Weekend Fun: Part 1, Santa Cruz and Monterey

Mural in Monterey

It had been a few weekends since SMS and I went on a local day trip so I decided that this weekend, we would explore the South of us.  I love the area North of San Francisco, but sometime the traffic through the city can be a real pain.  High on my list is to enjoy Stinson beach again, Bodega Bay, Sonoma and, on a more extended trip, the Lost Coast and Humboldt.

Regardless, I knew that there were beautiful places to the South so I made a reservation at the NGIS on the Monterey Naval Base and we headed out on Saturday morning after my 15 mile long run with J.  By the way, our average pace was 8:34 and for the first 11 miles, we were 8:14-8:36. Yeah!  By the end of training, I’m hoping to be able to cruise at about 8:20 and with our training plan, I think that’s a  reasonable target.

SMS and I hit the road.  Our first stop was Santa Cruz since shortly after we started driving, SMS said, “We should start thinking about lunch soon.”  I’m working on my wife skills (level: advanced beginner) and I now know that this means, “We need to eat.  Preferably now.  Maybe soon but this is not preferred.”

Cafe Brasil

So, with the aid of my trusty iPhone, I found Cafe Brasil in Santa Cruz.  It’s a small, bright green building with yellow trim house that serves up delicious breakfast and lunch items.  I got an omelet- a little boring but hey, there’s always next time.  When I go back, I think I will order the beef a cavalo, which looked amazing.  In addition, the acai bowls seemed awesome, albeit huge!  SMS got a fresh cherry-orange juice, which was so refreshing.  I definitely recommend this place and it was pretty popular.  We had a short wait and then had great seats on their patio in the warm sun.

NGIS, Monterey
NGIS/Hotel Del Monte Ballroom

After lunch, we went straight to the NGIS.  It ended up being super cool because it’s in the old Del Monte Hotel, the first resort in Monterey and, possibly, the West Coast.  It was a grand building with super high, ornately carved ceilings, a huge receiving room and an enormous ballroom.  It was absolutely beautiful and such a treat to have such a cool place to stay.  I had no idea when I booked it.  The room was quite nice with high ceilings, a large window with a beautiful view and a comfortable bed.  I highly recommend this place!

Old Sardine Factory

Sunset, Picture Idea from SMS

We headed into downtown for dinner.  First, we drove to the Presidio to try and find a nice viewpoint, without much success.  We walked along the Cannery Row waterfront as the sun was setting, which was scenic.  Then, even though it was early, we went to Hula’s Island Grill, which was awesome!  We walked by it, it looked good and there was a happy hour special!  We got several appetizers to share, including a delicious ceviche.  I’m not sure if the white fish was tilapia but I didn’t want to know since I’ve been a little grossed out every since watching a report on farmed tilapia.  My main takeaway point from the report was that they live in over-crowded poop water.  Blech.  Anyway, sorry for that, but just to let you know, ignorance was bliss at Hula’s because the ceviche was good.

The menu was extensive and looked amazing.  Other people’s food also looked amazing so I think this restaurant is a pretty solid choice if you’re ever in Monterey.  We also passed a French Bistro that I would like to try in the future but at least on a Saturday, reservations are a must.

Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel.  We thought about seeing the Hunger Games movie, but I haven’t seen Mockingjay, Part I yet so that was out.  It was a really relaxing evening and we decided that the next day, we were going to head out to Pinnacles National Park for a hike!

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