San Francisco and Los Angeles and the Pacific Coast Highway in between: a wonderful road with spectacular views, connecting two cities that can’t be more different.
|Destination||USA, West Coast, from San Francisco to Los Angeles|
|How and when I got there||Rental car, pick-up at Phoenix Airport, drop-off at LAX (Los Angeles); July 2012|
|Where I stayed||San Fransisco: Club Donatello (https://www.clubdonatello.org/ )
Monterey: Bide-a-Wee Inn (http://www.bideaweeinn.com )
Los Angeles: apartment in the Hollywood Hills (Hightower Drive)via VRBO (https://www.vrbo.com/)if available: AAA rate (membership in the German German Automobile Association ADAC entitles for AAA rate in the US)
|Restaurants||Only our favourites:
|Things to do||Our highlights:
San Francisco: cross the famous Golden Gate Bridge, walk from Russian Hill to fisherman’s Wharf and marvel the slope; Golden Gate Park – Japanese Tea Garden; the famous “painted ladies” on Steiner St & Hayes Street
Monterey: Aquarium, walk at the Asilomar State Marine Reserve, for golfers: pebbles beach golf club
Highway no. 1: Point Lobos State Reserve (definitely!) and any other stop at Big Sur (like Pfeiffer Beach, Big Creek Cove Vista Point (spectacular bridge view), Sand Dollar Day Use Beach (very nice beach!), Elephant Seal Vista Point (seals!); more under : https://www.tripadvisor.de/AttractionsNear-g28926-d147161-Pacific_Coast_Highway-California.html
Los Angeles: View from Griffith Observatory, open air concert in the Hollywood Bowl, movie sneak preview in Westwood, shops on Melrose Boulevard, clubs in West Hollywood, Jazz in Santa Monica, Getty Museum (http://www.getty.edu/visit/center/ ), rollercoasters in Six Flags Magic Mountain (https://www.sixflags.com/magicmountain ), chase the stars in Malibu or any of the “celebrities hotspots” like Wolfang Pucks’s Bar&Grill (http://wolfgangpuck.com/dining/wolfgang-puck-bar-and-grill-los-angeles), Universal Studio Tour; a day on the beach: lots of nice places like Malibu Lagoon Park, Santa Monica, Venice, Redondo, Huntington, Newport…
|Recommendations in a nutshell||You would like to see the entire Golden Gate Bridge? Go in winter! Or enjoy the cool coastal fog during summer and just adumbrate the upper parts of the bridge…
Famous Pacific Coast Highway and Big Sur – definitely spectacular, but also prone to coastal fog during summer
Los Angeles is definitely worth more than just a few days – and then a rental apartment might be the best choice; however there are some down sides of such a huge city, like constant traffic jams and large distances to cover… just remember Confucius (“The journey is the reward”) when standing in the traffic jam.
Worth a detour in spring: deserts around LA like Anza-Borrego
This is the fourth part of our US round trip and covers our trip from San Francisco via the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles. The first part is about New York City, the second part about some of the famous National Parks in the West, from Grand Canyon to Las Vegas and (third post) from Las Vegas to San Francisco, and the fifth part about Oahu, Hawaii.
San Francisco and its coastal fog…
After a strenuous week of extensive National Park visits (see part 2 of our “US roundtrip”) we were happy to reach San Francisco via the Oakland Bay Bridge…and get a nice view of Downtown SF and the Golden Gate Bridge in the Background:
… and just relax. However, there are many smaller tours and trips within the city that will take just 1 or 2 hours. From our fabulous Hotel Donatello at the Union Square almost everything was – quite conveniently – in either walking or cable car distance.
So, we walked from there via Chinatown
including MANY steep roads
Left Picture: strange?…Yes! The Picture on the right side Shows the real incline..
Finally we got to fisherman’s Wharf. And – pretty tired of Walking – took the cable car back…
of course NOT “hanging on around curves..
Another must-see – of course – is the Golden Gate Bridge, but for that you definitely need wheels. And – as often during summer – the bridge was more or less hidden behind a nontransparent curtain of fog. To take these pictures, we had to wait for almost two hours.
