Barbara Singer

12 POSTS

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It was a spectacular happening like no other, as Santa Barbara rolled out the red carpet for 25 years of its fabulous Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) 2010. It’s easy to fall in love with Santa Barbara. There’s no place like it. You won’t see snow in winter or feel freezing breezes, just sunny days, gentle winds and light rains. You’ll find here a chic small town with ambiance of a luxury resort. This is one year that you felt lucky being here, because Santa Barbara loves to celebrate. The SBIFF is the soul of winter fun in Santa Barbara. This American Rivera Film Festival paralleled the Cannes Film Festival on the French Rivera. Oscar nominated actors, directors and writers turned out to mingle for tributes, honors and panel discussions in a quite casual environment.

There’s something amazing about the SBIFF, it has a stylish sophistication atmosphere. With my passion for films, I have attended renowned film festivals in other cities like Cannes, Montreal and Los Angeles and can related that the memories of this SBIFF are everlasting. Santa Barbara has long been a filmmaker’s dream from its early Flying A Studio days, to an intimate getaway for the star legends of the 30’s & 40’s. With its ideal climate and spectacular views of mountains, beaches, islands and distinctive historical architecture, Santa Barbara has attracted superstars who visit, make films and live here.

10 Amazing Days and 11 Starry Nights

I arrived in Santa Barbara on the opening day of The Festival, a huge welcoming banner atop of the SBIFF headquarters at the Santa Barbara Hotel waved over old downtown State Street The bustling lobby of this historic old hotel was frenzied with arrivals of press, directors and filmmakers lining up for check-in. Festival flags along State Street led to the historic Arlington Theatre with its glittering marquee heralding the 25 year celebration for a Festival that has been acclaimed as World Class.
As the city entered twilight, movie searchlights beckoned all to come to the theatre and the magical red carpet crossed State Street in direct access to the paparazzi and the portal to the theatre, flanked by an excited crowd. The 25 Year celebration added an edge to this effervescent opening. Greetings and salutations by SBIFF president Jeff Barbakow was the kick-off, followed by a rousing welcome by innovative Executive Festival Director, Roger Durling, who has the distinctive knack of choosing the films, star tributes, interviews and events on the cutting edge to the Academy Awards and bringing it all together with his dedicated staff.

Original festival founder Phyllis DePicciotto reminisced on how it all happened 25 years ago. More to come was the opening movie, filmed in Santa Barbara County, Flying High from director Derek Magyar joined by his cast. Everyone converged on the shopping area Paseo Nuevo for a lavish outdoor opening party; here local restaurants offered tastings from their menus and sponsor Chopin Vodka served their Festival Signature cocktails, as local bands kept the crowd moving.

As an avid filmgoer, I tried to see at least three or more films a day as a part of the 10 Amazing Days and 11 Starry Nights and attend all the tributes. Luckily, I had screened all the Oscar nominated films of the honorees prior to the SBIFF. This year Roger Durling invited 200 films from 45 countries, including features, documentaries, animations and shorts.

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3425b5880Fun loving 2010 Oscar winner Sandra Bullock (The Blind Sight), stirred up the red carpet, as a Festival favorite, accepting the American Rivera Award, while recalling highlights of her career. When revolutionary filmmaker, reigning King of the Box Office James Cameron (Avatar) was feted with the highest award Modern Master, his old friend former actor and Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger unexpectedly appeared to tribute the man, whose recent film has passed the two billion revenue mark. Oscar fever was in the air for the honorees at The Festival with 20110 Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) as Best Director and Colin Firth (A Single Man) as Best Performance of the Year; this timeless romantic actor charmed the crowd with his natural charisma. My favorite film at The Festival was Chloe, I was pleased I had seen it the same day that its star Julianne Moore (A Single Man) was seated in my row prior to her acceptance of her Montecito Award; she warmly signed autographs for fans sitting nearby.

 

 

3426e02b0Other awardees for Cinema Vanguard Best Supporting Performances were Oscar nominees: Vera Fermiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Stanley Tucci and 2010 Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz.

