Monterey Peninsula

Chuck spent most of his life in California, and we drove to Monterey so I could retrace his footsteps with him. I have updated this with some new pictures of Alvarado Street


Monterey Peninsula

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Ishtar on August 13, 2001

The drive to Monterey is enchanting. As there are 2 ways to go, we changed our route on the way back up. It's even nicer if you have a convertible, and the weather is on your side. Garlic lovers of the world, unite in Gilroy! Carmel is a little jewel of a city; don't miss it. Make sure you see the mission there as well. Likewise with Pacific Grove, and oh! those cypress trees. Take the 17 Mile drive at Pebble Beach. Visit Cannery Row in Monterey and have lunch there. Try an authentic taqueria; the food tastes better here than back East for sure! The Crossroads Shopping Center in Carmel looks like a botanical installation. There are also several wine tasting rooms, if you are a connoisseur.${QuickSuggestions} Bring a sweater! It gets quite cool on the peninsula, and I learned that summer here really starts in October. Mornings are usually overcast and chilly. If you are going to arrive in this area on any Saturday, make reservations 2-3 days ahead or longer. Prices skyrocket on Saturday, and drop by as much as half on Sunday. Bring walking shoes. Dress casually. Don't feed the deer!! Bring your camera as you will want to remember some of the splendid vistas the natural scenery will provide. Pick up brochures of the area; they will help you make choices. Parking laws are strictly enforced here, so please abide by the rules.${BestWay} Well you're in California, so you definitely need a car to get around. However, once you are at destination, walk. There are treasures to be discovered, and courtyards which hide other delights that you cannot see from your car.

Padre Oaks

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Ishtar on August 15, 2001

We were finally able to get a room here for $175 for the night, but did not plan on staying any longer. Most places wanted around $150, but at this hour, the man at the desk knew he could have asked for just about any price.

I was able to catch a pool on the right side of the registration office. Everthing had flowers around it, and the rooms, all first level, had baskets of cascading red blooms all around. Our room was behind an old, splendid palm tree that seemed to be bowing forward. The facilities were extremely clean and typical summer resort. Blond furniture offset by bright green carpeting, and green and peach printed drapes. Table by the window with 2 chairs, coffee making facilities with another mirrored desk/chair. Bathroom was small, but had a window and overhead ventilation. The soap bars looked like domino pieces. Shampoo/Conditioner was in the form of samplers. Clean towels are provided.

Local calls and 800 # calls are free of charge. They have a complimentary breakfast, and if you are looking for healthy fare, cross this place off, or drive elsewhere. Croissants and assorted muffins like poppy seed, babana/nut, chocolate. Three ounces of orange juice also available. You help yourself and take it all back to your room. If you''re a tea drinker, they will give you some Lipton. For milk, you are on your own unless you improvise with the white powder they supply in the room. They are quite strict about their no pet policy, their room linens (in other words, don''t use it to scrub the mud off your shoes) and smoking. California in general is very severe about non-smoking rules, to my delight.

I''d only recommend this place in a pinch. And about half the price stated above.

Padre Oaks Motel
1278 Munras Avenue
Monterey, California, 93940
(831) 375-9722

The Crown & Anchor

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Ishtar on August 16, 2001

This British pub is right off Alvarado Street and one of the few eateries that are open till midnight. We had a late dinner there. Their menu offers mostly meat dishes, including juicy hamburgers with bacon and cheese toppings. I killed the bacon on mine. Fries are huge and well prepared. Dinner for 2 was about $20. Our server was a very friendly young woman who kept calling us "you guys". Booths are romantic with mini-bulbs lighting the area. High, dark-wooden back seats add to the ambience.

Center tables are reserved for large and noisy groups. Also offer some traditional British fare as fish'n'chips, corned beef and cabbage and a vegetarian burger. Draft beer naturally, tons of wine and I had my usual coke.

The pictures you will see are taken from their home page and do the restaurant really justice, as our pics came out totally dark.

The Borg's Motel 635 Ocean View Blvd Pacific Grove, CA 93950 831-375-2406

$75-100 during the week; about double on the weekend.

