At a formative time in my life, I read John Steinbeck’s novella Cannery Row. I really loved this book, but it might have made me a bit of a wino. I should probably explain. But first, let me note that this is really a travel post about Monterey and its wharf area. Monterey surely is on the tourist map, but it’s not over the top. It has its share of history, and is a superb place to eat fresh seafood. In addition, the waterfront offers some pretty good photo opportunities. Let’s face it, photography is always better near water.
In our early twenties, a couple of friends and I read Cannery Row. W were caught up by the atmosphere masterfully created by Steinbeck. The desperation, the hard days of manual labor followed by evenings which featured friends reflecting on the meaning of it all…all over jugs of cheap red wine. It struck a chord with us, since this is the sort of life we were living as very young men in Alaska. On one occasion we found ourselves at Seward’s harbor, where the atmosphere is similar enough to the Cannery Row of Steinbeck. A jug of wine and hijinks on an icy evening were the result. Another time the Homer Spit was the site of our debauchery (I mean fun!).
Monterey is located south of San Francisco on the California Coast. It’s fishing harbor is sandwiched between two wharfs, or piers. The western pier, called Fisherman’s Wharf, is for tourists, while the eastern one is the original “Cannery Row”. This one’s appearance is definitely more rough and ready than the other, and fresh seafood can be purchased by the public. You’ll find few people on the commercial wharf, while Fisherman’s Wharf is a tourist promenade lined with shops and restaurants. The commercial wharf sits far out in the harbor and offers nice simple photos. I find it refreshing that the actual cannery row is still intact and in no way prettied-up for tourists.
Fisherman’s Wharf is loaded with seafood restaurants, along with a few gift shops and a bar or two. It’s a fairly short walk to the end. Most restaurants station someone outside to offer free samples. When the light is good, it is an excellent place for a photo walk, followed by oyster shooters or fresh steamed crab. You can walk between the two piers in short time, and there is a parking area between (or park in the nearby downtown).
Downtown Monterey is also a nice, walkable place. All in all I liked this place much better than nearby Carmel by the Sea (which is more crowded and upscale). True, Carmel has Clint Eastwood as a resident, but that’s one of its few advantages.
The famous Monterey Bay Aquarium is nearby, but I did not visit this time. It’s just too popular a place to visit during the week before New Years, so I’ll have to see that some other time.
That’s all for now. If you are interested in any of the photos on my site, don’t hesitate to click on one and check out my website. The photos will be there very soon, but contact me if you want immediate gratification. Please don’t try to download these copyrighted images . These versions are really too small in file size to be of much use anyway. Thanks very much for your cooperation and interest. And Happy New Year!!!