A special evening was devoted to The Virtuosos, distinctive performances by Emily Blunt, Carey Mulligan, Saoirse Ronan, Gabourey Sidibe and Michael Stuhlbarg. Film highlights of the actors’ careers and candid interviews preceded all the tributes. It was a glittering array of the year’s best talented performances in film.3423fd510

Cherished moments of The Festival were in two afternoons, one with Quentin Tarantino and movie film legend 93-year old Kirk Douglas in a head to head chat about their movie careers and their new found friendship, following the screening of Douglas’ film Posse. Valentine’s Day was an extra-special occasion; it was a celebration of local resident and 2010 Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart). It was Jeff Bridges Day in Santa Barbara with his films screened and star treatment for a favorite son and recognized star. Helene Schneider, Mayor of Santa Barbara surprised Bridges, a past recipient of the Modern Master Award, with a presentation of City Proclamation. The Festival ended with actor Beau Bridges introducing a new film directed and co-written by George Gallo, Middle Men followed by a gala closing party with accolades to everyone, who made the 2010, 25-Year Silver Anniversary celebration a huge success.

 

 

 

 

 

Discovering Destination Santa Barbara

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Santa Barbara boasts wonderful attractions that should be seen. The Red Tile Walking Tour leads to history buildings in the downtown including The Old Courthouse, El Presidio and other buildings. By hopping the Santa Barbara Red Trolley, at the entrance to Stearns Wharf, there’s easy access to the whole city. While meandering through the city, history and culture are emphasized and panoramic views are breathtaking, there’s plenty of time to stop and linger at must see spots like: the beautiful Santa Barbara Mission (Queen of the 21 California missions), the Zoo, Natural History Museum in the hills, the Art Museum, unique homes, the spectacular Court House & Sunken Gardens and seaside wonders. This tour allows off and on privileges for lingering and photos, best views are on top. Don’t forget to take a look and photo of the bronze-laughing Dolphins in front of Stearns Wharf.

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Shopping: It’s quick stroll to boutique beat on State Street, plus the fabulous Paseo Nuevo outdoor shopping mall.

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Fine Dining: I wanted to dine well right near The Festival and my choices were perfect:
Blue Agave (20 E. Cota) 805-899-4694. We like the cozy ambiance and opted to dine downstairs in the rustic intimate setting.The cocktails and martinis were innovative. There were plenty of pizza and dim sum and tapas. We enjoyed the Calamari appetizers; Fresh Wild salmon & Pan roasted Crusted Chicken Breast. This was a great place to dine, a few steps off of State Street and a favorite among the locals. Pierre La Fond Wine Bistro (516 State St.) 805-962-1455 We favored this spot right on State Street for al fresco dining and enjoyed the attentive service. I discovered the best Steamed Mussels that I have ever tasted with a remarkable sauce. I will long remember the homemade flat bread and was pleased with my Seared Halibut entrée. My friend raved about her Pan Fried Crab cakes and Braised Lamb Shanks. We especially enjoyed 2007 Sauvignon Blanc wine from Pierre La Fond’s Santa Barbara Winery. I will be back!

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You don’t have to drive to the Central Coast wineries to enjoy amazing wines; in Santa Barbara, you can stop by 11 wineries on foot for tasting, sipping and meeting winemakers down by the waterfront I am partial to the wines at the Kunin Winery and the Santa Barbara Winery and I indulged in wine and chocolate parings on Valentine’s Day as a sweet pleasure. I found many Syrah wines I liked, these wines are popular in the area, at Carr Winery (Alchemy Syrah) and Kunin Wines (Alisos Vineyard Syrah). Wine tasting is a super way to meet and greet people, learn about wines and compare tastes and types of wines. Tastings at wineries are on the Urban Wine Trail.

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IF YOU GO:

Talk about a great discovery, it’s right here in Santa Barbara, a wonderful getaway and worth the visit for every reason Reserve your seats for 2011 at www.SBIFF.org.
For more information on Santa Barbara, including lodging, attractions and dining, contact the Santa Barbara Visitors & Convention Bureau at www.SantaBarbaraCA.com. or call 805-966-9222.

