First vacation in 5+ years

 

The last time two times we stayed in a hotel was when Brad and I first met in person. Our last time away from home was for a funeral. The only times we have taken off from our jobs since being together was for hardships or medical emergencies. Vacations just don’t happen when you’re 20-somethings trying to build a future life for yourselves. So, when we saw that we were scheduled 2 days off from work together, had our bills paid early and savings contributed to, we decided it was time for a getaway!

vacation seagull

This little guy was the first thing we saw upon pulling in to our first destination in Monterey, Ca. We pulled in to our spot, and there he was standing square in the middle of our windshield looking at us as if he was going to be our Butler for the duration of our stay. As you can see from the proximity of the photo, he didn’t budge upon us approaching. A very neat start.

So we begin: Loulou’s griddle in the Middle on Municipal Warf no 2. Explicit thanks and reference to this article for the insider’s guide to eating in Monterey, aptly titled “Eat like a Local.”

vacation breakfast

I ordered the Hubcap flapjack more for the novelty than anything. I regretted it immediately when I saw the Omelette Brad had ordered. Warf wrap with their famous potatoes, pico, jack & cheddar cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla. Honest to goodness, best damn breakfast I have ever tasted. I would drive back to this spot just to order that thing myself in a heartbeat. If I ever become rich, I will also be returning to try to buy their adorably unique salt and pepper shakers to add to my collection. Every table had their own set, and I wanted ours so very badly.

vacation breakfast 2

Oreos with a milk carton. Do want.

Check in to our bed and breakfast wasn’t until 3pm, so it was time to explore the area. Next was the need-to-see tourist stop: 17- mile drive. You have to pay a $10 toll to get in and drive it, but it was worth it. The drive itself was awfully fun with all the twists and turns and beautiful scenery along the way. Granted, most of the time was spent gaping at the villas and mansions along the way and day-dreaming out loud what it would be like to live in such a place. There were plenty of stops and sights along the way. First was a slightly steep trek down to the shore of the bay where I managed to get gotten by the tide rolling in. It’s freezing this time of the year, by the way. Thank goodness I was wearing my flip flops and not shoes with socks.

Next were a few sights like the Cypress tree, a 250 year old Cypress that has somehow survived on a lone rock fixture just off the shore. The ghost tree, white from the seas winds. And pebble beach, which we stood looking over for a good 20 minutes, hypnotized by the sound of the tide rolling back and forth over the pebbles, sounding very reminiscent of those rain sticks we all remember science stores selling when we were kids.  The major downside for us was that Pebble Beach is inhabited and owned by a major Golf Course. Great for golfers, sure, but somewhat ruins the experience if you’re not into that sort of thing and feel a little scoffed upon by the super rich walking around with their expensive equipment and $100,000 cars. We didn’t see all of the beach because we didn’t feel like taking the trek through the entire course to get to it. Still beautiful though.

The drive didn’t take as long for us as some blogs I had read recommended allotting to the experience (3-hours?? How?), so we went off to the next touristy area: Cannery Row.

We stopped first at Cannery Row Brewing Company to survey the 73 beers they had on tap. Totally mind boggling. I grabbed Sea Dog’s “Blueberry” wheat which was fantastically smooth and pleasant to drink, each sip giving a whiff of blueberry muffins. Brad grabbed something on the opposite spectrum: Stone’s “Old Guardian.” Seemed awfully steep at $10 for a 13 oz tulip, but was a pretty damn tasty beer. Hoppy, but with multiple layers of flavor. The bar tender wasn’t very talky and very awkward, not paying us much attention, so we took our beers out on the patio to enjoy their lovely fire pits.

vacation cannery

Now it was time for check in. I had fallen in love at first sight of this place upon spotting it on Hotels.com and it would not disappoint the duration of our stay. I’ll summarize the whole experience here rather than returning to it throughout the blog.

The Jabberwok Inn:

vacation inn

 

The inner and outer decor was, naturally, Alice in Wonderland themed. Upon entering, Rick greeted us warmly and gave us a tour of the building  whilst giving us the history of its ownership as well as the vision of the original owner. Wonderful hospitality. We got comfortable in our room which, may I add, was furnished with a carafe of brandy and a treat of gourmet jelly beans.

After a lovely shower in our private bathroom, we walked downstairs for some unplugged fun. Mind you, there were no televisions in our room nor in the facility. Instead, the lounge area was furnished with all sorts of board games and puzzles. We chose an Alice in Wonderland wooden chess set, and as we sat down were offered a glass of wine for their hors d’oeuvres hour.

chess

At night, the host sets out home made cookies with milk for the guests, which we chose to munch on with a glass  of sherry they had set out. Mind you, all of these are amenities included in the room cost.

Best of all was the breakfast they had laid out for the morning. Set around a dining room table with the other guests for that day, we were given a beautiful breakfast:

vacation breakfast inn

Coffee or tea, jabberwok juice (their own blend of various fruits with a touch of coconut for creaminess, amazing), fresh fruit, and that morning we had fantasmagoria (bread pudding with vanilla custard) with chicken sausage.

Honestly, an amazing bed and breakfast experience. Book your stay with some time planned to sit around and enjoy yourself and the company. You’ll have plenty of time to chat and share your vacation stories with the host, Rick, and whomever has booked their stay their.

