GORGEOUS MOSSMAN GORGE

Can you believe it’s November already?

Melboune Cup has come and gone (nice work Archer for backing Almandin, keeping her extraordinary Spring Carnival record on track) and for us down under, summer is now just around the corner.

You can certainly feel the heat in Queensland.  Each day the midday sun seems to burn a fraction hotter.  And the humidity.  So much humidity.

Which means a nice refreshing dip is in order. Only sensible thing to do really. And I can’t think of many places better for a swim than beautiful Mossman Gorge.

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THREE THINGS NOT TO MISS IN THE MISSION DISTRICT

The Mission. Great culture, amazing food, so much to see.  Really – you’re just bragging now San Francisco.  Granted, not in a Taylor Swift on Independence Day kinda way – more like a Julia Louis-Dreyfus in her natural state kind of way, because you can’t help it if you’re amazing and we get that.  And we love you.  And we love Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Here’s our top 3 things not to miss in The Mission.

1 – The Murals

The architecture of San Fran is gorgeous, period. Even in the late afternoon light it’s stunning.

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The murals in The Mission bring an additional hit of life and colour.  They make the streets sing.  It’s like Melbourne’s Hosier Lane on steroids, if Hosier Lane (admittedly, home to our beloved Movida) was jam packed with super cool, authentic Mexican eateries.

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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.

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

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5 REASONS TO VISIT THE FERRY BUILDING MARKETPLACE – SAN FRANCISCO

When in San Fran, there are many reasons why you should get yourself down to the Ferry Marketplace. 

Here are our top 5:

1 – The building & history 

You know how we love a good building? Well, this is an excellent one. And it comes with good story.

Located on the Embarcadero at the end of Market Street, it opened in 1898 as a transport and commuter hub for those coming into the city.

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Its beautiful clock tower was modelled on the bell tower at the Seville Cathedral in Spain

At its peak, about 50,000 people a day used the building when commuting by ferry to the city.

In the 30s, the opening of the Bay Bridge and the famous Golden Gate Bridge meant ferry usage dwindled and the space was largely converted into office space.

In the 50s a freeway was built right in front of the building, sadly making it much less visible. In 1989, an earthquake damaged that freeway and it was removed in 1991.

Happily, extensive renovations completed in 2003 have seen the building’s historical details restored.  The first floor is now a beautiful marketplace, showcasing the bay area’s best produce.

Ground floor of the Marketplace, today

Ground floor of the Marketplace, today

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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.

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THE OLD MONTEREY INN

When I think of Monterey, the iconic Californian town about halfway between Big Sur and San Francisco, certain things come to mind – the legendary Pebble Beach golf course, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (oh so stylish and filmed in and around Monterey), the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium and the seafood, the glorious seafood (if it’s chowder you’re after, it’s Monterey chowder all the way).

So heading to Monterey, the last stop on our road trip before San Francisco, expectations were high.

We left Big Sur after lunch at Nepenthe’s, stopped into the Big Sur bakery for the essential road trip supplies (flat whites, a long black and a jar of seeded mustard, which seemed like a logical purchase at the time), hit go on our playlist and continued up the coast.

Arriving in Monterey feels like you’ve happened upon a real life Cabot Cove (sadly lacking Jessica Fletcher, but happily lacking the dangerously high Cabot Cove murder rate), making the Murder She Wrote aficionado in me super happy.

You know you’ve arrived when you spot the very pretty marina

The architecture and streetscapes really do seem so familiar.

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When in Monterey for the night, there is no other place to stay, no better option, then The Old Monterey Inn (I mean, technically there are plenty of other places to stay but this place is the pick).

Oh! We made it!

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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.

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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 –

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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 –

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OUR TOP 3 PLACES TO EAT IN BIG SUR

You’re living it up in Big Sur. All this hiking, beach-going and general exploring has made you hungry.

You want to eat somewhere funSomewhere with views. Maybe you’d also like some coffee that actually tastes good, while we’re at it?

Wow. You’re really quite demanding aren’t you?? 

Well don’t worry my friend –  we’ve got you covered.

Here are our top 3 places to eat in Big Sur.

1 – Nepenthe – best view

 

Open since 1949 this is a Big Sur institution with views to die for.

Head up to the rooftop area,  pull up a chair at the bench overlooking the ocean and order yourself The Famous Ambrosiaburger – a delicious steak sandwich, served on a french roll with their famous ambrosia sauce.

With bottles of ketchup on every table and happy staff rushing around distributing baskets of golden shoestring fries, this is a picture-perfect US road-trip pit-stop.

Miss A and I and that incredible view

You will find Nepenthes at 48510, Highway 1. This is right near the ‘Posts’ part of Big Sur.

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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.

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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? 

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