The Perfect Stranger

Readers have observed I post more pictures of strangers I meet on trips than my family. It’s true. I love my perfect strangers, because that’s what they are: perfect. When one is on the shores of Scarborough asking for local insights from the owner of the pub, or sitting on the boardwalk of Bellagio, chatting with a Russian transplant about the best gelato for the cheapest price I get the happy, helpful, always-answer-with-a-smile person. Beyond the effervescent personality, it’s the attitude of: I’m living where I want, doing what I want, and here you are, interested in everything I have to say, hanging on every comment I have to share.

In other words, we are having a short, mutual and very strong love-fest. It’s fleeting, as by definition, all love-fests should be, ending before we delve into topics sure to end our affair: politics, race, religion, the standard three, but oh, so many more exist. (How many tourists are too many? Do certain demographics spend more or less? Should (and can) the world support any more children? Messy topics sure to destroy the honeymoon stage of a new acquaintance).

During this last trip, I met so many more people that I neglected to snap photos, mostly because I was so wrapped up in the conversation we kissed cheeks and parted…and like the forlorn lover, I was left waving, my lips agape….. “Wait! I need a phot—” then Rog would stop me and mutter. “Oh, for heaven’s sakes, let it go, already.”

The world represented

I have Svetlana from St. Petersburg, Russia, who was spending three months with her art gallery manager boyfriend. She will be remembered for her amazing skin, bright smile, and our mutual agreement on the all the purveyors of gelato, as in: who sold the most, and the best for the least. Hence, why we were both in line at one particular shop.

Then we have Neal, owner of the Candy Confectionary store on the corner (it’s such an establishment it doesn’t need a name other than Candy Confectionary) at what must be the best, prime real estate on the entire Boardwalk. While we chatted him up, his wife (she with the longest nails ever) and his daughter were in and around, stocking the shelves, deciding what to order on the next go-around at the marketplace, he gave us the history of York, (founded by the Romans in 71 AD), also known as the Chocolate City (true story, look it up) conveying we absolutely, positively, must visit.

In between, he must have discerned we were homeowners, because the conversation digressed into what he’d paid for his place, what he could sell if for and how much he’d lose moving to York due to the inflated prices. “But oh,” he groaned, “I would so love to move there!” He was, and is, a big, bear of a man I just wanted to hug—which I did!

At the base of Schloss Hohenswangau and Neuschwanstein sits a little town, and in it, we met, a Tony, a software engineer from China, employed by Dell, and based in New York. Talk about a roundabout way to end up in the Bavaria region of Germany.

He was joined by his wife and son, spoke better English than many of my friends, and we got to chatting because he didn’t know German (perhaps the one thing he didn’t know). We helped him out and over plates of schnitzel we discussed his love of all things American.

In Hungary, we walked around th block from our apartment and found Robert Maar (the store) and had no idea we were actually talking to THE Robert Maar. We felt so uncomfortable and were going to leave but then he told us what a “custom” garment in Hungary means (versus New York or Paris). What started with a simple, wonderful conversation about food ended up in a new wardrobe for Roger and two pieces for me. Only after we’d been in Budapest a week did we learn Robert is famous around Europe for his designer clothes that dress the celebrities in most of the countries. Blind luck on our part, and completely fantastic, more so because Robert was kind, gracious and ever so patient with us, the completely ignorant Americans. Love him.

Outside Verona, we happened by a three-story bed and breakfast of Locanda di Capitelli located at the base of Castle Suave, overlooking a valley of vineyards (can you already picture a scene in a book? I know I can). Once Rog was assured we were welcome no matter how casually we were dressed, the gracious hostess Julia sat us by the fireplace, and over the next two hours, go to know her, her mother and grandmother, all owners of the venue, a local winery and foodstuffs.

By the end of it, she was trying to convince Roger to invest in a new US-based restaurant that she could conveniently run. Her mother squished us with hugs and smothered us with kisses as grandma retired upstairs to bed (thus dodging the photo opp).