Our vacation is far from over, believe it or not.

The night before our amazing breakfast, we picked out Monterey Fish House, this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant that you wouldn’t think of going into upon passing by. We went on a Monday night, and were glad we had made reservations because the little place was packed. Fresh Oysters on the half shell, perfectly cooked calamari, and Cioppino so filled to the brim with seafood that I just could not eat it all. We did not indulge, but they had a large wine list as well.

Day 2 and we were off for Santa Cruz. Quick stop on Highway 1 to pick up some giant artichokes for a friend in Castroville (I’m actually fairly certain I went to the wrong stop, so beware, there are many stands selling artichokes on the way that are not quite as big or as cheap). First stop was Kelly’s French Bakery, decent coffee, delicious macaroons. I recall watching an episode of Top Chef or one of those shows once where a chef was voted off for putting fresh fruit in a macaroon because it just wasn’t how it was done and the judges thought it made the texture off. Well, they have strawberry macaroons with fresh strawberries and it’s spot on yummy. Pricey for $1.99 a pop, but oh so worth it. They are praised for their Creamy Polenta, but we were so full from breakfast still that we just couldn’t fit it in.

Not my pic, found on yelp. But that's it! Strawberry macaroon. Yum.

Not my pic, found on yelp. But that’s it! Strawberry macaroon. Yum.

Next stop was the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. Skip the overpriced Monterey Aquarium and go here, I’m glad we did. 100% a place to take your kids. It’s not huge, but they are science and discovery geared with lots of little activities and science-y things to check out. They have touch tanks where you can touch a shark, sea stars and even a sea cucumber (gross!!). For $10 a person you get a tour around the facility where you can see their 2 research dolphins, who are very happy to see guests, as well as their gigantic whale skeleton. I was so pleased by the whole facility that we decided to get the majority of our sovenieres here: a hand-crafted whale mug and an addition to my salt and pepper collection.

The website's pic. No flash photography is allowed.

The website’s pic. No flash photography is allowed.

 

Next, we of course had to hit up the Boardwalk. Fairly dead this time of year, and many of the stands and ride were closed. The husband was too scaredy-cat to go on the roller coaster, too bad, but we did manage to grab us some salt water taffy which is a must. Honestly, not a huge fan of the Boardwalk. Very tourist-trappy with very overpriced food items that aren’t that great. But, it’s not that far from home and has a lovely access to the beach and hey- not many other places sell deep fried twinkies, so there is that. Have to at least try it once in your life cause: ‘Murica!

Anyway. Best could-not-have-planned moment of the vacation was hearing sea lions (our tour at the Discovery Center educated us as to the difference between a seal call, and a sea lion call, so we knew 😉 ) as we walked along the shore. We looked around, and decided to take a walk along the nearby warf.

There on a little observation step, was a group of sea lions resting, along with a newborn pup and its mother! We got to watch them no less than a foot from touching them.

baby sea lion omg

baby sea lion omg

It was freaking amazing. We stayed for a good 20 mins just watching them and their little social idiosyncrasies. I have a lovely 2 minute video on my phone of them barking as a new sea lion joined from the sea, and the alpha male being the outlook all the while giving the dorkiest look I’ve ever seen on an animal. The memory will last me a lifetime. I vertical videoed it though, so ain’t no one wanna see that here I’m sure. 😉

Then it was off for more beer, naturally. Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery. We got the taster set along with some beef jerky which I thouroughly enjoyed, not theirs but the butcher’s around the corner so of course afterwards we had to pick up more for the road cause it was grass fed beef and just amazeballs (*gasp!* but I thought you were a…. I know, I know. Save it for my next blog.). 2oz of everything on their menu including a seasonal which was a milk stout brewed with clear hints of Earl Grey Tea. Best IPA I have ever had, so smooth. Actually, everything was yummy. Organic micro brewed beer, no brainer. Can I live here yet?

vacation beer

I was too antsy to try all the beers and forgot to take a pic before I drank half of them. 😛 $9 for that whole thing though, not bad.

Unfortunately, it was coming time to head home, so we decided to go small for dinner and went to Planet Fresh for some burritos. Tiny place, huge burritos. To me, wasn’t the best in the world but for the price you got a helluva lot of food. Plus, fresh salsa bar. Online reviews says the place was better during its former ownership and that they had horchata then… so sad face about that. Still decent though, and tons of options from the tortilla, to the flavor of the meat (and yes, they had tofu too! I chose steak which wasn’t comparable to Chipotle, tbh. )

vacation burrito

Across the street from this spot was a quaint comic book shop, filled with all sorts of things the geek and nerd would adore for that perfect little niche Christmas gift. I had to resist buying their Nightmare Before Christmas salt and pepper shakers for my collection, but I will for sure be making the trek down there when the holidays roll around.

For desert before the drive home was Penny’s Ice Creamery, also right down the street from Planet Fresh. Local, sustainable, in season ingredients make for some amazing from scratch ice cream flavors. If you’re ever in Santa Cruz, at least pop in to sample a couple flavors, I can guarantee you’ll end up staying for a scoop in their fresh made waffle cones.

And that’s our trip! Hope it makes for a good guide for anyone looking to go into the area. If you have any suggestions for our next stops to Santa Cruz or Monterey, please leave a comment!

Thanks for reading!

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