Solvang and San Luis Obispo

Yesterday we didn't have enough time, so this morning we visited Mission Santa Barbara, one of the many Franciscan missions in California, built to convert the local Chumash Indians. It's had a colourful history, suffering various earthquakes as well as the secularisation act by the Mexican government shortly after independence from Spain. It has some lovely courtyard gardens and a few rooms with period artifacts, including some old Chumash stone weapons and day-to-day objects.

Drove on to Solvang, a town started in 1911 by some Danish immigrants which has turned into a Disney-like collection of Hansel and Gretel type buildings housing viking restaurants, Danish bakeries and shops filled with all sorts of highly useful Scandinavian-themed souvenirs.

Back on the coast we paid a quick visit to the Guadalupe dunes. I wish we could have seen more, but it is mostly cordoned off. There are some hiking trails, but they are a bit too hard for the kids.

We had planned a stop at San Luis Obispo to coincide with the farmers market. Had a great time there listening to the music, eating from the barbecue stalls, and (kids only) jumping on the bouncy castle, doing a bit of rock climbing, and getting faces painted. One of the highlights was chatting to to firemen (and hugging Sparky the "dog"). The evening was rounded off with free balloons from the balloon guy shutting shop.

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