The Monterey PeninsulaSeptember 17, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C
The small town of Monterey claims to be and probably is the most historic settlement in California, named by the Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino in 1602. It was the capital of the enormous California Alta mission when under Spanish rule. It gradually lost its prominence once California was taken back by the United States in 1849 and the Gold Rush saw the meteoric rise of San Francisco thereafter. There are several buildings reflecting Monterey’s colonial past standing unassumingly in the downtown district. Surprisingly, Robert Louis Stevenson lived here for a while, writing for the local newspaper and apparently started to write Treasure Island in his lodgings, basing Spyglass Hill on Point Lobos just south of here. Another author heavily associated with Monterey is John Steinbeck. During World War 11 Monterey was the sardine capital of the western world catching and canning 200,000 tonnes a year. By the time Steinbeck’s famous novel Cannery Row was published in 1945 the sardines were overfished and all in a can. The canneries were abandoned, falling into disrepair. In recent times the old factories have been cleverly remodelled into shops, museums, restaurants and a world class Aquarium. Having explored the historic downtown we arrived at the Aquarium supposedly for a quick look. It was fascinating and beautifully curated; in fact it was difficult to tear ourselves away. The star of the show for me were the sea otters, gorgeous creatures that they are. As luck would have it Emily FaceTimed at that moment and I was able to show them to Rafe (another fan) and we oohed and aahed together. At one point he said “Grandma, get the sea otter to come to your phone, so I can see him better!” I was just about to tell him it was not possible, when one of them did just that and rollicked about in front of us. Oh wow! The Aquarium is primarily about conservation and covers all aspects of sea and coastal life quite brilliantly and I would recommend a visit to anyone in the area.
Knowing we only had one day to cover Monterey and it’s Peninsula we tore ourselves away and headed out to drive the shoreline. It was a beautiful clear sunny day and I cannot tell you what an amazing coastline this is. The ocean is a clear green/blue, the surf dramatic as it crashes on to the rocks, the beaches heavenly and the native gnarled cypress trees that grow right down to the shore in parts, paint stunning vistas in all directions. The peninsula is home to several fabulous golf courses, including the world famous Pebble Beach, host to the US Open on many occasions. Fantastic homes in the multi millionaire bracket hug the coast and are continuing to be constructed. We stopped at Cypress Point overlook and there sat a perfect cottage (well, a big very well appointed cottage!) with its own private cove. It would do for me and just to add to the perfection of the scene, I looked out to sea and just off the beach was a wild sea otter playing in the surf. My cup runneth over. We continued on to the Pebble Beach Golf Club and stopped for a look round. What a place. Peter thinks the next golfing away day should be here!! It has to be one of the most beautiful courses in the world. We arrived back at our hotel in time for a quick change for dinner at The Sardine Factory. Humm, I can hear you thinking. This is one of the canning factories, put to new use. The restaurant has been here for 50 years and what a revelation it turned out to be. I had heard of it via Rick Stein’s recent road trip down the California Coast to Mexico and booked it from home on the internet. It looks nothing from the outside, but inside is a palace, consisting of five different themed dining rooms, each one a tour de force. We were in a circular conservatory of vast proportions. The food was of course of similar standard and artistically presented. We had to start with the smoked sardines of course, went on to the Sand Dabs (local specialty) and finished with chocolate coated ice cream Bon-Bon’s, served over smoking dry ice and accompanied by chopped hazelnuts and caramel sauce; pure theatre. Thank you Rick. A perfect end to a perfect day!Read more