Our trip through California turned out quite differently from what I had expected. I thought about high air temperatures, palm trees, sunbathing on the beach, beautiful cities and perhaps a selfie with some movie star on Rodeo Drive. Instead, there was windy San Francisco, moments of fear on the Pacific Coast Highway, a moment of warmth and relaxation in Santa Barbara, a disappointment in Los Angeles, a surprise at Universal Studios and surfer-style Newport Beach. But let me tell you about it all one after the other…
The first major city, that we visited in California was San Francisco. I fell in love with it from the very first moment. Its architecture is truly beautiful – full of gorgeous, colorful houses with skyscrapers in the business center in the background. Of course, the Golden Gate Bridge, sinking in the clouds, is also making a big impression. By the way, the city is located on the hills, so it is useful to work on your body condition first, if you plan to walk around!
After crowded and busy New York City, life in San Francisco seemed to flow more slowly and … healthier. In contrast to the mentioned metropolis, it was hard to find places, where you could buy fast food, but the city was full of cozy cafes, bursting at their seams, serving delicious healthy food (although I must say that prices in some have made us dizzy). Everywhere you looked, you could see people practicing sports in the fresh air, especially running. And in such beautiful surroundings, you immediately wanted to join them, even without wearing sports clothes. The local microclimate definitely favors such exercises – due to its proximity to the water, it’s quite windy. Actually the temperature drops quite rapidly in the evening, which is how I brought home an unexpected souvenir in form of two sizes too large sweatshirt with a huge sign of San Francisco. I was so cold, that I bought it at a random stall somewhere on the road!
While in the area, you should also visit Napa Valley. Truth is, I was expecting to see spectacular views of vineyards, similar to postcards from Tuscany, which is not what we found there at all. But still it is definitely worth to spend a couple of hours riding through the vineyards, learning some secrets of wine production and tasting local wine.
Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Barbara
When leaving San Francisco we had a choice between the faster highway and a little longer and slower ride through the Pacific Coast Highway. It is enough to search though google graphics by the name to understand that the choice was not too difficult. The day was quite cloudy, giving the Pacific Coast Highway a different climate than I had previously imagined it (cabriolet, climatic music, sunglasses, sun, rocks and the sea). Instead, we watched the raging sea in foggy weather, riding in our rented minivan. But I have to say, that there was something absolutely unique in it, an atmosphere, that is even hard to describe. Romantic, beautiful, yet somewhat obscure. The latter especially due to the fact, that before hitting the road, we decided not to refuel the car fully, because the price of fuel on the last gas station was a bit higher than in the previous ones. It turned out that there was a good reason for it… subsequent kilometers were passing and no gas station could be seen even from a distance. When the fuel gauge was burning red, and we wondered how we would spend the night on the road waiting for help, a gas station finally appeared… and the fuel cost was about two times higher than in that previous “expensive” one.
The long awaited day for sunbathing finally came in Santa Barbara. The sun was shining with all its power, so we have not even bothered to properly visit the city itself – the only mandatory stop of the day was the beach. And although the day was calm, with no sightseeing and great experiences, it was one of the most memorable days of the entire holiday for me. I really loved the look of the numerous houses there, located right on the beach. Passing by, while walking on the beach, you could observe residents sitting on their porches with a cup of coffee, quietly staring at the sea. I fell in love with the thought of doing yoga on such a “back yard” in front of my own house in the morning, before work.
The next city on the map of our road trip was Los Angeles. I have to admit that I have expected a lot more from one of the most famous cities in the world, the film set of many famous movies and programs, where houses of numerous Hollywood stars are located. Unfortunately once again I must say, that we did not have enough time to get to know the city well. This is a downside of wanting to see many different places during a three-week trip. But in contrast to many other places, I did not feel the urge nor need to stay longer in LA. The city turned out to be not too well cultivated and overall pretty average, while the famous Walk of Fame is a simple sidewalk in a not too charming neighborhood.
From things worth seeing in Los Angeles I can of course mention Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills – a beautiful and quite phenomenal street. Unfortunately, unless you belong to the famous and wealthy, it is not worth to even stop in a cafe for coffee, because it is one of the most expensive streets in the USA. You will find shops of the world’s most expensive brands here, luxury hotels and expensive restaurants. However, it is definitely worthwhile spending some time on the beach in Santa Monica, where the known TV series “Baywatch” was filmed. The beach is incredibly wide, sandy and beautiful. The famous Santa Monica Pier, with a small amusement park, also adds some charm to it, as well as numerous swings, basketball courts and other attractions on the beach.
The very best attraction in Los Angeles to me was a visit to Universal Studios. The amusement park has been established on the territory of a film set, where many famous movies and TV series were shot. For me, an amazing surprise was the ride down the street of Wisteria Lane from one of my absolute favorite TV series, Desperate Housewives. 3D roller coasters are also quite great and worth riding there. I especially recommend The Simpsons and Transformers 3D roller coasters. You need to dedicate an entire day to Universal Studios, since the park is quite large.
The last place, that we have visited in California was Newport Beach. Like many cities and towns in California, Newport Beach is also known from a popular TV series, The O.C. It is a small, beautiful town with a wide sandy beach where you have people practicing surfing and other water sports everywhere, or simply resting on the beach and sitting in small pubs on the water. It is the perfect place for a quiet rest, long walks and sunbathing. We stayed there for two days, which turned out to be the perfect end to an intense holiday.