A place that I naively thought was going to be sunny and warm…turned out to be the complete opposite! I travelled to Monterey to check out the Middlebury Institute for International Studies for my graduate school program, shadow a class and get toured around campus!
I got in a day early to check out the city and I felt completely out of place! Let me explain. I checked into the hotel, set my things down, got ready, and went to town. At first glance, Monterey seemed quaint and cute. There are many historical buildings (it was the original capital of the state of California) on the main road and many restaurants aswell! I started to feel chilly but I didn’t let that bother me too much. What was a little eerie is that it felt like I was the only person out and about! I barely saw anybody outside!
I made my way onto the wharf and loved it! I loved the vibrant colours and the yummy smells that were coming out of the candy shops as they made fresh fudge. The whole wharf offered seafood which I admired from afar, because I am not an avid seafood goer. I saw some harbour seals, JELLY FISH (I thought they were plastic bags in the water at first *face palm*), Fishermen's boats and took in that ocean breeze.
Even though I had my long sleeve sweater, denim jacket, and rain jacket-- aka all the layers I had-- by the time I left the wharf, I was frozen! Since I was coming from Florida with all my summer apparel, thinking it would be nice and warm, I had to buy something else to keep me warm! I bought a scarf which was perfect because it did not take up any space in the small backpack I brought to Monterey, I would be wearing it! I called it a night after freezing my bum off shopping at the outdoor mall, warmed up back at the hotel and prepared my things for my campus tour day.
When I signed up for the campus tour, it said to go business casual. As I was packing for the Florida and California trip in the winter weather in Canada, I thought it was a great idea to go to the campus tour in a nice dress with flats, and a denim jacket to add that casual part in there. The joke was all on me. The tour started off great but with some light rain, our student ambassador was a good sport about the rain and had us avoiding the rain where possible! It seemed like every time we entered a building and left, the rain started to come down even harder! At the end of the tour, I went to sit in on a class for two hours and hoped the rain would let down. I opened the door to leave the classroom and it was just downpour rain, as if it hadn’t rained in sometime! I had a ten minute walk to get to the hotel and the closer I got it seemed like rivers were being formed in the street! By the time I got to the safe haven of my hotel room, I was drenched from head to toe. Underwear and all. I called it a night early so I could gather some energy for my last day of tourism in Monterey.
I woke up nice and early, had some breakfast, and set off to see what was left on my list for Monterey. I went straight to the trail that connects Monterey and Cannery Row, which is the second touristy part of Monterey. I had a nice sun bath (and a solo photoshoot) at San Carlos beach, and continued on to Cannery Row.
I saw the beautiful Monterey Hotel and Spa, also the bust of Edward Ricketts (American Author John Steinbeck's best friend) and browsed around an antique mall.
After all that walking, I gathered an appetite and made my way to the Taste of Monterey to check out the food and the wine. I was lucky that during my walk I had great weather, but unfortunately as I was getting ready to leave the restaurant it started to rain again. Of course. I took shelter in a rather expensive place, but it was worth it because it is definitely a must see in Monterey—the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Admission into the Monterey Bay Aquarium is USD $49.95 for adults and USD $39.95 for students with valid student identification. I spent about three hours here and was completely mesmerized by the jellyfish and squids. I was really impressed by the talk I sat in on ‘Project White Shark’ it talks about the conservation work they are doing for white sharks! They have a talk or show a movie in the auditorium every half hour with a Marine Biologist. So plan accordingly, and get to the showtime ON TIME. The doors are on automatic timers, so once the presentation begins they can't open the doors to let any latecomers in...I learnt the hard way. They had a cool wave simulator that I’ve never seen before, a touch area and the open sea exhibit that was absolutely mesmerizing! Seeing as the Monterey Bay Aquarium was previously an old canning factory, they also offered a history recap of the canning boom in Monterey! They showed the canning process, statistics on how many people came and left during the boom and they show how many businesses were set up here and how many remained.
I walked back to Monterey, made a quick pit-stop at the Salvador Dali exhibit, went to Cibo’s for $3 Happy Hour, and set up my action plan to visit San Francisco for the day.
Did you know that Monterey, California is the only place Salvador Dali lived outside of Spain? I thought it was a cool thing to be in this small town that this grand artist once lived in!
Also, American author John Steinbeck lived here too! He wrote his book ‘Cannery Row’ based on the hustle and bustle of the canning industry in Cannery Row! He actually wrote it in the shed that is right next to this house pictured to the left!
I left Monterey via the Monterey Airbus that services Monterey, San Jose airport, and the San Francisco airport. They were on time and literally provided such a comfortable and convenient service. Considering the convenience of the airbus, the USD $45 was appropriate! 10 out of 10 would do it again!
I feel like Monterey, California is a place I would love, as long as the weather loved me! The moments when the sunshine was out were fantastic, I hope to come back to some more sunshine!
Thank you Monterey!
Monterey in review:
- Very cold in March
- When it rains, it pours
- Small city but full of history (it was the original capital of the state of california)
- Dali and Steinbeck lived here
- Surrounded by beautiful nature
- Easy to get to Big Sur, San Jose and San Francisco from here