Wheels are convenient as well for taking pictures of the famous “painted ladies” on Steiner and Hayes Street, though we decided to skip them and be happy with the houses around Washington Square and Russian Hill and drive down the famous Lombard Street:
Monterey – visit of the west coast sealife
From San Francisco we headed south. We skipped the beautiful half Moon Bay, a really nice and not too crowded beach with pelicans casually walking by. Having just one day, we went straight to Monterey. And were lucky – we arrived pretty late in the afternoon and got a discount on the Aquarium entrance fee. For me it was the third visit at the Aquarium, but it’s always worth it. My favorite is the jellyfish exhibit – hope they last, as it is obviously not easy to keep them alive.
This time, we stayed a bit outside the town center, but close to the sea and the Asilomar State Marine Reserve, which is a great place for nature lovers. For dinner we went – as the majority of tourists, it seems – to the Monterey Wharf. The “Crab House” – quite OK, but nothing spectacular. And we bought sweatshirts for the kids (Forrest Gump fans) at the “Bubba Gump Shrimp Company” shop – the Monterey shop being the first shop of this chain ever.
The next day we moved on southwards, via the famous 17 miles drive (which I don’t find particularly spectacular – compared to what you can see in Malibu or Bel Air, but yes, there are some big homes) and further to the beautiful Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. Despite the crowds of visitors it is a spectacular place and definitely worth a break.
Highway no. 1 and Big Sur
…are so well-known, that I don’t think it’s necessary to point out the beauty of this route. Still, there are several nice places in Big Sur that one tends to leave unobserved, and that are well worth a short break. Just choose any stop at Big Sur like: Bixby and Rocky Creek Bridge, Pfeiffer Beach, McWay Falls, Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve, Big Creek Cove Vista Point (spectacular bridge view), Mill Creek Picnic Area, Sand Dollar Day Use Beach (very nice beach!), Willow Creek Picnic Area and Beach; Soda Springs Trailhead (trail up the hill), Ragged Point, Point Sierra Nevada Trailhead (north and/or South), Piedras Blancas Light Station, Elephant Seal Vista Point (seals!):
…just a selection of my personal favorites.
During our trip, we had the typical mixture of sun and fog – unfortunately a bit more of the latter:
It might be a good idea not to include at least one stopover at Big Sur, e.g. at the Treebones Glamping Resort (http://www.treebonesresort.com/ ) – not cheap, but interesting. Having gone down Highway 1 not for the first time, we decided not to stay at Big Sur, but to go straight to Los Angeles. This took us the entire day due to the longer way via Malibu. And then we got stuck in the notorious traffic jam on Santa Monica Boulevard, Fairfax and Hollywood.
Los Angeles – beautiful views, celebritiy spots, great food and more
When looking for a nice apartment in LA, I was extremely lucky: I found an apartment via VRBO in the Hollywood Hills with an absolutely amazing rooftop terrace and a respective view of Downtown and Hollywood.
In order to get to the apartment, we had to get up in an ancient elevator inside the “Hightower”, a tower name-giving to the street.
On the upper level, there was a bridge to cross to the hill and from there final stairs up to the terrace, which marked the entry to the flat. The flat itself belonged to a Canadian music producer (who kept it just for the occasional stay in LA) and the office room was decorated with numerous platinum and gold records. The entire flat was nicely renovated and decorated and the price of 250$ a day was more than acceptable; in fact we considered it a real bargain considering the unique view. But before you start looking for it: it’s no longer on the rental market.
Unfortunately, as the Location was a real dream (but of course, there are other vacation Rentals in the area, just visit www.vrbo.com): Walking distance to the Hollywood Bowl, the walk of fame and the Hollywood Hills Food market, including high celebrity density and nice view; and the famous Yamarisho Restaurant, also with great views:
LA having been my home for more than a year, we had to see many places “from my past”, like the Mongolian BBQ in Westwood, that that our UCLA lab group had been visiting many, many times for lunch breaks – and the Mongolian BBQ was still there (after 20 years!). In fact, it looked quite unchanged, and the food was also quite the same as 20 years before.
