. North Beach - nice coffees there. We also bought a new camera in San Francisco (as mine is kaputt although I don't really know why) so been able to get some good shots since so hopefully we´ll be able to upload them onto the site soon. As we drove out of San Francisco the clouds and fog disappeared - San Francisco´s weather is very similar to England - so we were able to see the Golden Gate Bridge on our Scenic Drive. We took Highway 1 down the coast to Monterey which is a nice coastal town with lots of trinket shops, 2 wharfs and an aquarium. We went on a Whale watching boat tour which was good and we got to see Blue Whales, Humpback Whales and Porpoises - although you are quite close the pictures we took look like something you´d take at the loch ness!! You can just about make it out but on the new camera you can crop and enlarge pictures on the camera itself so hopefully we should have some decent pictures. After Monterey we had down the coastline again past the "Big Sur" which is a pretty, yet rugged coastline, we took a 17 mile scenic drive through the Pebble Beach area which was good although it cost $8.25 which I though was quite a lot. On the drive which had loads of Hairpin bends (Mum you would have been scared!! ...and Julie you would too!!!) I managed to spotted a whale so we pulled in - this was so much more special to see than when we were on the boat, it felt much more "real" although you could only see the spouting of the water while the whale was breathing it was fantastic. After viewing the whales we stopped and trespassed into Hearst property (although everyone does it) to see a colony of Elephant seals lying in the beach - there were a few baby seals but most of them were adults or adolescents and they were fun to watch flicking sand onto themselves to keep cool
. We took shelter in a small town called Cambria which is really near Hearst Castle in a fabulous home-from-home hostel run by a friendly couple called Anne and Pablo it was called The Bridge St Inn and I would recommend it to anyone - we met some really nice people called Patricia, Francesca and Austin who we played cards with and celebrated Andrea´s birthday with our doughnut cake... Andrea went to Hearst castle but Paul and I thought it was a lot of money to pay to go in so we stayed on the beach and Andrea went in with Patricia. After saying goodbye to our friendly hostel and guests we headed onto Santa Barbara - a larger town but feels small and friendly. The beaches are clean and sandy and the farmers market there is excellent so we cooked for the first time on our trip - Pasta and vegetables although Paul just couldn´t resist Fatburger (which had been recommended to us) - very homemade - it certainly went down very quickly!! We saw the County Courthouse which was a really pretty white building then walked back through the town. We re-celebrated Andrea´s birthday with a few beers & Marguerita´s in a bar later which was very busy due to all the American ´students´ arriving to start college. Patricia bought chocolate brownies for us all and we lit some candles on them although don´t think the bar staff were very happy!!
The next day we had a gentle walk around the Botanical Gardens in Santa Barabara where there were lots of tiny humming birds flying around. After that we drove to L.A. where we walked down Rodeo Drive to see all the posh shops such as Gucci, Dior & Tiffanys. We then came down a notch in class and walked along Hollywood Boulevard which was very tacky but good fun too. We saw the handprints/stars of Marilyn Monroe, Jack Nicholson Sean Connery & Nicholas Cage amongst others. The hostel we stayed in at L.A. was the cheapest yet - only $15 but it showed as the bathroom was a bit smelly!
Had to say goodbye to Andrea in the morning - a few tears were shed once I was in the car.. Drove 4 hours to Vegas and checked into Stratosphere which is a newer hotel at the end of the strip.. We enjoyed the private over 21s bar and pool where European sunbathing was allowed!! Eventually got round to trying out some of the buffets - the one at Bellagio was fantastic - as much yummy seafood, venison, veal, beef etc as you like and Chocolate and raspberry torte to die for... Paul and I walked from one end of the strip back to the other (and Paul had also walked back from the airport - a lot of walking in one day). Got to see Caesars Palace which was huge, expensive but beautiful..
Left Las Vegas on a night bus to Tucson - the Greyhound station was full of weirdos but we were ok as ignored them!! After arriving in Tucson at 10am we managed to catch the train that leaves for El Paso once every three days as luckily it was 3 hours behind schedule (and you thought English trains were delayed!!). We thought the train would be a fast option but it hardly got above 40mph although the sightseer lounge, dinner and comfy chairs with tonnes of legroom made up for it. Stayed in El Paso for the night as we arrived about 7pm. Crossed the border by foot the following morning via Santa Fe bridge(saving ourselves 6 dollars!!). Now in Mexico without a guidebook so will make it up as we go along but have got an idea of a route... Copper Canyon here we come.. Adios! xx
Buenos Dias from Mexico!! Well we´ve finally made it to another country. After the beautiful quiet place of Calistoga with all that yummy wine we headed to San Francisco where we stayed in the Fishermans Wharf area (after a night in China Town). San Francisco was great fun we met some really nice people there (a couple called Charlotte and Larry that gave us travelling tips on Mexico and took Andrea and us out for a meal on Clement Street thank you)(and a few lads staying in the hostel who were fun to chat with and drink beer with). We saw the sea lions playing and play fighting on Pier 39 they´re so funny to watch the larger ones like to show the littler ones who´s boss!! We had to get up really early one morning to be able to get a ticket for Alctraz - don´t worry we managed to escape back to San Francisco. Alcatraz was really interesting and we got to see where the ´great escape´ was carried out - the audio tour made you feel like you could have been there in the 1960s and earlier when it was a prison - didn't seem to be as bad as Strangeways though...Walked around the city and found Union Square - where we had a margarita in the Gold Dust Lounge - Nob Hill where Andrea, Paul and I were like little kids on the swings.