The gallery is called the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. We wandered around looking at the several exhibitions for a few hours and then walked down to the pier area. There are huge amounts of seals, sea lions and walruses that come to eat and show off around the pier area. You cannot imagine the smell they make and it was hard to breath with the stench. Some good photo opportunities though and we took lots of snaps. There is great food and wine in San Fran and we ate and drank very well. I would have liked to visit the wine region in Napa but there just wasn’t enough time.
Another highlight was the Alcatraz Prison. The place was used last century to house criminals from all over the US. It has been preserved really well and the tour was excellent. You could feel how terrible it must have been to be locked up there. We were booked to fly from San Francisco back to Melbourne and it’s actually one of the longest flights anywhere in the world at 14 hours. We had a great time on our round-the-world holiday and can’t wait to start planning the next one.
We stopped off for a whale watching tour in Monterey Bay. Against better judgement I chose not to take the sea-sickness pill before getting on the boat. There was a strong breeze and I started feeling sick after about 15 minutes. Trying to take photos just made everything worse and it did not take long before I was feeling very sick! I threw up a few times and felt just horrible. Not the best way to spend your holiday! We did see a few whales but I couldn’t really enjoy the view from where I was lying down on the deck.
After a couple of hours of pain we returned to dry land and I eventually started feeling better. We were staying near-by and I was more than happy to get back to the room for a snooze. We arrived in San Francisco in the late evening and settled in to our hotel which was near the city centre and the big square in the city. San Fran is a beautiful city and the perfect place to finish our holiday. We took the tram car around the city and walked and walked and walked! San Fran has a great gallery.
In LA we visited the normal tourist sites like Hollywood, Venice Beach, Universal Studios, Disneyland and a few others. I didn’t find LA as interesting as I thought I would and after a few days we were ready to move on. I did like Disneyland though and thought some of the fun rides were really good. My wife did like the shopping in LA. It is much, much cheaper than we are used to in Australia and she bought up big. The area we were staying in was quite nice and there were some lovely coast areas just south of there.
The plan was to drive north up the coast road to San Francisco as this is supposed to be one of the most beautiful drives in the world. We weren’t disappointed! I think it’s about 700kms of some very pretty scenery. You drive though these amazing forests with these trees that are thicker than you would think possible. Right on the edge of cliff faces with the sea on one side and a sheer cliff face going 100 metres up on the other side. Then you come out and there are beaches as far as the eye can see.
There can be a large temperature difference when we get down low and each layer of clothing came in the further the morning went. The track is steep in places and it was tough going. We are both quite fit but the constant stepping down over the steps was tiring. After 3 or 4 hours we reached the bottom of our descent and started walking around the canyon so that we could hike back up a different route. It was important to keep drinking and to have snacks so that we kept our concentration and strength up. You certainly don’t want to take a wrong step as it would not be fun to fall over and damage yourself.
We hiked back up to the rim and worked out that we had walked about 26 kms in the day! We were tired but had had a great time. The Grand Canyon is an amazing place and I can warmly recommend holidaying there. Next on our itinerary was Los Angeles. It’s a long drive to LA so we got an early start the next day. We visited a friend of mine in LA. He lives south of the city in Newport which is in Orange County.
You can wander around along the rim and get different views across the canyon but we decided that this would be an active holiday and that we would hike right down to the bottom of the canyon. We started our hike early in the morning at around 5:30am. There are lots of warnings that tell you you have to take enough water with you and warn you not to try to walk too far. Apparently there are many people that have to be rescued each year and some that die as well.
We packed our bags with plenty of water and sports drinks as well as snacks and lunches. My camera equipment is quite heavy so in the end each bag probably weighed about 15 kgs. The sun was coming up as we hiked down so the light was constantly changing as we wandered down the canyon. This made for very interesting photography and the view and light changed as we went around every bend of the track.
There were a few others who had risen early to hike down into the canyon. The track was never crowded however. It was quite cold at the top when we set out but the temperature rose the further down into the canyon we went.
You can spend days exploring the hotels in Vegas. My favourite was Caesars Palace and I just never get sick of the fountains and looking up at the blue ceiling. My wife and I are nature freaks so we travelled to the Grand Canyon next. We hired a car in Vegas and set off on our way. It’s a decent drive from Vegas to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. About 400km through some beautiful countryside. It was quite cold still and we drove through some snowy mountains on our way.
