Tuesday, June 28, 2011

West Coast USA 2005: Day 6

May 2005

This day was spent at Universal Studios, quite a bit had changed since I'd last visited in 1997, and this was DHs first visit. We were lucky because it was mid week, relatively quite and the ques were short, it might have also been the rain, which didn't dampen us too much, but I could see why you would avoid it in the rain if you could. Make sure you check out one of the live shows and take the studio tour.

We stayed at the Hollywood Metropolitan Hotel the night before, as staying right at Universal is $$$

Universal Studios

Saturday, June 25, 2011

West Coast USA 2005: Day 5

May 2005

We continued down Hwy 1, stopping at Santa Barbara for a quick look around before driving into LA and stopping at the La Brea Tar Pits, one of the world's most famous fossil locations.

Hollywood Metropolitan Hotel for it's closeness to Universal Studios at a low rate

La Brea Tar Pits don't forget to checkout the outside areas as well as the Page Museum

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

West Coast USA 2005: Day 4

May 2005

That morning we continued down Hwy 1 to San Simeon, to check out the Hearst Castle. We have nothing like this in Australia and it was an eyeopener into the decadent lifestyle of yesteryear.

San Simeon Lodge - I would personally try to find somewhere else if we were ever to stay in San Simeon again

Hearst Castle Tours - We did the Experience Tour, but there are many options

Saturday, June 18, 2011

West Coast USA 2005: Day 3

May 2005

We picked up our hire car (you definitely don't need one for San Fransisco) and headed off towards Hwy 1 down the scenic coast, including 17 Mile Drive at Monterey, where you'll find the Lone Cypress.

Monterey was our final destination for that day and we checked out the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where I think they have the neatest jelly fish display.

Super 8 Motel Monterey - nothing spectacular, but convenient and clean

17 Mile Drive and the Lone Cypress
Stroll along Old Fisherman's Wharf

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

West Coast USA 2005: Day 2

May 2005

This was a busy day, San Fransisco City Tour and Alcatraz in the afternoon. I can't remember which company we did the city tour with, booking it online before we left, BUT we did pre-book the Alcatraz tour before we went. The Alcatraz trip has a habit of booking out in advance and I hear of many people turning up on the day and not getting a ticket.

The San Fransisco City Tour took us to many of the main points, a stop at Twin Peaks for the view, Golden Gate Bridge and Japanese Tea gardens.

We had pretty good weather for our afternoon tour of Alcatraz, like I said earlier it's better to book in advance. We had plenty of time to look around before catching the boat back.


The are a number of tours you can find online, I can't recall who we went through but it was a good way to see the broader city
Alcatraz boat trips with Blue and Gold Fleet

Sunday, June 12, 2011

West Coast USA 2005: Day 1

May 2005

After a long flight from Sydney (on United), we landed in one of my favourite US cities, San Fransisco. We stayed at a B&B I had stayed at in 1997, and after checking in we caught the tram down to the Wharf area for a lunch of Chowder in a sourdough bread bowl - yum oh!

Golden Gate Hotel on Bush Street. Always clean, always friendly, inexpensive compared to the rest of San Fransisco and in a convenient location

Uncle Vito's Pizzeria also on Bush Street, and still there apparently.

Catch the Cable Cars, there's one not far from the hotel
Fisherman's Wharf for seafood, including the famous chowder
Pier 39, see the seal colony and a great place to people watch

Thursday, June 9, 2011

West Coast USA 2005: An Introduction

May 2005

The main aim of this trip for me was to spend time with my aging Grandmother, DH required a bit of talking into, he had some stereotypical ideas of the US, big cities, loud people, big food and didn't turn around until I shared my ideas of our itinerary and the vast beautiful outdoors that the US has, he was sold.

The downside to these posts will be I didn't keep a trip diary, so I've reconstructed the details from the photos I have and the scrapbook I made on our return. Meaning there's not a whole lot of details for those of you looking for specifics.

The upside, is this was our first major trip with a digital camera, the technology has changed a lot since then but it was really the first time we took a large numbers of photos, because we didn't have to print them all and could edit them as we went!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tauranga and White Island, New Zealand

May 2011

We took the 3 hour drive from Auckland to Tauranga, where we stopped for dinner at Horny Bull's along The Stand which is a street along the harbour with restaurants and bars, before heading to Papamoa Beach to check into our room at the Casa Del Mare.

The next morning we were up early for our 1 hour drive south along the coast to Whakatane to take our boat trip to White Island, New Zealands most active volcano. It was a gorgeous sunny day and the boat trip of 1 hr 40 minutes went smoothly. Once landed we were split into small groups and given a guided informative tour of the island stopping at various points for photos and overall spending 2 hours on the Island.

After boarding the boat again, we had a "light" lunch and saw the rest of the island via boat, before heading back to port. Along the way we came across a pod of dolphins (about 50 odd) playing in the water.

Once back at Whakatane we headed back to Papamoa beach and the B&B, stopping at Kiwi360, which is a kiwi fruit farm, which during the day has tours of the working farm (it was too late for us).

That night we had a pub dinner at The Boulevard, lamb shank for DH and ribs for me, before heading back to our room.

Casa Del Mare B&B, Papamoa Beach - we stayed in the Paris room, but had the whole area to ourselves as there wasn't anyone in the Rome room

Horny Bull, Taurunga - a steak place, although DH and I didn't have steak, although the beef salad and the pork were good!

The Boulevard, Papamoa Beach - a local pub, with large, hearty meals

White Island Tours, Whakatane - a great tour, a little bit $$$, but nothing like the helicopter tours, which is the only other option to get on the island

Kiwi 360, Te Puke

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mount Maunganui, New Zealand

May 2011

After a late cooked breakfast at the B&B, we took the short drive to Mount Maunganui. From here we took the 3.8 km (return), 235 m ascent to the summit of Mount Maunganui. It's a difficult, steep climb but well worth it for the view.

After walking down, we stopped for lunch at The Oceanside cafe, where I had the lamb burger and DH had the fish and chips. Before taking the trip back to Auckland.