Since Valentine’s this year is in the middle of the week, we decided to go on a romantic weekend before Valentine’s Day. I feel one of the best ways to celebrate your mate and love for each other if time and money permit is with a night or two away. If you can ever get away during the week you will often find the hotel rates are much cheaper than on the weekends. After doing some research we chose Cambria, California – which is along the beautiful coast, only 2 and half drive from Santa Barbara, and next to Hearst Castle. We stayed at the Fog Catcher Inn (http://www.fogcatcherinn.com/) in Cambria which was across the street from the beach and had a lovely beach path to walk. I just love the outdoors and the weather was picture perfect which was a miracle since its been raining in southern California for the past week. A few miles up the road, at sunset, we visited the elephant seals that covered most of the entire beach. Some of these very large seals were busy feeding their young while others were guarding their mates and yet others were searching for a mate. After viewing this I was very appreciative that I was a homosapien and could take part in the more gentle aspects of dating and romance. That evening we ate at Brambles (http://www.bramblesdinnerhouse.com/) which we were delighted to discover has a special Greek menu – this matched perfectly with our combined Mediterranean backgrounds of Greek and Italian. It turns out that Brambles is owned by Nick and Debbie Kaperonis, who are Greek. Our food was delicious and we enjoyed, skordalia (a garlic-hummus dip), a broiled fish dish and Patistichio which is like a Greek lasagna, made with pasta, meat and bechamel sauce. We sat next to the fireplace and enjoyed our cuisine, despite that I was getting over a cold – I think dip with garlic – which is a natural antibiotic-cured me. Luckily our room at the Fog catcher had a wonderful gas fireplace which kept us toasty warm while we listened to the sound of the nearby waves. The next day we had an impromptu picnic with some baked chicken thighs I had made and packed for our trip and stored in our room’s refrigerator. I always like to bring some kind of food along for snacks and the drive. It was my husband’s idea to eat by the shore which was a delight. We then spent a very inspiring day at Hearst Castle in San Simeon. (http://www.hearstcastle.com/) Hearst Castle offered a “big screen” movie at the National Geographic Theater on William Randolph Hearst’s dream and efforts to make the castle. It was very uplifting. The movie showed how he became inspired at a young age when he took a trip with his mother to Europe. In his 60’s he decided to pour all of this inspiration and creativity into designing Hearst Castle. I enjoyed seeing the guest houses and the dining room which had a stately long table decorated with place settings and monogrammed paper napkins. It was here that Randolph entertained his special guests that included Errol Flynn, Charlie Chaplin, Amelia Earhardt. I could just imagine the conversations. Best of all was the beautiful Mediterranean style architecture that included an indoor Roman pool and a Greco-Roman outdoor pool that was in the movie “Spartacus.” Other places we dined that were delicious were the Black Cat Bistro http://www.blackcatbistro.com/ in Cambria and Oasis (Moroccan) in San Luis Obispo on the way home.