Missed buses and magical mystery tours!

Trip Start May 06, 2010
Trip End Dec 17, 2010

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Where I stayed
HI Hostel

Flag of United States  , California
Friday, July 23, 2010

Oh well, I guess it was bound to happen at some point in time that I would miss a bus!  However it was a greyhound bus so I can't say I'm that sorry!!  I had pre booked it from Monterey to Santa Cruz but due to a bit of confusion leaving Monterey I missed it.  You actually have to get a bus downtown and then get another bus to Salinas to get to the Greyhound bus station which then takes you to Santa Cruz.  As I got a lift into Monterey I didn't know how long the whole journey took or where the local bus stop was in order to get to Salinas.  I asked at the hostel where I needed to go and he said round the corner but I went to the wrong corner!!  I waited for a bus for over half an hour and nothing came so I walked towards town and asked someone where to go.  I obviously asked someone who doesn't get buses very often as he told me to go one way and after walking along for 10 minutes I didn't go past any bus stops.  So I back tracked, asked someone else who pointed me in the right direction and I eventually got a bus downtown.  In doing so I discovered a whole part of the town I hadn't seen before!  Monterey is bigger than I thought!

I eventually got to Salinas but with all the time wasted, I got there 15 minutes after my Greyhound bus had left.  I wasn't panicking though as I had heard you could get to Santa Cruz on public transport so I asked a member of staff at the station and was told how to do it- bus to Watsonville and then a bus to Santa Cruz for a total cost of $7.50! 

The staff at the local transport stations are so friendly, it is unbelievable.  I don't know if I get sympathy due to the size of my back pack or if it's because I'm a lone female or a combination of both but I have been overwhelmed by the security guards help at the stations in Salinas and Santa Cruz.  On arrival at Salinas, I was walked over to the customer service desk by the security guard so I could ask about my buses and then he came over a couple of minutes later and offered to mind my bags if I needed to visit the washroom, which I actually did, so that was much appreciated!!  He then chatted to me for the entire 30 minute wait I had about Scotland, India (where he was originally from) and California.  When my bus was ready to leave he carried my back pack on for me and shook my hand when I left wishing me well.  What a lovely man, can't imagine that happening in the UK somehow!

I had a 3 minute wait at Watsonville and had a very pleasant journey to Santa Cruz.  On both journeys I passed through many little towns that I wouldn't ordinarily have seen and they seemed very pretty little places.  I also went through a lot of agricultural land and along the coast so all in all a very nice bus journey.  There is a very strong Spanish influence in this part of California due to the proximity to the Mexican border.  The guard at the station told me that 60% of the populations first language was Spanish.  It is very evident from the businesses and restaurants that you pass.  Most of my fellow passengers were Spanish as well.

On arrival at Santa Cruz another guard spotted me looking a bit confused as I was trying to figure out how to get to the hostel and he came over and asked if he could help me.  I found out that I had missed the last bus that actually went along the street I needed by about 5 minutes but he stood with me for over 5 minutes working out which bus I could get that would take me closest to minimise my walking with luggage.  When I got on the bus another woman got on before me asking for the same street and it turned out that she was at the hostel too so we got talking.  The directions that the hostel gave out told us we had to walk up a very steep hill but the bus driver actually pulled over especially for us to let us off at another much gentler incline which also took us to the hostel.  Bless him! 

It turned out that the woman I had met, Hannah, was in my dorm so we spent my first evening together.  I got a treat at the hostel.  They have food donated to them every Friday so there was a fridge full of free food.  It was slightly out of date but I didn't care about that, it looked and smelt OK!  So, I got a chicken salad and some strawberries for free.  I had passed fields of strawberrys growing on the bus so actually had a bit of a craving for them so I was well chuffed!

After dinner Hannah and I went to the boardwalk.  Santa Cruz is a coastal town and they have a famous boardwalk there which has a massive funfair which is open pretty much 365 days a year.  It was like being at Disney again!  They have 2 haunted houses, 2 roller coaster rides and many, many other rides.  There are stalls and stalls of all the junk food you could possibly eat.  I saw twinkies and funnel cakes for the first time.  As it was dark all the rides were lit up and it looked really colourful.  I didn't go on any of the rides as it pretty expensive (min $4/ride) and it's not that long since I did it all at Disney so I wasn't itching to do it all over again.  It was really good to walk along the pier and watch everyone having fun.

