Oh how I wish I could bear being on a boat in the sea! I get seasick even in a kayak on a bay. I really, really want to go whale watching. I am looking into it for my next visit to Monterey Bay.
You can see dolphins and whales year round in Monterey Bay. From April 1 to December 14 you will likely see the most variety of species including humpback and blue whales, maybe even orcas. In the winter you will see grey whales.
TripAdvisor suggests 5 star rated Discovery Whale Watch. They advertise a 3 hour cruise for $42 for an adult and a 4 hour cruise for $48.
My friend Brie went out on the bay with Monterey Bay Whale Watch (with her dog!). She loved it, but her dog did not. Their rates are comparable with other cruises. They also offer 8 hour cruises. Given the likelihood I will get sick, I am looking for the most whales in the shortest time!
Spying on Whales by Nick Pyenson is highly recommended for anyone who loves the ocean or whales. I’ve been reading it while visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium every day. It explains the surprising evolution of whales and how they may have become gigantic in size.
Of course you cannot visit the aquarium on Cannery Row, or read the last section of Pyenson’s book without wrestling with the impact humankind is having on the ocean and on magnificent creatures like the whales. We have to come to grips with our insatiable consumption of petroleum, and its byproduct plastic, as well as curtail our fishing. Can we do it in time? Will it matter if the earth’s oceans continue to heat up?
I love the ocean and want to be as close as I can be without getting in it. Check out what you can do to love the ocean and reduce plastic pollution.
Venice (Veneto) is amazing. I should not have been surprised since everything in Italy surpassed my expectations. Nonetheless, I was prepared to find Venice overrated. Hooray. It really is special still. I say still because Venetians seem to be sure it is in decline. There are signs (literally) all over that gripe about how AirBnB is ruining Venice or about the pigeons overrunning the squares, or about the canals smelling very bad, etc. Did not experience any of it. It was overcast and rainy and I still found it uniquely, exotically beautiful.
Once I arrived I was frustrated that a work thing in London meant that I only had 28 hours in Venice. With climate change I don’t take going back to places at sea level for granted, so I had to decide what to do with my precious time. I got lots of advice from people on how to enjoy Venice to the utmost and I did more research on Venice than any other place I planned to visit on this trip. (I was bummed to find out that my visit was 2 weeks shy of the Biennale–another reason to return soon.) I bought the 24 hour pass on the water bus/airport bus. I walked a lot with my hotel umbrella and map. And I didn’t stop to eat much, preferring to eat scenery and art instead.
TripAdvisor is my number one travel planning tool. I love how the number 1 ranked hotel is often in the mid-price range (for the location) and generally wins on service. The Hotel Moresco has slipped to #2 since I stayed there in May but you’d be a fool to miss this one. It is one of the best hotel experiences of my life.
The rooms are beautifully appointed and the location is terrific (they even have excellent instructions on how to walk there from the train station). The service from every member of staff I encountered is what made my stay A++. They have a sumptuous breakfast and generous small plates during cocktail hour (included in room stay). They even went out in search of postage stamps for me. I was so sorry to check out. How often do you say that?
I found mooching around the Jewish Quarter rewarding. It was the only part of Venice that felt like a real (non-touristy neighborhood). I sought out the Opera House and only wished I had tickets and time for a performance.
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is generally on the B list of things to do–after you’ve seen bridges, churches, squares and gondolas. I have always been intrigued with the idea of Peggy Guggenheim’s life and seeing her home gallery was a priority. More so after reading John Berendt’s wonderful travel memoir The City of Falling Angels. (Same author as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil)
The Guggenheim Collection did not disappoint. I loved imagining what it was like to live in this villa and throw fabulous dinner parties and greet your guests arriving by boat on the Grand Canal. It must have been beyond beyond.
The art collection is really quite good, made better by the commentary you can listen to with headphones, or from a docent presentation. The restaurant is expensive, and good quality (not great), but the atmosphere. It allows you to extend your experience in this wonderful environment. I splurged in the gift shop buying a poster even though my walls are not bare and it is a pain to bring home. I just wanted to carry the inspiration with me.
The Collection is open daily 10-6 except Tuesdays and Christmas. It is 15Euro for an adult although check the long list of qualifying discounts. Plan to spend at least several hours to see it all.
Alameda is a charming historic community on two small islands. The naval station (now closed) played a vital role in World War II. Alameda is now a vibrant smallish community in the heart of the Bay Area.
It is an ideal place for rowing and sailing with at least one America’s Cup teams headquartered here.
There are great places to eat and many establishments take advantage of the tremendous view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco.
You can reach Alameda by car or ferry. There is a terrific bike shop in downtown where you can rent bikes and ride out to the point and see the naval buildings and ships, or dine al fresco at Scolaris, wine taste at Rock Wall, or try Hangar Ten vodka and spirits.
Alameda would be a great place for a weekend getaway. There are not a lot of traditional lodging options in Alameda; however, there are numerous opportunities on Airbnb and several holiday accommodations on TripAdvisor.