PICTURES FROM ALCATRAZ

A visit to San Fran wouldn’t be complete without a day trip out to this little former prison island in the middle of the Bay.

It’s a fascinating place. Inside the prison quarters are dark and cramped. Outside the natural beauty is stunning.

It’s home to some truly great stories, including the famous escape from Alcatraz tale

It’s also a place where a lot of beauty can be found.

Let’s take a look around.

thumb_IMG_5550_1024

Here’s the view as you approach the island. The prison block is on top of the hill.

READ MORE

SAILING – SAN FRANCISCO STYLE

There are those subjects they just have to teach you in school.   English, geography, maths (they tried and I admit, when it comes to odds and working out potential Melbourne Cup winnings, Beth and I are both totally proficient), the art of playing it cool after your tennis team loses in the district final every year of high school – these are all important lessons.   What I really want to talk about though, is what they aren’t teaching in schools, but perhaps, what we should be teaching ourselves.

Fish tail braids is a need to know. Every bad hair day (and I’m talking even half-Greek girl hair, bad hair day) will be saved by a fish tail braid, which will leave you feeling cool and breezy and bohemian.

When in doubt, always chose red.  People say trust in the little black dress, but those people are wrong.  I should not have to tell you this.  I’m talking a red silk shirt for that job interview you have coming up, I’m talking red racerback togs in summer, I’m talking a slinky 90’s style strappy red dress for your ex-boyfriend’s wedding.  If 8 is the number of power and abundance, then red is it’s colour equivalent.  It’s the only life lesson Tiger actually got right.

You need to be able to drive a manual car.  You do.  This is not a funny suggestion, it’s a real suggestion. You also need to be comfortable driving said manual car in foreign countries on the other side of the road OR ELSE HOW YOU GONNA CALI ROAD TRIP!?

Which brings me to another mode of transport we all need to master, more ancient and definitely more beautiful.   Sailing.   Because when it comes to life goals, there aren’t many higher on both my list and Beth’s list, then learning to be really good sailors.

So when in San Francisco, what better way to explore the beautiful San Francisco Bay, then on a sailboat? Well, I guess you could top that, by getting down to Pier 39 and onto America’s Cup yacht USA 76? Sounds like a plan, because even stunning cities like San Francisco really do look their best when viewed from super fast racing yachts.

Oh. My. God.

Oh. My. God. That. View.  And how about the incredible San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in the background! If you’re driving into San Fran from Monterey then this is the lovely bridge that will take you into town.

READ MORE

THE BEST AQUARIUM ON PLANET EARTH

If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in the water – Loren Eiseley 

I don’t profess to be an expert on many subjects.   The art of cooking pasticho, yes. Car dancing at red lights, double yes. Professional tennis watching (my professional playing career was limited to an amazing 20 seconds back in 2002 culminating in a reverse smash that I have not stopped reminding people about) – are you kidding me, this is my favourite thing to do, preferably while eating éclairs at Roland Garros. Receiving a JCrew catalogue in the mail and maintaining actual dollars in my savings account – it’s difficult, but I’ve got this people. Winning at Mario Kart on the Nintendo 64? Again yes. I play Peach, to the irritation of many, but I can and will beat anyone, aside from Beth who has a long time history of pipping me at the post.

Of all my weird loves though, one stands out. I love sea monsters and while I am no expert, what I lack in knowledge is made up for in unbridled enthusiasm. I love reading about them. Love a good sea monster documentary. Love youtubing them, not to mention google-imaging-them.   Love sending emails to friends with amazing creatures of the deep sea facts, because I love those facts. Love finding articles about unknown sea creatures washed ashore.  I love them for their beauty, for their mysteriousness, for all that we don’t know about them and obviously, for their amazing names (long before there was North West, there was the Vampire Squid From Hell, which is not my nickname for Kim Kardashian, but an actual real life deep sea squid).

Most of all, I love seeing them in the actual flesh, which of course, is a bit of a conundrum, considering they most often live very deep in the actual ocean.

Enter the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium. My favourite part of our Cali road trip and the absolute best aquarium I have ever visited.

READ MORE

BIXBY CREEK BRIDGE

Oh Bixby!

Let’s talk bridges (not a sentence I’ve ever used before but one that I may use again because more and more, I’m really learning to appreciate the beauty of a good bridge).

Now I don’t mean those bridges where you forgive people and then all is well and I’m not thinking the card game bridge, mainly because our Yiayia thought I was too chatty and my concentration too lacking to deal me into any card game.

I’m talking actual physical bridges. I’m talking Bixby.  The Bixby Creek Bridge to be precise, which I’ve always mistakenly thought of as the Bixby Canyon Bridge, I think because of the Death Cab song.

