I read the TripAdvisor article “12 fairy-tale places that are real.” Two of them happened to be in the United States and luckily for me, one of them happened to be a six hour drive away. The storybook town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA was well worth the adventure. Wine tastings, thousands of elephant seals, and Big Sur were all beautiful bonus stops along the way. So was it a fairytale? Absolutely. I think the story goes like this…
Once upon a time a ballsy broad asked her hubbie to make a legit dollhouse to sell her dolls. Prince Comstock made all of her housing needs come true. Mickey Mouse Wizard acknowledged his good deeds, as twisting juniper trees, covered the town with moss, bringing ridiculous tufts of cuteness to a town that would later come to be known as Carmel-by-the-Sea. The fairy glens from far and wide rejoiced, as they now had a place whimsical enough to call home. But the greedy wife was not satisfied, she wanted more houses built. Prince Comstock ended up building 21 of these beauties, each with a name and its own enchantment. I count myself lucky that my husband can figure out Ikea furniture but Comstock did as he was told, as any good husband should, and kept building houses. No one knows how this fairytale ended for the couple, but whether complete bliss or resentment, the town is sure lucky to have had such a demanding bossy woman to force the genius out of Prince Comstock. And the townspeople of Carmel-by-the-Sea lived happily ever after.
Nate booked the Pine Inn, the first hotel ever built in the town. That being said, it’s gorgeous, lovely as hell, in a great location, but behaves like your grandmother. The whole thing creaks when someone moves, it doesn’t know how to work electronics correctly and its bathroom functionality was literally laughed at. You might as well bring a bucket to shower yourself. However, I happily overlooked all of the hotel’s flaws and enjoyed it regardless. Plus, it’s in a fantastic location and smelled like a light fragrance from the handmade Lush cosmetics store nearby.
We took a walk through town and wandered into an outdoor shopping center pumped with excitement for Christmas. We pulled up a chair around a fire pit as lovely jazz music played nearby. Our waitress gave us a Washington Apple cocktail on the house. I decided people are so happy here in this Pleasantville, they just give you things.
I couldn’t handle the adorable town of Carmel. It’s the cutest damn thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen baby elephants. I think my camera broke because it also couldn’t handle the uniqueness or do it any sort of justice. You’ll have to excuse my lame iPhone pictures and just go see it for yourself.
Dinner was served at the adorable Casanova. My gnocchi was pretty yummy and I loved the cozy atmosphere but I wouldn’t put it my list of top twenty Italian restaurants in California.
The next morning we woke up to have a breakfast of champions at Il Fornaio, as the hotel provided a voucher. I’ve never had a breakfast pizza before but if I could dream one up, it would look and taste like this. La pizza papalina had potatoes, ham, and scrambled eggs – a perfect start to our day of house hunting.
We went to search for the infamous Hugh Comstock fairytale cottages. Surprisingly only tourists seem to really know about them since waitresses and our hotel’s concierge looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe that’s because so many houses and shops look like fairy tale cottages. Or maybe they’ve become like some Italians, completely over seeing the colosseum every day. Most can be difficult to find, except for the established tea room.
The Tuck Box English Tea Room is on Dolores St between Ocean and 7th Ave. I found it surprising how easy it was to have a tea and a scone inside, until of course I realized they are cash only. No offense to their scones but I was pretty satisfied with my breakfast pizza and we had a lot of walking to do.
We weren’t incredibly successful finding the Comstock cottages but we sure had fun trying. Simply walking down these streets is an amazing experience. Most houses, even non-Comstock houses, now have names and their own quirky elements – fences, treehouses, even a small bridge. The more freaking adorable houses I saw the more green I turned with envy. A young boy walked outside to throw his garbage away and immediately I hated him. I wanted to have a chat with him and make sure he realized how lucky he was to be a part of this town, especially as you had to be a millionaire to simply exist here. And here was this douche bag – probably super angry he had to throw out trash today instead of playing a video game in his room. Sigh… Well I may not ever be millionaire enough to live in Carmel but at least I can come visit from time to time and pretend I’m part of the fairytale at least for a few days.
© Faith’s True Tales 2016. All original words and images by Faith Brady.