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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

E & O Penang - A Sarkie Brothers' Hotel

There are a number of charming boutique hotels in Penang but I couldn't imagine staying anywhere other than the E & O. Built by the Sarkie brothers who founded a chain of colonial hotels across Asia, including the famous Strand Hotel in Rangoon and Raffles in Singapore, the E & O is a magnificent historic hotel.
Rather like several other historical hotels (including the Old Cataracts in Aswan and the Winter Palace in Luxor) the E & O has built a very successful, modern addition. Wowed by incredible online reviews, the promise of luxurious new rooms and club style amenities, I booked us into the new Victory Annex, see above and below. Certainly the rooms were stylish  with a lavish \well appointed bathroom. However, despite the fact that the room was very spacious there was only a single armchair which made little sense.
 The pool for this section was well designed on a high floor with a pretty view but I wasn't impressed with the service and far preferred the original pool at the main hotel. When I booked I hadn't quite understood that the Victory Annex was an entirely separate building. I had imagined a new tower opening into the colonial building. instead you had to walk out of one building across a lawn and into another. I far preferred the original building. Yes, the rooms are rather worn but the whole place has charm and character.
 The hotel has a number of restaurants including Sarkie's which retains  its vintage charm with wonderful Arts and Crafts tile work, old school lighting and a fabulous terrace overlooking the Straits.
I stopped in for tea at Sarkies which I enjoyed on the terrace. I can certainly see why this place appeals to nostalgic Brits seeking some winter sun. I thought we had made a fairly lengthy stop in Penang at five days but the staff at the from desk said that they have many return guests who come for several months at a time!
 Enjoying the sunset along the straits, right outside the hotel.
Penang was a far large city  than I had imagined and I enjoyed the hotel's orientation to the water rather than the town which wasn't as charming as I'd hoped. While much of the historic center consists of two and three story buildings the city is surrounded by higher, mainly commercial buildings as you can see below.