The moment I decided to fly to California instead of back to D.C., I knew that visiting Monterey would have to be on the agenda.
My flight arrived on time in San Jose and I was on the road towards Monterey around 11:30 a.m. just as I anticipated. The drive was smooth and within an hour, I found myself pulling into a parking slot for Compagno’s Deli. I read about this family-run place just a few minutes drive from Cannery Row that sells fabulous sandwiches so I wanted to check it out for myself. I ordered a Coast Guard on wheat (thick slices of corned beef, thousand island dressing, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese) and a canoli, paid for my drink and drove towards the aquarium. After parking, I walked towards the wharf with my brown bag in tow and searched for a picturesque spot to eat my aromatic sandwich.
I settled on one of the picnic benches near Cannery Row then headed down towards the beach to finish my lunch. The sandwich was good; meaty and tasty, but it was definitely too much for one person. The corned beef filling must have been at least an inch thick and the accompanying cheese was probably three generous slices at the very least. Anyway, after a hurried lunch, I set off for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, intending to spend as many hours as I can to maximize the pricey entrance fee of $39.95 for adults.
As it turned out, every cent of the $40 fee was worth it. Not only do the majority of the money goes toward marine conservation, but the aquarium itself lived up to expectations. The giant Kelp Forest and Open Sea tanks were amazing. It was like watching a live version of Finding Nemo. The other highlights of the aquarium included the giant Pacific octopus, the jellyfish exhibit, and the touch pools where I was able to pet a stingray and a live sea urchin. After a few hours, I couldn’t help but think how fascinating the ocean is. Should you find yourself visiting Monterey and have a few hours to spare, I highly suggest you pay the aquarium a visit.
After the aquarium, I took the free trolley and headed towards Monterey’s historic downtown. I walked around Alvarado Street, the city’s main historic street, and visited several food and produce stands (it was farmer’s market day.) I also stopped by Alvarado Street Brewery and sampled two of their house brews. The first was a Belgian-style wheat beer and the other was an Irish-style stout infused with chocolate and espresso beans. Both were very good and for just $2 for each 5 oz. glass, a very good deal. It was nearing 6 p.m. when I headed towards Monterey’s fisherman wharf. I walked around it a bit, tried a couple clam chowder samples, and took snapshots of the fishing boats parked right next to sailboats. I wanted to let the traffic subside before driving towards my cousin’s house in Modesto.
It was just after 7 p.m. when I got back on the road. I caught the sunset just as I was driving towards the valley and arrived just after 9:40 p.m. It was a long, but ultimately great day.