Alright, anyone ready for 'nother mini escapade?
If you aren't , don't read on puh lease! If you are ....
I've always (still do) have a soft spot for Monterey/Carmel and that area. But prices have risen a lot in ten years. A cheapo motel can cost north of 100 a night and still be a place you would rather NOT be in. And one really has to read the YELP reviews before booking to get the true story that Expedia and the such don't reveal.
So I have a week off and I thought why not spend a few days in the Monterey/Carmel area like we did last year?
Took me probably ten hours online to sort out the good from the bad and the simply UGLY. Mind you, I have the very much added burden of having to find a place that accepts CATS !!. Some places will take a DOG but not a CAT. I supposed it can be that Cat dander can be more of a problem for more folks then Dog dander, or whatever you would call the stuff that sloughs off Dogs.
I literally spent probably ten hours with various websites identifying the handful of motels/hotels that may work. Mind you I am avoiding spending 300 a night here. Trying to keep it 300 for TWO nights.
A few properties seem to make the grade but then WHAM, their YELP reviews were truly scary. Granted you have to take YELP reviews with a large grain of salt, but still. I really just about gave up because it seemed like such a waste of valuable vacay time to just agonize over booking a place. Made it basically not worth it even leaving home.
So the wife got all pissy finally after so much research and no RESULT that i just went ahead and booked two places that seem to fit the bill.
One BUTTERFLY INN in Pacific Grove (just a stones throw from Monterey) was roughly 92 plus tax and another 25 PER DAY for my cat. And i decided to splurge a little (a LOT actually) and went for the QUAIL LODGE in Carmel at 225 a nite plus tax and 50 (per stay) for cats.
OF course right after I made the booking (checked on Travelocity and Expedia for that night and they were the same price) Wifey says "how come you didn't use Booking.com? Because they were 165 for the night rather then 225 and that was for a BETTER ROOM !!
I was like, THANKS A FRICKIN LOT, WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SOMETHING ABOUT IT SOONER?????
So motto is , ALWAYS FRICKIN CHECK ALL THE DOGGONE FRICKIN WEBSITES BEFORE MAKING YOUR BOOKING. Ok, was I shouting? DAM RIGHT I WAS>>>>>> In fact here's the hint:
use trivago.com The site automatically tells you what the major sites are charging for the hotel in question. USE TRIVAGO.COM guys and girls. Save some cash.
Ok so the start to a few days off was off to a bad start because i frickin can't stand NOT to have gotten a dang good deal and worse because I can use saving all the bucks I can save . Ok, so I wish I had enough money to just say "book the InterConti" whenever I needed to spend a few days somewhere. And doggone it , I will book that Intercontinental in Monterey one of these days!!. Reviews are good. Cept they charge 235/nite plus tax for the el cheapo room with a view of the ROAD (when they are literally right off the OCEAN) and 25/night for parking your car. Plus 100 per stay for a pet. So , pricey , yes. But its the Intercontinental after all. I should just pull up in my Ferrari and throw the keys to the valet..and beach myself at the 450/night Ocean View Junior Suite. But I guess my 12 year old Acura doesn't quite cut it and my wallet can't quite stand the pain....But still i came dang close to spending that much for the one night we spent at the Quail.
OK< enough of the $ and cents shitzle. Let's get on with the FUN. Ok by now some of you are wondering how FUN is even possible with tommy? I assure you, it is possible. Honest. Well, ok maybe not FUN in capital letters but at least fun in small letters!
Ok, so planning to take a CAT somewhere just seems to be a lot of work. Don't forget the bowls, his food, his teeth cleaning gel, his scratching post, his harness, his lead, his sandbox, his pooperscooper and of course don't forget to take him period.
I managed to get everything , but forgot the dang scratching post ! Which is NOT a good thing if you know what I mean ! IF you want to keep his claws off scratching anything in the hotel room that is. Luckily he kept his claws to himself this trip.
So everyone and everything (cept the post) in the car and off we went finally at noon. Check in is at 3pm and its about a 3 hour drive to Pacific Grove from where we live. WE took the fastest way possible via i680 and 156. Trying to time the piss-stops with two adults and one cat is not easy here.
We managed to do it with only two piss-stops for us and one came right on time as his furry majesty (true to tradition) let out a couple of huge logs in the cat box minutes before an interchange (thank God, not after). Let me tell you. CAT shit really , truly stinks in an enclosed space of a car. And he did this TWICE not once on the way there. Ssssssh.
Oh, be sure to notify the hotel/motel that you are bringing a CAT because otherwise there could be problems.
