Our first solo adventure took us down south to explore some seaside towns along Highway 1. First stop, Santa Cruz – the Blackpool of California. There weren’t as many flashing lights as the garish British town but that could have been because we managed to visit on a weekday, out of season, when none of the rides were running. But the sea lions were there and ready for a good natter.
The boardwalk was still full of life and we had a big kids afternoon playing arcade games and mini golf – I won enough tickets to get a Santa Cruz beach ball – prized possession. The fish and chips were no match to old Blighty, obviously, but it was all good tacky fun. The mini golf even came with a warning ‘You will only be able to complete this course if you can walk up 53 steps’. It was strenuous to say the least….
Onto Capitola where our British charm scored us a fancy hotel upgrade; a jacuzzi, fireplace and a balcony – lush. We walked down to the beach and tried the talked about Shadowbrook, a restaurant that you have to travel down to via cable car. I learnt the best wine in California is from 2009 when they had unusual amounts of rain – Britain should be able to produce some top notch stuff!
Now, over here ‘awesome’ is a very popular adjective but 9 times out of 10 it seldom refers to something that really inspires awe. The last time I really felt in awe of a place was walking into the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool but Monterey Bay Aquarium, the next stop on our trip, gave me goosebumps. Found on Cannery Row, the place is nothing short of spectacular. Tanks that fill walls and ceilings, mesmerising jellyfish and an ocean view that goes on forever, it is itself a cathedral to underwater wildlife. We got there in time for the Kelp Forest feeding where Dave the Diver (I’m not convinced that’s his real name) jumped amongst the sharks and schools to dish out breakfast.
Elsewhere, everything was timed and organised to perfection. The music, the lighting, the layout, it’s serene and relaxing. There were tanks that made you feel minuscule and shrimps that made you feel like a giant. I feel corny writing so passionately about the place but it really was an incredible experience, in fact it was awesome.
To finish our adventure we stayed over in Carmel, the only city in the world to have no street lights. It’s an artsy, fancy restaurant place but it’s quaint and quiet and the beach is beautiful. From there we head down to Point Lobos for the most amazing views of the Pacific so far and then to Big Sur for an exciting, winding drive and our second burrito.
Current Location: Santa Cruz, Capitola, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur
Times jumped at a tuna: 1
Miles travelled: 6223