 

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Santa Barbara, California, is a paradise, where you can embrace endless pleasures of California landscape from the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains to wine vineyards and the Pacific coastline. It’s a classical city that reflects its dramatic Spanish history. Fondly called “The American Riviera,” here’s a Mediterranean climate promising year round sunshine in a setting with a special ambiance, located just one hour and half from Los Angeles and easily reached by car, Amtrak train or by private plane.

Between the mountains and the sea of Santa Barbara are so many ways to enjoy life. In the course of a day, you can picnic on the beach, art hop in numerous galleries, visit the wine country, explore local trails on foot or horseback and enjoy one of the greatest film festivals in the nation with top of the moment celebrities honored for their outstanding and recognizable work.
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Santa Barbara Mission

The city has a perfect mix of lifestyles, from outdoors to urban. It’s a breeze to fall in love with Santa Barbara and its wonderful architecture with influences of Spanish, Mexican and California craftsman style reflected in Spanish Colonial revival and Moorish white washed buildings. The true symbol of this luxurious city is their beloved Santa Barbara Mission, the Queen of California Missions and so photogenic. Red tile roofs and red brick streets are characteristic of the downtown streets, and countless Spanish arches are reminiscent of days gone by. When red tiles meet the red carpet Hollywood stars, international films dazzle Santa Barbara.
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Oscar season is kicked off in Santa Barbara with the onset of the Santa Barbara International Film festival SBIFF (sbfilmfestival.org) as the 24th annual banner plummeted from historic Santa Barbara Hotel downtown. City residents and visitors gather along the signature red tile streets leading to the Festival theaters. After 24 years, this film festival is hot listed as one of the best in the nation; it’s not surprising that the A-List celebrities are ecstatic to be honored here.

Opening on the tail end of Sundance and the brink of the Academy Awards, hot off the Golden Globes, this elite film festival could well be the Cannes of the West on the American Rivera with all its festivities and star power. This city brushes with Hollywood with its hometown filmmakers, who participate at the SBIFF with their dialogues and films. The SBIFF is the #1 festival for surfer films and showcase for international film premieres, Academy Award nominated films, shorts and Foreign films.
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Downtown Santa Barbara

Downtown Santa Barbara, where the past meets the present, is the picture perfect festival setting with soaring palm trees, white washed buildings and red tile roofs all in Spanish-style. Festival head honcho Roger Durling has the knack of inviting the winners to the SBIFF, who are just about to garner the coveted Oscars. There is a dazzling affair every night without the paparazzi frenzy of Hollywood.
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Academy Award winner Kate Winslett photo by Rebecca Sapp

Ready, set, roll…headliner Kate Winslet received her second special Montecito Award from friend Bill Nighy and went on to win the Oscar for “Best Actress” and Penelope Cruz, deemed the ‘Spanish Enchantress’ by Durling, was presented the Outstanding Performance Award by her friend Josh Brolin and then brought home the Oscar for her role in Woody Allen’s “Vicky Christina Barcelona.” Joining the illustrious tributes were Golden Globe winner Mickey Rourke, honored for his film comeback with the American Rivera Award, presented by icon Francis Ford Coppola, and Kristin Scott Thomas received the Cinema Vanguard Award from her English friend Ralph Fiennes.

2009 Virtuosos Awardees were other Oscar nominees: Richard Jenkins, Viola Davis, Michael Shannon, Melissa Leo, Rosemary DeWitt and Sally Hawkins. “Benjamin Button’s” admired director, David Fincher, shared an evening of clips and chatter about his film career with another eager crowd. I am not kidding, this festival brings out so much spirit, excitement and passion that it’s easy to become addicted.

