Tuesday, 1 September 2009

San Francisco: Day 4 - Monterey, 17-Mile Drive & Carmel

For our 4th day in San Francisco we'd booked a tour down the Pacific Coast Highway, deciding to throw our hat in with Gray Line Tours rather than do it ourselves as Sara would have had to be the one doing all the driving. Can you believe I haven't driven regularly for close to 17-years? 7-years living in London followed by 10-years in New York where a car is unnecessary will do that to you. I've also only ever driven in the UK - on the correct side of the road thank you very much ;-) - and have only ever driven a stick shift. You really wouldn't want to take the risk with me behind the wheel, especially not on winding roads where one side is often a sheer drop to the Pacific Ocean. No, since I couldn't pitch in with the driving a tour was definitely the way to go.

We were the last people to get on the tour bus and the only spot was at the back with a circle of seats and a table in the middle occupied by an Italian couple in their twenties, the husband sitting by the window on the right side of the bus and the wife sitting diagonally across from him on the left and their bags taking up the seats in the middle - about 8 seats taken between the two of them, leaving two seats immediately to the left of the wife.

We sat, assuming she would move over slightly to make room and be closer to her husband. She didn't!!


After 2 hours we stopped for 20minutes in Davenport, headquarters of the Odwalla juice company according to Vince our congenial driver, for a loo break and breakfast for those who wanted it.

“Would you mind moving over slightly?” I asked politely when we got back on the coach.

“No, I was here first.”


“Well between the two of you there's plenty of room and I’m literally only asking you to move 6inches to your right, you and your husband will still be taking up more than half the seating area.”

“If I move over I will be looking down there” she said indicating the aisle of the coach, “and I don’t want to look there, I want to look there” she said pointing to the ocean.

“Oh I‘m sorry, you must have a medical condition that means you can’t turn your head? You should see a doctor about that.”

Of course I didn’t say anything so facetious, but only because I didn’t think of it at the time. I doubt she would have understood the sarcasm anyway. Instead I said something about how incredibly childish she was being and that she needed to learn some manners. For the rest of the journey she sat with her arms folded tightly across her chest with a scowl on her face like a moody teenager and I was pleased to have contributed to ruining the day of someone so unpleasant.

“And she’s married” said Sara as we got off the bus in Monterey. “Men say they don’t want bitches, but then they often go and marry women like her.”

While I know this is in fact a sweeping generalization I have to say my experiences have been such that I would disagree with Sara’s statement. Utter bitches like Petulant Paola always seem to have a man hanging on their every word.

Anyway enough words wasted on the witch, a few photos of Monterey below, the touristy bits at least.

This sea otter was the cutest, completely obsessed with washing its face. Maybe like me it's of an age where it's become wrinkle obsessed and is really doing a few facial exercises.

Pretty pretty jellyfish!!

My photos make the aquarium look empty, but the scene below was more typical. The place had more than its fair share of pushy parents and ankle biters, the ultimate contraception.

Do you see the seahorse in this photo? Look closer...its the orangey blob in the center cunningly disguised as a plant. Pretty freakin' amazing seahorse eh???

Here are some really teensy sea horses. They were only about an inch high.

And some penguins....

A shot of Cannery Row, the site of a number of former sardine canning factories, which have since been converted into shops and what not. The street apparently used to be named Ocean View Avenue, but was renamed in honour of John Steinbeck and his novels, which were inspired by the area.

Apparently John Steinbeck - who was raised up the road in Salinas - moved to Monterey in the 1940s - I think I have that right - but the locals weren't too flattered by his depiction of them in his books so he didn't receive the warmest of welcomes and he moved to New York pretty sharpish.

A quick lunch sat outside on the terrace at the Fish Hopper, recommended by our driver, which had a beautiful view of the bay - I had a local flounder-like fish, which sounded like sandaps, although I can't find it online so I think I probably have the name wrong. Sometimes it's better to be ignorant of what you've eaten. I remember this lesson from the one time, in an adventurous mood, I ate cuttlefish and then looked it up on the internet and ugh....good God!! Not pretty. Isn't cuttlefish also the stuff they dry out and stick through the bars of budgie cages?? - and it was back on the bus where, much to our amusement, Petulant Paola had left a pair of jeans folded on her seat so that we wouldn't steal her place. Ha ha, what an idiot!!

Next stop for photos was Pacific Grove where apparently 1115 Oceanview Blvd used to be owned by Clint Eastwood. There were lots of Aloe Vera plants growing at the side of the road and Sara said she was tempted to pull a few leaves off and rub them over her face to soothe her sunburn.

Um...a rock in Pacific Grove!!

And a cutesy Pacific Grove home, not Clint's though, although his was surprisingly modest.

Just after 3pm we arrived at the Pacific Grove gate to Pebble Beach and 17-mile drive, famous for its golf courses. The US Open will be played here in 2010 and apparently a 3-day stay which includes 3 rounds of golf at Pebble Beach, Spanish Bay and Spyglass hill costs over $3000. Bargain. I'll take 10 rounds please. NOT!!

Alternatively you can play 9-holes at Peter Hay golf course for $25!!

Next stop Bird Rock. Phewwwwwwwwww!!! That was really stinky from the bird poop and after about 10minutes I had to dash back on the bus to escape the stench!!!

Apparently the house in the photo below was featured in the Hitchcock movie The Birds. Fancy!!

The Lone Cypress, the official symbol of Pebble Beach.

We arrived in Carmel-By-The-Sea around 4.30pm. Our hour's stop provided enough time to nip to the loo, walk down to the beach, stop by the English sweet store - where Crunchie bars were a scandalous $2.95, but I did treat myself and Sara to one - and snap a few shots of houses that appeared to have been inspired by Grimm fairytales.

Even the shopping mall is quaint in Carmel.
The beach is lovely

A gingerbread style cottage in Carmel-By-The-Sea.

Carmel is surreal for an English person, it's like being in The Cotswolds. Sort of!! Not quite as legitimately ye olde worlde obviously, but sort of!!

Who'd have ever pictured this place is where Dirty Harry would feel so at home.


Spandrel Studios said...

Cannot believe that Petulant Paola and her hubby took up so many seats... How utterly obnoxious! And unless they purchased 8 tickets, they were entitled to a mere 2 seats! It's just amazing, the things people try to get away with, isn't it?

Pacific Grove is where my husband and I spent our honeymoon. We found an artists' collective studio off the beaten path, and bought the most spectacular pottery there for a song, directly from the artist, who happened to be there that day.

Sounds like you got to see a lot during that short trip!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Spandrel,

Yes she really was unpleasant. Her husband offered to move and that led to a discussion between the two of them. She clearly wasn't impressed by his effort to compromise.

Pacific Grove seemed lovely, hope you had a fantastic honeymoon when you were there.

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend :-)

Amel's Realm said...

WOW!!! Magnificent photos. The sea otter and jellyfish photos are FAB!!!

Also love the last photo. WOW AND WOW!!! My mouth is gaping open he he he he...

Sorry to hear about Petulant Paola. Can't believe some people behave that way...on a holiday!!!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Amel, glad you like the photos. It was a fun day trip apart from Petulant Paola ;-)

Mike Shingleton said...

Nice photos - we did the same trip with Gray Line tours when visiting San Francisco from London last month. Vince is still the driver and he is still congenial!

Mike Shingleton said...

We took the same trip with Gray Line when visiting San Francisco last month. Vince is still the driver and still congenial.

Nice to see the photos.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Mike, Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Glad you enjoyed the tour too, I thought it was a really nice day trip from San Francisco.