Outside Prague, at Czesky Krumlov (the town and castle) we dined with Tai, the chef of our favorite waterside restaurant, ordering not one, but two crepe deserts because we didn’t want to have a mortal stabbing fight with forks. What better compliment can be bestowed on food than that?

Perhaps the favorite meeting of strangers were a gaggle of girls preparing for wedding festivities on the shores of Lake Cuomo. We’d arrived early at the ferry line, and as Rog was flying his drone above and to the island of Bellagio 2 miles away, I watched as a dozen gals took turns taking pictures—invariably leaving one of them out. Porsche nudged me. “Mom, go take pictures. Help them out.” Me, she of the shameless and helpful, promptly stood and offered to snap group photos. Thirty minutes later, they have become the adopted, older, Indian sisters my girls have never had. They insisted on taking pictures of with my girls and me—thereby requiring Rog to come over and become lead photographer.

Different and Divine

Indian, Russian, English, Czech, Italian, German and Chinese…and so many more. I sorry I didn’t immortalize the helpful German man who saw we were stranded on the platform in Stuttgart, about to miss a train—may he get his angel wings for that alone, otherwise we would have been stuck for an entire day in the record-breaking heat with nowhere to go.

I regret not capturing the Philippino woman at the car rental location, who knew of one of my books (the Sue Kim authorized biography) and treated me like a Rockstar (a rare moment, and it took me going to Germany to get this—but then, now I can say me and David Hasselhoff have something in common. We are nobodies in the US, but HUGE in a foreign country).

And David (another, different David: this young man in his mid-twenties gave our family the best our of a castle during our 6-week trip. An engineering student, he doubled as a historian because of his vast knowledge of wars, rulers and cultures. So much so, that while I neglected to take a picture of him, we invited David to come over when he decides to visit the US. And guess what? Instead of going to New York, which had been his priority destination, David is coming to visit and stay with us in April.

We are thrilled, and this gets back to my Perfect Stranger theory. We have many family members who have not once come to visit, for one reason or another, and yet we have a perfect stranger flying in from Germany to stay with us. Our continued correspondence and the deepening of a relationship has been bereft of drama, issues or altercations—just fun, interest and a true appreciation. Doesn’t that say it all?

Yet even with all that, while the perfect stranger remains so, these unique, wonderful strangers aren’t present to dry the tears, listen and help resolve the issue, or show up when the car breaks down. For those life events, it does tend to be family, or good friends, those who show up when it’s inconvenient and give until they have nothing left. In that regard, I don’t need the perfect stranger, I need the perfect friend. And perhaps at some point, the intersection of stranger, friend and loved one may meet, becoming one in the same. Now that would be both strange and perfect.

Feature image

The town of Czesky Krumlov taken from the castle above

Locanda ai Capitelli: the best dining in Verona

A family-owned and run B & B at the base of Castle Soave, overlooking the wine country

Two days after the hospital experience, we were up at Soave Castle, finishing up as the rainstorm passed us by. On the way down, we decided to purposefully get lost among the vineyards, driving up and down the roads just to see what’s around the next corner. We were only a few miles into this journey when we spotted a grand building to our right, overlooking three vineyards. The cars lining both sides of the streets was a good sign and we stopped so Rog could jump out and look at the menu. He returned, crestfallen.

Locanda ai Capitelli is located just to the lower left of this photo–but hadn’t found it when we took the drone shot:(

“They have steak tartar, but we aren’t dressed for it.” I looked past him to the elegant stairway and sure enough, the men were in slacks and button-down shirts. It was a stark contrast to his shorts and golf shirt, and our female attire of shorts and light shirts made for sweating, not dining.

“Just go in and ask,” encouraged Porsche, our thirteen-year-old. “It’s Italy.” I had to agree with her, but Rog wasn’t going to bother. He put it in gear and off we went, for about a mile.

