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Published: September 1st 2009
The bus for our Carmel/Monterey tour showed up - on time - at 0830 and delivered us to Fisherman’s Wharf for the 0900 departure. Our tour guide was Michael and he spoke of the areas we visited with a true passion and a good sense of humour. As we drove out of the San Francisco area he showed us the exact location of the San Andreas Fault and briefly went through the history of the counties south of San Francisco.
We arrived in Monterey at midday and were dropped just outside the aquarium. We were only given 2 hours off the bus so we knew things were going to be tight. One of the few advantages of bus tours (and there aren’t many) is that you often get to cut the queues and we were lucky to be inside the Monterey Aquarium within a few minutes. It had been many years since I had visited Monterey but the place was just as I had remembered it. The displays were informative and the huge variety of wildlife and fish on display at close quarters makes the aquarium a must visit. Better yet, I recommend you take the opportunity to check out
17 Mile Drive
the display of local Bay Area sea life where you can view clams and a variety of fish in a protected but natural environment and be eating said sea life next door within five minutes.
We strolled along Cannery Row for a while and got a cup of delicious clam chowder each then went to the Wax Museum, which is a history of Monterey and its surrounding regions. This covered the 1800s when it was part of Mexico under Spanish control right through to present day. We had to skip the present day part as our bus was due to leave and we didn’t want to be that couple (the ones from every tour you’ve ever been on) that was late for the bus.
Heading south towards Carmel we drove down 17 Mile Drive and Michael (apparently a very keen golfer) showed us some of the top courses in the US - some demanding nearly $1000 in green fees. We also passed many multi-million-dollar homes - including that of ‘The Governator’ Arnold Schwarzenegger. We made three more stops prior to Carmel - one at a point inhabited by several rather friendly squirrels, the second at Lone Pine (the
stop was just long enough to take a few pictures and jump back on the bus) and the final stop was at Pebble Beach Golf Course. We were given 15 minutes to wander around. I took some pictures and visited the pro shop.
We were given an hour to see Carmel and told that the beach was at least a quarter hour walk each way so instead we went into Carmel Plaza and found a cheese shop. A loaf of bread, a ¼ lb of French Brie, a ¼ lb of aged Gouda, a bottle of wine and a double latte later we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the middle of the plaza. This left 10 minutes to visit a few blocks of up-market Carmel. The streets were lined with BMWs, Audis, Mercedes and even a Ferrari Modena. This was hob-nob city USA - the sort of place you can imagine that perfect upper class 1950s TV family lived in. We even found the prefect prep boy - compete with crocheted white jersey, designer jeans, a Nike cap and runners.
I wasn’t too upset to be heading back north from Carmel - I didn’t really like it. The
final stop was the ‘Garlic Capital of the World’ in Gilroy County. “Garlic World” was a huge grocery type place that sold all sorts of garlic products - spices, sauces etc etc. We walked out with a bottle of “Dave’s Ultimate Insanity” chilli sauce after deciding not to purchase “Hot as Shit”, “Colon Cleanser” or “Fucking Hot Sauce” brands.
The bus dropped us off at Hotel Des Arts around 1900. We tidied up a bit and caught the cable car back to Fisherman’s Wharf for our 1st anniversary dinner at Tarantino’s restaurant. I had to go with the seafood selection and had a nice big bowl of shrimps, prawns, fish, clams and crab in a marinara sauce. It had been another long day and we had another big day planned the next day so we headed back to Hotel Des Arts quite early.
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