Something has to be said about the beauty of the mountains in California. Granted, the mountains along thePacific Coast Highway
are not the highest ones Iâ€™ve seen in my life â€“ Iâ€™ve been in the Alps and the Caucasus, where the peaks are towering at over 6,000 meters high and the crowns are always covered in ice and snow, sparkling blue under the sun. However, even small mountains, especially the ones facing the ocean, create an impression of something magnificently powerful and beautiful and they wonderfully break a monotony of the vast even space of the ocean.
Meanwhile the road was taking me away from the ocean and into the mountains. I have stopped in a rest area on the way, where Iâ€™ve noticed a sign that this road was in the old times a part of El Camino Real, the Kingâ€™s Highway. As the history goes, in the second part of the XVIII century there was a steady movement of the Spanish and Mexican settlers into the areas in the North, up to Sonoma County. El Presidio de San Diego was the first northern outpost, established in 1769, but in just about 10 years the number of the outposts greatly multiplied and reached out as far to the North as San Francisco, which started in 1776 as El Presidio de San Francisco and the name still remains in that area of the city. El Camino Real was a common name for the roads connecting these outposts together and I am pretty sure it looked much more exotic in those days! Nowadays itâ€™s just a normal highway winding its way sometimes alongside the ocean , sometimes through the mountains and it makes for the most part that famous â€œscenic routeâ€ attracting eager tourists like me.
The pass through the mountains ended rather quickly and for the next couple of hours I was driving through a rather dull land, mostly flat on my right with mountains in the distance to the left. It was still sunny and there were not many cars on the highway, so my drive was going rather smoothly until I came up to a sigh indicating the turn towards Monterey. I had heard about Monterey quite a lot of nice things and, though I was anxious to get to San Francisco I gathered by the mileage that I should have only a couple of hours to go to get there and made up my mind â€“ I was going to take a detour through Monterey.
It was not too far away, only about 20 minutes of drive, but by the time I got there the dusk fell and itâ€™s got quite chilly. Unfortunately for me, I think I might have missed a lot of things seeing the town in the dark. Some people were telling me one could even see the sea lions from the pier there, but I could only see the sea of lights on the boats in the marina â€“ which was a wonderful sight in itself. The pier was rather desolated, probably due to the cold and a relatively late time â€“ it was about 7pm when I got there. I walked through some shops, bought myself a fleece jacket to provide for more warmth on the road and mostly because I suspected the weather in San Francisco might be even colder as it was even more to the North.
Of course, I bought also postcards for my Aunt and Grandma (as well as some magnets for my collection â€“ could not restrain myself again!) and went to look for a nice place to have dinner and write those postcards to be able to drop them off in a post office next to the pier. I did not have to go far, when I saw the restaurant overlooking the marina with a seemingly nice setting and decided to try it out. My first impression was not wrong – the food was very good, the service good and fast, which was even more important for me as I started to feel itâ€™s getting rather late and by 7:30 pm I was able to finish my dinner and drive off from Monterey with the promise to come again for more time, so I could see more of this nice town in the daylight.