We celebrated my birthday a little later this year with a weekend getaway to Monterey Bay. Growing up in the Bay Area I’ve taken many day trips to Monterey to visit the aquarium, eat at Bubba Gumps and then grab a cookie at the Nestle Toll House bakery before going home. But now that I’m older the aquarium (sadly) is less exciting, Bubba Gumps is just another chain restaurant and, most of the time, I would rather “use” my carbs on a beer than a cookie.
Suffice to say, my relationship with Monterey has changed over the years. Mike and I have gone down a few times to ride our bikes along a path leading to Cannery Row. We also stayed at Hotel 1110* two years ago for my birthday and went on an incredible hike followed by a food crawl (our standard). This time we stayed at Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa and had a great, very grown up (so different from my trips as a kid!) weekend.
We left Friday night after work and, while listening to Adele’s new album and driving south on 101, got a flat tire. I’ve had flat tires before but never on the freeway. This was actually an awakening experience that made me realize how helpless I would have been if I wasn’t with Mike. Luckily Mike knows how to change a flat (btw, there is something oddly sexy about watching your man change a tire…….) and within a half hour we were on the road again. …Going 55mph with the spare on our last stretch of the journey.
After we dropped off our bags in the room (haven already eaten dinner at home) we headed down to the bar for a drink. Our hotel was right on the water and outside there was a fire pit with couches around it; here we sat and sipped our drinks (wine for me, a Manhattan for Mike). Sadly they turned off the fire shortly after we got there but since it wasn’t too cold we decided to stay outside chatting and listening to the waves crash. I’m a sucker for ocean views, long conversations and Mike so, the 3 combined made for an exceptional evening.
After we finished our drinks, I was hungry and everything in the hotel was closed except …room service! We went back to our room and ordered a $12 side of fries (!!!), appropriately eating them in bed in our pajamas.
On Saturday morning Mike surprised me with Manresa pumpkin bread (my favorite! so basic, I know;) for breakfast and, after sleeping in, I lazily indulged in coffee and (more) carbs (in bed). The life! After our splurge breakfast we decided to go to the gym which was AMAZING. (A sentence I never expected to write.) The Vista Blue Spa is the most indulgent place I’ve been to and I thoroughly loved every minute of it. …even working out. The spa has a small gym with big windows overlooking the ocean, a rooftop hot tub, steam room and lounge chairs to relax in, and services from pedicures to massages.
When we got there we spent a little over a hour working out/enjoying the view. We were the only ones in the gym for most of the time and it was actually a lot of fun chatting in between reps. (Plus, I got Mike to do a few sun salutations with me!) After our workout we went to change into our bathing suits and grab a quick bite to eat before our appointment for the couples bubbly package!
In between the spa and our hotel there is a cute little patio with a cafe where we grabbed a salad and wrap. It was a really nice day so we ate outside on a bench near the beach. Recently we’ve naturally fallen into a “weekatarian” lifestyle. Meaning we don’t eat meat during the week. For whatever reason I feel nauseous A LOT and I’ve found eating drastically less meat has helped with the queasiness. So, even though it was the weekend, I stuck with a meat free Cesar salad. Never the less, this was still an indulgence because of that creamy dressing and little nutritional value in the romaine but it hit the spot for a light lunch before heading back to the spa.
Our appointment wasn’t until 2 so we had about a hour and a half to enjoy the rooftop hot tub and steam room. We were also able to catch a few rays while reading for a bit. Around 1:45 we checked in for our package, that included a 45 minute bath with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries followed by a 80 minute (!) massage. We were each given sandals, a robe, a key to a locker and were lead to the male and female locker rooms/lounges. We were instructed to put our belongings in the lockers and wait in our respective lounges until an employee came and got us for our service.
The lounge was dimly lit with spa water (strawberry flavored), fruit, nuts and organic tea. It was slightly awkward for me to be just sitting in the room with other women who were all strangers and I instantly became aware of how reliant I am on my cell phone as a social crutch. But, with no Instagram or Facebook to busy my fingers, I just sat there trying to figure out the relationships between the other women waiting in the lounge. (Were they friends? Sisters? Strangers with less social anxiety than me?) After about 10 minutes someone called my name and lead me and Mike (who had easily made conversation with the other guys in the lounge) to the room where our bath was.
Forty five minutes later and we were back in our lounges waiting to be taken to the massage portion of our package. I settled in more this time and felt relaxed as a sipped my spa water and waited. A short while later we were on our way to the massages where we 100% bliss-ed out for the next 80 minutes.
We left the spa completely relaxed and ready for happy hour! There was a place with good reviews within walking distance called Chart House. We ordered drinks (more wine for me and another Manhattan for Mike) and split coconut shrimp and a trio of hummus. I joke that my blood might actually have hummus in it with the amount I consume. I #love hummus and this batch did not disappoint. There were scoops of regular, edamame and roasted red bell pepper hummus served with pita and fried plantain chips. I was a little hesitant about the plantain chips at first but they turned out to be really good with the hummus.
After getting my fix of chickpeas and tahini we took a Uber to Pacific Grove for dinner at a place called Jeninni Kitchen and Wine Bar. This place was a gem and I’m so happy we found it. Mike and I are a bit of atmosphere snobs, judging a eatery equally on the quality of the food and the ambiance of the restaurant. This place was trendy with a good selection of food and drinks. I ordered the chicken mac and cheese and Mike got a lamb burger with eggplant fries. Both dishes tasted fresh and were delicious.
After dinner we went back to the fire pit outside our hotel for a nightcap and then took a stroll down to Cannery Row (where there is already a Christmas tree up – too early!). We stopped at The C Restaurant + Bar to split a hot chocolate, which might have been a mistake because we both ended up feeling terrible after! (I should mention that we had previously been here after a bike ride and shared AMAZING appetizers so, I would still recommend this place if you’re in Monterey.)
This morning we woke up and Mike still wasn’t feeling well so we packed our things, checked out and walked to CVS for cough drops and theraflu. Having only had tea for breakfast, we were pretty hungry and stopped at Cannery Row Brewing Company for lunch but I wasn’t very impressed with the food (or possibly just wasn’t in the mood for pub style food).
Before we headed home (70 miles at 55mph on a spare!) we stopped back at the cafe for an iced latte (for me) and hot water (for theraflu for Mike). Today was another gorgeous day in Monterey and having a coffee by the ocean was the perfect ending to the weekend. There really is something about being near the ocean, isn’t there?
*You can read all about this stay on my old blog here.