Because....right after we arrived at the BUTTERFLY INN , we found out they only took DOGS and not CATS. Doggone it ! Well I reminded them that I had called when I made the booking the day before and enquired about the cost of bringing my CAT. And I had repeatedly mentioned that I have a CAT and not a DOG.
So they let us stay.
Place was quite nice really. GAs fired fireplace, high ceiling, big room. Unheated pool and a jacuzzi a short walk. We didn't use it though. Turns out it was called Butterfly Inn because Low and Behold. Pacific Grove is called Butterfly Town because apparently in October a swarm of Monarch butterflies actually make a tiny grove of trees their home when they fly in from Mexico? And that small swath of land was right on the premises of the Butterfly Inn ?
We got situated and left the cat in the room and went to eat dinner at the Passion Fish
Seemed like it was THE place to go in Pacific Grove. Place had been in business for 18 plus years we were told. Nice looking place. Looks rich, and is not cheap. But they really seemed to specialize in wine. The wine list was a BOOK. While the food menu was a single sheet of paper.
And the descriptions they gave on the food items all seem to be tantalizing. I ordered the Duck Confit. Which apparently takes a whole day to make or something. And the waitress kept on about how it was one of their crowd favorites. And tammy was adventurous and went for the Sturgeon. Supposedly the steak of seafood.
I hurriedly read on my iphone what the heck Duck Confit was??!! And it said something about it being quite a specialty and blah blah and blah blow. But one thing I remembered was that it said that it can keep for up to five days and all one had to do was pop it back in the oven for a quick browning of the skin before serving.
And unfortunately that was how MY Duck Confit tasted like . LIke it was five days old and just popped back in the oven to brown the skin a bit. Sad I know. Especially at those prices.
Honestly the duck that I had in San Francisco at Irving Street at some hole in the wall duck place for 7.50 was way better !!
Then I noticed she had not really touched her fish. So i took a bite to see what the story was. OMG !!! I did read that sturgeon can be "earthy" but this fish tasted absolutely putrid !! I honestly had to taste it a few more times (but i didnt swallow) just to see if maybe I was simply uneducated about the fish ?? But really I came to the conclusion that it was absolutely inedible. And HORRID actually.
Luckily the fish was taken off the bill as it should be. I don't need to spend 26 bucks plus tips and tax for putrid fish. Ok, maybe I truly am the country bumpkin that I probably am, but if this is the taste of 26 dollar Sturgeon? You can keep it !
Regrettably I am NOT going to recommend the Passion Fish restaurant. I am going to call it the POISON FISH from now on.
Back to the room....we just chilled and watched
Pitch Perfect on tv
It was about singing and not bad a flick really. Wife and I may pop over and see Pitch Perfect 2 tomorrow , which is now showing at the theaters.
However, all that singing inspired our cat to sing his version of Madame Butterfly. And his command performance only started minutes after 3 am, in the bathroom, with its high ceilings. Which was perfect for proper sound augmentation.
Well luckily I missed most of this concert as I had finally fallen asleep by 2 am, only awaking on occasion to hear the wife and the cat conversing. The wife, who had been asleep since 11 was awaken by this melodious undertaking and attempted to silence Caruso plenty of times, with not much luck.
We took El Maestro for a walk in the morning (luckily after his concert ended at 5 am, him and wife took a snooze until about 9) we then checked out and merrily made our way along the beach. IT is a very nice stretch of ocean from Monterey to just a stone's throw of Carmel. Very nice indeed. Catso didn't really give a rat's ass though. He was not the ocean loving cat that one may have thought he was.
On one of the stops he dropped a log among some flowers along the walkway on the beach. Just fitting the occasion it seems because we saw on the news later that evening that apparently some sewage line had broken and literally godzillion gallons of raw toilet water had emptied into that stretch of ocean just that morning, prompting an alert from the authorities to avoid the waters ! So the cat was right after all.
Had to kill time until the 3 pm check in at the Quail so we went to the white sands of Carmel beach. Brought the cat down to the water's edge like we did last year. And like we did last year, he bolted back up the hill. He does not DO sand. Thank you very much. Poor thing was all hot and panting by the time he got his large ass up the slope. It was almost cat abuse. We managed to get him cooled off by taking him to the shops downtown. Now this cat is a shopper. He loves to walk among the stores. Problem is that he insists on going INTO each store that he passes. Luckily a 20 pound cat on a leash is quite a hit among the people on the street and the store owners there in Carmel. They are used to people bringing their dogs into the stores there. I don't think anyone has ever brought a cat because he drew a LOT of attention everywhere we went ! So we all had a bit of fun.