When embarking on a Highway 1 road trip, there are so many beautiful and unexpected surprises, but Bixby is something you’re waiting for, a sight you’re anticipating and even in a way, something you expect will feel a little familiar, because you’ve seen it so many times in photos.

READ MORE

YES THIS PLACE IS REAL – THE MCWAY FALLS

The McWay Falls are probably the most photographed sight along Highway 1. And no wonder. They are GORGEOUS.

To get to this amazing spot, head off the highway into Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park when you see this sign –

thumb_IMG_4888_1024

Isn’t the bear a nice touch?

The Waterall Overlook Trail is an easy walk, being only about a kilometre round-trip.

It begins from the same carpark as the Ewoldsen Trail, a fantastic hike, which we LOVED and covered here.

Our tip? Do the big hike in the morning, maybe take a break and head somewhere nice for lunch with a view, and visit the waterfall in the afternoon when the sunlight hits the cove in spectacular fashion.

At the start of the trail you will walk though a tunnel under the highway. Soon you will emerge to the incredible view of McWay creek spilling onto the beach.

Behold – the McWay falls –

thumb_IMG_4856_1024

 

READ MORE

SAND DOLLAR BEACH

Sitting below impressive cliffs on the southern Big Sur coastline you will find a crescent shaped stretch of sand, known as Sand Dollar Beach.

thumb_IMG_5067_1024

This is the longest, and perhaps easiest to access, beach on the Big Sur coast. And it’s gorgeous.

A perfect spot for a walk or a picnic.

So what is a ‘sand dollar’ anyway? 

READ MORE

OUR FAVOURITE HIKE IN BIG SUR – THE EWOLDSEN TRAIL

If you’re only going to do one hike in Big Sur – make it this one!

There are so many great things about this trail.

It’s got amazing redwoods and pretty bridges crossing over picture-perfect bubbling streams.

It’s just the right distance that you can fit it in on a day trip to the area and it’s still got a nice amount of elevation gain so you will feel like you’ve completed a good substantial hike.

Your efforts in climbing uphill will be rewarded by truly incredible ocean views.

It’s also super close to other Big Sur attractions, including the famous McWay falls which you can conveniently reach from the same carpark.

And – if you need one more reason to visit this trail here it is – you may even spot a California Condor up here. Now, if you can’t get excited about possibly spotting the largest bird in North America soaring over the coastline with its glorious 3 metre wingspan, then I’m sorry but this friendship is not going to work out.

READ MORE

BIG SUR – TREEBONES RESORT

Treebones Resort is a wonderful option for a stay in Big Sur.

Here, staying in furnished yurts, you can enjoy that camping feeling of being totally immersed in nature without having to actually organise the full camping logistics.

This is especially helpful if you’re visiting from overseas without camping gear. Or if, like me, you quite like having the option of using a hair-straightener for a few minutes of a morning.  I think we can agree that good hair only improves a holiday. The utility of a simple power-point cannot be underestimated.

Located at the southern end of the Big Sur coast, Treebones is a beautiful property set on the hillside above Highway One, overlooking the ocean.

There are 16 yurts in total, which have been carefully placed into the landscape. Smaller yurts accommodate couples, while there are larger yurts available for groups of up to 5 people.

READ MORE

HIGHWAY ONE ROAD TRIP – BIG SUR

Big Sur is a stunning stretch of the central California coast where the Pacific ocean meets the Santa Lucia mountains.

Stunning doesn’t quite cut it.

This is a place of rugged mountains, ocean sunsets, glorious redwoods and bubbling streams.

Did we mention the gorgeous beaches and the eagles? They’re pretty amazing too.

‘Big Sur’ is a translation from the original Spanish description for this coastline when it was known as ‘the big south’, being the area south to the city of Monterey.

Stretching from San Simeon to Carmel in the north, this 90 odd miles of coast is easily the most scenic and iconic part of the Highway One drive.

 

 

READ MORE

HIGHWAY ONE ROAD TRIP – THE TINY BEACH TOWN OF CAYUCOS

Cayucos. A charming, tiny beach town two hours north of dreamy Santa Barbara.

We completed the drive to Cayucos at night, so it was certainly less scenic than the earlier leg of our day’s drive. Less scenic, but no less eventful.  

When Archer, Miss A and I are in a vehicle together you can pretty much guarantee 3 things will happen –

  1. We will blast every hip-hop/ rap track our little iPods can contain;
  2. I will consume my body weight in raw cashews and/or almonds; and
  3. We will find ourselves in some sort of police incident.

There we were, happily cruising into the night down Highway 1 when it happened.

First the flashing lights, then the confusion – ‘us!?’ ‘do they mean us?’ ‘what did we do?’ ‘it can’t be us!’

Then came the loud-speaker, helpfully clearing up any confusion – ‘PULL OFF THE HIGHWAY ONTO THE DIRT’.

READ MORE