Carmel-by-the-Sea was named Carmel by a Carmelite friar named Sebastian Vizcaino after his patron saint, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Being a Carmen and knowing my name is originally a diminutive form of Carmel, which was made into a name as an homage to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, I had to visit Carmel-by-the-Sea of course. (Try saying all of that two times fast…) However, you do not need to be named Carmen to enjoy Carmel-by-the-Sea!
After a few centuries of Spanish and Mexican settlement, Carmel-by-the-Sea was incorporated as a Californian town in 1916. Ten years prior, many artists moved to the area in response to a full-page advertisement calling for artists, poets, and writers to join a new artist colony. Just a few of the notable artists who took part in this colony were Jack London, Upton Sinclair, George Sterling, Mary Austin, and Sinclair Lewis. This devotion to artistry is still alive today; Clint Eastwood resides in Carmel and was once the mayor, while Doris Day runs an upscale hotel there.
The architecture of each building and overall design of the town are truly indicative of builders who valued the aesthetic arts. Some houses, hotels, and shops have a Mediterranean appearance, while others look quite Parisian. There are also many “fairytale” buildings – resembling cottages straight out of Hobbiton from the Lord of the Rings – which is what Carmel-by-the-Sea is well-known for. Surprisingly, all these different architectural styles work together harmoniously to give Carmel a truly unique flair.
When I visited Carmel, my aunt and uncle took me to a really great French restaurant, though unfortunately I do not remember its name. However, there were so many other cozy looking restaurants that I highly doubt any random dining choice would disappoint you. Carmel also boasts of a large variety of specialty shops and galleries. Afterward, take a walk downhill to the check out the last half of Carmel’s title, the Sea (which is technically the ocean, not a sea, but that is okay), where you will find some lovely cypress trees.
All in all, the town is really wonderful. I am dying to go back because I visited it on a really dreary, cloudy January day, so I did not have sufficient light for my Holga 135 BC. Despite that, my visit there with my aunt and uncle was really memorable and nice. With appreciation for all forms of art at its core, Carmel-by-the-Sea is great for any Lomographer. I hope you can forgive my egocentric introduction and add this charming town to your list of must-see travel destinations!