A Rocky Start Leads to a Great First Day (San Francisco Recap Part 1)

Hello everyone! I’d like to wish you all a happy Friday with Part 1 of the San Francisco recap.
So first of all, I must admit: I think I liked San Francisco (and the general Northern California ~vibe~) better than Los Angeles! Even though Los Angeles would be the better of the two to pursue one of my passions (acting), I feel like my personality is much more fitting to San Francisco. Of course, it does help that before we went up to San Francisco, we also explored two seaside towns called Monterey and Carmel…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Table of Contents

Background Info

For this trip, I actually traveled with none other than my parents! The reason for the trip came about in a very sweet way, and we were originally set to go to Napa and San Francisco. Since my parents had been to both Napa and San Francisco multiple times while I was away at school, they decided to plan a trip that would introduce me to both areas.

Obviously, with the timing, Napa was not an option. And with that being said, I would like to extend my condolences to those who were affected by the wildfires. I hope that they are able to recover and rebuild as soon as possible.

Since Napa was no longer part of the itinerary, we decided to stay in an area called Monterey for the first night instead. This turned out to be a wonderful alternative, as Monterey is a quiet, peaceful, and charming seaside town with its very own Fisherman’s Wharf, where plenty of restaurants offered samples of their clam chowders – all claiming to be the best! We also explored a bit of Carmel-by-the-Sea and found a winery in the area. But, again, there I go getting ahead of myself! Before I tell you about the good, let’s go back to the night before our first day in California: when my parents and I encountered a flight delay and some woefully underwhelming food…

Getting to Cali

Our evening started off without any bumps, and we got to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Of course, none of us had thought of double-checking the flight status. Lo and behold, the flight was delayed to nearly 10pm! So, we wouldn’t be getting into San Francisco until nearly midnight at this point…and, did I mention that the plan was to drive down to Monterey once we landed, which would be a 2-hour drive? No? Well, that was the plan! Yay.

Since there was no choice but to kill some time before our flight, we decided to find a place to sit down and eat dinner. Sidenote: the airport unfortunately did not have many of options. The restaurant we finally settled on seemed promising enough – alas, it was not meant to be! We all agreed that it was one of the worst restaurant meals we had ever had (and as a result, I won’t be naming it).

I ordered a “Greek Salad Flatbread”, which seemed like it would hit all of my cravings at the moment: carbs, leafy greens, olives, mozzarella, and feta, in no particular order. But, oh my goodness…when this flatbread arrived, I was heavily dismayed to discover that their version of a Greek Salad Flatbread was taken quite literally. My flatbread arrived with a sad, congealed-looking cheese mixture (note: not pure mozzarella, and yes, this makes a difference to me!) topped with all of the typical fixings of a Greek salad. Literally, just “topped”. Nothing was baked into the flatbread – as I had expected – and to add insult to this injury, they didn’t even use Greek dressing! Also, who puts (a ridiculous amount of) dressing on a flatbread anyway?! If I had realized they would take the name so literally, I surely would have ordered the dressing on the side! Especially if I’d known that it wouldn’t even be Greek salad dressing! I don’t know what it actually was, but the best thing I can liken it to is a weird Ranch flavor with a bad aftertaste. YUCK. Sadly, none of us were impressed in the slightest with our meals – and they burned our tater tots. Yes, even our tater tots were done wrong. It had to be uphill from here, right?

Well…not quite yet. When we arrived at our gate after over-paying for that underwhelming meal, we realized that the flight had been delayed further, about 30 minutes. Our biggest concern at this point was the flight simply getting canceled – but thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Yay for small wins! Once we boarded the flight, we all tried to get some sleep to prepare for the drive down to Monterey once we landed. My mom lucked out with a window seat (and her trusty neck pillow) and slept for most of the flight. My dad and I weren’t so fortunate. Needless to say, my mom took the first driving shift once we were on our way to Monterey, and I was fast asleep shortly after we got into the car. I barely remember getting settled into the hotel because we were all so exhausted, and it was nearly 3am at that point.

Our First Day in Monterey

The next morning, we decided to make it a leisurely day – in contrast with the night before – and explore Monterey and Carmel. After grabbing a quick breakfast and coffee at Starbucks (it’s no smoothie bowl, but it got the job done) we discussed whether we would want to do a boat ride on Monterey Bay that afternoon or the next morning – which then led to researching places to take a boat ride, which then led us to just head over to the aforementioned Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey and check out the boating place ourselves. But once we arrived, we ultimately decided to explore a little bit as well.

I must say, I think I have a soft spot for seaside towns now, because something about the pier seemed inexplicably charming to me. From the various restaurants and vendors touting their delicacies (honestly, all of their clam chowders were pretty good), to the smell of the slightly salty air, to the sound of sea lions barking from the nearby rocks, the entire experience left me wanting to spend more and more time in the area! Monterey is a place I would definitely consider living in one day, later in life.

Carmel by the Sea

After a little time in Monterey, we drove into the Carmel area to see some of the countryside and visit a winery that we had found online earlier that day. I was very excited, not only because we were going to a California winery after all, but because this winery looked like something out of a fairytale. It’s called Folktale Winery, and it was incredibly packed that afternoon! With good reason…the wine selection was lovely, and the food choices were splendid as well. We all decided to share an artisan charcuterie and cheese plate – featuring some house cured olives, saffron apricots, caper berries, and sherried dates. All in all, just enough for the tasting without spoiling our dinner appetites.

Following our tasting, we explored some of the vineyards very briefly before making our way back to Monterey for dinner. Unfortunately, since all of the tours were already booked, we didn’t get to see the entire property. But, at least we got to see a little bit, and that’s what counts.

Delicious Dinner on the Wharf

For dinner, we decided on one of the restaurants in Fisherman’s Wharf, called The Crab House. Being a family of seafood lovers, the name alone was enough to entice us to consider the restaurant. However, it was the main course that really made the decision for us: a fresh salmon and crab Wellington! Served with simple sides – jasmine rice and green beans – it was so flavorful and easily became my favorite dish that day.

Our evening wrapped up with a visit to the candy shop toward the end of the Wharf. It seemed promising when we walked in…before we realized that all of the candied apples and chocolate-covered fruits were on the countertop, right where both customers and workers were speaking – and possibly (likely) spitting! The horror! If you know me and/or my family, then you know that we are very averse to unhygienic or “germy” conditions. So, we were dismayed to see so many compromised goodies that were no longer options (for us). On the bright side, we got a few bags of the delicious sea salt-caramel taffy that they had for sale – individually wrapped, thank goodness.

Overall, we had a very pleasant first day in Monterey and Carmel, and I actually wish that we could have stayed longer! Needless to say, it’s an area of California that I’ll be visiting again before too long.
Well, that’s it for Part 1 of my San Francisco recap! Ironic, considering our first day wasn’t even in the city. But, fear not: next week I’ll be detailing some of our activities in the big city. Until then, have a fun and safe weekend – oh, and please drop your worst restaurant experience in the comments to make me feel better!!

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