We arrived in the famed coastal city of Monterey at sunrise this morning to a beautiful day along the California Coast. Our activities started earlier than usual this morning to fit in a busy and fun day of activities. Wildlife was certainly one of the many highlights of the day including being greeted by a raft of California sea lions barking and leaping out of the water. Another charismatic animal that everyone was excited to see was the sea otter, and they were abundant in the harbor. The birding was amazing with a wide range of diversity and dense numbers of our avian friends. Another highlight was a guided historic walk to Cannery Row and a special tour of the Monterey Bay Aquarium all before lunch. After regrouping, we took a bus to Point Lobos State Park for a vigorous hike amongst the gnarled Monterey Cypress trees and learned about the whaling history of this area from our guides. The coastal views were stunning on such a beautiful day and certainly one to go in the memory books.
National Geographic Venture
National Geographic Venture docked just before dawn broke over historic Mare Island near Vallejo. General Vallejo himself named the island “Isla de la Yegua” (Mare Island) after a raft carrying livestock, including his prized horse, capsized into the bay. The mare was feared lost until she was discovered on the island, having rescued herself. It was the perfect launching point for a day of wine tasting and culinary delights. Our taste buds became the explorers first at Bouchaine winery in beautiful Napa Valley, where they were treated to fine chardonnays and pinot noirs. With palettes awakened, we moved on to the Culinary Institute of America and enjoyed a spectacular lunch in their barrel room. With just enough room for a few more tasty treats, we enjoyed the afternoon at the Markham tasting room, sipping merlots, roses, rich cabernet sauvignons (Napa is famous for these) and crisp sauvignon blancs amidst oak barrels and history. Tired and satisfied we enjoyed a stunning sunset on our way back to the ship to settle in for our final evening together.