Tuesday, March 14, 2017

America's Dutch Capital

  Have you ever woke up and just had to get out of bed and seek out some Dutch heritage? Neither had I, until now that is and I think that if you were to visit the city of Solvang in Santa Barbara County, California you might agree. With a handful of windmills scattered through town and the charming Danish style architecture helps you to feel like you've been transported away from the hustle and bustle of L.A. However, the crowds will remind you that you really aren't that far from the big city.
  We arrived just after 1 pm on a Saturday which happened to coincide with the Solvang Century bike ride. Lucky us. Okay it wasn't horrible but it was busy. We walked half the town just peaking into windows of different restaurants before finally strolling into one that didn't have a hundred people sitting in the lobby waiting to be seated. In fact the only person in the place was standing at the register paying for her meal. We were seated and my nerves started to change into real concern on whether we had made the right decision. There were people in every nook and crevice of this town except in this particular establishment. I had a feeling it was going to be a long, uncomfortable ride home. The owner mentioned that we arrived at a good time because the place had been packed not long before our arrival. That's exactly what I would have said to my next victims when they came in with concerned looks on their faces. Yes. Gain their trust. I took a chance on Danish sausage and meatballs (go big or go home) and to my relief the food was good. I was also relieved to see more victims-I mean patrons, enter the establishment to share in the future misery. By the way, the food was fine, the restaurant is fine, and everyone had a good time.
  After lunch we hit the town and took in the multitude of shops. Yes, Solvang is definitely a tourist trap designed to separate you from your money. The smells of baked goods tease your senses as you pass by bakeries, fudge shops, and restaurants. Wooden shoes and coo coo clocks seem to try to convince you that they would make great souvenirs. That's why our group brought home two clocks. What did I tell you? They are good at taking your money here. So good in fact that despite just eating lunch we somehow walked away with fresh baked cinnamon bread, fresh fudge, and a tub of cookies. All of which were yummy. I can't lie. 
 From the windmills to statues, the town pays homage to it's heritage. Hans Christian Anderson has a bronze bust in town as well as a replica of the famed Little Mermaid. But like most historical places in California there is a spanish mission in town. A reminder of who was here first. Mission Santa Ines was created in 1804 and the mission is a California and National Historic site. Unfortunately we were unable to make it into the mission because, here comes the tip of the day, Solvang goes to bed early. The mission closes to the public at 4:30 pm and the rest of the town shuts down by 6 pm. Had we known that we may have gotten there a little earlier. Oh, well. That gives us a reason to visit again I suppose.
   Overall it was a fun half day that was worth the drive. If you want to learn more about the town and decide if it's worth your time check it out here.
  With that I say vaarwel, which is Dutch for goodbye. We hope to see you back on Friday for our next adventure. 


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