“I just have to do it,” he said with resolve, turning around.

Back we went, and sure enough, he came out smiling. “She said ‘of course!’”

Casual elegance without pretension

It turns out the establishment of Locanda ai Capitelli is a bed and breakfast, not just an elegant restaurant. Once inside, we realized the only other diners were in a private room, the main area, about thirty by fifteen in length, was empty.

Perfectly situated on the corner of Castle and wine country is
Locanda ai Capitelli

“It’s early,” I said under my breath. At seven-thirty, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Dining in Italy starts about eight-thirty, when the heat has waned, showers have been taken and the second part of day begins.

Because of this, we had the undivided attention of the waiter and hostess, Julia, who is the daughter of family/owners of the B & B. A slip of a young woman, sophisticated casual in a black t-shirt and pencil shirt with high-top Converse shoes, Julia is about as millennial as one could be. Perfect command of the language, helpful and happy, yet able to handle even the pickiest of diners who started to come in as we were half-way through our appetizers.

The best meal in Italy—so far

Even though I couldn’t eat much, I tried a bit of every dish. The octopus in cream sauce sounded completely odd, but I ordered it anyway, along with the carpaccio. We also decided upon the black truffle linguini with clams, another of the same without the clams, a chicken dish, Roger’s steak tartar and I asked for the gnocchi with peas and trout. Weird, I know, but it was calling my name.

Octopus in cream sauce. One bite was all it took for us to agree it was the best we’d ever had, and that’s saying something.

“Just a bite,” I promised Rog.

As each plate arrived, Julia described the cows on the family farm from whence her mother and grandmother made the ricotta and parmesan cheeses, the desserts and cream sauces. The pigs down the road supplied the prosciutto, and the farm in back were to thank for the herbs and spices. When she’d gone, Rog quipped the very porcelain plates and silverware were probably forged in the basement. I’m not a food critic, and worry my descriptions won’t do the cuisine justice. Suffice it to say we loved every dish, wishing we had the stomachs to order more. I will note my freshly-made gnocchi was the best I’ve ever eaten, the trout was perfectly cooked in little bits, set off with the light, white cream and sweet peas. I wanted to lick the plate, but had to suffice with my spoon due to the recent stomach issues.

Gnocchi with trout and peas (UL) chicken fettuccini (UR) and steak tartar. Exquisite.

By the time we reached dessert, being hungry wasn’t the consideration. The family just couldn’t stop. We had a dessert sampler plate, along with the tiramisu. Now, I don’t get violent often, but when someone attempts to snack on my dessert, I’ve been known to stab with my knife, not enough to blood, but to warn the offending party off.

This time around, my inability to do more than taste undoubtedly prevented blood from being spilled, but it surely would have under different circumstances. The tiramisu was creamy, sweet but not overly so. I could wax philosophic but won’t.

Clean elegance in the wine country. Not pictured is a private dining room to the left of the entrance (where the man is standing).

Our meal was so decadent, the atmosphere elegant but not stuffy, Rog just had to inquired about the rates. 90 Euro a night for a room with accommodations for two. Imagine that: a room with a view overlooking the wine fields of Verona in front and to either side, the Castle Soave in the upper left, and a five-star restaurant below (the Gerdes rating system).

That’s a whole lotta love and cream poured into this tiramisu. Divine.
A family affair

When we paid the bill, the dining room was full and Julia joked about opening a restaurant in the States. “Sure,” Rog readily agreed. “As long as we can bring you, your mother and grandmother over to run it.” That led to me to ask if I could take a picture with my new friend. At the foyer, she met us with her mother.

“Grandmother is already in bed,” Julia explained apologetically. Kisses and hugs were forthcoming, the warmth of a family who put their life and love into their food and accommodations enveloping us.