The following day Hannah left the hostel and I investigated the town centre.  I went downtown and it is pretty small so after not that much time I was a bit bored.  The hostel has a rule that you have to leave between 11am and 5pm and you are not allowed back in again between those hours so I was at a bit of a loss to know what to do.  The hostel didn't have any tea so I went to Starbucks to get one and to give me some time to sit outside and read a magazine about the area I had picked up.  Whilst there a table behind me filled up with locals so I asked them what I could do in the area in one day.  It was quite funny as their first suggestion was the boardwalk so I told them I had already been there, then they suggested getting the bus to Monterey so I had to tell them I'd just come from there.  After a few silent pauses and lots of thinking going on they asked if I'd been to San Jose!  So, obviously nothing to do in Santa Cruz itself then!!!  I hadn't been to San Jose so I got a local bus there which took about an hour. I got there just after 2 and there was a bus back at 4.30 or 7.30 so I opted for the 4.30 one!   I didn't therefore spend a long amount of time there but I saw a bit of the town although I didn't by any means see the main highlights.  It was nice to go there though and I can say I have been to San Jose!

When I got back to the hostel a guy called Lucas had come into the room I was staying in so I showed him the free food and took him to the boardwalk and that pretty much took care of that evening. 

At Starbucks I had read about a National Park nearby, Big Basin, that had Redwood trees in it.  I investigated the buses and realised that as it was Sunday there was only one there and back.  I had an early start as I had to catch a bus at 8.30am.

The bus journey took just under an hour and a half and again went through some very pretty countryside.  Some of it reminded me of St Peters Valley in Jersey!  At the bus station before I got on the bus, a guard asked me if I was all Ok and knew where I was going, and when I said I was going to Big Basin he told me of a walk to do which would take about 5 hours.  As the bus back wasn't until 5.30pm I had plenty time!  The walk went to Wadell Beach so on arrival I looked for the start of the trail and set off.

The walk was lovely.  It was described as difficult but it really wasn't!  It was steep in parts but not much so I think they just did that because it was long.  The round trip is 13 miles so my walk one way was about 7.  The forest was lovely.  The Redwood trees are beautiful.  You obviously know they are tall but it does amaze you to see it in person.  The size of the trunks are incredible, they have huge diameters.  There were many trees which had fallen over and the stumps of them were huge, you could stand up inside them!!

Towards the end of my walk I caught up with 2 local ladies so joined them for the rest of the journey.  One of them had a daughter who is just about to go to New Zealand for a year so she was keen to find out about my travelling experiences!  Thankfully I have no horror stories to tell so I think I put her mind at rest a bit.  The walk ended by going through farm land and then it reaches the ocean, it was lovely.  The ocean had a lovely beach and it looked like a good place to surf. 

The ladies actually lived in Santa Cruz so they very kindly gave me a lift back to town so I didn't have to hang around for the bus.  Just as well as it was only ten past one!

I got dropped off near a pier that I hadn't walked down yet which is opposite the main boardwalk so I had a wander around there.  It is full of restaurants and has nice views over the coast and the funfair.  There were quite a few seals hanging out under the boardwalk so that was nice to see. 

I had another wander along the boardwalk.  The atmosphere is totally different in the day time!  Starving by then I tried to find something to eat which wasn't deep fried and eventually found somewhere selling sandwiches.  They cost more than a double cheeseburger!! 

Walking along the board walk I had an urge to go for a 5 mile run!  Everyone is eating mounds of well, crap, to be blunt.  The vast majority of people are overweight if not obese, including the children, and they are all eating massive bags of pop corn, candyfloss, burgers, fries, pretsels and cakes.  Looking around I decided the world will end because the ground will cave in due to everyone's excess weight and that is how the human race will become extinct, swallowed up never to be seen again! 

The portion sizes are ridiculous as well.  I asked for a small lemonade with my sandwich and was offered the chance to buy this huge cup that would give me 2 free refils and half price thereafter.  I assured the guy there was no way I could ever drink that much lemonade so I was quite happy to stick with a small one and I nearly died when he gave it to me.  It was huge, it's like our Big Mac supersize portion drink!!  It took me over an hour to drink it and I was thirsty after my walk!!

By this point I was quite bored of the boardwalk and it was quite chilly so I didn't fancy sitting on the beach so I wandered back to town.  I got quite bored of that again quite quickly as well so I actually went to the cinema as it was cheap before 6pm and saw Toy Story 3.  It's really good, and that happily passed the time until my hostel was open again!

Another guy had joined our room by then and I was invited out by the boys for a beer but I had spent too much already that day so had to decline which was not good!!

Time to pack up my back pack again and get set for San Francisco!

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