Crown and Anchor
150 West Franklin St
Monterey, California, 93940
+1 831 649 6496

Papa Chanos

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Ishtar on August 15, 2001

We were attracted by the bright yellow color of this taqueria, so we decided to eat there. You don't need reservations. Owned by 3 brothers who learned their cooking skills from grandpa in their hometown of Mexico. The menu is clearly displayed on the walls and prices are quite reasonable. Everything is freshly prepared and the side bar supplies the salsas, salads and other condiments. I had a quesadilla deluxe and Chuck had tacos with the whole "enchilada" so to speak. Food was excellent accompanied by toe-tapping latino music.

Nightlife pulsates on both Alvarado Street and Lighthouse Avenue in Monterey. You'll find dozens of eateries, cafés, comedy clubs, and bookstores that stay open late. The wine and beer seem to flow freely. There can also be heard live music. All along Alvarado Street, there are markers on the sidewalk that point to historical significance. I would have really like to see it during the day.

There were at least half a dozen eateries in the immediate vicinity. We were too tired to explore and headed back to our room. Today we are going to

Papa Chano's
462 Alvarado Street
Monterey, California, 93940
(831) 646-9587

The Cannery

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Ishtar on August 18, 2001

Went into the Ansel Adams Gallery. A veritable feast for the eyes. There were other black/white photographs displayed as well as sculptures, blown glass pieces, paper art, art books, calendars, fountains etc. The photo of the gallery you'll see is by Ben Crosby. It gives you a flavor of what's under the roof of America's most renown photographer.

Another shop that we stopped at, and browsed for at least one hour, was an import warehouse that had some of their goods displayed on the steps leading to the entrance. It was easy to tell that most of it came from Southeast Asia, and Chuck and I immediately headed there. We found and recognized some treasures from Bali; there were some new things as well we hadn't seen before. The prices are excellent as you are buying direct from the importer. Unopened boxes are stacked on the floor behind displays of the same merchandise. There are wonderful vases, animal sculptures, baskets of all kinds, huge colored fish plaques which you can hang on the wall, candles, candle holders, miniature wrought iron furniture and masks. You need an entire suitcase just to be able to bring some of this stuff home.

We also spotted a boutique which had saris in the window, and of course, stopped there as well. Balinese imports must be doing extremely well. Everything was very tastefully arranged and the proprietor was extremely welcoming and proud of her shop. The most avant garde shop we saw was something called "Let it Bead". It looks like some sort of black magic store, but in reality, they mostly sell beads. Lights are very low, and there's a kind of fisherman's net on the ceiling with woven branches. And trays of beads ad infinitum. We did not linger here. Also went into Candle & Clay, as we are incense and candle addicts. Smelled good, but nothing novel. The Garlic Shoppe is still tugging at my heart and it's not the garlic either; they displayed the most beautiful and originally painted plates with matching ewers and glassware. I could have bought all of them. They have an extensive collection of cookbooks, gourmet oils and vinegars, teas, and wines of which I know very little.

At Sculptures by the Sea, you can purchase artwork for $6,000 and up apiece. Couldn't resist going into the sock shop just to see how wild they can get with hosiery design. It does get a bit racy. You can spend an entire afternoon weaving in and out of these shops. We topped the visit to the Cannery with caramel popcorn for Chuck.

Cannery Row District
Cannery Row
Monterey, California

Rolling Down Highway 101

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Ishtar on August 15, 2001

As we continued our way south, we began to see some farm/fruit stands offering cherries and other goodies. How could I resist? I picked up one bag which felt like about a lb. or so for $5. Also, they were offering caramel nut bars, pistachios with garlic, without garlic,(that's a first for me, but then again, with Gilroy nearby, I understood)overripe mangoes for 75 cents a piece, peaches, and licorice in colors other than traditional black or red. I took one of them for Chuck, the licorice kid.

As we pulled out, we were enjoying the sweet juiciness of some great cherries. Not a rotten one in the lot! Signs for Monterey began to appear, and so did the fog which was coming over from the Pacific Ocean. As we got off 101, we took another narrower road which promised to deliver Monterey in 14 miles. The weather changed so abruptly, turned menacingly gray, and caused me to wrap myself in my shawl. Along that strip of asphalt, we passed Fort Ord which is an military facility which is now closed. On both sides of this road were dunes, some high, others low, with very short foliages, mostly green on one side, and of stunning natural colors on the others...some deep oranges, grey and ecrus. Fascinating contrasts between rock, flora,and the steely sky.