The females of the gang, moms and daughters alike (Julia to my right)
Recommendation

If you’re already going to Verona, you must add Locanda ai Capitelli to the list. While I can’t speak to the accommodations, I will tell you it’s on our list for the next trip. When you arrive, give a special hug of love to Julia and her mother for us, and order the gnocchi and tiramisu. Well, order it all, because if you don’t, you will wish you had.

Dinner and a dog attack

One of the iconic lines from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure is: “Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K,” said in the driest of tones by an observantly sarcastic Bill (Keanu Reeves).

So it was that our day ended with the dog attack as we were having schnitzel, and because it’s on my mind, I’m writing about it first. (Blog on Legoland, which was this same day, will be up next).

Under the protective shade is the other half of the outdoor dining space of the Gasthaus Adler in the Holzheim area of upper Bavaria

We’d tried to go the night before, but it was closed due to the food fair in nearby Gunzburg. Tonight, we were on a mission, being hot, hungry and tired from Legoland Germany. The Gasthaus Adler Sudtiroler Speckstube, is a two-story, hundred-year-old building with an outdoor seating area located under three enormous trees, and a second vine-covered area. On the other side of a gazebo is a wooden playground area for kids, and on the other side is a pasture where the dairy comes in fresh, turned into cheeses and other livestock turns into the food that we were served. It’s about as farm-to-table fresh as one could get.

Traditional schnitzel with potatoes and mushroom cream sauce

We were effectively using our Google translate when the manager of 20 years took pity on us, and with a smile, spoke enough English we could order. Of course, all we wanted was schnitzel, but when she started to provide options, I was in. That mean asparagus soup, a meat platter of sausage, prosciutto plus a few other things I can’t recall but devoured. I’ll skip over the rest, and jump right to the part where we were eating, and a lab-looking like dog, who had been lazily sleeping under his parents’ feet (man, woman and 7 yr. old boy the whole time), jumped up and attacked a grandma who was making her way under the gazebo.

The gazebo where this all went down, and you can spot the dog lounging under his mom’s feet.

With my mouth full of pickle, I about choked as the dog lunched, bit her arm, paws on her stomach, knocked her right over on her hip as she screamed, and kept after her before Rog, the owner or anyone else could stop it! The owner was closest and first, dragging the dog off, while the woman, whom I guessed about 80, was seizuring on the ground. The entire area, which was full of diners, simply watched. No gasps, no shaking of head, just a slight downturn of noise. The woman’s daughter came quickly, the dog’s owner smacked the animal’s head and sat town. In the meantime, the diners started eating, the chatting picked up and the injured woman was led out of the area.

Farm fresh prosciutto, cheese and sausage with an equally divine, thin-crust pizza

We pondered the incident, more intrigued by the non-chalance we observed. If this had happened in the States, well, the cops would have been called, someone arrested or a do-gooder might have just shot the animal. Not here. These folks have clearly seen it all, and been through enough to not worry about a dog. Shortly thereafter, the medics came, along with the doctor and the woman was taken away. Not before, however, the mother of the dog returned from where ever she was (presumably the bathroom) and promptly freaked out. She tracked down the injured woman, the daughter and was profuse in her response-which we couldn’t understand a word, by the way.

My 13-year old expressing her unhappiness at being asked to not drink her apple juice for a pico-second. The carriage house (cook house) behind her. ah. motherhood.

When we’d eaten our meal and completed the bill, we asked the manager if the woman was alright. She expressed all would be well, but that the dog was protecting the young boy, who was on the other side of the gazebo.

“Without it’s protector—the mom,” explained the manager, “the dog was only doing it’s duty as a protector of the child.” Those within hearing distance seemed to agree, and we thought about that after we left. It wasn’t the dog’s fault, in other words, it was being a dog. It wasn’t the injured woman’s fault either, she just happened to get between protector and child.

“In twenty-years,” she continued, “I’ve never witnessed such a thing.” Well, neither had we. All in a day in a foreign country.

Feature image: the back of the restaurant.