Santa Barbara truly loves film icon Clint Eastwood, a man of few words and strong actions and a living legend in front of the camera and behind it with his directing, producing and film music scores. I was thrilled to sit behind him last year when he presented Performer of the Year award to Angelina Jolie, as Brad Pitt beamed. Eastwood, who lives nearby at Carmel by the Sea, packed the Arlington Theatre for a well-deserved tribute. He was presented with Santa Barbara’s Lucky Brand Modern Master Award, bestowed with pride, by Academy Award winner Sean Penn: the SBIFF’s highest nod to the very best.
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Clint Eastwood receives Modern Masters award from Sean Penn
photo by Rebecca Sapp

The opening night bash at the outdoor Paseo Nuevo open air shopping mall brought out city residents, officials, filmgoers and those Platinum Pass holders, who have carte blanche at the SBIFF, while local restaurants served specialty tastings to the spirited film partygoers. One of the many sponsors Chopin Vodka pleased the crowds with its Red Carpet Cocktail, combining vodka and cranberry juice. With screenings of over 200 films, my preferences were biased to foreign films. My favorites from this year’s line-up were: Mexico’s “Tear This Heart Out” and Sweden’s “Everlasting Moments” and the documentary narrated by Martin Sheen “They Killed Sister Dorothy.”

Between films, events, panel discussions and tributes, festival visitors are treated to Downtown Discount Guides, where they can dine and shop at a discount. Certainly an incentive to be in Santa Barbara during the Festival. Actually, the early glamour of Hollywood began in Santa Barbara with hundreds of silent films produced at the city’s Flying A Studio in the early 1900’s.

Discovering Santa Barbara by day defines enjoying a city dotted with tall palm trees, lush parks, gardens and yachts. Bright days encourage indulgence in sea sports like: surfing, sport fishing, whale watching, scuba diving, boating and dining in fish specialty restaurants like my favorite seafood spot Brophy Bros. Clam Bar & Restaurant at the harbor.

Lodging, as well as restaurants, in Santa Barbara run the gamut from chic to deluxe to budget. As a frequent visitor to this great city, I have stayed at many hotels and B & B’s. On the high end, the luxurious The Four Seasons Santa Barbara Biltmore Resort & Spa (www.fourseasons.com/santabarbara) is my eternal favorite, set by the sea in the affluent suburb of Montecito, one of the wealthiest communities in the United States. Montecito is home to many celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Costner, Rob Lowe, John Cleese and billionaire Beanie Baby entrepreneur Ty Warner, owner of the Santa Barbara Biltmore and nearby luxurious hideaway San Ysidro Ranch as well as many golf courses, Ty Warner Sea Center and much more.

The historic Santa Barbara Biltmore is a Spanish Colonial treasure with traditional red roof tiles, ivory adobe and graceful archways that look out to Butterfly Beach, reflecting the glory of old California. In downtown Santa Barbara, the newly re-invented deluxe Canary Hotel (www.canarysantabarbara.com) features the town’s signature Spanish influences of the Canary Islands, but with a dash of Moroccan spice. Guest rooms feature four-poster beds, an organic mini-bar, and, strangely enough, bird-watching guides and binoculars. In Santa Barbara, a stay at most hotels for two nights includes the third night as complimentary.

My most enjoyable luxury B & B experience was charming at The Simpson Inn (simpsonhouseinn.com), a luxurious 1874 Victorian mansion with deluxe cottages with a living room Jacuzzi. It’s located in a historic residential neighborhood. Downtown, I have often stayed at the historic Hotel Santa Barbara (hotelsantabarbara.com) headquarters for the SBIFF: it’s just minutes to shopping, dining, pubs and theaters.

Visiting the Central Coast Wine Country is quite appealing; in Santa Barbara downtown wineries welcome tasters. The most popular wine excursion follows Highway 101 north to discover the “Sideways Tour” based on the ever-popular film that brought tourists seeking the wineries visited in the film. In addition, this city has gone green in every way. It was a forerunner in environmental preservation. Santa Barbara Car-Free is a city program encouraging Amtrak train travel with considerable hotel, restaurant and shopping discounts that go with the ticket. The train arrives in the city downtown and everything is within walking distance. You can find out everything about the paradise that is Santa Barbara at www.santabarbaraca.com. It’s the perfect place for a getaway and a cherished holiday at any time of the year.

