Viva Varun: In California!

Answer to “Where am I?”: Horseshoe Bay in Sausalito, California

I am standing at Cavallo Point, in the town of Sausalito, Marin County.

The bridge took four years to build and was finished and opened in the first half of 1937. It is 2.7 kilometres long and 27.4 metres wide and connects San Francisco to Marin County, spanning the Bay. This steel structure was painted in “orange vermillion” or “international orange”, but in the bright Californian sunshine it positively glistens!

I used to love horror movies. I didn’t have a fascination with them and certainly did not fall in love with female vampires or go “Twilight”, but I did love a good “Jaws”, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, “Exorcist” … and even the comedic “Lost Boys”. In fact, it was all comedy to me, until I first stayed in Big Sur, California.

On my first visit to the outstanding Post Ranch Inn (hotel) around a decade ago, I was given a suite that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. As we often have early call times on filming days, I jumped into my sumptuous sunken bath and waited for a spectacular Californian sunrise. I opened the view windows in front of the bath and suddenly deep, thick and saturated clouds of fog rolled into the room and into the rest of the suite too. How lovely, I thought until I remembered watching the original John Carpenter’s “The Fog” just weeks before! In that movie, “fog” meant angry zombie pirates and death for anyone who was caught up in it! I moved faster than Carl Lewis to shut all windows and doors, lit the fireplace and promptly went back to bed!

No more horror movies for me!

I am just back from a three week trip to central California. The first half was spent in Napa & Sonoma and the second travelling up north from San Francisco along the coast.

After spending some time at the historic Cavallo Point (staying at The Lodge), I headed up to Half Moon Bay – a 40 minute drive on the Cabrillo Highway. The town is small and boasts this quite superb Scottish/Irish castle influenced resort (Ritz-Carlton) that sits by the Ocean. There are two “excuse” golf courses attached. What I mean by that is if you score badly (as I do too often), you can blame the stunning scenery!

From there it was onto nearby Moss Beach where I rode a wonderful horse in an American saddle through a Redwood forest.

The town of Pescadero was my next port of call. It is home to one of the most famous goat farms in California. Here they breed goats for milk which is then turned into delicious cheese used by chefs up & down the state. Goats are strange beasts, over-friendly often and able to eat anything including clothing – as I found out to my horror (there’s that word again!).

Finally, the long and winding road took me past Carmel (ex-Mayor, Mr. Clint Eastwood) in Monterey County to Big Sur.

This town has an interesting by-law, no tennis courts or golf courses are allowed! So why do people come here? Primarily to do nothing, secondly for the hiking – as the Santa Lucia mountains are close to hand – and thirdly to make sweet, sweet love! Big Sur is one of the greatest places in the world to make love. Don’t take my word for it; try it yourself!

Big Sur has inspired some of the greatest writers in the world: Kerouac, Henry Miller and Steinbeck, as it is that sensational. It still holds inspiration for one of America’s greatest living artists Greg Hawthorne who still lives and works there.

I write this entry from my home deep in the English countryside. It is just daybreak and I can see a deep fog masking the rolling green hills, my windows are firmly shut though and one of my cats is here for protection! That Fog still haunts me!

-Varun Sharma

Varun Sharma is the host of Inside Luxury Travel – a television show that focuses on high-end travel. The show airs in over 160 countries, in 18 languages and is beamed into 390 million homes worldwide. He has now stayed in over 500 luxury hotels & resorts … and has in the past year flown in a fighter jet, gone diving – without a cage – in Tiger Shark infested-waters, had dinner with a dingo and has cooked with over 50 Michelin-starred chefs! He likes nothing better than playing a round of golf with his pooch Gemima by his side, cigar in mouth and flask of single malt Scottish whisky to hand!