OK so the last post about my trip. I have said so much yet left so much out! I should have been back on my own at this point but someone on my trip wanted to share my hotel room and having spent so much already I was glad of the extra money. And of course, a lot of the group were also hanging around in San Fran for a few days. Randomly bumped into a few of them a number of times while staying there. I guess the city isn’t that big!
27th November: So after reluctantly departing from my new buddies I head to the haunted hotel. Its up one of those famous San Fran hills and is an old Victorian building. When we walk in there’s a big Christmas scene in front of us. The whole of the bottom floor and all the staircases up the 4 floors of the place are all beautifully decorated for Christmas. The place has a warm, homely feel and I feel good that I made a fab choice! Sadly the rumours are not true and there was no ghost-like activity. The day was still young so we headed down to the famous Fisherman’s Wharf. It sucks that San Fran doesn’t really have a beach because they built on it and it was also pretty cold. It also gets really foggy a lot so makes it quite difficult to make out the Golden Gate bridge a lot of the time. Wasn’t feeling very hungry after the mammoth last supper so we naturally had some seafood. I have never been so happy in a place where calamari is everywhere! Cheap too! I then just walked for miles, I knew I didnt have much actual time in the city and I wanted to see it and see it now so walked about 40 piers down to downtown, the financial district area of San Fran. Not only did they have their occupy going on there but I was sad to see the homeless people lined up along the road sleeping on the left in the pic. I’ll never get sick of seeing palm trees everywhere! So much other cool stuff…crepe with strawberries and nutella on the pier yum! Sealions, the taxis have TVs, bread made in shapes of all different things and animals, Christmas tree with lights, Bay bridge with all the lights.
28th November: Have been really looking forward to today as I had Alcatraz booked for weeks before I left. However before this event we met up with one of those awesome chicas on our trip and went shopping in Union Square! I had to stop myself after a few purchases cos everything was so cheap and I had no room left in my suitcase! I got 2 pairs of Tommy Hilfiger jeans for just $55 total!! Victoria Secret also got my money but 2 for 1 on they’re amazing bras I just could not resist! Its hardly surprising everyone goes nuts on Black Friday and this was a couple days after. Well Alcatraz was timed perfectly with the sun going down as we were on the boat towards the island then dark when we arrived. You get greeted by a Park Ranger who was quite stern and marched us up the hill to the prison with interesting info along the way. You then get headphones for an audio tour which features the voices of some of the guards and inmates of the prison, including stories and sound effects. It was unbelievable and so interesting and a little eerie. There was also an exhibition about when the Native Americans occupied the prison after it was closed. I often don’t find history that captivating but I loved this place. I told a couple in my hotel about it at breakfast on my last day and the guy said I had a fancy for the dark and eerie, he might be right! After landing back at the piers we had dinner in this surf themed restaurant where they put the salt & pepper in Corona bottles. We bumped into some of our trip buddies again randomly in that place but it closed shortly after. Winter really isn’t a peak season in San Fran.
29th November: Up early to set out for my trip to Monterey & Carmel by the sea. So much fit into just one day! The drive was pretty much all the way down the coast. I love the coast and this one is gorgeous! We also drove through Santa Cruz which looked like a really cool little town and possibly somewhere I could see myself. Unfortunately a stop there wasn’t in the itinerary. The driver was a total geek and I loved him, he actually reminded me of the ex, maybe in 20-30 years. He was so full of useful and random facts about everywhere we went and loved nature, a kindred spirit of mine! Once we reached Monterey I had bought a ticket for the aquarium. LOVE aquariums and this one was really well set out and the staff were so friendly and so engaged with the visitors and the wildlife. Again so many pics but don’t wanna flood my blog with them. After Monterey we headed to the 17 mile drive which is one of the most wealthiest places to live and includes Pebble Beach, probably most famous for golf. So many stars live or have lived there and the houses or should I say mansions were pretty incredible. We went inside the Pebble Beach Lodge, what a beautiful place! Saw the trophies and I used the bathrooms just to feel what it might be like to be able to afford to hang out there 😉 Next stop was Carmel by the Sea to watch the sun go down. OMG the most beautiful beach I had seen was outdone by this one! This place was so lovely and is top of my list of places to be! Everyone on the beach had a pedigree dog, the shops were cute and pricey but the staff were so friendly. What an amazing day filled with unbelievable nature & beauty. Went to sleep so happy.
30th November: My last full day in the States 😦 The trip I booked was changed as I was the only one on it. Instead of Muir Woods darn! I ended up on purely a wine country trip but it was good to get to go to Napa Valley as well as Sonoma and I picked up some lovely wine! There were 5 other people on this trip and they were all lovely! Welsh, Australian and a couple from Vegas. We had to drive over the Golden Gate on the way so I was glad I got to see it close-up. It was crazy when we first arrived the top of the bridge was obscured by fog but just 15 minutes later I could get a clear shot of the whole thing. Straight to Napa and the first winery I didn’t like anything enough to buy but got a free wine glass with the name of the place. I wasn’t told that the tasting fees weren’t included in the price of the trip but I was already freerolling so I didn’t mind too much. The second winery was a small family run one and the guy in there was totally nuts but so so funny and they had a lovely bottle of white that I bought. The third winery looked a little stuffy like the first but the guy who served us reminded me of ‘the Dude’ (Big Lebowski reference) and this place was notorious for large servings which was true and great because their wine was the nicest one and I bought a bottle there too. Had to stop at just 2 bottles because of duty free allowances. Probably good news for my suitcase and the bank balance! Lunch in a lovely place in Sonoma, another pretty little town, with a bottle that someone bought and shared among us which was very kind! More clear blue skies! The final winery in Sonoma was like an estate and was all sparkling wine. It was basically Champagne, they were even affiliated with Tattinger, but of course you cant call it Champagne unless its made there! Can’t complain about the last stop being this fine beverage and there my trip ended on a high, literally.
1st December: I just chilled at the hotel as I didn’t really have time to head anywhere before having to leave, though Union Square was calling my name! On the red-eye flight which I love because its peaceful, though it did suck to pretty much lose a whole day just travelling. And so my adventure ended.
In summary: AMAZING! I think you probably already got that impression. I guess as in life it differs a fair bit from what I expected, I knew it would be great but nowhere near as incredible as it was! Its nice to be pleasantly surprised as opposed to disappointed after being excited about something. I have wonderful memories and new friends and an even stronger urge to travel and see the rest of the world. I have less than a year to save up to head to Australia, where I will also include New Zealand, Thailand & Cambodia and this goal has made me so determined and really good with saving money also! If you read all this, thanks and I hope you enjoyed it and I hope it inspires you to see more of the world! Unforgettable and invaluable experiences had and many many more to come! 😀