Checked into the hotel right on time And , yes a 300 dollar a night room is very different from a 100 dollar a night room ! And the cat knows this because he was right at home. He seemed chill at the surroundings very quickly. Went to gobble down food and checked out every inch of the room, the toilet ,jumped on the desks and tables and basically inspected every inch of the place. One would think he was searching for hidden microphones or something.
The Quail Lodge, for your 50 per stay pet fee gave us a very nice PET PACK. Inside was a plush toy (it was all geared for Dogs, mind you, i doubt many cats had been there) , a flashlight with a built in roll of doggie bags, a blanket and a foldable cloth water bowl !! Very nice really. Considering the Butterfly charges you 25 a night and gives you NOTHING for your pet.
The Quail also provides a list of Dog Friendly restaurants in Carmel where you can sit outdoors and have a bite. It is illegal for dogs (or cats) to be inside a restaurant in California but they can be OUTSIDE if the establishment approves.
The Quail lodge has a set of rules though . Since it has a golf course attached to the hotel, pets must not be allowed on the course, or at the pool or at the restaurants (cept outside on the outside dining area). And pets must NEVER be allowed to be alone in the rooms at ANY TIME.
We managed to get the managers approval to allow our cat to be alone by himself in the room while we went to dinner . Because obviously we intended to go to a place that didn't allow pets and had no outdoor seating. So a PASS was given to our CAT. Yay !
The manager noted that BARKING is not allowed in the rooms at ANY TIME. Luckily this was not going to be a problem with our cat, but we did worry about his opera singing at 3 am .
Which , luckily , possibly because he LIKED this hotel room and this hotel (after a walk through the grounds) he cancelled plans for a concert for the evening. Whew. Or maybe Caruso was tired out by all the walking he did during the day. We will refrain from barking ourselves, of course.
We had a very enjoyable stay there. Even had a bit of a swim in their heated pool. Honestly the heated pool could have been a tad warmer really, but at least it was swimmable. Just not entirely comfortable. Note to self. Cat likes expensive hotels !
Wife being a trainee foodie read some reviews and decided that a Thai restaurant in Pacific Grove was the place for dinner.
Of course the fact that it was 15 miles away had no relevance to her. WE got there too early though at 4 pm and the place was not opening until 5 pm.
So we had to find somewhere to sit for a bit. Found a restaurant /cafe across the street.
Ended up sharing a fried calamari with fries and an iced tea for her and a hot coffee for me to wash it down with.
Was not bad. Parted with 27 dollars and then headed for the Thai place. But by now our appetites were partly gone.
Ordered chicken satay. A bowl of rice to share , a stirred seafood combo dish and some Thai chicken soup.
Equally unimpressive place as the earlier place. Not bad, not good. Fifty bucks escaped the wallet and we drove back to the ranch.
At 10 pm her Majesty declared herself hungry. GREAT. We didn't even finish half the food at the Thai place as we were stuffed and now shes hungry? Well the Quail lodge doesn't have room service. And we are 15 miles from Monterey (where there is a Denny's) and Carmel, only five miles away is pretty much shutting up for the night. We couldn't even order Domino's PIzza because their closest place was in Pacific Grove and they don't deliver to our hotel as it was deemed out of their orbit.
So we just (well she did, not me) went to bed hungry.
Breakfast was taken at 630 am the next day as a result. It was not bad. Just cereal and some fruit. Various juices were available. Quite decent actually. Not great but decent.
Checked out after a snooze and went to one of the restaurants on the list (the doggie friendly list of Carmel restaurants) called NICO'S
And our kitty was nearly as well behaved as a DOG while seated on the floor in the OUTSIDE dining area. The weather was nice and there were two other couples there.
I had a burger which was excellent. Really been awhile since I had such a good burger. Simple but good.
Things were a bit more complex for her. She likes the idea of crab ravioli, but she doesn't like the pesto and clam sauce that it usually comes with. So we asked that it come in bolognaise sauce. At the mention of the such, the waiter thought we were obviously out of touch but complied.
She liked it, the meal, but thought her tea was just ok. My coffee was excellent by contrast !
Another fifty bucks escaped the wallet and we finally embarked upon our journey home.
We took the long way home via highway 1 (which is one of the best drives in the USA) and later got stuck in the SF to East Bay rush hour. It was a crawl across the Richmond bridge , which we took to avoid the Bay Bridge jam. So 3 hour one way became nearly a 6 hour butt hurt.
But surprise surprise, our hairy little guy has finally gotten his CAR WINGS> He slept for most of the way and did NOT even lay one log for us for the entire time. WOW.
That means we can do a LAKE TAHOE stint next time !
Hope you have had fun reading about our little sojourn .
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