A PRETTY PORTAL: We'd never be so demanding as to ask for a year-round magical portal or around-the-world transporter or other enchanted doorway. Having such a device or invention, a gizmo that can whisk you away to another part of the planet in an instant, might mean that you don't get a lot of your daily tasks done, and that really wouldn't be advisable. Oh, but to have it during certain times of the year, such as the height of summer, when avoiding especially toasty temperatures would only involve climbing through a shimmering doorway. There is such a doorway, with a coastal California twist, and it exists in Cambria, and it does a delightful job in transporting visitors to the Christmas markets of Germany, no shimmering doorways required. It's the Cambria Christmas Market, a multi-day affair which gathers together the sweetest of crafts and the most interesting artisans and a whole collection of goodly yuletide cheer and feeling, all in one spot.
AND THAT SPOT IS... the Cambria Pines Lodge. There are trees all atwinkle -- this is a place with "pines" in its name -- and there is Glühwein to sip as you walk among them, not to mention brats and pastries and savory/sweet such. That warm wine'll come in handy, for all the stalls and booths are described as "open-air," as is traditional for a Christmas market. You're not far from the ocean, in Cambria, so night breezes will carry with them a briny briskness that makes a cup of hot anything a pleasure to hold.
BUT SURELY... that's part of the merriment of these markets? So many of our shopping destinations can be found in a snug indoor setting. Doing it up, alfresco-style, in a way that's been done for hundreds of years, seems like a commerce-cool connection to the past. That you're giving the love to mom-and-pop-ers, and that your gift recipients will snag a pretty ornament or other seasonal item from you, makes it all the more fun. Do bundle up, though -- that's rule one with a Christmas market. (Rule two: Have a good time.)
DATES? The Cambria Christmas Market fa, la, las on select evenings through Dec. 23.