Having been in the Bay Area for over a year now, I’d been wanting to make a trip to Monterey to visit the much fabled aquarium [official site]. I’d already missed seeing it during my return to Seattle from a surprise (and totally last minute) road trip to Irvine in November, 2007.
Appa and Amma were game to get out of the house for a bit, and Appa particularly was interested in the aquarium. So, we figured we’d get out of the house say 10ish. But, as it turned out, it was closer to 1:30 by the time we were actually able to get out – actually pulling the trigger on the trip, coupled with brunch (oatmeal, yum!) were the main reasons for the delay.
Monterey is a 100 miles from Fremont. Midway to our destination, I realized we should’ve taken the scenic route. So, I took a detour via SR-152W to get us there and soon we were on the famous Highway 1. Driving through the hills, looking down on the valley, we finally ended up right along the coast overlooking a multi-colored sea. Colors ranged from deep blue, green, ramar blue/green, nearly black to almost white in some places.
It was 4 pm by the time we got to Monterey and the weather didn’t quite hold up when we got there. It was overcast and threatening to rain. Later, when I talked to Rajat, he mentioned that that seemed to be the default climate for Monterey. So, we stopped for to grab some chow at a Mexican restaurant on the way down to the beach and aquarium (which is right on the waterfront). The hostess was nice enough to warn us to stay away from the rice, since they use a chicken base to cook it. Turns out she too was vegetarian – a cute Caucasian vegetarian, not that common 😉 . After wolfing down some flutas and fajitas, it was off to the beach. Beach first, since it was already cold and we didn’t want to wait till later when it would get even colder.
Another 30 minutes later, we were at the aquarium which certainly didn’t disappoint. Lots of exhibits and most with great presentations and very good lighting. And there was the typical nuisance of folks using camera flashes when there were clear signs that flash photography was prohibited in particular sections. Oh well, some never learn. For me, the highlight of the trip was the jellyfish exhibit – mostly coz I was able to get some decent photos of them. Most of the exhibits couldn’t be photographed well, due to low light conditions prevalent in the aquarium. Unfortunately, I wound up dropping my off-camera flash shoe-cable. Ouch! That was a costly loss. Oh well! Live and learn. Next time, don’t stuff the camera bag. While we spent a couple of hours at the aquarium, it’s easily possible to spend about 1/2 a day there. One thing we did miss out on was the shark IMAX 3D movie (not part of the aquarium, but on Cannery Row itself). Overall, the aquarium was certainly worth seeing. On the way back, we were comparing to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago – that one is certainly waaaaaaay bigger and has more exhibits and you could spend an entire day there, but the one in Monterey is nothing to turn your nose up at – it’s very, very solid. Even nicer is that it’s just a couple of hours away. 🙂
Post visit, we stopped by a Ghirardelli store for a Banana Split (Appa), a Butterscotch Hot Fudge Sundae (Amma) and some hot chocolate (me). Good stuff. Yum! Got home just before 10:30pm. Good fun.