Santa Cruz, California

More than any other place in California, Santa Cruz has become the town where I feel most at home. This is the way I always imagined California to be, full of colourful ‘arty’ ethnic stores; wonderful bookshops; students and musicians frequenting the bustling coffee shops; petitions to be signed against war, the inhumane treatment of animals and other red-hot topics; a sense of openness and freedom in dress, attitude and conversation. And just around the corner, all this is topped off with fabulous redwood forests, spectacular mountains, and the most magnificent sandy beaches that stretch for miles along the coast.

Bob first brought me to Santa Cruz one rainy day in October when we’d known each other all of eight days. Quem escreveu o livro de Samuel I was enchanted on that first day, driving through the rain-soaked hills, listening to the Beatles on K-Pig radio, then arriving in this little glistening ’60s town that time had somehow forgotten. That same sense of captivation has never left me, though I must have retraced that route a hundred times by now.

The drive out of Silicon Valley and into the Santa Cruz Hills is like crossing into another dimension. The super competitive world of silicon hi-tech start-ups is instantly left behind, the smog suddenly lifts, and the air and the surrounding hills take on a new freshness and vitality. There are many routes to choose from to get to Santa Cruz. From 880 it’s a straight run to Los Gatos, a small hip town where shop windows dazzle with overpriced goods, and the beautiful people assemble to preen and parade. We often stop here for a coffee in the Los Gatos Roasting Company. God, the coffee is only marvellous, and the Posh Bagel next-door makes the nicest toasted cream-cheese bagels on the west coast!

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