Two (Overlooked) Castles in Upper Bavaria: Burg Berghuasen and Saffig

Both come with small townships, local people and not a word of English

Ok. Maybe a word. Hello. that’s what we got and we were thankful for it. The rest of the time, we used Google Translate and smiled a lot.

Day two/37 amounted to three hundred miles , two castles, a butcher-bakery, finding our rental and trying to make an honest Bavarian food fair. Disappointment faded with the people, service and incredible cuisine however, and we ended the day at midnight, while I stayed up until 3 a.m. converting photos and writing blogs. ha.

No speed limits: everyone loves the Autobahn

Shooting down the Autobahn, where no speed limit exists, is the real reason we came to Europe, or so I teased him. He experienced nirvana for about 300 miles and I didn’t blink an eye. 100 mph are normal, and we were getting passed at 110. I won’t tell you how fast he got that Audi A6 touring mobile going as I want my mother alive and happy, not angry or dead.

Zipping through the mountains, we see this incredible (put perfectly normal) feat of German engineering–this unbelievable bridge connecting two mountains, and why? Because why go twenty miles around when that can be shortened to about 2, that’s why. No stopping allowed, so I did my best between trees going way-to-fast.

German roads are ‘da-bomb’ as my daughter said, and we made good time from Aachen through the countryside to our first stop at Burg Berghausen Castle in Keppen in upper Bavaria. This is a manor that didn’t even show up on Wikipedia or any other searches pre-trip, but our car (and Audi A6 touring sedan) showed it on our dashboard, we were going right by anyway, so thought, why not?

Each experience we created this day is special. The soaring tree which made us stop and say: God created this. The second was me thinking: I may need to write a book about a person inheriting a castle, and the last shot, with the girls, was taking as we hypothesized what the evening was going to be like for the couple getting married this evening, and the reception to be held on the deck behind us. What a night it will be for that couple.

It’s more of a manor than castle, but rightly got the designation because it has a bridge with a moat and lake at the backside. Across from the main building are large stables, servants quarters and substantial armory at the front entrance. It’s privately held, open only for special events, but walking the lawns and parks around is open and free. Muskrats the size of a small dog ate feet away from us, and a whole family of four (parents and little ones) waddled right on up expecting to be fed, as did the single, large swan in the lake and loads of ducks. The visit was short but impactful, with Rog and the girls identifying the muskrats and hundred-foot beech trees being their favorite parts.

The horse stables, side of the castle and another angle of the front
The world’s largest, tame muskrat, swan and servants quarters
Local eats in Keppen

Despite the luxurious foods offered at the rest stops, we wanted real German delicacies. Not two minutes in to town we found it at the town’s one and only butchery/bakery. Potato salad, the likes only found in my mother’s kitchen went hand in hand with marzipan and almond pastries, as well as sausage and cold cuts. It was sweet and salty, just the way I like it—so much that I took a pic of the mother-of-all bread making stoves and cajoled the owner to take a selfie. Her first ever. She was so embarrassed, she was fussing over her hair and giggling like a schoolgirl the entire time.

Today, Rog had his vehicular nirvana while mine was culinary. The marzipan pastry as long as Rog’s hand and the little town of Keppen. This was 5 pm-ish. Rush hour.

A note on Keppen: every person here has been incredibly kind and polite, but speak functional English (hello) at best.  We have not met a single person (in two days) who speaks conversational English, although we have two more days so things may change. I’ll keep you posted!

About ten minutes later, we were in Saffig, going up a dirt road to visit the local castle, which is only named Saffig Castle, another one that showed up on our Audio roadmap but not on Google or any listing anywhere! This castle is seriously old (13th century) and is undergoing complete restoration. Personally, I like the old, original stone, and we weren’t allowed to take any photos. Side note: we get that a lot, but usually ignore it, because it’s a ploy to get us to purchase stock photography. Yet sometimes, I ask for permission and get the wink and nod, thus allaying my guilt. That’s what happened with Castle Burg, but not here. I actually received a scowl instead of the nod, so I dutifully put away my camera, but did manage a single shot through the trees as we left the area.

