United States of America · 14 Days · 45 Moments · September 2013

California, Arizona & Nevada Roundtrip

17 September 2013

Email adresses If you are traveling with a group of people that you didn't know before make sure to exchange email addresses at the end of the trip in order to keep in touch and get photos from everybody. Me and my group are still in touch and are planning to meet up again soon for another trek... maybe Florida this time ;)
Johnny Rockets "Yummy yummy in my tummy" Johnny Rockets is located on the first floor on Hollywood Boulevard - a great location to stop and grab a bite before continuing with your photo tour :)
Walk of Fame Get off the subway at Hollywood Boulevard and walk down the world famous "Walk of Fame". If you get the chance, go there early in the morning or during lunch time - otherwise the place is really crowded and you have to wait to get a picture taken with one of the stars :)

16 September 2013

"Medicine" On Venice Beach you will see many "doctors" that will prescribe you a medical drug if you were to ask - try to stay away from this part of the promenade.
Not at night I would not recommend to visit Venice beach at night because it tends to get a bit dodgy there after sunset.
Relaxing day Close to the end of the trip another day at the beach gives you time to relax and look back on all the beautiful memories made. Often there are bands playing and challenging games hosted, like a see-through-box where contestants shoot each other with foam :)

15 September 2013

Waterfall that empties into the ocean Easy to reach and beautiful to look at are the McWay falls - although some might argue that they actually plunge onto the beach but oh well... close enough ;) I highly recommend visiting this place because it's hard to capture the way the sunlight reflects on all the surfaces on a photo - it is better in real life!
See the "old" Hollywood Former capital of the film industry, Santa Barbara, is still as wonderful as is was back in the days. If you love looking at different kinds of expensive cars: walk along the pier. It somehow seems as if those cars were parked there for the only purpose of being looked at by tourists or other visitors :)
Rent a bike Go ahead and rent a bike - the more people the better - there are bikes where 4 people can fit on that are very fun to navigate around, for example. It's a great way to explore the coastline and if you split the bill it's not even expensive :)

14 September 2013

Time management Plan a little bit more time for each sight you want to visit, because as they can be a bit further apart, it might take you longer to get there than expected, as if you don't plan on taking a cab you need to calculate extra time for waiting on the bus (being said, schedules are not too reliable).
Painted Ladies and many more The painted ladies are a row of houses that still look like San Francisco did before the big fire. It is hard to get there by bus (although it is of course possible), so I suggest you call a cab and split the bill. While you are at it, ask the taxi driver to take you down the "world's most curvy street" (Lombard Street) - the experience to drive down is way better than just glancing down from the top :)
Eat in a restaurant in China Town Take a look around Chinatown - there is so much to choose from :) I recommend to sit down in a restaurant and enjoy the atmosphere rather than getting your food at a street corner. If you would rather eat something non-Asian there are always wonderful restaurants at the pier :)

13 September 2013

Golden Gate Bridge - Walk over the Golden Gate Bridge: again make sure to wear something warm as it can get quite windy on the bridge.
In-n-Out Have lunch at In-n-Out Burger: Some might not agree, but the best burgers I had so far were from this restaurant. In-n-Out can be found in California only and has since its opening not changed the menu by much (still only 3 burger) -> For all the burger lovers... there is a secret menu though :) - Double meat: 2 patties - 3x3 : 3 patties - 4x4 : 4 patties - Grilled cheese: name says it all - Protein style - Animal Style
Be prepared for a little wind San Francisco is a beautiful city, but it can get very chilly so definitely make sure to bring a jacket. Take a boat trip around Alcatraz or visit the former prison: furthermore a boat trip gives you the chance to take really good pictures of both Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.

12 September 2013

Hide your food Important: If you plan on camping outside - Hide your food in the car and make sure it's not in view. As bears like food, or even the smell of your snacks, they will not stop once they they set their mind on something. There are other "dangerous" creatures out there too: Our group got robbed by a racoon - who happily munched on our chips at 3 a.m. in the morning ;)
Spot the bear If you keep an eye out you might get lucky and see a bear strolling around casually - but not to scare anybody: There are park rangers around that will keep the bear in check, once it comes too close to the camps.
Go on a hike There are various different hikes one can choose from. In a little supermarket in Curry Village you are able to get a lot of information and maps for the trails - for example about the cool trail up to one of the waterfalls :)

