Long Beach (L.A.) was the second port on my recent Coastal California Cruise. I have to say, this was my very favorite port and shore excursion – maybe my favorite part of the entire trip….although, there maybe a couple really close rivals for that absolute # 1 spot! It was the port I was least looking forward to. I spent several days in L.A. a few years ago on a seminar for work. I did all the touristy stuff on my off time, so “been there, done that” – not really interested in doing it, again. So, I looked for a shore excursion that did not include all the Hollywood and L.A. attractions. I noticed one that featured a trip to the Mission at San Juan Capistrano. I had heard of that and the description of the tour sounded interesting, so that is the one I chose. I thought it would be a nice tour, but was not expecting to be totally blown away by it……it was so incredible……something I will never forget!!!
It was another gorgeous, sunny, warm California day!
Early settlers of California built missions all along the coast with the intent to educate Native Americans to the Christian faith. They were situated so that there was no more than a day’s ride by horse between them and bells were installed along the route to show the way and mark the distance.
The Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded on November 1, 1776 and is known as the Jewel of the Missions. The legend of the Mission San Juan Capistrano is that one of the founding missionaries was in town one day and noticed a shopkeeper swatting away the cliff swallows that flocked around his shop. The missionary asked him what he was doing and he told him that he wanted to be rid of the pesky birds that dirty the entrance to his shop and cause him to lose customers. The missionary told the cliff swallows that they would be more than welcome at the Mission and to come there whenever they want. The next day, the missionary found hundreds of cliff swallows making nests around the Mission. From that day forward, cliff swallows migrate from their winter nesting grounds 2000 miles away to come to the Mission – this happens every year on or about March 19th – St. Joseph’s Day. The birds are still celebrated at the Mission.
I didn’t see any cliff swallows while I was there, but the rest of the Mission took my breath away……I could have spent days there just sitting and wandering around and taking in all the beautiful buildings and stunning gardens! Yes – definitely my favorite part of the cruise……and right up there with the top 2 or 3 things over all for the entire trip!!! It was a rare treat, in deed, for someone with a camera slung over her shoulder! 🙂
One of the bells that were installed along the missions route to show the way and mark the distance between each mission.
Cliff Swallow nests – replica of what the founding missionaries described they discovered
There is a cemetery on site with the graves of the founding missionaries and others over the years
This chapel was amazing…..I could barely breathe while I was inside! I sat in one of the pews for a while and just looked around in awe and in tears! It was so beautiful and so emotional!!!
I lit candles at the altar in honor of my Mom and Dad!
Orange poppies – California’s state flower!
Then, as if that was not enough……we went to Laguna Beach for lunch at a wonderful local seafood / Italian restaurant right on the beach!
Our appetizer was an amazing salad with candies walnuts and dried cranberries
We had three choices for the main course – I, of course, ordered the seafood pasta — linguine with mussels, shrimp, scallops, crab, and salmon (which I gave to the guy sitting next to me – the only thing in the dish I didn’t want) with seasoned tomatoes…..OMG!!! I am rarely impressed with group lunches with set or limited menu choices…….this was unbelievable!!!
Dessert was a flan that I was way too stuffed to eat, but did manage to get a couple bits down to try it……dang – it was good!
On the way back to the ship, we drove along the Pacific Coast Highway through all the little beach communities and right along the ocean. It was so beautiful!
It was a very long, full day…..simply fabulous!!! I ate a light dinner and tried to sit out on the deck for a bit, but was so thoroughly exhausted that I finally gave in and went to bed early!