I held onto my hat as Julia and I strolled against the wind down the pier in Monterey.
Sunlight beat down on the weather-worn wood underfoot and cast a lovey blue haze across the water and into the horizon. I took a deep breath, hoping to experience the familiar and nostalgic sensation of salty coastal air…big mistake! Pier aromas does not equate to “salty coastal air.” What met my naive nose was the unique smell of sea lions, seagulls, otters, and kelp.
My sister, Julia, and I had been planning this quick trip to the central coast since my departure to Cincinnati earlier this summer. It’s only a quick drive from home (3 hours or so), and therefore perfect for an overnight trip.
The first stop was the Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey. If you’re at all familiar with it’s big brother up in San Francisco, you can get a bit of a feeling for the carnival vibes the wharf produces. Candy-colored shops and restaurants line the pier on either side, and groups of designer-clad tourists mosey along with their cameras hanging around their necks. Julia and I thoroughly enjoyed snapping pictures of the little buildings, but the REAL stars were below the pier.
AR AR AR!
The sound was deafening, and the smell paralyzing. Sea lions yelled up at us from their resting spot, lying on top of each other at least 3 deep. We giggled as we watched them attempt to hop on and off the pier. Their only competition for attention came in the form of the cutest little otter, floating along on his back and munching on some sort of otter snack.
We probably could have stayed longer, but the road was calling our name! A 17 mile long road to be exact!
The 17 mile road is a beautiful stretch of coastline that is hardly driveable, with a tiny road and plenty of blind driveways. Therefore, it’s a massive attraction for out-of-towners like the sis and I! Each mile is marked with a different natural attraction. Our favorite was The Lone Cyprus.
Having grown tired of testing fate for the day, we drove to Carmel and stopped at the beach. The sun had come back out, and we were desperate to put our feet in the Pacific.
After checking into our hotel and getting directions from the very misleading man at the front desk, we decided to walk to the Carmel Mission. It was a pleasant walk, but when someone gives you vague directions to the extent of “Oh, it’s just up the road!” I commission you to be very cautious. We walked. And walked. And finally arrived at the Mission, and it was closed. Luckily, when we began to doubt if we would ever make it and asked a woman for directions, we were told about the Mission Ranch (owned by Clint Eastwood) directly behind the Mission.
We walked up to the ranch, and through a parking lot packed full of Lambourginis and Maserattis. “I feel a bit underdressed,” Julia said. “Nonesense!” was my lighthearted reply. But really I just wanted to sit down. As it turns out, even extraordinarily wealthy people wear socks and sandals to dinner sometimes, and we even happened to exist on the fancier side of the restaurant-goer-spectrum. The place was wonderful; beautiful french doors and windows painted emerald opened up to sprawling pastures dotted with sheep and ancient oak and cyprus trees. A man in a fez filled the room with music as he sat behind a glossy black grand piano.
Cocktails were in order! A Jolly Rancher for Julia.
And some sort of classier Marg for me…it had St. Germain as an additive to the usual ingredients.
We washed our cocktails down with an almond crusted goat cheese with sun-dried tomatoes and arugula.
There was no way I was going to walk back to town in my heels, so we caught a cab and moved to the Hogsbreath Inn. It took us a minute to even find the place. A brick alley way leads back to the courtyard of the restuarant, giving it a bit of a Harry Potter vibe (though maybe that’s just because I kept mistakenly calling it Hogsmead!). We had soup and dessert.
Peach and Blueberry Cobbler.
And a Chocolate Torte.
Following dinner, we wandered the brick paths of Carmel, enjoying the illuminated store and gallery windows. A wonderful way to end the day and continue our classic recipe for vacation: Eat, walk, take pictures, repEAT.