This is part 6 of a collection of diary entries by Vikki‘s dad during his holiday in Los Angeles (from London), January 2005. Links to earlier entries at the end of this post.
One of the joys of Motels in California is that if they do not provide coffee in the room, then it is provided in reception. The Bluebird is exceptional in that the reception is huge about 30ft by 50ft, one side is given over to the actual reception you know counter, seating area coffee table loaded with information leaflets. The other side is like a huge front room with comfy sofa and armchairs and a huge frontier like fireplace. With the coffee there was some rather excellent cake. I am a bit of a pig in the morning where coffee is concerned and I have to have at least three cups on this occasion I complemented it with three slices of cake it was lovely. During this ëfeastí I met Arnie and Martha, they had driven down Highway 1 from San Francisco, we had a nice chat Arnie had just retired and they had decided to take three months out to explore America, thatís when I knew that my two weeks were not going to be enough. I honestly feel that this country is so vast that you could spend a lifetime exploring it and you would still miss something. Anyway this great American couple was proof positive that Highway 1 was now open all the way.
Even though Steve.J.Douglas had advised against it I decided to take a look at Hearst Castle. The car park is massive and the Visitors Centre is very modern and imposing, all marble and glass. I especially enjoyed cam cording the views from the entrance, however I discovered that to see the actual Castle, you had to go on a tour which involved getting on a coach. Did not like that idea so I gave the Castle a pass. Met a nice lady painting the scenery, we had a nice little conversation that was not very complimentary about Mr Hearst.
Arnie and Martha had told me about the elephant seal sanctuary down the road. These animals are extraordinary on average they grow up to 8ft in length and weigh up to 800 pounds. I donít know if I saw any bulls but there must have been 200 cows with their pups. Apparently they have been coming to this spot for years to bear their young and the Americans have built a nice fenced off area with a walkway so that people can come and see this amazing spectacle without disturbing the Seals.
I carried on along Highway 1 an amazing piece of engineering. They appear to have laid the road along a cliff and every time they encountered an inlet or a gap, they have just built a bridge across it, sometimes a few feet up from the ocean and sometimes a couple of hundred feet, sometimes a few yards in length and sometimes 100s of yards long, countless bridges. I stopped off at a place called Ragged Point overlooking Big Sur?, just a little cafÈ/restaurant at the top of a cliff. I breakfasted on a cheeseburger and potato salad very tasty. Had been told that Carmell had all kinds of strange rules so drove straight through to Monterey. This looks like a really nice place with beaches and a pier, saw a tourist information centre so popped in and got directed to Fremont Street. Nice looking Motel with a sport bar next door and a diner across the street. I booked one night with a reservation for the following night Noticed that they had a bit of construction / refurbishing going on, but the room was OK.
Had me a shower and a change of clothes, I fancy treating myself to a nice meal with a glass of wine tonight. Went to reception and asked them to call me a cab, after waiting 25 minutes there was no sign of it so I told them to cancel it and I drove myself down to the wharf. Managed to find a free parking place and wandered over to what I thought was the Wharf. Very disappointed to find a sort of round building with an English style pub on the ground floor and a sushi restaurant upstairs. I walked along the shore for a bit and walked into the real Fishermanís Wharf. This is a pier that is about 200 yards long crammed with eateries and fish restaurants of just about every nationality that you could think of, plus of course a half dozen souvenir shops and the whale watching / fishing shacks. Unfortunately, for me, it was now about 8.00pm and it was starting to close up for the night. I was reminded once again that this was supposed to be the quiet period; I would imagine it would be hopping in summer. Went into Isabellaís which has an Italian ambience, started with a Clam Chowder with a Chicken Stir Fry, washed down with a nice glass of Californian white wine. The portions are gastronomic but I ate the lot because it was so bloody nice and the bill including tip was $45, which is about £27, I would not spend every night but was ok for a treat.
Did not fancy finding a bar as I had the car and having already had a couple of glasses of wine, I do not want to fall foul of the Monterey Police Department. Went back to the Motel dumped the car and went into the Sport Bar next door. Looked a bit rough but no rougher than some of the pubs back home so I sat at the bar and ordered a 12oz of draught bud. Lots of young guys with a few girls playing pool, got the impression the woman behind the bar was a bit concerned with a couple of the lads as she appeared a bit distracted, then she went out and spoke to them and suddenly all was well and everybody had a laugh and any seeming trouble was averted. The Bud tasted a bit bland so I tried a Coors not bad but still too cold to taste anything. They sell Guinness and Newcastle Brown Ale but I can always drink that back home. The Barmaid put an upside down shot glass in front of me, When she came back I asked her why. Apparently a lady whose dog I had made a fuss of earlier had decided to buy the bar a drink. Now in this place when a person does this they obviously cannot buy the whole bar a drink, so they nominate a no, in this case 5, and the barperson places the glasses in front of customers at random along the bar. I tried a 12oz of Carlsberg, which was crap. The lady left before I could thank her, so I made my way back to my room and offered her a silent toast with a few glasses of scotch on the rocks.