Monterey and north - fun with nieces and new friends

Monterey and north - fun with nieces and new friends

After leaving San Luis Obispo by taking an afternoon Coast Starlight train again, I arrived 3 hours later at Salinas, California and immediately boarded the waiting Amtrak chartered coach into Monterey, which dropped me right at the Aquarium. (A guaranteed connection.) I stayed a couple of nights in Monterey, at the HI Hostel only a few blocks from the Aquarium. Hostel was first class: clean, comfortable beds, nice staff, good free breakfast, great kitchen and had an inviting commons area. All for around $40 a night.

HI Monterey, common room, my dorm room was around the corner in the back

HI Monterey, common room, my dorm room was around the corner in the back

One of my dorm-mates was a very nice guy in his late 20s, Ben, and we got to talking. He just had wrapped up his PhD in computer science. Before he was to start a new job in NY, he was riding his bike up from LA to Seattle over three months. We got some pizza around the corner for dinner and exchanged stories. We will see if we can meet up in NY come spring.

The hostel in Monterey is very nice in a modern facility and well located for walking to the main areas, such as the walkways along the water to look for sea otters.


Monterey is also served by a good bus system which permits trips along the shore and some good coastal hikes. You can also take a bus to nearby Carmel-by-the-Sea. Theoretically, you even could take a bus down into Big Sur, but I am not sure that would be very satisfying since you could not stop wherever you wished for photographs.

After some time on my own there, my nieces, Farrin and Mariela, drove down from Redwood City and we explored the Aquarium in Monterey together.  


The jellyfish are always a mesmerizing highlight. 


The Aquarium cafe is actually quite good, far better food than the normal museum sort of cafeteria.


The three of us eventually headed back up the coast to their place, initiating the Taco Triathlon I’ve already written about. The next day we drove north from Half Moon Bay, top down on their new Mini convertible. We stopped at Point Montara where there is a hostel at the lighthouse and went in to investigate for future trip planning.

Point Montara Lighthouse hostel

Point Montara Lighthouse hostel

This hostel has, in addition to the normal dorm rooms, several private rooms ($100 a night for a double) each with this view and with what seemed to be private access to that beach. This definitely will be a future trip.


We next spent a quiet day at their apartment, before my late evening train departed, during which they also helped me set up this blog. They have their own blog and have set up a recording studio where they do shows and interviews. They are so much more talented at this than I am. Follow them at



After the Bay area, my next leg was from San Jose to Portland, an overnight ride back on the Coast Starlight. I missed the evening dinner served onboard due to a slight delay. But there was a Whole Foods grocery close by the Amtrak station in San Jose so I picked up some ready-made dinner supplies and snacks to take onboard. 

But my main treat that evening were the few Kouign-Amann that we had picked up earlier for breakfast and then for the train. My new favorite pastry.


Next up, my own Oregon Trail north by train.



©️ 2019 D Abbott