Salt rocks in Santa Bar­bara

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

On a port visit dur­ing a Cal­i­for­nian cruise, Brad Crouch dis­misses scep­ti­cism to fall asleep in a man-made cave.

huge chunks of colour­ful salt made into lamps and art­works. This is not your white ta­ble salt, but 45 tonnes of 250-mil­lionyear-old Hi­malayan salt blocks, im­ported from Pak­istan, with a pal­ette of colours span­ning from gin­ger to mauve to ochre. Chunks as large as bread bins dec­o­rate the greet­ing area.

As piped re­lax­ation mu­sic plays, we are led into a “cave’’, tread­ing on crunchy salt gran­ules about 20cm deep on the floor. Red salt blocks are in the back­ground, the low ceil­ing is salt en­crusted. You can lie on a towel on the floor and cud­dle up to the salt, with its 84 min­er­als, foetal-style. Some­what scep­ti­cally, I choose to sit in a re­clined deck chair as oth­ers go cocoon-like on the floor. The lights fade and the vol­ume of the mu­sic rises. I’m scep­ti­cal of yet an­other Cal­i­for­nia New Age fad, but a sec­ond later, I’m on my way to nir­vana. Thirty min­utes later, I awake re­freshed and calm. My skin is clean and I’m ready to hug a tree – af­ter a large drink of wa­ter.

Santa Bar­bara is one stop on a Cal­i­for­nia coastal cruise out of LA aboard 1814-ca­pac­ity Celebrity Cen­tury, one of the pre­mium cruise lin­ers in Celebrity Cruises’ fleet. Its fa­cil­i­ties in­clude a spa, fine French dining at the Mu­rano restau­rant, mul­ti­ple bars, pools and lounges as well as plenty of live en­ter­tain­ment and Broad­way-style theatre.

Other port stops in­clude San Fran­cisco, where a well­timed 4pm ar­rival gives all aboard the adrenalin-charged thrill of sail­ing into the har­bour city un­der the Golden Gate Bridge. We take a fas­ci­nat­ing night tour of in­fa­mous for­mer pri­son is­land Al­ca­traz that night, and in the morn­ing stroll di­rectly off the ship to roam the vi­brant port area. The nearby Fish­er­man’s Wharf tourist precinct is a daytrip in it­self. There are plenty of eater­ies and lots to look at in­clud­ing the large colony of sea li­ons that have made one wharf in the precinct their own.

The next port of Mon­terey proves to be an­other town of yachts, af­flu­ence, shop­ping and wine tast­ing; then it was on to Catalina Is­land, which rises dramatically from the sea. The is­land’s small town of Avalon and large casino, which dom­i­nates the wa­ter­front, stir up images of the Rat Pack and the Kennedys from an ear­lier era. The cruise also calls at Ense­nada in Mex­ico where tour op­tions in­clude wine tast­ings in the Calafia Val­ley. The writer was a guest of Celebrity Cruises and Visit Santa Bar­bara.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.