Carmel Valley (bernardus.com). After a quick swim in our rooms giant tub we headed to the relaxed Wickets Bistro for dinner and tucked into a bottle of the hotels own wine. Well, it would have been rude not to. The following day we checked out Carmel, where Clint Eastwood used to be mayor. An upmarket town full of galleries and boutiques, its a superb place to window shop and we enjoyed a great breakfast of pancakes and burritos at Katies Place on Mission Street before heading to a beach of pure white sand and rolling breakers. Carmel Valley is set in the heart of wine country, with vineyards and tast- ing tours everywhere you look. Try the Ag Venture Tours (36pp, agventure- tours.com) where youre driven around for half a day to try the fabulous whites and reds with no holds barred. Great wine often means good food and for dinner we booked into the Carmel Valley Ranch hotels Citronelle restaurant (carmelvalleyranch.com) where we feasted on local lobster and lamb, and finished with a chocolate confection the waiter described as a posh giant Kit Kat. Monterey OUR next base was a few kilometres up the highway in the lively coastal town of Monterey -- the slick Intercontinental Clement Monterey (intercontinental.com) on Cannery Row, once a street full of canning factories, now regenerated into fashion- able bars, restaurants and shops. We walked down to the Fishermans Wharf -- the place to go for boat trips. We plumped for a two-hour sailing trip with Captain Dutch Meyer (montereysailing.org) and saw seals, sea birds and even a distant glimpse of a sea otter. Luckily a visit to the Monterey Aquarium -- said to be the best in America -- meant I could take hundreds of snaps of the otters in their giant pool. The jelly fish and sea 12 Friday, 31 July 2009 London Lite Subjecttotermsandconditionswhichcanbefoundonwww.gatwickairport.com gatwickairport.com Yourtime ENJOYGREATFOODANDWINEONAMINIROAD BY TRACEY BLAKE Celebrity hotspot Bora Bora The worlds five best... Give em the pip: Spains bash A N AMERICAN road trip is on most holiday wish lists but if, like me, you cant take more than a week off work and lack the cash for an inter-state adventure, a mini tour can be just the thing. With this in mind my boyfriend James and I headed off to Monterey County in California for a speedy six-night sojourn behind the wheel on the epic Highway One. Heres how we got on... Wheels AFTER landing in San Francisco we headed for the hire car centre (holidayautos.com, 214 for six days) to pick a convertible -- a big cream Chrysler that could fit our luggage in the boot even with the top down -- as we planned to cruise around topless most of the time (the car, not me). The car hire man suggested we take the fast road out of town and join Highway One, or the Pacific Coast Highway, which runs along some of Californias most beautiful coastline including Half Moon Bay. He even programmed our satnav (70 for the week) so we didnt have to stress about maps -- and fulfilled the US service clich of telling us: Have a nice day, as we left. Brilliant. Carmel ONCE wed hit the coast road the drive came into its own with sweeping views of deserted bays and plunging cliffs. It was getting late by the time we pulled into Bernardus Lodge in WHO: Actress Jennifer Connelly, right, and family hit the beach in French Polynesia. WHY GO: To surf and hike. THE VIBE: Romantic yet family-friendly. BEST FOR: The stunning surroundings. WHERE TO STAY: The Bora Bora Lagoon Resort & Spa (boraboralagoon.com). Bungalows from 329. WHAT TO DO: Swim with turtles on a diving expedition (boradiving.com). From 471. WHERE TO EAT: At Bloody Marys Restaurant & Bar (00 689 677 286) youll get BBQ fish and steak. Mains from 17. SOMETHING DIFFERENT: Get your loved one some black pearls. Matira Pearls (matira pearls.com) has the best selection. Sets from 76. TOP TIP: Avoid wet season, from October till April. HOW TO GET THERE: Air France (airfrance.co.uk) flies to Papeete, 1,100 rtn. MORE DETAILS: borabora island.com JENNIFER BARTON LA TOMATINA, BUOL, SPAIN FOR one hour on the last Wednesday of August thousands of revellers engage in a crazy tomato fight in the town of Buol, near Valencia. Rules state that tomatoes should be squashed before being thrown and warn competitors not to tear each others clothes. Everyone ignores the latter, so swap your underwear for sturdy swimwear to maintain dignity and youll be perfectly dressed for the hosing down afterwards. 26 August SETSUBUN, JAPAN A MORE civilised affair, this bean- throwing festival is celebrated in houses, shrines and temples across Japan. Roasted soya beans are thrown with the cry of: Devils out, happiness in. Afterwards, eat the number of beans that correspond to your age and one more for good health. 3 February WORLD BLACK PUDDINGTHROWING CHAMPIONSHIP, RAMSBOTTOM, UK MMM, black pudding. Love it or loathe it, all that matters at this event on the Toplesson thehighway toheaven... SAN FRANCISCO HALF MOON BAY MONTEREY CARMEL CARMEL VALLEY BIG SUR CALIFO R N I A index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html40.html41.html42.html43.html44.html45.html46.html47.html