My days in Monterey
Despite not knowing this wonderful city existed until 48 hours before I left Michigan, I've fallen in love with Monterey. Located in California’s rugged central coast, it's a quaint, beautiful city for tourists and probably one of the best places to retire (if you have the money).
Monterey is famous for many things, one of which is Cannery Row. It used to be the center of the sardine-packing industry and was immortalized by author John Steinbeck. While that fact might put a gross picture in your head, today it is just a memory, gift shops, seafood restaurants, and bars utilizing the old factory buildings.
Since I'm not into fishing or seafood, I was attracted to the city's other features, like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, with thousands of marine animals (otters!!!) and plants on display in underwater and interactive exhibits. They were the first to feature a living kelp forest, and they have both indoor and outdoor exhibits utilizing artificial and natural tides. The best part about this aquarium is how truly eco-friendly and conservation-minded they are. You could just tell--from the way they constructed the exhibits, to the restorative nature of the place, to the biodegradable and low-waste items they sold in their gift shop--that this aquarium is a bona fide nonprofit with the mission "to inspire conservation of the ocean."
After the aquarium, the next thing I absolutely HAD to do was go on a whale-watching tour. I discovered that the Monterey Bay area is unique in how many marine mammals naturally reside here. I made sure to book my ticket with a reputable tour company, eventually choosing Monterey Bay Whale Watching as it was directed and lead by marine biologists and naturalists. The tour started at 10 a.m. Sunday and lasted about 4 hours. Here are some of my best shots.
We saw humpback whales, dolphins, and seals. I'm fairly certain we saw other whale species as well, but I couldn't hear what the guy was saying over the wind.
Tips if you ever go:
Take non-drowsy motion sickness medication before and during your ride. And the ginger candies help.
Learn to rock with the waves and not against them.
Put sunscreen on your face NO MATTER WHAT. You WILL burn.
I spent the rest of my time in Monterey taking in the beautiful landscape and architecture. This place is famous for its cypress trees and beautiful beaches. The downtown area was so tidy and well-kept, even the bus station. I never had to drive anywhere since the house I was staying in was only a mile from restaurants, bars, beaches, and a Trader Joe's.
Needless to say, I had a fabulous time people-watching and soaking it all in. If there was a time where I felt truly on vacation, it would have been here. I'm definitely going back.
Thanks for reading this better-late-than-never post! Another to follow about San Francisco :)