We left San Francisco with the knowledge of our upcoming second stop in the following week. Thus, it was not a farewell but a hopeful goodbye. After a short taxi trip to San Francisco airport, we picked our rental car from Hertz. It was surprising to notice that Hertz office was full of customers whereas there was almost no customer for all other well-known car rental companies. They gave us a red Sonic, which is an OK compact size car. Then we started our southward journey, starting with Santa Cruz as our first stop by the ocean.
Santa Cruz is a mid size town and has a likeable atmosphere. We had a drink on one of the cafes on the -presumably- main street, Pacific Avenue. Our initial plan was to cut the stop over short in the town but the map we are given by the local tourism agency convinced us to stay a little longer. We walked to the beach, enjoyed sunshine on the pier, even visited a colony of sea lions.
After Santa Cruz, our next scheduled stop was Monterey. In between these two cities we drove on US Route 1, facing south. For those who enjoy driving slowly on curved highways by the sea, US Route 1 is the very definition of such driving experience. It is the 655 mile (1055 km) long Pacific coastline highway that goes all the way from Mendocino County North California to Ocean County South California. At Monterey we had a late lunch with fish & chips. The food or the place was not great but decent. Given the absence of many options, I would still recommend this place to passing by tourist.
Right after Monterey, there lies Big Sur, with all its majesty. Big Sur is the name given to an especially scenic and sparsely populated part of US Route 1. It is beautiful, no doubt about it. There were many parking spots by the road that allow the travellers to stop by and take pictures.
We saw many camping sites along the road. They were so attractive that we understood that this was not our last trip on this route. We would definitely like to come back and camp. The route was also a prime opportunity for us to use the GoPro camera, mounted on the car. Here is a compilation of the footage we have collected during our Big Sur adventure.
The fact that the road has so many curves and the view is so mesmerising, our average speed was around 25-30 miles per hour. As a result, 120+ miles journey from Monterey to Morro Bay took close to 4 hours including stops. It was after dark when we arrived our motel in Morro Bay. Apparently the motel was on some kind of a merchant watch list of my bank, as a result all my credit cards were declined. I had to call customer services to convince them that it is me, not some fraudster, who is trying to pay for the room. A useful tip for international travellers: Do call your bank in advance and let them which country you will be visiting and between which dates. This way you can avoid the less enjoyable parts of the holiday.
We went for a walk in the seaside road of the town. We saw few promising art galleries but all were closed in the evening. We knew that there was a big rock, somewhere in the bay, that gives the town its name but we could not see it. For this, we had to wait until the morning.
To read more on our California trip, please visit: California Road Trip of 2014