Sunday, October 14, 2012

USA Part 3: California Dreaming

The next part of our Great American Adventure was a road trip down Highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Neither Jess or I had ever driven in America before, so were both feeling a bit nervous when we arrived at the hire car centre at SFO. After they gave us the keys to our ride for the next week, we ended up sitting in the car park for about 20 minutes before we were brave enough to take off! I volunteered (sort of) to drive first and it wasn't as bad as we were expecting - once we figured out that the left lane was the fast lane not the slow lane and got a handle on which side of the car to get in.

Our first day of driving took us south from San Francisco to Santa Cruz where we stopped for a burrito at the famous boardwalk. It definitely looked like something out of a movie with its cheesy arcade, roller coasters and people playing volleyball on the beach. We drove a little bit further south and arrived in the coastal town of Monterey, home of the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and the jellies!!! We arrived at the aquarium close to closing time so did a whirlwind tour. Unfortunately it was pretty grey and cold during our time at Monterey so I didn't take many photos. The next morning we packed up and took the famous 17 mile drive before joining up with Highway 1 again.
A large section of Highway 1 takes you through the area known as Big Sur - miles and miles of winding road hugging the spectacular coastline. A little hairy and narrow in places but breathtaking nonetheless. Jess and I took turns driving so one could be official photographer/enjoy the scenery while the other kept their eyes on the road! So many 'wow' moments as we rounded the bends. We stopped off for lunch at the Big Sur River Inn which was a gorgeous spot by the river (as the name suggests - duh).
That night we hadn't made any bookings so decided to see where the road took us. One thing about San Francisco was the taxi drivers were all SUPER friendly. One in particular suggested we go to a coastal town called Cayucos if we had the chance. Lo and behold we saw the sign so decided to pull in and check it out. As we approached this little town we immediately knew it would be our home for the night. We pulled into one of the first motels we saw, right by the beach. I ran inside to check if they had any rooms. Indeed they did and we were give one with ocean views. We were very happy campers. It was a sleepy old town; the people were very friendly, there were some awesome vintage shops and a cookie bakery with the most melt-in-your mouth butter cookies I've ever tasted. A bottle of wine, some nibbles and selfies on the beach at sunset followed - it was such a perfect night! Thank you Mr Taxi Driver for the awesome suggestion.
We rose early the next day and headed for sunny Santa Barbara where we spent a few hours wandering, shopping and eating (what we do best). After lunch we continued our journey down the highway until we found ourselves in the middle of Los Angeles traffic! What an experience - 7 lanes on each side and cars honking and whizzing past, no indicators or nothing! We spent the next two nights in Orange County being regular Summers and Marissas. Jess had a friend living near Newport beach so we were able to meet and party with some locals which was a lot of fun. It was kind of surreal to visit Newport Beach as well as Laguna and really see what that lifestyle is like!

After leaving the OC we spent a day at Santa Monica and Venice Beach. It was the Labor Day long weekend so naturally it was packed. We had heaps of fun riding bikes along the beach and taking in all the weird and wonderful people going about their business. We spent two nights in Downtown LA in a converted warehouse complex. We took the car for a spin down Sunset Boulevard, climbed the narrow, winding (and a bit frightening) roads to the Hollywood Sign, ate amazing Japanese on Hollywood Boulevard, walked miles and miles looking for Bob Dylan's Star of on the Walk of Fame (turns out he doesn't have one yet - can you believe that!?), drank cocktails at Sky Bar and made a mandatory stop at In & Out Burger (I made Jess eat a burger since I'm vego but the fries and shake were pretty damn good).

And that was the end of our sunny Californian road trip. Next stop Vegas!

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