On November 14, Cari and I had a very special event to attend: her brother Dan’s wedding to the wonderful Liana in Santa Barbara, California.
We decided early on that we wanted to turn this weekend trip to California into a proper vacation and before we knew it we were in the car, headed down to Buffalo. We have frequently sung the praises of flights out of Buffalo since they are a mere fraction of the cost of those out of Toronto. We usually make the most of it, driving down the night before our flight for a relaxed dinner and hotel stay to kick-off our vacation.
Our flight was extremely early in the morning, but this had us arriving in Los Angeles before lunchtime so it was well worth it. An otherwise longish flight was made even easier thanks to in-seat DirectTV, which cost $6 but was well worth it as it gave us the opportunity to watch the delightful Julie & Julia.
Day 1 – Los Angeles to Santa Barbara
Upon arriving in Los Angeles we quickly made our way to the car rental to meet up with Cari’s mom Alison, stepdad Art, great-uncle Jim and great-aunt Laura. The four of them had been in town since the previous day and were eager to get to Santa Barbara to partake in some of the pre-wedding festivities. We didn’t mind too much as we had already been to L.A. twice in the past two years… though it was hard not going to Amoeba this time.
We stopped briefly in Thousand Oaks for a very satisfying lunch at P.F. Chang’s before continuing our journey onto Santa Barbara, where we’d spend the next few days. Our hotel, the Presidio Motel, was one we had checked out with Cari’s mom, Dan and Liana on our previous trip to California and we were excited to finally get to stay there for a few nights. We were also excited that a good three-quarters of the place would be rented out to various people attending the wedding. More on this later.
The Presidio Motel had clearly a dated, 1960s-style motel before some young people bought it and funkified it to their liking. Each room is designed with a unique, brightly-coloured theme and mobiles hang from the ceilings. The walls were a tad thin, but it didn’t really bother us.
Apart from exploring, we didn’t do much else on that first day in Santa Barbara apart from a tasty dinner at a restaurant called Opal on State St. not too far from our hotel.
Day 2 – Santa Barbara
Friday was an exciting day for everyone since most of the wedding party, including the bride and groom, Cari’s dad Ron, stepmom Julie and stepsister Savannah were set to arrive that day.
We started our day at Trader Joe’s to pick out flowers for the wedding. The plan was for the bridesmaids and female family members to spend that afternoon making bouquets and centerpieces. Cari and Alison had plans to get their nails done, so I spent an hour or so exploring Santa Barbara.
Upon their arrival, we ended up meeting Dan and Liana for lunch right on the pier at a restaurant called the Santa Barbara Shellfish Co. I’m so glad to be over my aversion to seafood. Cari and I shared crab cakes and New England Clam Chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. Both were excellent.
Back at the hotel we were able to meet and greet many of the other people who had arrived over the course of that day. A short while later we were off to the church for a brief rehearsal before the wedding party split off to enjoy dinner at a local sushi restaurant.
Even before our server/hostess got wind of the fact that we were there for a wedding, she treated us to complimentary sake and later brought out a complimentary grilled fish dish. Liana’s father Grant was kind enough to pay for our dinner and everyone indulged in all the sushi, tempura, sashimi and maki they would’ve wanted. After dropping off our cars at the hotel we later took our party to a happening Irish pub. I was impressed with how authentically the bartender poured his Guinness, and was later impressed by the live musical act who opened their set with the theme from The Price Is Right.
Day 3 – Santa Barbara/Dan & Liana’s Big Day
We did most of the photos in the park across the street from the church, which was just perfect. A lovely park filled with plenty of green and flowers, and a number of nice shady spots for photos. It seemed as if everywhere we looked there was another ideal spot for photos.