Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Alcatraz Island | California

Being a huge fan of crime procedurals, I was very excited for the opportunity to visit Alcatraz! In order to tour the island, you have to book tickets here a few weeks in advance. We opted for the early morning tour, which means that we were the first ones on the island. We had about an hour before the masses descended on the prison and I would highly recommend it.

Upon exiting the ferry on the island, we were greeted by a former inmate recounting his time on the island. We headed up the hill towards the penitentiary, entered though the shower room and were handed an audio tour to make our way around at our own pace, to the stories and recollections of former inmates and officers.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

3 Days in San Francisco

San Francisco is oozing charm at every turn. Well-preserved historical sites mesh with the conveniences of a modern city. Having been to San Francisco as a child, I have always had a desire to return as an adult. Luckily, San Francisco was on the route we were traveling and bonus, Haley was able to join us for a few days. In no particular order of things we watched the sun rise over the bay bridge, ate some churros at Pier 39, made the obligatory drive past the "Full House house", got locked up on Alcatraz and found some spectacular spots for photo-ops (click here for the locations). Unfortunately, the house from Mrs. Doubtfire was set on fire the evening we arrived which meant that it was a crime scene during our stay. I also convinced everyone that trying Indonesian food was imperative since the opportunity arose at Borobudur Restaurant. My comrades were brave and tried it all but ultimately only enjoyed the chicken sate. At the end of our time, I believe that overall our favorite place was the Musée Mécanique, a collection of vintage arcade games and entertainment, tucked away in Fisherman´s Wharf. Definitely worth a visit, whether you are alone, on a date, or with the family!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Elephant Seals | Pacific Coast Highway | California

We almost missed the Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery, as it is barely marked and not visible from the highway, but, it was totally worth the diversion! We arrived shortly after the birthing season which meant that all of the mammas were snuggled up with their pups. At a glance, the beach looked riddled with large boulders but upon closer inspection, you could see the mammals spooning with each other. I was fascinated to see that they were using their front fins to scratch themselves and throw sand on top of themselves to keep them warm.

In case you, like me, know nothing about Elephant Seals, here is an infographic to bring you up to speed:
And, here is an angry male Elephant Seal trying to claim his territory from two other males:

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Hearst Castle | California | USA

Our next stop along the west coast was a place I have been dying to go for years, Hearst Castle. It was every bit as wonderful as I had pictured it, made even more magical with Christmas decorations all in place. On a side note, you need reservations in advance in order to tour the grounds (which you can do here). Nothing I read before we got there said hinted at that but upon our arrival we were informed that the tickets are sold out weeks in advance. Luckily, we arrived just as another couple had called to cancel their spots and we got to tour the grand rooms. Should you find yourself traveling up the Pacific Coast Highway, this eclectic collection of historical artifacts from all over the world is a must-see!