not just good, but fairly priced as well.
Unfortunately, my cake fell on the floor while I was cutting it.
Seriously. A nicely sculpted chunk liberated itself from the confines of my knife and went into the abyss that was the mall floor. Luckily, a gang of small birds took care of the problem, shyly snatching their individual shares of my fortune in misfortune.
Adjacent to my seat, a dog was taking a break tied to a table. He got jealous of the birds and proceeded to find his own bounty. He saw that the old man behind him was deep into his magazine, so the dog went for a bite of the old man's cake.
The dog reconsidered in the end, just as his owner came back...
Seeing as it's more difficult for people to get away with free restaurant food, we went in search for a place to buy some later on.
One "Greek and Italian" restaurant shouted at us that they will probably open in ten minutes. We said that we wouldn't like to find out.
Another restaurant down the street was more receptive, so they received our business. La Dolce Vita is an authentic Italian restaurant run by Mexicans. And no, that's not a contradiction, since they do it better than some Italians.
The food was so good that I completely forgot to take pictures. Said nutrients consisted of a tomato basil soup, and a real pizza...the one with the crust not much thicker than paper and no trace of fake chihuahua meat (no pun intended).
At one point, some people came to the restaurants with their dogs, and the staff completely obliged. Actually, all of Carmel-by-the-sea's restaurants are pet-friendly. Go figure...
So Carmel-by-the-sea seems like the perfect little paradise. But there's always a "but", and here it is: it is cold and gray all year round. Only a couple days a year bring some warm sunny weather. During the rest of the time, have your coat ready.
Not what you were expecting to read, is it?