The chill in the air became more pronounced. So we are rolling along, top down, and heat blasting on our feet. Chuck always has great ideas. Fairly desolate until we took a turn into the Monterey Exit headed off to the tourist info area. Unfortunately, they close at 5pm. However, I was mystified by the cascades of flowers in a riot of colors literally falling out of these huge wooden containers lining the shops, circling the restaurants which were blasting spanish tunes. Across the way from the Tourist Office was a large board with the area's lodging offerings. There were some couples also searching for a pillow for the night. After a few calls, it seemed most of them were either sold out, or asking for sky-high prices for Saturday night with a significant drop for any night thereafter. There were other people also attempting to get lodging, and were so discouraged, they decided to go to Big Sur.

We continued our search, going in and out of streets that were absolutely quaint. Most inns and hotels had "no vacancy" signs readily visible. Others preferred to draw you in and give you the bad news by the registration office. "Munras" is a major hotel "row", as was "Fremont" and "Lighthouse" streets. We did manage to see some breathtaking ocean views of Monterey with rocks jutting from the water and saw the real first crowd in a wooded area. There was the annual lantern festival which I knew nothing about. This would be followed by fireworks, as I listened to the hotel keeper and a local discuss. For information on this festival, go to link

Stopped at the Lover's Inn and she was willing to lower her fees from a special $189 to $135 for 3 days. That didn't work well. So remember my advice, book ahead.

It was nearing 9 pm when we pulled into one of the places we had already seen on Munras Avenue.


What we missed that should be experienced

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Ishtar on August 24, 2001

Places like the Monterey Peninsula always give you reasons for going back; the primordial one is the elements of sea, rock, sky, and fauna. But here are some of the things we never got around to experiencing which I want to list, not only as a recommendation to you, but as a memorandum to myself for my next visit. By the way, the famed Monterey Jazz Festival is next month, along with the Reggae Festival, an outdoor art festival among others; this makes September a good target month for the next visit.

There was a company in Pacific Grove, behind the cannery, that rents exotic cars which look like ex-calibers to me. Of course, I am not a motor vehicle expert, but they do have that look, and it would be great fun to drive one for a day. Check it out.

The Monterey Aquarium: we almost made it there, but were somewhat turned off by the high admission price of $16 per person. Next time, we will plan ahead and see if we can get some discounted entry passes.

The National Steinbeck Center in Salinas: after all, this was Steinbeck's playpen, and there is an entire pavilion dedicated to him. At least, we did manage to see his cannery row.

The amazing maze of Carmel shopping: just looking at the map is a dizzying experience; but nevertheless, the area is so charming, and I caught some glimpses of the shops which lined the various avenues. Next time for sure!

Drive to Big Sur; getting INTO a kayak; go for spa services; go on a whale watching trip; take more pictures of cypress trees.


Strolling on Alvarado Street

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Ishtar on August 24, 2001

Alvarado Street is Monterey's "corazon". I learned that Monterey was California's first capital. Just as there are many things here that I wished we had seen, such as the Monterey Museum of Art, there are other things that we bumped into during our inumerable walks.

Monterey has also acquired an international flavor brought about by the likes of Mexican, Asian, and Arab immigrants. You can hear foreign languages being spoken in the streets, and Latino music is ubiquitous in certain areas. The blond hair, blue eyed stereotypic Californian is being eclipsed by more exotic looking beings. One evening we visited Bay Books at 316 Alvarado Street (831)375-1855 which was touted in one of the local newspapers. Its offerings were not extraordinary, and its coffee shop was probably more popular than its books. The marriage of bookstore to café here is prominent, as it promotes conversation and idea exchanges. Bay Books has good magazine section with a foreign journals and magazines like Marie Claire Maison and a couple of others.

If the java does not tickle your fancy here, just go up the street a few steps to Starbucks where you can order what you want.

Alvarado has other high points to it, such as restaurants like Cibo(loud and live music), Rosine's, Lallapalooza & Tutto Buono. Whichever one you decide to patronize, you can be sure that much of the produce used is grown locally; I saw more artichoke farms, radicchio, asparagus, garlic, zucchini and all sorts of lettuce. We also made a quick inquiry stop at the Monterey Hotel on Alvarado which looked very quaint. It's located at 406 Alvarado Street and the rates appeared to be very reasonable.

As this is the old downtown area, there are buildings that date back to the time when Monterey still belonged to Mexico; you will find several plaques along that street explaining historical facts. The newer area is along Lighthouse Avenue.


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