In 2005 I sold my house, put everything I owned in storage and used the equity from the house to take six months out and travel. I visited lots of places along the way and I'm sure you'll hear a few stories from that year if you keep reading this blog for long enough. This one is from California. I stayed with my cousin for a while near LA and during that time, I decided to hire a car and drive the coastal route up to San Francisco. The first day of the drive was fairly uneventful and I stopped for the night in a little hostel in San Luis Obispo. In the morning I got chatting to Ann from Toronto who was staying in my room and ended up offering her a lift as far as Monterey. We set off, stopping briefly in Cambria so she could drop her bag at a friend's house and travel a bit lighter for a few days. Cambria was a nice little town with a lovely English Tea Shop where I stopped to pick up a few supplies - I was finding the American approach to tea generally wasn't working for me so it was nice to get some decent stuff. The drive up the California coast is spectacular and we had plenty of stops along the way (I'd recommend a stop in Pfeiffer Big Sur to anyone travelling the same route) before finally arriving in Monterey. We arrived quite late in the evening and the next day, Ann decided to continue on her travels. We didn't stay in touch but we'd had a nice day together so I hope she's doing well wherever she is.
I decided to stay in Monterey and extra night and spent my day walking by the harbour, visiting a few shops and generally having a good look around. The harbour seals were rather loud and you couldn't miss them. They spend their days sitting around on the rocks with groups of tourists taking photos of them through the gates. They were fascinating and I spent a long time that day just sitting by the harbour watching them.
The next day I drove on to San Francisco and I'm sure anyone who's been there will agree, that's a lovely city. I met Yasser there who was visiting from Sydney for a job interview in LA and had decided to take a few days to see San Francisco when he was in the area. We met up again a couple of months later when I got as far as Australia. He got the job and is now living in the US and, if his facebook pictures are anything to go by, he appears to be having lots of fun. Anyway, we went out for a few drinks that night then went our separate ways for the time being. I only stayed in the city for one night then spent the day in Muir Woods before heading south again to begin my return journey.
A common question people ask you after travelling is "what was your favourite place?" It's a hard question to answer as I came home with hundreds of favourite places, all of which I loved for different reasons. But this place in Montara was, without a doubt, my favourite hostel. The building in the middle of this picture is where my room was and, it being low season, I ended up having the room to myself. In the evening I watched the sun set over the ocean. It was such a peaceful place and I am absolutely certain that if I'd chosen to stop there a couple of nights earlier, I'd probably never have made it as far as San Francisco on that trip. In the morning, I could lie in bed and look out to sea without even lifting my head. To this day, I have no idea how I managed to drag myself out of bed and drive back to LA but I had a flight to catch the next day so that's exactly what I did. I'll go back there one day though.