Saturday 15 March 2014

California: Day Twelve - Monterey and 17 Mile Drive

Saturday in Monteray was a day that we had nothing planned – and that was an awesome feeling! It was wonderful to sleep in for a bit after days of go-go-go. We left the hotel by 10:30 and our initial plan was to walk down to a crepe place on the warf. We got coffee across the road at a small café, and walked down to the Old Fishermans Warf area.

It was only a five-minute walk from the hotel, and was a really cool place. There were a bunch of shops and restaurants along the path, and then a pier like area that extended over the water. We took our time walking and taking photos, and made our way down the pier looking into various shops. There were rows of restaurants along the sides all sampling their “best in Monteray” chowders, and offering free appetizers as incentives to eat inside. Maybe for some people actions like this are helpful in choosing a restaurant, but to me it was off-putting. I was more annoyed then encouraged.

We chose a small restaurant further down – one of the few not yelling at us for attention and had lunch. It was right on the water, and the food was decent. After looking at reviews later, it seems like most places around that area are just decent and not spectacular or memorable.

We spent a few more hours at the warf, looking inside more shops and walking around the water. It was a beautiful day, so it was great to walk outside in the sun. We talked about walking the 2 miles down to Cannery Row – another famous area in Monteray, but opted to get the car and do the 17-mile drive instead.

17-mile drive, as summed up by Wikipedia is “17-Mile Drive is a scenic road through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula in California, much of which hugs the Pacific coastline and passes famous golf courses, mansions and scenic attractions, including the Lone Cypress, Bird Rock and the 5,300-acre Del Monte Forest of Monterey Cypress trees. The drive serves as the main road through the gated community of Pebble Beach. Inside this community, nonresidents have to pay a toll to use the road. Like the community, the majority of 17-Mile Drive is owned and operated by the Pebble Beach Corporation. The 17-Mile Drive is a 17-mile (27 km)-long scenic loop having four primary entrances - the main highway entrance at California State Route 1, and entrances in Carmel and Pacific Grove”.

I was a bit apprehensive about this, as it seemed silly to pay to drive, but it was incredible. The views were stunning – and there were many areas to pull of and walk along the beaches. We passed a number of golf courses, and these gorgeous homes – it was totally worth the 10.00 it cost.

The weather changed while we were driving, and parts of the drive were foggy and wet, whereas others were sunny and beautiful. It made for interesting photo opportunities! There was also one beach that was completely empty – it looked so lonely and untouched, but it was beautiful. I had wanted to put my feet in the Pacific while in California (I had been able to finally swim in the Pacific the month earlier in Mexico) so I chose this beach to run down to. I rolled up my jeans and took off my running shoes, and ran down the steps and into the freezing cold water. I only last a few seconds, but it was a fun feeling.

We looped around the drive, and ended up back in Monteray. By this time it was later afternoon, so we drove into Cannery Row, not wanting to get there too late. This area of Monteray is where all the different fish canneries set up shop through the 1800 and 1900's. I believe there is still a canning industry here, but it’s also a large tourist area. Much like the warf, various shops and restaurants line the streets.

 We walked into the main area and looked into a few shops. Many were the same usual tourist stuff, but a few were pretty cool and unique with various art or home décor items. If I didn’t have to worry about getting things on a plane the next day, I probably could have spent hours – and some money – in these places! We stopped for ice cream and coffee at the Ghirardelli Store. It was getting windy outside so the coffee (hot chocolate for me!) was to warm us up, while the ice creams were just irresistible. Our lunch had been early, and our dinner reserved for later so this was a needed afternoon snack – a very rich one!

Brian and I made our way back to the hotel where we spent almost over an hour packing. We had accumulated so much on the trip that organizing the luggage, weighing the suitcases, and carefully wrapping any breakables was a long process. I don’t think either of us realized just how much stuff we had to bring back with us until it was all packed and lined up by the door.

I had made a reservation for this recommended restaurant called Schooners Coastal Kitchen down in Cannery Row for dinner. It was our last night and we wanted something nice – a place we could dress up for and enjoy a quiet dinner. Our reservation was for 8:00 and we got there right on time. The staff basically blew us off explaining they were busy and we would have to wait. We didn’t get seated until almost 8:40! They took people ahead of us – some with no reservations – and were rude anytime we enquired about further wait times. When we were seated at a table, it was in the middle of the restaurant, beside a family with screaming kids and under the air conditioner vent. The waiter came over a few minutes later and got annoyed and snappish that we weren’t ready to order. At this point we decided there was no way we were giving them our business. 

Earlier that day we had passed another restaurant a few minutes away, and that was where we headed. We had about a 20-minute wait there, but the staff were so accommodating and friendly it didn’t matter – plus we sort of expected it being a Saturday night with no reservation! It ended up working out for the best, as this place was amazing! The food was incredible – and the atmosphere exactly what we had wanted. Our dinner went late – we left when they were starting to close – but it made for a fantastic way to spend our last night in California.

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