Day 12 - Big Whales and little fishies...

Trip Start Sep 16, 2010
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Trip End Oct 01, 2010


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Where I stayed

Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The alarm goes off at 7am – it’s getting harder and harder to raise ourselves out of bed each morning – and we grab a light breakfast at the hotel before heading off to Fisherman’s Wharf once more. This time we’re off to see some whales! We pick up our boarding passes, and at 9am we’re ready to set sail…We’re told that whales have been a bit thin on the ground the last couple of days, and we hope that we’re going to be lucky today. The ocean is rough – very rough – and it’s not long before the first passenger is hanging over the back of the boat, expelling anything they may have eaten for breakfast. Once one person starts – that’s it…there’s a queue of people vomiting.

Mr Fletche feels a little nauseous himself, and goes to join the ranks at the rear of the boat, but stops short of actually being sick. I surprise myself by discovering I actually have decent sea legs, and feel hale and hearty for the duration of the trip.

Of course, we haven’t paid our money to just watch people vomit, andluckily the ocean is kind to us today. We see seals & sealions, sea otters, lots of sea birds… and finally about an hour after we set sail, we are accompanied by three species of dolphin. And then, we’re told to keep our eyes peeled as a group of three humpback whales are approaching.

It’s amazing to see these magnificent creatures, and we’re all excited – apart from those people who are wishing they hadn’t spent circa $45 to stare at the ocean at the back of the boat… The piece de resistance of the trip – we spy two blue whales. Considering their size, they are extremely difficult to spot, and we get used to scanning the ocean for their blowholes, hoping this is a sign they’re about to emerge.

I take lots and lots of photos – unfortunately most of them show no indication of the fantastic sight we’re seeing, and I know the conversations I’ll have with the folks back home: “You see that little speck there? No? Right there… See it? No? Well, that’s a whale that is!”

After a successful morning’s whale-watching, we disembark at 1:15pm, and head back to change out of our sea-faring gear… it was definitely a bit chilly out on the ocean, and I was extremely glad of my newly purchased San Francisco hoodie… I had pre-booked aquarium tickets online, so we decided to be lazy and drive down to Cannery Row for the aquarium and to get some lunch! We parked at what I assume is the main Cannery Row car park for $5, and had a bit of a wander around.

We fancied something quick and easy for lunch and popped into Sly McFly’s. Lunch was good, nothing spectacular but what can you do with a Tuna Sandwich? Two sandwiches, one soda, one Bud Light - $24.

We get to the aquarium at 3:15pm, just in time for the sea otter feeding at 3:30pm. Now, I’ll be quite honest – I don’t particularly get excited by aquariums… it’s just a bunch of fish right? And judging by our “Sealife Centres” back home, once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

But I have to confess that I loved this place. And if my feet still weren’t so sore from all the walking in Yosemite & San Francisco – and the air conditioning hadn’t been cranked up to “icicle” mode - I could have spent hours and hours in here. The jellyfish and the seahorse exhibition in particular were fascinating – and so relaxing!

Everything was so hands-on (not everything obviously… plunging your hand into a shark tank for example wouldn’t be a good idea) and if I had been a kid taken on a school trip here when I was young, I would probably be a marine biologist by now, and not fannying around doing whatever it is I do now…

We leave at around 5:30pm, and remember that something caught my eye earlier…

One of my “must-do” things in San Francisco was an ice-cream sundae at Ghirardelli’s. But every time we walked past, the queue was snaking out of the door and we’d end up at Ben & Jerry’s instead. So I never got my Ghirardelli ice-cream sundae… So imagine my surprise when I spotted a Ghirardelli’s Ice Cream parlour right here in Monterey. With no queue. In fact, it was practically empty!

What to have? Everything looks so lush; I opt for the strawberry hot fudge sundae and Mr Fletche has the cookie bottom sundae. At $22 (including two giant sodas) it’s not a particularly cheap indulgence but you know what? It was worth every single penny (or cent). Our giant chocolate apples back in the fridge at the Hotel Pacific have once more been forgotten…

We drive back to the hotel to have a rest after our chocolate and ice-cream rush. At about 7:45pm – still full from our yummy sundaes – we return downtown to check out a second British pub… The Britannia Arms.If only we had a third night we could have visited the London Bridge and completed the hat-trick…

We liked this pub a lot and wished we weren’t so full from gorging ourselves at Ghirardelli’s so we could have tried some of their “traditional pub grub”… We over-indulged slightly in pints of Strongbow Cider and Bombardier, whilst trying to make sense of the SF Giants game on the TV (you know what? I think I almost understood the rules by the time I flew home…).

We knew the owner of the pub was British, so we asked our waitress which “English soccer team” he supported… We just knew that as Birmingham City supporters, the answer would be our arch rivals Aston Villa… We vowed to not give any more money to a Villa fan (whilst ordering another pint…)

Mr Fletche manages to drag me out before the karaoke commences, reminding me that we have another long drive ahead of us tomorrow. I am so gutted that we don’t have another day to spend here in Monterey – there’s so much we haven’t done, and once more, I’m compiling a mental “When I come back…” list…
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