Travel Diary: Monterey

Just prior to the trip to Austin, I went to Monterey, California, to attend Internet Librarian 2011. The conference was great, as you may have surmised from the copious session notes posted to this very blog. I didn’t get to see much of the town at all (I’ll have more vacation time available next time around), but here’s a recap anyway.

Slept at: There are two hotels attached to the convention center, and I stayed at the Monterey Marriott. The room was pretty standard, but it was in excellent shape. My room had a view of the pool courtyard and the hills beyond the hotel, and while the balcony was super narrow, it was there and could let in the breeze. I especially appreciated the amount of counter space in the bathroom, as it left plenty of room for myself and my aunt, who joined me for a couple of nights, to set out all our various stuff. The staff was unfailingly helpful and friendly, and I was especially impressed by how well the front desk staff communicated with one another. There was a snafu with the payment for my room (a check should have been sent ahead of me and was not). The staff was great about double-checking things and following up with me later, and they also left great notes for one another on my account. Also, there’s quite like watching a good-looking man run to open the door for you, even if you’re paying him to do it. I’m sure I’ve stayed at a Marriott before, but this was a really great experience, and an excellent first stay after having signed up for their rewards program.

Ate at:

I flew into San Francisco and picked up a rental car to drive down to Monterey. I made a pit stop at Standford to pick up a friend for dinner, and we went to a Thai restaurant in Mountain View. Krung Thai turned out to quite yummy and really hit the spot after a day spent flying across the country.

The next day the conference started up. I somehow missed the memo about the continental breakfast before the opening keynote, so I went across the street to Cafe Lumiere, where I had a lovely breakfast of steel cut oats with fresh fruit, and a latte. There was a large table reserved for a group of retired men that slowly grew as I was there. I went back a couple of days later and had a scone, which was pretty good. I saw some reviews that said the staff has an attitude problem, but I think it depends on your perspective. Sure, they were less friendly than other places I went, but that doesn’t bug me. In addition to yummy breakfast, they have free wifi and also apparently good beer on tap.

Monday for lunch I thought I’d try to move the car into an alternate, cheaper, parking facility, which turned out not to work out so well for me. But, it did mean that I took the car out of valet, and so I drove to Compagno’s for lunch, at the recommendation of my friend Tracie. They’re a small deli and corner store frequented by the military folks from the Defense Language Institute. They had a big selection of yummy sounding subs, and I had the corned beef. Delicious. Be aware that it’s really small, though, so you might not get a table.

I decided that for Monday evening I should probably scare up a dinner companion, and a quick post to Twitter turned up someone who not only reminded me of a dear friend, but lives in Lowell and works at a job I applied to last summer. We had a great time and enjoyed a nice meal at Peter B’s, a brewpub tucked away behind the convention center. I think I had a hamburger but it’s been a while so I can’t quite recall. I definitely had the black IPA, which was quite good. They have a nice cozy atmosphere.

Tuesday breakfast came from Jamba Juice. Not exciting, but one of the best discoveries I made on this trip was the fact that they sell steel cut oats. (This is important to me because that’s a regular breakfast item around here, and anything I can do while I’m traveling that will help keep my diet somewhat in line is a good thing.) Lunch, however, was much more interesting. I walked over to Fisherman’s Wharf and visited Crepes of Brittany, where I had what is hands down the most delicious crepe I have ever tasted. It was a buckwheat crepe with brie and caramelized onions, and the combination of flavors was just perfect. I was still a little bit hungry and so while walking around was sucked into Red’s Donuts, yum. Tuesday night I had an early dinner with my aunt at Rappa’s (site plays music), also on the wharf. Not bad.

Wednesday for lunch I met back up with my new friend from Monday night’s dinner, and the two of us and a librarian from Philadelphia went to Turtle Bay Taqueria. I had some great tacos, and even managed not to spill anything on my white shirt. Wednesday evening, my aunt and I went to Isabella’s, where I had a great shrimp scampi. They have floor-to-ceiling windows in their upstairs dining room, which is part of why we went – except we got there so early the upstairs wasn’t open yet. Oh well.

Looked at: As I mentioned, I really didn’t get to do much exploring. Aside from a walk up and down the length of the farmer’s market, and a couple of walks around the blocks closest to the hotel, I was conferencing the entire time. It sounds like I will be sent out to this conference again next year, so I hope to make a bit more of a trip of it.