When was the last time you did something you’d never done before?
This was the question I’d asked myself as I prepared for my trip to Santa Barbara with my Kia family earlier this summer. Truth be told, I’m pretty blessed to do a lot of really cool things through blogging and I don’t take any single experience for granted. This trip, however, was bound to be a little different. There were actually a lot of firsts on the agenda – some that excited me and some that scared me to death! I was determined to make this one yet another unforgettable chapter in my story and I succeeded.
It was my first time visiting Santa Barbara and for this trip, we were given the opportunity to ride in and around town in the brand new Kia Cadenza and Kia Optima SX-L. I’ve talked about the Kia Optima several times before and as Kia’s flagship vehicle, it just keeps getting better and better. I mean, we actually OWN an Optima and it still never ceases to impress me from performance to safety to personal style and comfort.
The Kia Cadenza is Kia’s luxury class vehicle. In other words, the ride you get heads turning when you step out of it and stares in the valet line. It was my first time driving the Cadenza and I was a little taken aback once I realized all of the luxuries I’d been missing out on!
The Experience – Day 1
We got into town fairly early in the day and drove about 2 and half hours to Santa Barbara’s Belmont El Encanto Hotel where we were greeted by pure luxury and a bottle of wine in our rooms because…well, they must know how we love to wind down in the evenings. 🙂
Dinner was amazing as always at a restaurant called Loquita where our group got to reunite in the outside patio space until the evening.
Day 2 – Relax and Rejuvinate
This was the day I’d been waiting for. We started our day with relaxing massages at the Spa at Belmont El Encanto and prepared for a day of even more much needed relaxing at 2 of Santa’s Barbara’s most esteemed wineries – Grassini Family Vineyards and Sunstone Winery.
We actually got to tour Grassini Vineyards and get an inside look at how the wine is made and learned the rich history of the winery. Which brought me to another question – If you had your own winery, what would you call it?
Back at Sunstone Winery, we got to take part in an awesome culinary experience where we were taught by an actual chef how to make our own risotto. If I may say so myself, I think mine turned out pretty well! We then enjoyed dinner, though our actual risotto was not on the menu.
Day 3 – The adventure begins
I guess it’s hard to believe for some of you who’ve been following me on Instagram lately, given some of the most extreme activities I’ve taken part in this year alone – from car racing at the speedway to tightroping over crocodiles (I’m exaggerating on that last one). However, deep down inside, I’m just a big huge “fraidy-cat” who gives in to peer pressure.
On day 3, we got to visit the coastal regions of Santa Barbara and drown down the Ventura Harbor, where we’d set aboard a ship and ride over to the Channel Islands. Sounds relaxing right?
Well, actually…while on the Channel Islands, the plan was for us all to go cave kayaking in the ocean! As in us in the open ocean with rough waters and ocean wildlife (read:sharks) kayaking in and out of dark caves. Definitely a first for me and actually for all of us. When we were all geared up to go – and I mean, rash guards and life vests and everything – we got our first “pep talk” from our guide. He basically warned us of EVERYTHING that could go wrong here. From us getting stuck in the cave… to incorrectly leaning forward and having our bones crushed in the caves… to the obvious sharks that are out there who may or may not attack us.
Then he asks, “Is there anyone who does not want to do this?” The fraidy-cat I am wanted to scream “MEEEE,” but the girl who gives in to peer pressure looked at the other scared faces in the group and saw that since no one else was backing out, I could do this too.
And I’m so glad I did because afterwards, it truly felt like my Kia family had bonded in a way like never before and I personally felt this overwhelming sense of achievement and courage that I still reflect on months later. 🙂
Following our kayaking adventure, we had the ultimate send off dinner aboard the Channel Cat luxury yacht. We were still pretty high off of the day’s adventure and we just had a chance to celebrate the moment and enjoy life. Something, sadly, we don’t do enough of sometimes.
The next morning, we were pretty sore from all of the rigorous kayaking and almost wishing we could get a massage again. However, it was time to say good bye. It was an amazing experience and a trip of many firsts and I will forever look back so fondly of my time in Santa Barbara!
Thanks to Kia Motors America for bringing me along on the journey. 🙂