Bikers Paradise

Trip Start Aug 05, 2012
Trip End Aug 24, 2012

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines
Where I stayed
The Stevenson Monterey
Read my review - 2/5 stars
What I did
17-Mile Drive Monterey
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Read my review - 5/5 stars
Pebble Beach Golf Course
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of United States  , California
Saturday, August 11, 2012

Monterey holds a special place in my heart, so I was really looking forward to visiting with Youssef, hoping that my memories from an idyllic sophomore summer living and studying Arabic at the Monterey Institute of International Studies would not disappoint. Pas de soucis - after Clovis, Monterey was like Mecca. 

We rolled into Monterey in the late afternoon. Having passed through the hellishly-hot core of California, it was a relief to drive through the cooling clouds that shrouded Highway One just before we reached the city limits. We arrived with no itinerary, no place to stay, and most notably, no food in our stomachs. Recall from Clovis that we preferred to fast rather than to eat any more "pre-fab" food at the mall (a nightmare for a Moroccan momma's boy), so we were dreaming of a great meal. Trip advisor directed us to Bistro Moulin, our first stop in town to make the crucial dinner reservation for 9:00, hoping that we would find a room to shower and change before that. Little did we know that it was the Little League World Series, and we had to craftily divide and conquer a strip of motels to guarantee our comfort. After much duress, we managed to secure the last motel room in town, showered, changed, and went for the perfect French meal with a California bottle of wine. It was so intensely satisfying. 

Well-rested after our evening of fine dining and luxury at the Travelodge, we were ready to see the sites- onto the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We got lucky (hamdullah it happens a lot) and a couple gave us their two day entry tickets for free. Bonus! As for the aquarium on a Sunday, there's a reason it is so crowded: it is unbelievable. I had the feeling that we were being given a tiny glimpse into a parallel world that is infinitely more intricate and beautiful than ours. This visit has inspired me to learn how to scuba dive one day. Anyway, after gawking at the jellyfish, which in and of themselves convinced me that there is a god, we got back on land and went straight for the bike rental shop. 

The best way to explore the peninsula is definitely on a bike. We followed 17-mile drive, a path goes from Monterey all the way around the Peninsula to Carmel-by-the-Sea. Riding along the dunes, we could took a few detours to see the sea lions and birds contently plopped onto rocks jutting out of the frigid Pacific. The path took us through Pacific Grove, the next town over from Monterey, where there are true dream houses staggered along the dunes behind intimidating gates and flanked by these spooky cypress trees that give the place a feeling of being haunted. The very long ride (already more than 17 miles) didn't phase us as we had the scenery to keep us motivated all the way to the huge hill into the village of Carmel, where we dismounted and hiked. Our tour of Carmel was short, but involved a soiree at Doris Day's hotel with the owners of very rare, old, expensive and beautiful cars that were being shown in the car show that week. We held our heads high, knowing that our Ford Focus was hidden from sight in a parking garage back in Monterey. 

The entire day was absolutely lovely, so we desperately needed some comic relief. We had a room in Marina through AirBnB at the house of a Chinese language teacher at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. Reviews of her place touted her extreme cleanliness and organization, and they were true to their word. Our hostess greeted us by telling me that she usually refuses to host Americans, but as she wanted to show my Moroccan boyfriend some American hospitality, we were welcome. Indeed, she showed us American hospitality at its finest. 

Next, we tried to find ourselves another good meal (as opposed to the greasy Chinese take-out place near Naro's house). We drove into Carmel, which is known for the great food, only to find that by 9pm the only place open is, wouldn't you know it, Lebanese. The owner of Dametra was thrilled to have an Arab brother dine in this white-collared haven. So much so that in the middle of our meal when he took out an oud, he insisted that we both get up and dance. There we were, a Moroccan and a Jew doing debka in Carmel by the sea. And we didn't even get dessert on the house!

Slideshow Report as Spam

My Reviews Of The Places I Stayed

Loading Reviews
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • You must enter a comment
  • You must enter your name
  • You must enter a valid name (" & < > \ / are not accepted).
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: