Our day started off not so smoothly at the car rental company Hertz. Though we reserved two 5-seater cars beforehand, only one was reserved for us. We also faced multiple issues regarding payment, and after 2 long hours, we finally settled on a 7-seater car in which we managed to squeeze 8 people for our weekend trip.
Note: Hertz does not accept cash payment, debit card or payments using credit card chip. In addition, only registered drivers are able to make payment. In other words, if renting a car from Hertz, prepare a credit card with a magnetic stripe activated for international use.
Our first stop was the Point Lobos State Natural Reserve – Big Sur in a small package. We arrived at our destination after a 3 hour drive. Parking is 10 USD in every park but the catch is that you only have to pay once! So if you are heading to other parks, simply show your receipt and you don’t have to pay again. We went on the Cypress Grove Trail, a 0.8 miles looped trail. There we enjoyed the views of the rocky shoreline and large waves crashing to shore while listening to the sea lions barking from afar. You will also be walking through groves of ancient Cypress trees where you can take many nice photos.
We stopped next at Andrew Molera State Park. In order to enter the walking trails, we first had to cross the Big Sur River. Most of the time, people waded through if the river velocity was less than 200 cubic feet per second. While we were there, a seasonal footbridge had just been put up which we used to cross. Still, feel free to take off your shoes to cross the river as the water is refreshing and cooling. After crossing it, we took the Creamery Meadows Trail and headed straight for Andrew Molera Beach. It had a nice campsite made of sticks which you can hide from the sun in. It’ll be good to bring your flip flops along so that sand doesn’t get into your shoes! After which, we went on the Bluff Trails to see the coastal bluffs. It is a relatively steep 1.7mile trail. Here, we did not complete the loop (consisting of Bluff, Panoramic and Ridge Trails) as it totaled 8 miles and we were short of time. However, the Bluff Trails offered a stunning view of the place from above as we basked in the sunset. Thereafter, we ended our day 1 and headed to our lodging at Monterey.
Day 2 started off in Monterey’s Old Fisherman’s Wharf where we had our lunch and headed straight to the scenic 17-Mile drive. We started the drive at the Pacific Grove Gate and there is a 10.50 USD entrance fee. Allow yourself at least 3 hours for the drive as there are many spots to stop at. We stopped at the Spanish beach (lots of pebbles!), China Rock (where you can climb the rocks), Bird Rock, Seal Rock, Lone Cypress and Ghost Trees.
We left Monterey to Stanford, stopping by Santa Cruz on the way to eat at Penny’s Ice Creamery, the best ice cream in Santa Cruz. Afterwards, we had dinner at Stanford before having a little tour around the hostel area. Stanford’s environment is surprising different from that of Berkeley! There were no shops in the vicinity, and buildings were situated relatively further apart from each other. It was nice to be able to visit our friends and experience their living environment, and this made the trip all the more enriching.