My off-premises shot through the trees. See what I’m talking about on the restoration above? It looks fake and call me a traditionalist, but I like the original.
Our Bavarian rental

This time around, we wanted the fully country experience, which included cows, farmland, locals and meeting more German folks. We loved and appreciated going to towns where English wasn’t spoken at all, because it forced us to speak the language (or at least use Google Translate). Our desire came true with a home in Kammeltal, (pronounced like Camel-tall). From VRBO, we found the home, and are presently perched on the top floor of a two-story home, with three bedrooms, two baths, two balcony’s and modern kitchen, with views to overlooking the small town on one side, and farmland on the other. The backyard is grass, a trampoline and hothouse garden, all for our use. Check in time was 9, and we arrived at 8:40. It’s light here until 10:30, just like Coeur d’Alene. Our German hostess/owner and her family live below us, but we’ve only had a single sighting, which I expect will continue. The house, street and neighborhood are local, mostly older folks who ride their bikes the few blocks in to town—which is a completely different look, feel and style from Ashford, and that’s what we love. One day and veritable world away from what we experienced the day prior.

A few shots of our authentic Bavarian home
Baby room, front and back yard
What I love

People walk their dogs through farmland, which means strips of gravel separating wheat and corn fields, instead of paved paths alongside freeways or streets.

What I don’t

Only four restaurants exist that only has its name listed, without any other details. But the 4 km drive in one direction gives us one town, a 6 km drive in another direction gave us Gunzburg, and that’s where we went for dinner.

Gunzburg

Even before we knew that all four restaurants closed Friday night at 8 p.m. in Kammeltall, we were intending on hitting the food festival. Sadly, we missed that too! Yet the (slightly larger) town of Gunzburg has a much bigger Old-town/downtown (because a new/modern area doesn’t exist as of today). Fun fact: Gunzurg was founded in 70 b.c., although it does look slightly more updated. It features its own main square, where we found Greek, German and lots of outdoor pubs but after 9, only serve appetizers and drinks. Fortunately, one superb Italian restaurant is open until 11, and we were seated by the owner, referred to as “Uncle.” Love that. Pure Italian through and through, but has lived in Germany for 30 years. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but suffice it to say we want to go back to Guntia again before we leave, eventho we will be in Italy for 5 days in another week.

Our dining experience in Gunburg was tops, the freshly made mozzarella caprese my favorite
Daughter number 1 passing out on #2’s lap, who then enjoys sparkling water at the white table clothe experience of Guntia
Feature photo: Burg Berghausen Castle

Cape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock

As majestic as it is hard to reach

Ninety minutes south of Portland, Oregon, and about the same distance west of the state capital, Salem, is one of the most picturesque settings on the western coast of the United States. It’s Cape Kiwanda, home of the sand dunes and the “pointy” rock itself–Haystack Rock. The journey has a little of everything: parking on the long, flat beach instead of a concrete lot. Then traipsing up the dune in order to get to the furthest point of the jetty to snap that National Geographic-worthy photo.

Haystack Rock–and my apologies for the photo- in a moment of complete idiocy, I delted my dropbox for this trip, and the only photos I had were those I’d sent to my phone. So I “resent” them back to myself. Just take the essence of the shot, visualizing how good it was in the original form! 🙁
A regional overview

Take your time to this destination. The woods are beautiful coming from either direction. I just note that for those first-times to the west coast, which includes Washington at the northern most end, down to Oregon and California, you have two general routes. The major freeway is I-5, which runs from Canada (Vancouver, B.C.) to Mexico. This is the fast, straight and sure route, and many visitors take a couple of weeks and drive from one end to the other, hitting Seattle, Portland, Salem, Eugene, San Francisco, Los Angeles then San Diego.