0 815

Santa Barbara, California is a paradise, where you can embrace endless pleasures of California landscape from the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains to wine vineyards and the Pacific coastline. It’s a classical city that reflects its dramatic Spanish history. Fondly called “The American Rivera,” here’s a Mediterranean climate promising year-round sunshine in a setting with a special ambiance, located just one hour and half from Los Angeles and easily reached by car, Amtrak train or by private plane.

Between the mountains and the sea of Santa Barbara are so many ways to enjoy life. In the course of a day, you can picnic on the beach, art hop in numerous galleries, visit the wine country, explore local trails on foot or horseback and enjoy one of the greatest film festivals in the nation with top-of-the-moment celebrities honored for their outstanding and recognizable work.
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Santa Barbara Mission by Barbara Singer

The city has a perfect mix of lifestyles, from outdoors to urban. It’s a breeze to fall in love with Santa Barbara and its wonderful architecture with influences of Spanish, Mexican and California craftsman style reflected in Spanish Colonial revival and Moorish white washed buildings. The true symbol of this luxurious city is their beloved Santa Barbara Mission, the Queen of California Missions and so photogenic. Red tile roofs and red brick streets are characteristic of the downtown streets and countless Spanish arches are reminiscent of days gone by. When red tiles meet the red carpet Hollywood stars and international films dazzle Santa Barbara.
2d168f2b0
Oscar season kicked off in Santa Barbara with the onset of the Santa Barbara International Film festival SBIFF (sbfilmfestival.org)
as the 24th annual banner plummeted from historic Santa Barbara Hotel downtown. City residents and visitors gather along the signature red tile streets leading to the Festival theaters. After 24 years, this film festival is hot listed as one of the best in the nation; it’s not surprising that the A-List celebrities are ecstatic to be honored here.
Opening on the tail end of Sundance and the brink of the Academy Awards, hot off the Golden Globes, this elite film festival could well be the Cannes of the West on the American Rivera with all its festivities and star power. This city brushes with Hollywood with its hometown filmmakers, who participate at the SBIFF with their dialogues and films. The SBIFF is the #1 festival for surfer films and showcase for international film premieres, Academy Award nominated films, shorts and Foreign films.
2b00f4770

Downtown Santa Barbara by Barbara Singer

Downtown Santa Barbara, where the past meets the present, is the picture perfect festival setting with soaring palm trees, white-washed buildings and red tile roofs all in Spanish-style. Festival head honcho Roger Durling has the knack of inviting the winners to the SBIFF, who are just about to garner the coveted Oscars. There is a dazzling affair every night without the paparazzi frenzy of Hollywood.
2afef44d0

Academy Award winner Kate Winslett tribute photo by Rebecca Sapp

Ready, set, roll…headliner Kate Winslet received her second special Montecito Award from friend Bill Nighy and went on to win the Oscar for “Best Actress.” Penelope Cruz, deemed the ‘Spanish Enchantress’ by Durling, was presented the Outstanding Performance Award by her friend Josh Brolin and then brought home the Oscar for her role in Woody Allen’s “Vicky Christina Barcelona.” Joining the illustrious tributes were Golden Globe winner Mickey Rourke, honored for his film comeback with the American Rivera Award, presented by icon Francis Ford Coppola. Kristin Scott Thomas received the Cinema Vanguard Award from her English friend Ralph Fiennes.

2009 Virtuosos Awardees were other Oscar nominees Richard Jenkins, Viola Davis, Michael Shannon, Melissa Leo, Rosemary DeWitt and Sally Hawkins. “Benjamin Button’s” admired director, David Fincher, shared an evening of clips and chatter about his film career with another eager crowd. This festival brings out so much spirit, excitement and passion that it’s easy to become addicted.