11 September 2013

Camp Although there are quite a few hotels and motels along the way, I would recommend to camp outside before heading into the next big city that is San Francisco. We found a campsite along the road - quite a pretty random one actually as I can't remember the name of it. Just keep an eye out and stop when you feel like your are getting tired, there are many along the road. :)
Slow down Make sure not to speed through this beautiful landscape and enjoy the view from the top. The street leads you around the top of this "canyon-like place" and takes you down further into the canyon later on. This is not that much of a tourist spot, but rather a parking lot that you pass at the top of the winding road along the canyon on your journey to San Francisco.
Enjoy the nature I think that in this case the quote "Pictures say more than a thousand words" fits perfectly. Just stop once in a while on your way to Yosemite National Park and take in the beautiful surroundings this state has to offer! :)

10 September 2013

Bring water It is essential to bring something to drink or that you have something stored in your car in case you stay outside for a little while :)
Outside Don't go outside for too long and certainly do not plan on taking a longer walk through the desert - it will not do you any good. At this part of the trip it will be around 40°C outside.
Airconditioning will save your life ;) Again: definitely make sure that your car has working airconditioning, because there is a reason they call it the Death Valley - not saying that you will die, but the heat is hardly bearable if you stay outside for too long. All in all its is pretty much desert - although I must admit that the view is great :)

9 September 2013

Lunch at Luxor Have lunch at Luxor - a massive buffet for 14 dollars only. Mexican, Italian, Chinese... whatever you want, they have it all. Just a little tip: leave some space for desserts ;) photo by: www.lasvegas.com - not mine :) didn't take a pic while eating :D
Get a burger Have one of the delicious burgers the Las Vegas Strip has to offer like: - BLT Burger - Burger Bar - Bachi Burger - I love Burgers :) - and many more!
Waking up in Vegas After waking up and hopefully still having all your belongings on you, you are ready to explore the city by day. Stroll around on the Strip - maybe you'll be brave enough to try one of the roller coasters? Sadly I have to say that those attractions can be really expensive - so as I said before - if you have the cash nothing can stop you.

8 September 2013

Affordable rooms All the hotels which are located on the Strip are quite expensive, so I recommend going a bit further away from there if you are looking for accommodation - like the Best Western. It is a nice and clean hotel, only 5 minutes away from the Strip and easily reached by cab. They even offer shuttle services that will take you right into the middle of Vegas buzzing center.
Vegas under 21 Still, there are quite a few things you can do, even if you are not 21 just yet: - Limo party: why not just rent a limousine and drive up and down the strip with your friends. Good music and stops in between make it a night to remember. - Find a promoter: they are everywhere on the strip and most likely they will come up to you on their own, if not... just ask them. There might be a few clubs that have an 18+ themed party, you are able to get in :) Make sure to check the location though - some of my friends and I ended up in a gay bar (however the people were really cool :)) - See a show: there is a huge variety of shows playing at the big hotels and if you get the tickets on the day of the show you might even score a discount!
Viva las Vegas What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. ;) If you got the cash, nothing can stop you in Las Vegas - if you are 21. Las Vegas is as fabulous and glamorous as you know it from movies such as "Hangover". If you are 21 you should bring your passport, because sometimes they won't let you in with just a Student ID - although there were a few occasions where I heard from friends that they were able to get into the clubs which normally are "plus 21" with an ID that was nothing more than a piece of paper (not encouraging to do that!).

7 September 2013

Shoes Make sure you bring good shoes in which you are comfortable walking for a long distance - flip flops won't get you very far. The hike seems like a piece of cake but it certainly isn't :)
Market place, washing clothes, etc. There is a nice market place right at the site that offers free wifi. Furthermore there is a little restaurant attached if you don't feel like cooking :) As for washing your clothes: There are laundry mats where you'll be able to wash them for 50 cents. Make sure to stay beside your clothes as it can get pretty crowded in there. If you want to shower - you have got to hurry, as it is a national park the showers are timed to 8 minutes per unit, meaning the water will turn off after 8 minutes leaving you standing in the shower with shampoo in your hair.
Hiking in the Grand Canyon TIP: Get up early! As they say: The early bird catches the worm :) Spending a day at Grand Canyon you have a big variety of things to do to appreciate this majestic piece of nature: - Taking a walk along the edge - Going on a helicoper flight - Hike the Canyon - ... For the ones that are ready to give hiking a shot, I recommend the "Bright Angel Trail": This Trail should take you about 7-8 hours total, that is why it is important to get up early and to get going as soon as possible. Plus, you'll get the chance to see the sunrise in the canyon - which is breathtaking! There are restrooms and water stations lined up along the trail at about each 1.5 km mark. Keep in mind: Going down is easier than going back up! - It might only take you 3 hours to get down, but certainly a lot longer back up, especially because as the sun rises it gets hotter in the canyon. It's definitely worth it though - once you walk down that trail you'll understand exactly what I mean ;)

