The sun was not very liberal today but we still began our touristing at 10 am. We arrived at a location called the Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights. By the sound of its name, I expected to see a huge palace but this turned out to be a humble edifice. Tovrea Cottage would seem more appropriate a moniker. We were unaware of booking the entry tickets online and almost missed our chance to pursue the tour. Thankfully, the manager squeezed us in and we instantly hopped on an upcycled golf cart and drove towards the castle. It was a mini desert with interesting fauna and a cottage-like building perched atop a contoured hill. I spotted coyotes and lizards and hawks along the way while the docent filled us in with the history of the place. Folklore has it that the castle passed the hands of three families who owned it at different periods of time. The castle’s design was thus an amalgamation of all three familial influences. The castle was a multi-tiered construction that rightly earned the name ‘The Wedding Cake’ by the locals. It had a European architectural touch with parapets fencing every tier. The ramparts were needless to say, cacti planted all around the castle. A conspicuous bell welcomed the visitors and as was customary, we rang it before setting foot into the castle.
*More info here: Tovrea Castle*
A frowsty lobby with maple-wood floors welcomed us. The castle showcased a few furnitures, utensils and robes of the then owners. A snug place with several rooms, one had to climb up a floor to answer nature’s calls – not the best architectural design, in my opinion. The kitchen was a small room that housed the olden day appliances. The walls had pineapple shaped prints on them which was, we later learnt, a symbol of hospitality. While we were looking around with gaping mouths while vacuously listening to the narratives, the docent’s voice suddenly grew deep as he whispered an anecdote. We were pointed to a bullet hole in the ceiling, which was apparently carved by burglars who broke into the castle. The last owner, Della Tovrea, escaped the shots but was robbed that night by the intruders. A castle filled with history and mystery alike.
The tour lasted 2 hours post which we set off for lunch at Scottsdale Marketplace. N discovered a vegan hot dog shack – Simon’s Hot Dogs. This unassuming place had, hands-down, the best customer service. The owner made us feel welcome instantly. I honestly don’t recall the names of our hot dogs mainly because I was too hungry to care. But, these melt-in-the-mouth hot dogs were mindblowing. We capped our meal with a tres leches biscuit. The crumbly biscuits with the lava-like tres leches smeared between their surfaces was a treat like no other. I think I can relate to Remy from Ratatouille experiencing his synesthetic perceptions as he enjoyed the flavors of his food. We proceeded to walk out the door after the meal while contemplating if we made a mistake by eating just one portion of every dish. We then set forth to visit the quaint Scottsdale marketplace shops.
The shops were spread out across two streets. Almost all the shops had an intense native american influence. Some shops displayed indigenous jewelry and pottery but most of the stores sold desert-specific outfits. There were pop-ups of cafes and bakeries whose aroma enveloped our path. We walked around in the touristy way that people usually do, mindless and carefree, judging items on the way while making no effort to buy anything. We traipsed through the streets for a solid one hour. And all this walking readied us for our final destination – The Camelback Mountain.
The Camelback Mountain is a mountainous hiking spot whose shape resembles the hump and head of a kneeling camel. We parked our car a little ahead and walked towards it. The path leading up to the mountain was engirded by beautiful large houses that looked like giant-sized sandcastles in the midst of a desert. With neat garden landscaping carpeting the entrances, these houses looked like they were ready to star in the next issue of Beautiful Homes. I ran to catch up with N since I fell behind whilst adoring the magnificence of these castles. The hike up the mountain wasn’t too bad. A chill evening breeze occasionally blew in our faces. We hiked about 70% of the total path and stopped at a vantage point to take in the beauty of the city of Phoenix that lay beneath us. The sun’s rays were slowly withdrawing from the city and darkness was creeping in. We made our descent before we lost the remaining light of day. Our fitness watches were buzzing away and we were heaving out celebratory sighs at our accomplishments. We went back to our hotel after a casual dinner and soaked our toiled feet in some hot water and called it a day.
New environments with interesting flora and fauna, unique tourist spots and good food! I soaked in this experience to the fullest. If you are someone who likes to travel, Phoenix, Arizona is an adventurous place to visit. A great weekend to relax, unwind and get back to routine on Monday. The whole trip gets a cactus thumbs-up from me! 😀
*This is Part 2 of a two-part series
** If you are new to my blog, N is my husband, shortened for convenience and prevention of jargon.