Santa Barbara Bus Tour

Santa Barbara Trolley leafletI wake up and go down for the breakfast buffet in the hotel lobby. It’s already sweltering and there’s no noticeable air con in the lobby so I’m nearly breaking out in a sweat just sitting there eating breakfast. After finishing up I walk down State Street to catch the Santa Barbara Trolley, a city tour hop-on-hop-off bus. And I am sweating now even keeping to the shade wherever possible and it’s not yet 10.30 am. The lady in the Visitors Centre where I buy my ticket warns me that there’s cruise ship in town – I can see it anchored in the bay – and that the buses may get very busy today, advising me that I could get off at a stop and find the next bus along is full of cruise ship visitors. Which as they only run every hour might be a problem. She actually recommends not getting off at all, which kind of defeats the object of a hop-on-hop-off bus tour. 🙂
Santa Barbara Trolley ticket

When the bus turns up I ask the driver for his opinion, to which he replies that you just can’t tell what might happen, so I decide to stay and see how it goes. Thankfully once the bus sets off there’s a good breeze coming through the open sides of the bus – it has roll-up-down canvas sides for when it’s raining – and the driver gives a good commentary as we travel through the city. We stop off at the Mission for a 20 minute break, so I get some photos and stretch my legs. I’m not sure I could fill an hour to the next bus by going inside the Mission for a look around, so when the driver’s break is over, I get back onboard to continue the trip.

Old Mission Santa Barbara leafletBy now the few clouds that were in the sky when we set off on the tour have disappeared and it’s clear blue skies. And bloody hot. So I actually don’t get off anywhere on the tour (apart from the scheduled Mission stop) but that’s because, frankly, there’s nothing worth getting off for. And as it happens, the bus is almost empty. Santa Barbara is a nice city, and it’s a good tour per se, but as I said, there’s not much in the way of places of interest to visit. Coming down State Street as the tour comes to a close, I persuade the driver to let me off right outside the hotel rather than take me back to the start.

Now for the past 2 days my sinuses have become more and more blocked up – I suspect from too much exposure to air con – and I need to find a pharmacy to buy something to give me  some relief, so I wander up State Street. I find a pharmacy inside a store but the pharmacist is at lunch so I grab a coffee – in a café with air con! – but purely to get some relief from the heat, as it’s now really hot and, frankly, unpleasant. Who’d have thought I’d be complaining about blue skies and sunshine…

A Trip To Stearns Wharf

After his lunch break, the pharmacist recommends a nose spray – hopefully this will do the trick. But I’ve really had enough of the heat so I retire to my hotel room to cool down and chill out for a while. Around 5 pm I decide to go back down State Street to visit Stearns Wharf. Outside it has thankfully become much cooler and it’s clouded over. Which also of course means no sunset tonight. In fact rain was forecast and a few drops start to fall but it doesn’t turn into anything much. The Wharf is OK, being mostly restaurants, but the clouds make everything a bit gloomy and diminish the views down the coast and back inland somewhat. There’s a shuttle bus that goes up and down State Street all day so to save my legs I catch it back up State, all for 50c. This was a very good idea because as I get off the bus thunder and lightning appear in the sky briefly, but again this soon passes over. At least it’s much cooler.

Old Mission Santa BarbaraOld Mission Santa BarbaraStatue at the entrance to Stearns Wharf, Santa BarbaraStearns Wharf - Santa BarbaraStearns Wharf - Santa BarbaraStearns Wharf - Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara seafrontSanta Barbara seafrontSanta Barbara beachSanta Barbara beachA local resident on the Wharf

The spray has started to work and after a short rest at the hotel I head to the Santa Barbara Brewing Co. for dinner, just a few yards down State from the hotel. It’s a micro-brewery as well as dining joint, and I try the sampling glasses – small glasses on a wooden platter of each of their brews – plus a French Dip sandwich, and it’s all pretty good. But it’s very quiet at the bar, with no chit-chat amongst anyone sitting there. The restaurant itself is quiet as well, so I leave around 9 pm and find that the whole street is much quieter than it was last night, in fact it’s almost deserted. Very strange that Wednesday (today) is quieter than a Tuesday. So I go back to the hotel and watch some sports highlights on TV then it’s lights out. A bit of a disappointing day really because the sinus trouble made me thick-headed but it’s the heat and humidity that was the biggest pain by making moving around unpleasant. Santa Barbara itself seems a nice place though but not every day on a road trip can be brilliant I suppose.

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