Jackie: We want to talk about the grand finale of our endless 5th anniversary celebration. The Casa Tropicana in San Clemente was indeed our biggest surprise. This boutique beachfront Inn is so charming, the owners so welcoming and generous and the location so sensational. It’s so eco-friendly that there is a tropical tree growing through the middle of the place… well, I’ll let David rail on.
David: Now I freely admit I have rarely stayed at a B&B. Much more often than not, my own tastes have run to posh hotels, grand resorts and stately mansions. So I had no idea what we were in for. I parked our Prius in front of Casa Tropicana with a mild amount of trepidation. One sweeping look at the location, beachfront, as promised, helped happily. Just across the road (with a little railroad station tucked in), the long and famous San Clemente Fishing Pier, miles of golden sandy beach and the mighty Pacific Ocean. In the Casa Tropicana entrance we found a charming glamorous and strong young lady who took our luggage and ourselves up the open winding exterior stairs to our third floor home for the next two days. Casita Azahar, one of the eight unique accommodations in this Spanish-styled building, was perfect. (We were given a remote for a convenient parking garage.) Our very large bed/sitting room enjoyed a huge terrace overlooking the sea. All the goodies in the fridge and on the dining room table were ours to enjoy at no charge. There was fresh fruit, juices, cookies, candies and (!) a half bottle each of red and white wine from Napa Valley along with a full bottle of sparkling wine. On the floor below was the communal kitchen, where a homemade Mexican breakfast was laid out each morning. Fresh coffee, hot chocolate, microwave popcorn and more fresh fruit were ours for the taking anytime we wished.
Our room was equipped with a flat screen TV and five stars worth of technology. A marvelously comfy bed (with extra amenities, like ear plugs), small fridge, and a gas flame fireplace are just a hint of the special-ness. In the bathroom, JJ was delighted to discover a Jacuzzi tub big enough for two. Yep, romantic promised; romantic delivered.
Big doings on Sunday in San Clemente – the charming and rather glamorous Downtown (one long street of shops, cafes, public buildings) was open for business and included a street-long Farmers’ and Crafts Market. We walked. Jacqueline shopped. Home-baked mini-cakes, beautiful greeting cards, small cactus for our garden, treats from the Little Indian Princess group of cheerful girls and their proud cheerleader Dads. We lunched at a top spot in town; time for JJ.
Jackie Remembers Sonny’s: I am, at this writing, longing for the best eggplant parmigiana I’ve had since Parma; huge, fragrant and delicious. Sonny’s was declared the best place in town by anyone one we asked and is known for incredibly good thin crust pizza (tasty as in Italy, declared David). All we went for was a casual little Italian lunch. We exited with leftovers-paradise that gave us a sumptuous Italian dinner. We just used the microwave at our Casa Tropicana and David warmed the superb Italian bread in our fireplace. We ate on our seaside patio. Con mucho gusto! Then a good muscle beating in the giant spa bathtub.
David Wraps: The big finish. On our last night, we dressed in our warm (provided by the Inn) bathrobes and stood on the terrace (best seats in the house) to watch the crowds below across the street. It was just before Christmas and they waited with great anticipation until the signal lights on the railroad tracks flashed and in roared the Metrolink Holiday Toy Express. Over 20,000 colored lights formed designs on each car – toy soldiers, Christmas trees, and ornaments while music boomed out of the speakers. The crowd cheered (so did we) as the train pulled to a stop at the Pier Station and dignitaries greeted us while performers dressed as animals, elves, and Santa, of course, assembled to sing carols and wish us all Happy Holidays. A magical surprise to end our trip to the Beach communities, to Casa Tropicana, and to send us home with the Holiday spirit alive and well in the Lawrence hearts.
Jackie Adds: I can’t emphasize how much we look forward to a return. What I want you to know is that these little visits might be possible for you in these cutting- back times. There were a lot of vacancy signs in all the beach cities. I’m quite sure that if one needed a family getaway (or a personal escape), that good deals can be had at doable prices. Just contact the Manager and tell the truth about what you can manage. After all, it’s an opportunity for these destinations to make new friends for the future. Tell them your wishes. Sometimes wishes come true. Ours did. This is a well-kept secret, but we’re telling! We’ll celebrate, and we’ll travel.