If you drive along Highway No. 1 from San Francisco to Los Angeles you automatically pass Watsonville, shortly behind Santa Cruz embeded in the Pajaro Valley. The air doesn't smell of garlic in the neighbouring town Gilroy and it isn't called the artichoke-city like the adjacent Castroville.
Watsonville, that's the town of strawberries. And since we definitely like strawberries, we got a warm welcome. Polite and friendly. But not so superficially friendly as is often the case in the USA. No, times it was very real. It seems to be one to the large proportion of Mexican population. All hard working down to earth people.
But we asked ourselves, there must to be more and started looking.
At first we bought the best coffee latte within a radius of 50 miles around and a home baked bagel. One as a vegetarian variation and the other one with smoked turkey breast. There was so much it lasted till lunch. There you get your money's worth. (Bagel Café & Bakery, 1830 Main Street, 831-722 3838)
After that we reached Henley Customs. For those who are interested in everything about Hot Rod and Custom Car Parts, here is the right address. "Speedo" personally told us that every year in July there is a big car-meeting opposite his shop. (Henley Customs, 1044 East Lake Av., 831-786 8844)
From many HP we came to 1 HP. Watsonville is the hometown of Heather Watrous. A pretty young lady. She is California's upcoming generation at "Western riding", as we Germans say. Heather is the 2002 State Champion AAA Pony in Big T and also Elite Top Ten 2000, 2001 and 2002. This means that she finished each year in the Top Ten in the State for all 13 events encluding Big T. And that, although she has a very restive horse. But Heather is very ambitious and trains hard. To contribute a little bit to her expensive hobby, she makes soap. Her parents promote her. And there for, the 14-year old girl has to coordinate school, guitar-lessons and training. I take my hat off! By the way, hats! Her father makes leather-hats. All hand made and in some cases unusual models. If you want to bring home an original-souvenir, you have to contact with Gary Watrous. This souvenir fits in every hand baggage because headgear doesn't count. (http://www.headnhome.com)
And her mother is an unusual artist. She manufactures Cloisonné Jewelry and is very well-known in the Juwelier scene of the USA.
After a warm chat together, we needed a delicious refreshment. At the Cold Stone Creamery we just couldn't decide. First we had to choose the flavour, it's not so easy with 29 kinds. One of 6 sizes to choose was relatively easy. But then we had the choice of the Mix-Ins. That means that we had to select from Gummi Bears to Snickers, fruits, nuts or brownies and marshmallows. In all about 38 different ingredients. Well, that wasn't enough, so now the easy bit : To pick out a fresh baked waffle cone or a bowl. But you could also get a chocolate dipped cone or if you want, you naturally can get whipped cream or one of the other 7 toppings. (http://www.coldstonecreamery.com)
After this you had to go for a walk. We went to the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce (444 Main Street). We could have gone on a birdwatchers tour, but we decided on a Walking & Driving Tour through historic Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley. We were very surprised how many beautiful old houses there are. With the map we could find them very quickly and could admire houses between 1860 and 1902. And the background of some houses is very interesting, too. There is, for example, the house of the first district attorney of Watsonville, built in 1894.
Finally we went to a Mexican Restaurant. At Zuniga's Mexican Food at Watsonville Airport you get excellent burritos and far and away the best Margaritas. And on top of that you sit there in a nice atmosphere and watch the sports planes starting and landing. (100 Aviation Way, 831-724 5788)
Maybe I have to mention: If you have time and you're near by, you really have to visit this town. It's worth the trouble! It's as good a the artist' village Capitola or Santa Cruz with the Boardwalk. The surroundings are more interesting than the guide books say.