Santa Barbara truly loves film icon Clint Eastwood, a man of few words and strong actions and a living legend in front of the camera and behind it with his directing, producing and film music scores. I was thrilled to sit behind him last year when he presented Performer of the Year award to Angelina Jolie, as Brad Pitt beamed. Eastwood, who lives nearby at Carmel by the Sea, packed the Arlington Theatre for a well-deserved tribute. He was presented with Santa Barbara’s Lucky Brand Modern Master Award, bestowed with pride, by Academy Award winner Sean Penn; the SBIFF’s highest nod to the very best.
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Clint Eastwood receives Modern Masters award from Sean Penn photo by Rebecca Sapp

The opening night bash at the outdoor Paseo Nuevo open air shopping mall brought out city residents, officials, filmgoers and those Platinum Pass holders, who have carte blanche at the SBIFF, while local restaurants served specialty tastings to the spirited film partygoers. One of the many sponsors Chopin Vodka pleased the crowds with its Red Carpet Cocktail, combining vodka and cranberry juice. With screenings of over 200 films, my preferences were biased to foreign films. My favorites from this year’s line-up were: Mexico’s “Tear This Heart Out,” and Sweden’s “Everlasting Moments,” and the documentary narrated by Martin Sheen “They Killed Sister Dorothy.”

Between films, events, panel discussions and tributes, festival visitors are treated to Downtown Discount Guides, where they can dine and shop at a discount, certainly an incentive to be in Santa Barbara during the Festival. Actually the early glamour of Hollywood began in Santa Barbara with hundreds of silent films produced at the city’s Flying A Studio in the early 1900’s.

Discovering Santa Barbara by day defines enjoying a city dotted with tall palm trees, lush parks, gardens and yachts. Bright days encourage indulgence in sea sports like: surfing, sport fishing, whale watching, scuba diving, boating and dining in fish specialty restaurants like my favorite seafood spot Brophy Bros. Clam Bar & Restaurant at the harbor.

Lodging, as well as restaurants, in Santa Barbara run the gamut from chic to deluxe to budget. As a frequent visitor to this great city, I have stayed at many hotels and B & B’s. On the high end, the luxurious The Four Seasons Santa Barbara Biltmore Resort & Spa (www.fourseasons.com/santabarbara ) is my eternal favorite, set by the sea in the affluent suburb of Montecito, one of the wealthiest communities in the United States. It is home to many celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Costner, Rob Lowe, John Cleese and billionaire Beanie Baby entrepreneur Ty Warner, owner of the Santa Barbara Biltmore and nearby luxurious hideaway San Ysidro Ranch as well as many golf courses, Ty Warner Sea Center and much more.

The historic Santa Barbara Biltmore is a Spanish Colonial treasure with traditional red roof tiles, ivory adobe and graceful archways that look out to Butterfly Beach, reflecting the glory of old California. In downtown Santa Barbara, the newly re-invented deluxe Canary Hotel (www.canarysantabarbara.com) features the town’s signature Spanish influences of the Canary Islands, but with a dash of Moroccan spice. Guest rooms feature four-poster beds, an organic mini-bar, and, strangely enough, bird-watching guides and binoculars. In Santa Barbara, a stay at most hotels for two nights includes the third night as complimentary.

My most enjoyable luxury B & B experience was charming at The Simpson Inn (simpsonhouseinn.com), a luxurious 1874 Victorian mansion with deluxe cottagesand a living room Jacuzzis. It’s located in a historic residential neighborhood. Downtown, I have often stayed at the historic Hotel Santa Barbara (hotelsantabarbara.com) headquarters for the SBIFF: it’s just minutes to shopping, dining, pubs and theaters.

Visiting the Central Coast Wine Country is quite appealing; in Santa Barbara downtown wineries welcome tasters. The most popular wine excursion follows Highway 101 north to discover the “Sideways Tour” based on the ever-popular film that brought tourists seeking the wineries visited in the film. In addition, this city has gone green in every way; it was a forerunner in environmental preservation. Santa Barbara Car-Free is a city program encouraging Amtrak train travel with considerable hotel, restaurant and shopping discounts that go with the ticket. The train arrives in the city downtown and everything is within walking distance. You can find out everything about the paradise that is Santa Barbara at www.santabarbaraca.com. It’s the perfect place for a getaway and a cherished holiday at any time of the year.