Long post due and I've been the laziest i have ever been, am not even sure if its jet lag anymore. Its just pure laziness. I was on a recent work trip to Northern California and the beauty of my job is the travel. Never mind the salary or the crazy work load, working in the tourism industry has its perks i must say. It seems like i wore the same thing throughout the trip, but well what can i say i had one jacket on throughout, but trust me i wore different things everyday- except they're almost all black. Northern California is for people who love the outdoors, nature, wildlife and quiet spaces in other words, people who like wine, beaches, fresh cool air and driving.
So we started with San Francisco, I've been here couple of times before but am always excited to be back. This time we headed straight to Marin County, a region just across the Golden Gate Bridge, we dumped our bags in the hotel and headed straight for a hike in Muir Wood Monument- home to the giant Redwood trees, 3 hr comfortable hike and i spotted the most disgusting slug ever (apparently its called a banana slug)... super gross, we went to the overview and had Prosecco and samosas while overlooking the Pacific Ocean (i know i know... who has Prosecco with Samona? well, we do.) The view was breathtaking and there was no one around just us, it was super cold though and cloudy. We stayed in a town called Mill Valley that night, super cute walk able town and we actually walked to dinner - we had Italian food (i cant remember what i ate though !! hmmm.. wierd)
The gross banana slug i was talking about. Who would eat that chocolate.. ewww
From Marin County we drove to Sonoma wine country which is home to over 400 vineyards and wineries. We started with an African style Safari in Safari West, we had a walking tour followed by a jeep safari so while we were watching the porcupine, our guide was talking about how a porcupine is a rodent and i believe she said it is the 3rd largest rodent in the world. She then asked us if we knew ' what was the biggest rodent in the world?' and without a second gap one old guy answered 'My ex wife', we had a good laugh. It's spring and there is pretty flowers blooming everywhere. You can experience zip lining in the Redwood Park in Sonoma or go whale watching in Bodega Bay- during migration you dont even have to go on a boat, apparently you can see the whales from the shore itself. A huge part of California is protected land- National Forests, National shores, National Parks, National Islands etc.there a lot of natural beauty all around.
7 course food & wine pairing at Kendell Jackson Wine Estate- fabulous property and they have their own organic garden, we had all types of wine from Chardonnay to sweet dessert wines and such pretty display of food.
After consuming 7 types of tasty wine we checked in to our hotel Hilton Santa Rosa- Sonoma. Took me time to sleep even though i was really tired, during the day we were talking about eerie & paranormal experiences so well, you can imagine.
Next morning we went shopping at the Premium Outlets in Napa, I would personally recommend the one in Folsom (if you are driving to Lake Tahoe) which has more stores or if you are driving back to San Francisco then Livermore Premium Outlet is a better option (And why Premium Outlet - they are like factory outlets everything is discounted from luxury to high-end brands), Once you shop at the outlets you wont feel like shopping elsewhere.
This is what driving in Northern California is like. Beautiful all the way...
Three and half hours of driving on a scenic road got us to South Lake Tahoe, breathtaking and pretty as a picture. It is always a good idea to stay closer to the Lake, Lake Tahoe is in the Seirra Nevada Mountains which means they have snowfall in winter a fabulous destination if you are a ski buff. You can take a tour of Emerald bay ( one of the most photographed places in the world, apparently the water is purer than a bottle of mineral water you buy) and Eagle falls. Dont miss the sunrise and sunset in Lake Tahoe. Am not a morning person but i was at the pier watching the sunrise at 5:30 am.
Next stop Yosemite National Park - Mariposa County
We drove over 7 hours because our driver kept taking the wrong exit and did not follow the instruction given to us. If he had, we would be driving just 4 hrs. We checked in at 12:20 AM, But well it was all worth it, starbucks kept me awake. Yosemite is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the 1st National Parks in North America. It's located in the Valley and is actually like a movie set in the valley- I've always wanted to visit and it was beyond what i imagined. The park was adorned with white dogwood flowers (blooms only 2 weeks in spring and is native to the valley), the valley has the highest waterfall in the world and incredible stories about the Native Americans- Ahwahneechee tribes who were original inhabitants of the valley.. We saw a cayote/ bobcat and deers during the tour. And maybe you read somewhere about the granite rock formations which are very popular in the valley- In fact earlier this year two guys Kevin Jorgesen and Tommy Caldwell climbed the El Captain freehand which was hugely covered by media around the world. It took them almost 18 days to complete, you wold be shocked if you saw the height of El Captain- i had trouble fitting it in my camera screen. We dined at the famous Ahwahnee Hotel and were seated at the Queen's table where Queen Elizabeth II sat and dined when she visited in 1983- we were served by the same server who served her, his name was Rick and we felt very royal.
That is El Captain behind the bus and behind me on the left. On the right is me with the Dogwood flowers.
Last leg of our trip was San Francisco City- This time to visited the Dungeon (the alcatraz horror story had my heart in my mouth), Pier 39, FIsherman's Wharf, Madame Tussauds, California Academy of Sciences (I love this place), Lombard Street (crookedest street in the world), Golden Gate bridge, shopping in Union Square. We stayed at the Hilton Financial district just 5 mins away from Union Square.
So, i finally got out of my pump jacket since it was a sunny day in San Francisco
Say hi to my favorite animals from Cal Academy- 'Claws' the albino alligator and 'Lemon Drop' the albino python.
Here's the must haves when you travel to this part of the world-
Credit Card Self Drive Car with a card license (Indian license - the card chip license is valid for a year in the USA) Huge partially empty suitcase so you have space when you do crazy shopping All the dollars you have Sunscreen A hat Warm Jackets ( so you don't have to wear the same jacket like i did) Warm socks Walking shoes or boots Sunglasses Always carry water bottles Find out driving routes in advance (GPS does not work in some of the National park areas such as Yosemite) Only Verizon phone service works in Yosemite area (too bad for us none of us had Verizon. but most hotels do have wi-fi) Your fun & positive attitude
If i miss out anything or if you want more info, feel free to email or message me.
ET (Jadoo) and I are signing off now, hope you enjoyed reading or well just the pictures. And wait ending with the story of my life....