California, USA

Updated: Feb 3, 2020

Flying with SWISS from Zürich to San Francisco takes approx. 12 hours and I recommend to book Business Class because you can relax (maybe also sleep) and work above the clouds. The Business Class Swiss Lounge E in Zürich offers several newspapers and magazines. You can help yourself from the cold buffet or have a warm meal from the front cooking station where chefs prepare hot food right before your eyes and a coffee/tea island offers any kind of coffee from espresso to latte. I experienced once more that SWISS offers quality and hospitality on a high level with service-oriented and friendly people. If you wish to work, they offer separate working areas with all the necessary connections and free high-speed Internet.

After I landed in San Francisco I was out quickly of the plane and after the passport control my luggage came first as it was marked “priority”.

As I was invited by my close friend who lives in California we shared most of the time. I got an insight to the American daily life once more again. Excursions to San Francisco, Sonoma and Santa Barbara were on our itinerary. I am thankful for all what I experienced during my visit. I was in good hands and couldn’t have been happier during my visit in California.

SAN FRANCISCO It was my 4th visit to California and also this time I enjoyed every minute. San Francisco has a lot to offer and is one of my favorite cities in America because there is so much to do and to see. With 883’305 residents, it is the 15th most populous city in the United States and the 4th most populous in California.

Visiting the Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden was a great start into the New Year on the 1st of January 2020. Here you find serenity, tranquility and harmony. The garden is the oldest continuously maintained Japanese public garden outside of Japan, attracting visitors since 1894! Some of the trees in this garden are more than one hundred years old. It is made of rock sculptures, Zen gardens, Japanese architectural structures and waterfalls. The front gate at the point of entry was crafted without the use of nails and is a masterpiece of architecture. Strolling through the garden you will see the five-story-tall pagoda, the Lantern of Peace, the Half-Moon Bridge, a big Buddha statue, waterfalls and koi pond are some highlights. After strolling through the Garden, we had tea and small snacks. I do recommend the green matcha tea and the green matcha cheese cake as well as the cookies. They also have a gift shop with beautiful glazed ceramic sets, traditional Japanese dolls and collectibles for any well-traveled visitor.

Located next to the Japanese Tea Garden is the de Young Museum. The museum was re-opened in 2015. It is an excellent museum with a large collection of art. I particularly loved the upper level (2). The works of art in the Museum go from the present day all the way back to the beginnings of human history. What not everyone knows is that the observation tower is free and you can go up to the 9th floor by elevator and enjoy a spectacular panoramic 360 view and that it was designed by the renowned Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron and Fong & Chan Architects in San Francisco. The Museum has also a gift shop and a café.

SONOMA Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, we drove to Sonoma, also known as the “Valley of the Moon”. Sonoma is just 45 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge and is the birthplace of California’s wine industry. More about Sonoma Valley you can read here. The city of Sonoma is home to Sonoma State Historic Park – site of California’s northernmost Franciscan mission and birthplace of the state’s Bear Flag. Don’t miss La Casa Grande of General Vallejo, a beautiful Gothic-style American-Victorian house. The house was manufactured in the northeast and shipped round Cape Horn!

SANTA BARBARA From Palo Alto we drove down to Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is a beautiful town near the southern coast of California. With its restaurants, shops, museums, cultural activities all year round and the good weather, it offers the perfect tourist experience and is great to visit anytime. We stayed at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara, where Theriault’s celebrated its 50th Anniversary with the legendary doll collection of American heiress Huguette Clark to benefit The Bellosguardo Foundation. The Clark’s historical property will in the future be a museum for art, music, history and culture. More about the 104-year-old daughter of copper baron W.A. Clark you can read in the book Empty Mansions, by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr. It was a once in a lifetime event and a highlight for every collector of antique dolls. Thanks to my friend in California I had the opportunity to join this 3-day event and write about the stunning natural beauty and relaxed luxury at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara.

THE RITZ-CARLTON BACARA, SANTA BARBARA An escape to the American Riviera with a touch of glamour and heritage The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara is a hidden jewel. It was love at first sight! Located at the beachfront of the Pacific Ocean and only a 20-minute drive from Santa Barbara this 78 acres of oceanfront property has 358 rooms and suites, 5 culinary venues, 3 outdoor pools and a 42’000 sqm luxury SPA with 36 treatment rooms, a salon and a fitness center!

My 79 sqm suite was located in the villa 19 on the 3rd floor. The spacious one bedroom suite had a large four-poster bed, a fireplace with two comfortable chairs and a coffee table, TV and a Nespresso coffee machine, a writing desk, a living room with a sofa bed, and two marble bathrooms with extra showers, a deep soaking tub in master bath and luxury Asprey bath amenities. The bath towels and robe were soft and white. Suite no. 19.303 comes with an extra-large balcony with views of the resort gardens.