For context, it takes approximately 4 hours from Seattle to Portland in regular traffic. Then 45 minutes south from Portland to Salem. From there to the northern California border (going through Klamath Falls) is another 6. From the border (which takes you through the National Lava Beds Monument, a marvelous home to underground ice caves and catacombs), then to Crater Lake (1 hour), which has the famous island in the middle of the former volcano. Shasta to San Francisco is five hours, an easy, gorgeous drive. From San Fran to Los Angeles is approximately 7.5 hours. From Los Angeles to San Diego is an easy five hours.

Got all that?

That was route 1. Route 2 is the “scenic” route, known as the Pacific Coast Scenic by-way, also known as Highway 1010, which will take you twice as long because it’s a curvy, gorgeous seaside road that begins in Astoria, Washington and goes all the way down to the Northern California. Unfortunately, between June and August, it’s smashed with tourists. The best time to go is After the kids are in school: think September. The winter months are glorious because it’s wet and raining, and really, what’s the northwest (Oregon and Washington) without a little drizzle.

But I’ve seriously digressed, although I felt it was important to give you the lay of the land. Back to Cape Kiwanda, it’s located in Pacific City. It’s a small, quaint town, which a few hotels and restaurants, the primary attraction being Haystack Rock.

Get in shape

The dunes are the primary obstacle to getting the best shot of Haystack Rock—but know this. You can approach it from the north or the south. From the south, you can’t actually get to the rock, as the long beach, nearest the city, is flat but doesn’t offer access. You must park on the north side, then once on the top of the dunes, you get the sweeping views of both north, south and Haystack Rock.

Taken on the walk from the car to the dunes. Just turned to my right, saw a bird flying between the cliffs and snapped. So perfect never a filter needed!!

Park on the beach, walk up the face of the dune. You have two options: going straight up (shorter but more painful) or along the ridgeline—longer and it drags out. I think both were levels of purgatory.

Once on the top, you are going to go up and down several different levels, following the well-worn path. It has some tricky spots, and I didn’t see any kids younger than 7, and you need to watch them like a hawk. The unobservant parent, or selfie-addicted tourist can slip and go over any edge and that’s all she-wrote. Bye-bye.

This is a view from between the cliffs as you make your way–post dunes. It’s all hardened sand–great for pictures but rather dangerous if you aren’t paying attention.

When Haystack Rock comes in to view, you must still go down, then up again to the final/closest point. The good news is by this time, most everyone else has given up the ghost, so it’s not crowded in the slightest. I would have taken more pictures, but honestly, I’d eaten at my favorite bakery and was seriously bloaty. No selfies for me!!

I’d definitely call this “the most dangerous” part of the journey. No rails, nothing, just your own sense of self-preservation. But sooo close. On the right (not pictured) is a narrow strip where you go down, then up, then across this hard rock bluff—then finally you arrive!

Grateful Bread Bakery

Whether you re wanting sustenance for your journey, or a reward for your victorious climb, you must—and this is must—stop by the Grateful Bread Bakery. Generous portions, daily homemade breads of all types, and a wonderfully, pure, Oregon-coast vibe make this my favorite destination in town. This glowing recommendation comes with a warning: the lines can be murder. Fortunately, the take out (if you call in) is super-fast. It’s a good-sized restaurant, but honestly, pick off hours and a small group (less than eight) or you are going to be waiting a solid hour.

And the reward….ahhhh…..

Whether you re wanting sustenance for your journey, or a reward for your victorious climb, you must—and this is must—stop by the Grateful Bread Bakery. Generous portions, daily homemade breads of all types, and a wonderfully, pure, Oregon-coast vibe make this my favorite destination in town. This glowing recommendation comes with a warning: the lines can be murder. Fortunately, the take out (if you call in) is super-fast. It’s a good-sized restaurant, but honestly, pick off hours and a small group (less than eight) or you are going to be waiting a solid hour.

Featured Image: Haystack Rock