I am a bit late in posting this, but I have been so enthralled with Solvang and its surroundings that I had to return for a second visit a month later. I have to admit that Solvang initially seduced me when I was there a couple of years ago with my best friend, and a consequent visit with my parents just sealed the deal. I was looking forward to going back to Los Olivos as well, and doing some wine tasting at the local wineries.

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After leaving Lompoc we took the scenic route to Solvang, and stopped in Los Olivos along the way. We went to a lavender farm where the lavender wasn’t quite in bloom, so we instead browsed their little shop for lavender products– from food to bath items. After a savory lunch at Los Olivos Cafe and a round of wine tasting at Zinke Wine Co., we were off for Hotel Corque in Solvang, and then dinner at Cecco, a wonderful Italian restaurant that we had discovered during a previous visit.

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We decided that the following day we would go wine tasting, so I shopped around for the best deal and ultimately decided upon Promenade Taxi & Wine Tours. We toured four wineries in the area, and were amazed by the beautiful views and delicious wine– so much so that we purchased at least one bottle from every winery we visited. I just loved the scenery so much that I felt inspired to take photo after photo.

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Although it was brief, I enjoyed my trip so much that when I was invited to visit Solvang again by a new friend I was anxious to return. This time I decided to take the train to Santa Barbara, something I had never done before. I had always wanted to take it up north as I had heard about the beautiful views along the way. But what I wasn’t expecting was how relaxing it would be. I downloaded a movie and watched it on my iPad, so it made the four-hour trip just fly by.

After a relaxing lunch in Santa Barbara, my companion and I set off to explore the town of Solvang. I met some friends of his who owned La Bodega, a Spanish tapas restaurant. Then later we explored Figueroa Mountain, a local recreation area outside of Los Olivos. He had told me about the fields of lavender and poppies and I was hoping to photograph them.

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When driving around the area I was in awe of its beauty– miles and miles of untouched land that is part of Los Padres National Forest. There were hiking and bike trails, campgrounds, and we even came across a makeshift shooting range (perhaps not a good idea here?). The swift ascent and consequent descent around the mountain was almost hypnotizing, as around every corner it seemed there was a new treasure.

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Once again I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Solvang, and will definitely be back again soon. Especially because the train is so convenient, and you can enjoy a glass of wine and a cheese plate while you speed along to and from Santa Barbara.

Next stop… Washington, DC where I will be participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. 39.3 miles over two days, I’m sure it will be a challenging and inspiring weekend.

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