Dining We had our daily breakfast at the Le Bistro. Everything was fresh and following the Mediterranean traditions it offers freshly omelets prepared to your choice with mushrooms, paprika or cheese. You can enjoy a breakfast buffet or order à la carte. The buffet has a bagel bar, a selection of bread, hummus, carrots, a yogurt bar, a hot buffet, omelets, scrambled eggs, Swiss and French cheeses, smoked turkey, pancakes, waffles and French Toast and much more.

At the Le Bistro they serve also Lunch and Dinner. The Angel Oak is a modern Steakhouse Restaurant with private rooms, outdoor dining and ocean views. You can choose from Appetizers, Soups & Salads, Sides, Fishes, one Vegetarian entrée and Broiled Dishes. The waiter brought us the menu card and let us know the dishes of the day. To start I ordered an un-spirited Cranberry Mule as an Apéro and for the main course a dish of the day: Lemon ricotta tortellini with pumpkin squash puree and pear date chutney topped with ras al hanout spiced pear, candied pecans and beurre noisette. And as dessert a Valrhona Dark Chocolate Soufflé with Grand Marnier Crème Anglaise and Crème Chantilly. The dish of the day was delicious and made it a very special experience I never wanted to miss. The dessert was a dream, rich and creamy and was the crowning end of the meal.

From morning to early evening, Blend offers a selection of coffee, espresso and tea beverages, smoothies, fresh pastries and gelato accompanied by breakfast and lunch dishes. It is located in the piazza. Located adjacent to the lobby in the main building, The “O” Bar and Kitchen combines rustic California cuisine and premium beverages for a casual yet refined dining experience overlooking the majestic Pacific Ocean. The Pool Bar is open from 11am – 6pm and offers the ideal menu for a day in the sun. Beverages include signature cocktails and frozen drinks, which can be enjoyed alone or with a fresh salad, chips and guacamole, pizza or fish tacos. At the bar, HD televisions, lounge seating and fire pits invite lingering long after the sun has set. For an elevated pool experience, cabanas are available for rental. If you book The Penthouse Suite or The Ritz-Cartlon Villa you will get automatically access to the Club Lounge. Enjoy these special inclusions: • Delightful culinary offerings throughout the day including breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, hors d’ oeuvres, and desserts • A Club Lounge Concierge that assists in your travel experience • Complimentary garment pressing • Fine selection of California wines, liqueurs, beers, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages

SPA Massage, Body, Facial, Beauty and Enhancements Swimming pool, redwood sauna, eucalyptus steam room, fireside lunges, rooftop terrace, and hair and nail salon. A 24-hour fitness center, four tennis courts and a full range of fitness classes, meditation and nature walks are available! Kids are welcome! Very family friendly hotel! The Ritz-Kids is one-of-a-kind program specifically created to provide children an engaging, educational experience to make their visit one they will remember for a lifetime. Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment Working with Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Future Society, they have created a fun, immersive program that invites adults and kids to explore four areas of our world: water, land, culture and environmental responsibility. The coastline there is pretty unique on the planet. On our private afternoon excursion with our personal Ambassador of the Environment we learned all about the natural life of the coastal environment including kelp forest.

Summary of The Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara

• 5* Hotel resort on the beach

• Member of Marriott Luxury Collection

• 358 rooms, suites and residences

• Private balconies with scenic ocean views

• Family friendly – Ritz Kid’s club

• 3 outdoor pools

• Restaurants, Bar and Lounge

• Award-winning SPA

• 24h fitness center

• 4 outdoor tennis courts

• Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassador of the Environment activities

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara


8301 Hollister Avenue

Santa Barbara, California 93117 United States

Contact number: +1 (805) 968 0100


LINKS SWISS ESTA Visit California

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara Matterhorn Restaurant and Bakery San Francisco: This family friendly Restaurant offers Swiss dishes. Zaytoon Restaurant in Santa Barbara: A Lebanese restaurant serving fresh and high-quality dishes. Their hidden oasis is situated on a large outdoor garden patio in downtown Santa Barbara. Matcha Tea Lewis & Clark antiques and fine things in Santa Barbara is my favorite shop. It is located downtown in the La Arcada Court, 1116 State Street in Santa Barbara. Another hidden jewel we do recommend in Santa Barbara: The Ysidro Ranch – entering in a world of tales… 41 cottages

We do recommend The Stonehouse Restaurant Member of The Leading Hotels of the World Address: 900 San Ysidro Lane, Santa Barbara, California


We are happy to help with any reservation and help you to design a personalized itinerary.


Text and photos copyright by Pearls of Switzerland Cristina Tschuppert, Switzerland, Feb. 2020.

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