6 September 2013

License Get a little souvenier.. like the license for the Route 66. Most shops offer it for free and it is a nice little souvenir to put into your wallet :)
Snow Cap If you get the chance to visit Seligman you should definitely stop at "Snow Cap" for a milkshake. Not only do they offer fabulous milkshakes, they also sell it in a unique way :) For example: their business cards say: "We offer cheeseburger with cheese..." There is a slight possibility that a Snow Cap employee offers you a straw... be careful to agree - they will hand you a bundle of hay ;)
Get your kicks on Route 66 The Route 66 used to be the longest and first highway to go across the country. Although nowadays there are only a few remaining parts of this once so important highway, it is still definitely worth a visit. Seligman - the birthplace of the historic Route 66 is said to be the model for the town Radiator Springs in the Disney Movie Cars.

5 September 2013

Take a swim When we visited Lake Havasu, we jumped at the opportunity to go and take a swim in the Colorado River. Its was a bit cold, well okay, it was really cold... but a nice change to the hot weather. I advise only swimmers to go into the river though because the current will move you further down if you don't keep swimming against it.
Take a little walk Joshua Tree National Park might not seem like it's worth a visit because it seems like there is only dessert, but it definitely is. Two reasons why you should stop at Joshua Tree National Park: - It's a nice way to see the opposite side to the glamorous Southern California with its big cities. - It's a beautiful spot of nature on your way to Las Vegas :)
Sleeping under the stars From San Diego you'll be driving through Joshua Tree National Park which is located near Lake Havasu, where you can spend the night. Really important: Make sure that your car has air conditioning because as the trip goes on, the temperature is going up! For everyone who loves camping outside, this is the perfect opportunity. Near Lake Havasu the air basically hardly moves, meaning that the temperature doesn't go down much during the night. This gives you the opportunity to just roll out your sleeping bag wherever you want and fall asleep gazing at the stars.

4 September 2013

Bring a snack If you take a backpack with you make sure to bring some snacks and something to drink. While the prices are quite usual for a theme park you'll save a bit of money that you can spend on buying the photos of yourself on all the rides in the end. :)
Ride the rides No matter if you want to get splashed or twirled around - there are rides for everybody. It might not compare to what Disney World has to offer, but in my opinion they offer just the right amount of rides to fill up your day. My personal favorite: The Manta Other rides include: Journey to Atlantis (they will take your picture on the way down) Shipwreck Rapids (you'll definitely get splashed)
See "Shamu" in action There are lots of different shows and attractions one can enjoy at Sea World in San Diego, but the most stunning one is the whale show. It is incredible to see the trainers interact with the animals and everything is underlined with beautiful music - and if you sit all the way at the front you might even get splashed! ;) Sea World is something you should at least plan to spend a whole day at, because there are so many things to see! With a little planning talent and the help of the maps they hand out, you should be able to see all the different shows throughout the day. There is something for everyone - for example swimming with dolphins (not included in the entry price). Price for a single day ticket at Sea world is: - Adult 79 dollars - Kids (3-9) 71 dollars
Enjoy the beach It's nice to start off your journey with a relaxing day at the beach after you drive from Los Angeles to San Diego. The esplanade offers lots of different foods and beach equipment for those who forgot to bring their bathing suits and towels :) The sunset is really beautiful and worth watching! Although it might get a bit crowded during the day it is good for meeting other people from basically all over the world and it gives you time to bond with your travel companions at the beach before spending quite some time in the car together.
See the famous Rodeo Drive It is hard to go around Los Angeles with the subway because the journeys between sights are usually long and all the attractions are quite far away from each other. So before you head off to San Diego, make a short stop on Rodeo Drive - there are garages close buy which are reasonably priced. The amazing thing about this street is, that you will see what you expect to see in movies - fancy cars, expensive stores and palm trees. Nothing is average on this part of the Beverly Hills.
La Hacienda As you might arrive a day earlier in Los Angeles to get adjusted to the time zone, here is a top choice for a hotel. La Hacienda is a hotel located about 10 minutes away from LAX - making the taxi ride there pretty cheap. The staff is really helpful and friendly. Furthermore they offer free wifi - but be aware: the password changes ever week in case you want to stay longer. There I met up with my travel group which was organized by "Intrepid Travel" - they offer quite a few different trips throughout the U.S. and Europe. I really enjoyed having the group around for the trip, although we didn't really need the "group lead" the organization provided us with. :)