The most “YOLO” thing I ever did (besides jumping out of an airplane) was definitely this solo trip (in June 2016) to California. Not really the trip itself actually, more the fact that I booked the tickets less than 2 months upfront without a real plan in mind.
As I flew into Los Angeles and had a return ticket from San Francisco, part of the plan was to get at least from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Luckily they have this pretty road, called the Pacific Coast Highway, which connects both cities and offers you some amazing views.
Another part of the plan was to stay one week in LA with my friend Jessa, who was doing a part of her PhD at the UCLA.
What follows will not be a complete day-to-day diary about the things I visited, food I ate, places I stayed, … If you however are planning a (solo) trip to California and have some questions, do not hesitate to leave them in the comments. Oh and please click on the music links I’ve included in my text for the real experience!
Small remark: I did this trip before owning a decent camera and taking up the photography course, therefore the photographs are not the best quality but I think you get the picture 😉
Don’t forget to click on the links for some background music while travelling with me through California.
The city of Angels
(always reminds me of this song, the text is maybe a bit negative, the city is actually not that bad 😉 )
When walking through LA I really felt like being part of some TV series, “Hey, there is the flat of The New Girl” and “Oh that’s where Lucifer has his club” are only some of the thoughts that crossed my mind during our walk through downtown and our celibrities tour (yes, we did) through the Hollywood and the Beverly hills.
At the campus of the UCLA I had the feeling I could run into Harry Potter or Hermione at any time (in the Universal studios we actually did run into them).
The part of LA that I actually loved the most? The beaches and all the activities surrounding it. The skate park close to Venice beach is definitely worth a stop, you can also have a look (and maybe try) at the outdoor gyms of Muscle beach.
I only spent one day in San Diego but went (like a good tourist) to all the main attractions: the gaslamp district, seaport village, little Italy, … However I was mostly impressed by the views you have on the road to and around the city; at La Jolla and Torrey Pines for example.
“Fun” fact: my mastercard got skimmed in LA, which caused me a lot of troubles to rent my car and to pay my motels during the rest of the trip, fun fun fun 🙂
Off to Las Vegas (and back)
In less than 5 hours you can drive from LA to Las Vegas. It took us however a full day and a late night drive through some dark national park to get there. The reason? Many beautiful places on the road, too many selfies in Joshua Tree and a lot of drink and pee stops due to the hot weather.
Palm Springs is a desert village, located in the east of LA. You can describe Palm Springs easily in 1 word: hot! In summer the temperature can go up to 44°C. Guess in which season we were visiting this village….
In Joshua Tree national park two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together.
And then finally…. Las Vegas!
Our road back to LA was definitely as interesting as our route the day before (and it also took us way more time than originally planned).
The Hoover Dam, also called the boulder dam, is a dam on the Colorado river, bordering Nevada and Arizona. If you studied engineering, you definitely saw this dam passing by during one of the lectures, as it is often called a “wonder of engineering”. The bridge next to it is called the Hoover Dam Bypass, it probably looks familiar to you, as it was used in dozens of movies.
From the highway some billboard draw our attention: Peggy Sues 50’s diner. It appeared to be an original roadside diner, built in 1954. I loved it!
The Pacific coast highway (aka Route 1)
The California state route 1 is a major north-south highway that runs along the pacific coast of California, that’s why it is often calles the Pacific Coast highway. As many other people I used it to get from LA to San Francisco, while enjoying the scenic views and attractions along the road. Soundtrack during this trip: ‘Pacific coast highway’ from Hole.
First stop on my list was Malibu, I hoped to spot some hotties and celebrities (or a combination of both) over here. Unfortunately I drove too far and I kind of missed Malibu, oops !
Santa Barbara’s climate was described in my tourist guide as “Mediterranean”, based on my visit I would rather call it “Belgian”: it was kind of grey and cloudy that day. Main attractions in Santa Barbara are the wharf and the old Spanish mission.
When driving via Pismo Beach, Morro Bay and Hearst castle (didn’t take the tour over there) to Carmel, I saw (beside the amazing views and sunset) also zebras and elephant seals. Yep, all of the below pictures were taken on the same day!
Up next along the Californian coast was the Monterey Peninsula, which comprises the cities Carmel and Monterey and in between the scenic road called 17-mile drive. Carmel-by-the-Sea is a very cosy town with one main street ending at the coast. It is mainly dominated by artists, Clint Eastwood for example was their mayor for some years. Via Carmel you can access the 17-mile drive, for which you have to pay toll but it is definitely worth the money. I had some bad luck however, it was a very cloudy and grey day which ruined some of the scenic views. Still very pretty thought 🙂 On the other side of the drive there is the city Monterey, the main attractions here are the cannery row and the fisherman wharf. Yep, another wharf, something you encounter a lot along the Californian coast.
Before driving up to San Francisco I spent some time in Santa Cruz, a city with a very laid-back ambience. Main attraction here is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which is an oceanfront amusement park.
Time for some big city life, after all these coastal adventures. Do I still need to introduce San Francisco to you? I think nearly everyone knows this city, mainly known for the golden gate bridge, its cable cars and huge prison Alcatraz. I was told that the most efficient way to discover the city was by renting a bike and cycling around. Minor detail: San Francisco is also famous for its steep rolling hills, oops!
Did you enjoy this post? Or would you maybe like to see some more detailed posts about certain parts of my California trip? Or maybe you have some feedback for me?
Let me know in the comments below!
Lots of love,