First we had to get out of San Francisco, which meant going and picking the car up - we'd decided to leave it at the airport, so as not to have to pay for parking for our four days in San Fran. Some reports have it that our hotel has free parking for guests, but this is not how it seemed while we were there. We thought we'd grab a shuttle back to the airport, but a porter at the hotel told us they only take people one way, don't fret, he'd get us a car and it'd cost about the same. Bastard, it was double what the shuttle would have been, and the driver had NO IDEA how to get into the airport. Dealing with these two guys lowered my expectations of service in America - people are keen to try and help you, but only because they're expecting a tip, and if you're not prompt with your tipping some people get a bit funny. Not keen on that way of doing things at all. When we FINALLY got our car, it was alright, the smallest car the rental company did, but still an 1800 Nissan something or other, with air con and cruise control and things, not too shabby at all. I think the drive from the airport was alright, despite my lack of recent driving experience (hadn't really driven in the previous ten years), and my lack of ANY foreign driving experience. Some of the signs on the freeway were confusing, it takes a little while to get used to exits being on both sides of the road, but we just about got to where we wanted.
Monterey is a bit rubbish. I know I thought this at the time, it was a bit of a sleepy town, too many things seemed to be shut / shut down, so I'd not recommend going there. However, we were only there for 3 days, and now I come to look back on it there were highlights. First off though, our hotel was the Embassy Suites, actually in Seaside, a few miles outside of Monterey. So we weren't even in the middle of the sleepy town, we were a cab ride away from it, not a promising start. The hotel is very nice though, as the name suggests you get a suite, with kitchenette, lounge etc. The place is twelve stories high and the centre of the building is open all the way up. The ground floor has a restaurant and bar and breakfast room and things, and we were delighted to find that "happy hour" started just as we got there, which meant entirely free booze for the next two hours. Also the parking was free for the length of our stay. Good work!
Heading into town was a disappointment. As I mentioned most things seemed to be closed, it felt distinctly out of season. There weren't too many places I could have much choice of what to eat, even if they were open. We ended up in a grubby English style pub again and ate chips.
We went back to Cannery Row, the main stretch of Monterey the next day, and it wasn't much more exciting. Bit tacky, not so much as Fisherman's Wharf, but still not thrilling - seems to be aimed more at retired folk. We went to a bar called Blue Fin because it had pool table and a dartboard, but then didn't play darts or pool in there at all, we mostly sat at the bar playing interactive quiz games against other pubs. I remember this from the Chav Monkey in Fareham, when it was called The Bugle - seems to have caught on the US of States now, about 15 years later. It's distributed by ntn.com have a look out for it, it was fun.
We also went to the world famous aquarium, not really my cup of tea but I found the jellyfish quite fascinating and took quite a lot of pics. We also went through 17 Mile Drive - it's a toll road much bigged up by guide books, but really you're just paying to subsidise a swanky gated community. We did see some very cute squirrels, but apart from that it's not really worth going through.
The best thing about Monterey was our day out in Carmel, that's a nice town. It's hard to believe that it's a real town where real people live, as it only seems to consist of galleries, antique shops, and restaurants. We had a lunch at a great place called Forge in the Forest, that's where I had my first meal that was how I expected all the food to be, a plate piled high with all sorts of extras, very nice indeed.
We came back into Carmel on our way between Monterey and Santa Barbara, to stock up on lunch provisions, as we had a five hour drive ahead of us...
Paul Clarke's weblog - I live in Hythe near Folkestone. Wed to Clare and dad to 2, I am a full stack web engineer, + I do js / Node, some ruby, python, php ect ect. I like pubbing, parkrun, eating, home-automation + other diy jiggery-pokery, history, genealogy, Television, squirrels, pirates, lego, + TIME TRAVEL.