I’ve been putting off writing about our New Year’s road trip to Carmel, because to be honest it was a bit of a dud. We spent most of our short trip battling car troubles, it rained heavily the day we finally got to see downtown Carmel, and I spilled not only one, but two scalding beverages all over myself and had to hold back tears of frustration in the middle of Starbucks. I know, I know, cue the violins.
Looking back at this trip a few months later though, I see it in a fresh light. I no longer see it as just a string of misfortunate events, but instead a highly memorable trip that will be hard to forget.
I truly believe that on trips where everything seems to go painfully wrong, these are the ones that end up making the best material for good stories, no?
And our trip to Carmel definitely had a few hiccups along the way.
A Shaky Start
It started out as any other road trip-we drove down south and stopped for lunch in San Jose at Mitsuwa (highly recommended, just not on New Year’s Eve when everyone is shopping for their Japanese New Year dinners). Happily stuffed with sushi and taiyaki (fish-shaped red bean treats) we continued on for the remaining hour of our drive.
So far, so good.
It all went south in Castroville (aka Artichoke Capital of the US), when our car started to make funny noises and the brakes were acting a little off. After pulling into the parking lot of a restaurant called the Giant Artichoke (I kid you not), Mustafa tried to get ahold of our mechanic with no success.
Luckily, we were only 20 minutes away from our hotel and decided to risk the drive, janky car and all.
We made it to the hotel in one piece and promptly headed for Allegro Gourmet Pizza to eat away our pain with a delicious chicken salad and a steak sandwich. The Carmel Mission Inn was an ideal place to crash after all this car drama and luckily located right next to The Barnyard, an upscale shopping mall that had several good restaurants at our doorstep.
As the clock was inching toward midnight, we cracked open a bottle of sparkling wine and got ready to toast in 2017. I spotted a ladybug climb up the armchair and declared it must mean we were going to have only good luck from here on out.
Ah, wishful thinking.
New Year, Same Car Troubles
The next morning we attempted to get coffee, only to sit down at a wobbly table and have both our hot drinks drench me completely. This was going to be the beginning of a very long day.
Long story short, you are usually shit out of luck if your car breaks down on New Year’s Day. On the bright side we got to know the Auto Zone in neighboring Seaside quite well and that they have the tools to fix cars, but not actual mechanics. After Mustafa valiantly tried to correct the issue, four hours in we decided that we should call it a night and wait it out until tomorrow morning.
Picking up pho and wonton soup at The Noodle Place next door and binge watching episodes of Love It or List It softened the blow. There could be fair worse things in life than being stuck in Carmel.
In the morning we were lucky enough to find C & C Repair in Monterey, that fixed our car trouble efficiently and professionally (thanks Dave and Mike!), not to mention was decked out with vintage arcade games and monitored by two friendly Dobermans who couldn’t get enough ear scratches or head pats.
A Quick Tour of Carmel (at last!)
With a fixed car we decided to explore a bit of Carmel, before heading back, since we had come all this way.
In the pouring rain we made our way downtown, and got coffee and bagels at Carmel Coffee & Cocoa Bar. A great place to stop for fuel for breakfast or lunch (get the lox bagel!).
We wondered around the postcard perfect Main Street, with it boutique shops and specialty stores. Dogs are quite spoiled in this town and we popped into Diggity Dog, a store dedicated solely to these four-legged critters with everything from leather jackets to a self-serve treat station. My kinda store where I would buy unnecessary things for my future dog.
When we stopped into Carmel Bakery, I made a beeline towards beautifully decorated sugar cookies until I realized they were for dogs. Oops. Pups were definitely royalty around this town.
We made our way to Carmel Beach, for a few quick photos before ducking back into our dry, warm and now functioning car.
Our last stop was the Carmel Mission, where we opted not to pay the admission fee to go inside because we’re cheap due to time constants, but still admired the historical buildings from afar.
As we made our way back home, we vowed to come back with a working car and preferably with less rain in the forecast. Definitely a trip for the books, flaws and all.