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Barry Pollack's "Going Places"


I am a romantic. I am not a fellow you're likely to find embracing on the bow of a titanic ocean liner. But, after more than twenty-five years of marriage, I think I know a little about how to keep the fires burning.
You have to get away from the ordinary, remove yourself from the routine, the humdrum, the drab, the job, the kids, the home. And the best way to do that is to go away, to travel. Romance can certainly blossom on a vacation to Europe, or Hawaii, or the Caribbean. I'm fond of California coastal bed-and-breakfasts.
It's nice to be able to jump start romance on short treks from home and Newport Beach is just such a drive from almost anywhere in L.A. County.
Doryman's Oceanfront Inn (949-675-7300) is a two story corner building just a parking lot from the beach and catty-corner to the Newport Beach Pier. There are but ten guestrooms, each with a private bath, fireplace, and all but three with an ocean view. The décor is Victorian with classic drapes, floral wall paper, and mahogany furniture and mantles. The rooms have queen sized beds with ornate headboards or four-post canopied beds. And nearly all the paintings in the rooms and halls are of nudes. They are reproductions of classic, mostly 19th century paintings. I wouldn't call it erotica. But the place nevertheless sets an erotic mood.
That mood was somewhat tainted shortly after our check in when we were shocked to see a face at one of the windows. And we were on the second floor. It was a window washer. Well, I got on the phone right away and told the desk clerk that I preferred dirty windows. Once we recovered from the initial fright of having a voyeur at our window, the place lived up to my expectation of a romantic getaway. We had a view of the pier and its fisherman, the ocean and its surfers, and the beach with fortune hunters scanning the sand with metal detectors.
Just a few miles drive from Newport Pier is the Newport Fashion Island. Besides many upscale retail stores, there's a trio of restaurants there - P.F. Changs, The Cheesecake Factory, and The California Pizza Kitchen. We chose P.F. Changs and enjoyed dinner with a view of the sun setting over the Pacific. I recommend their "wraps," spicy chicken or shrimp dishes wrapped in cool lettuce leaves. In the morning we had a continental breakfast in bed and then set off to explore the oceanfront. Across from the Inn is a store to rent bikes and beach paraphernalia. The beach is wide and bike and walking paths extend north from Newport pier toward Huntington Beach and south to Balboa pier.
The Doryman's rates vary depending on room and dates from $155 - 325 per night. Just a short walk from there is another, less expensive oceanfront bed and breakfast, The Portofino Beach Hotel (949-673-7030). The Portofino certainly has a nicer lobby and entrance than Doryman's, but only two of their 15 rooms have ocean views.
A trek to an oceanfront B & B may be just the romantic getaway you need - far cheaper than a cruise or a marriage counselor. One last suggestion, bring your own champagne, chocolate, and strawberries. A few gastronomic aphrodisiacs can't hurt.