Santa Barbara proclaims itself the “American Riviera,” with one section of the city actually referred to as the Riviera area. It is known for its mild and pleasant Mediterranean climate year-round.
We decided to take a ship excursion, since we had free money from the cruise line on our account. A 90-minute trolley ride took us through the main street of next-door Montecito first, where we heard more celebrity names than ever before, all people who currently live, or formerly lived, in the city. We saw lots of Spanish architecture in Santa Barbara and toured several neighborhoods, first of the bungalows that cost $1 million, and then the neighborhood that started with $5 million houses. They all looked pretty modest and normal to us. We had heard years ago that many people who worked in Santa Barbara couldn’t afford to live there, and thus had long commutes to work.
We had a stop at the Mission, which was built on a hill up from the beach because there were water sources there. It was founded by the Spanish in 1786, and the current building dates to 1820, as the original was destroyed in a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in 1812. The Spanish also constructed a Presidio in 1782 (defense first, church second). It is one of four California Presidios built to defend cities on the California coast (also in San Francisco, Monterey, and San Diego).
All in all, the weather was beautiful, with a little breeze, full sunshine, about 70 degrees – a picture-perfect day. Our trolley tour was very informative and light-hearted. We met two new friends, Julie and Steve, and talked with them late into the evening. There was lots of laughter, lots of stories shared. The ship, the Majestic Princess, has been a great home for almost two weeks.