I had to get to San Francisco that evening and it was after 2 by the time I left Hearst Castle. I couldn’t resist taking a final recommendation from the director and stopped at the Hearst Ranch just of the highway for fish tacos and a 12oz takeaway coffee. I resolved to stick to the Pacific Coast Highway during daylight and so planned a light supper in Monterey before I let Waze steer me through the late rush hour up from Silicon Valley and into the city. But before that there was one place I needed to stop.
(The following paragraph will read like a combination of Conde Naste Traveller and Pseud’s Corner so skip if you’re feeling at all queasy.)There are some places that I’ve visited over the years, mostly with Nat, where I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of well-being. When that euphoria strikes me I say out loud: if I could snap my fingers at any time in the future and jump here I would. Ari’s Warung in Ubud is one. The original Turquoise restaurant in Bat Yam is another. But always at the top of the list is Nepenthe. It’s just a bar. But it is suspended in a luminous zone between the clouds and the sea at the mouth of a luscious ravine. As I climbed the wooden steps to the deck I felt the light softening around me. I ordered a gingery non-alcoholic cocktail and let myself breathe.