When we arrived there was still some snow around the south rim village. We were staying in a rustic cabin not far away from the edge. You never forget the first time you look over and out across the canyon. It is a breathtaking sight and even more impressive than you could have imagined. The layers are all well preserved so you can see the different colours of all the layers one on top of the other.
There are donkey tours that take you down the slope of the canyon but I don’t like big animals and was just nervous that the donkey would freak out and run over the edge.
The best part of holidaying in May was the amount of sunlight we got each day. The sun went up at around 3am each morning and didn’t set until about 1am. Even when it set it was still light enough to see outside. We did some fishing and managed to catch some great specimens. Scandinavia is so green in the spring and summer and it was often just a big sea of different shades of green. We went on a boat ride down some of the fjords. There were waterfalls coming down the sheer rock faces.
From Norway we travelled back to England and then on to the USA. Our first stop was Las Vegas. I’ve been to Vegas a couple of times before. We had a flutter on the gambling tables, saw the show with the blue men and walked up and down the Strip until our feet hurt. We stayed at the Palms hotel which is a little way off the Strip. Each of the big casinos is like a small city and you could easily stay inside the hotel for your entire trip. There are restaurants, night clubs, shows, gambling, shopping and more. We like to explore however so we actually didn’t spend much time at the hotel.
From Rome we travelled to Tuscany. I love Italian wines and some wine tourism was on the cards for us. Tuscany is a beautiful place with the wine vines stretching out over rolling hills. We visited some wineries and walked around the Tuscan hills.
I have always wanted to visit Scandinavia and we flew from Italy to Stockholm. Stockholm in the summer is very nice with the water going through the city. We took a boat ride out through the archipelago. There are thousands of small islands and we visited some of the biggest ones.
The old centre of the city was interesting to see with small and narrow walkways. We had a sightseeing tour through the old city. We heard all about its history which stretches back to the 1200s.
From Stockholm we travelled to Norway. We hired a car and drove westwards. Our goal was the fjords along the western coast of central and northern Norway. The fjords are amazing; the seas cuts in between enormous mountains. Enormous cruise ships bring tourists all the way to small port towns surrounded by mountains on every side. We visited in May, which is spring time there. It was quite mild and the days were prefect for sightseeing and wandering around.
We started out visiting Madrid. The Royal Palace was huge and very nice to visit. We also saw some of the squares and parks in the city. We didn’t get to see a bullfight and unfortunately Real Madrid weren’t playing while we were there. My wife was happy but I was devastated!
We love Spanish food and enjoyed our meals out at the restaurants in the city. Tapas is awesome! Many of the places around where we were staying were very ,but if you look hard you can find some authentic local attractions even in those places.
Barcelona is an amazing city. Our favourite place was this huge cathedral called the La Sagrada Familia. It’s got all these strange creatures all over it the walls and is spectacular. The beaches are quite nice there too.
From Spain we flew to Italy. My wife’s family is from Italy so we were really looking forward to this part of the journey. We started in Rome. My favourite sight was the Colosseum and my wife liked the Pantheon. Our hotel wasn’t very nice and we were close to moving to a different hotel. It was dirty and we couldn’t wait to leave. Rome is so expensive and you’ll pay $7 for a cup of coffee.
My wife and I just came back from a long trip to Europe and the USA. It was our first holiday for years and we had the times of our lives. We caught a flight from Melbourne to London and spent the first week exploring the sights and sounds around the city. My family is from England originally so it was a natural place for us to start out.
We saw all the famous attractions like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and some galleries and museums. I loved the National Gallery and they had a few different exhibitions on at once. We travelled around on the tube most of the time which is crowded by the convenient (and cheapest!) way to getting around.
We stayed at a nice hotel near the city centre. Breakfast and free internet connection was included in the room rate and we thought it was a nice place. After a week in London we travelled on to France. Paris was a disappointment and we were expecting a much nicer place to visit. The middle of the city is beautiful but it’s actually quite dirty once you get outside of there. We saw the sights around Paris and moved on down to Spain.