For today's Travel Tip Thursday we're going to Santa Barbara. It's a fantastic city that's blessed with a great many attributes, and fortunately for me it's a half hour drive away.
As there are so many varying things to do it's a place that can be revisited on many a Thursday. Today I'll mention just a couple. It's currently Old Spanish Days... or as we tend to simply refer to it FIESTA.
Santa Barbara - more than any other place in California, I believe - embraces its Spanish/Mexican/Californio history, and Fiesta is a five-day celebration of that past.
Of course, there's a earlier history to the area, and I'm quite well-aware of it, but that'll be for another day. For now, remember that the first week of August is the celebration of Old Spanish Days.
The Spanish soldiers (with their families) and padres founded the pueblo of Santa Barbara in 1782, and the mission - tenth in the chain - was dedicated in 1786. It is still standing, open for visitation, and said to be "the crown jewel" of the California missions.
As I'm a bit of a
history freak, I always appreciate going to the mission grounds. And
because I more than enjoy a touch of the macabre I find the door between the church and the graveyard - from the outside - somewhat fascinating.
(The upper skull and crossbones - under the Moorish window - are carved in stone; the bottom two are actual skulls and crossbones embedded in mortar.) A nifty trivia bit is that the "real" woman of the Island of the Blue Dolphins, i.e., Juana Maria, the "Lone Woman of San Nicholas" is buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery.
Now it's time for something to eat.
Santa Barbara is full of notable excellent eateries, but in the spirit of Fiesta we're having Mexican food. Not at a restaurant, either. My favorite is a taquiera on Milpas, and it was Julia Child's favorite, too. I'm pretty sure La Super-Rica is the only taquiera with a write-up in Frommer's, (strictly on her recommendation, of course).
After Julia mentioned how much she enjoyed it, it shot to fame and there's usually a line going down the block (I took this picture early in the morning before it opened). It's worth the wait, though. Most definitely.
Julia Child was a local who lived in Montecito, and it wasn't unusual to see her from time to time out and about in Santa Barbara. My mother would run into her at the grocery store (it never failed to amaze me that she never took notice of what was in Julia's shopping cart). It just seemed fitting, with Julie and Julia opening tomorrow, er... it's after midnight so later today, to add a Julia tidbit tip.
Viva Fiesta and Bon Appétit.