Eating out in LA
Another place that I had loved back in 1991 was the Rose Café in Venice – and it’s still there and a great breakfast place. Sit in the shade outside (or inside), enjoy the great food and have the occasional glimpse at celebrities. Speaking about celebrities: there are some famous places with highly increased probability of star sightings, like Wolfgang Pucks Bar & Grill in West LA. This time, we skipped it, as I had been there before. And it is funny to enter the place through a crowd of paparazzi waiting for the rich and famous…
And speaking about food: there are so many excellent dinner places in LA, that I decided to restrict this post to my absolute favorites, as mentioned above: Lawry’s Prime Rib (http://www.lawrysonline.com/lawrys-primerib/beverly-hills ) – the best Prime ribs; Musso & Frank Grill (http://mussoandfrank.com/ ) – a real institution in Hollywood, serving excellent Steaks, and the already mentioned Yamashiro Restaurant (https://yamashirohollywood.com/ ). Meaning: there are lots of other great places out there…just go and have a try. One (very obvious) tipp: consult Tripadvisor. Restaurants with lots of recommendations seldom turn out a flop.
So, what else to do except eating and drinking? Here are my “essentials”: beaches, cinemas, museums, shopping. And visit the Griffith Observatory (famous due to the movie “La La land”) – the best view of the LA City lights:
The “LA region” (taking the adjacent cities into account) is huge, spanning 200 km from east to west and more than 100 km from north to south. There are extremely different parts, like Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, but also the Valley, Downtown… Even during my “residential year” in LA I did not manage to see it all, like going to Catalina Island (which is supposed to be great!).
There are many great beaches around LA – we went to the beach at Malibu Lagoon Park:
Behind the fence starts the “rich&famous” quarter, and a sign asks you to stay away – it’s up to you to respect it or not.
Another Highlight in LA is certainly the Getty Museum:
– the inside as well as the beautiful garden:
My suggestion: select and focus on your interests – they might look quite different from mine. If you’re up to luxurious shopping: see the Beverly Hills Boulevard. Want to know where the stars live? Just ask google and go “star chasing”. Historically interested? Then maybe the Queen Mary at Long Beach or the “Chateau Marmont” on Sunset might be the place for you.
Always worth a visit: Venice Beach: we stsrted with a nice breakfast at the Rose Cafe and continued with a walk through the streets and along the canals:
And we even stumbled across some movie or TV Shooting:
Five Days were over too fast, and so we had to leave LA again. However, I will definitely ty to come back, and this time earlier than after 20 years. Our “US round-trip” continued, and it continued not in the best way. We had booked flights from LAX to Honolulu Airport (Oahu, Hawaii) – quite early flights at 8 a.m. that forced us to leave our wonderful Hollywood Hills flat before breakfast. No problem, there’s lots of food available at LAX. We dropped off our rental car and arrived – as requested by United Airlines – 2 hours ahead of boarding.
Transfer to Hawaii – 10 hours at LAX
And then the waiting started. The flight was delayed – first just one hour, then a second one, then three more…finally we took off for Hawaii not at 8 a.m., but at 5 p.m. – after having spent the entire day at the airport, not knowing whether we would go at all or not. The flight on the next gate (supposed to go to Honolulu just 1 hour ahead of us) was finally cancelled, after having been delayed several times during the day. Our flight – at least – was not cancelled. And so we finally reached Hawaii late at night. But that’s another story (and post)…
|And here’s my favorite recipe for the US West Coast:
Cooking prime rib is not easy – Restaurants like Lawry’s that serve it usually have a Special oven. After many unsuccessful tries I finally found a YouTube Video with a procedure that leads to very acceptable results. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUQ49SoteE0
and here’s the summary of how to do it:
Leave the meat (approx. 2 g for 4-6 persons) at least 6 hours before cooking out of the fridge. Pre-heat the oven to 260° Celsius.Prepare flavored butter: fresh black pepper, herbs de Provence. Rub the meat with the favored butter and sprinkle with lots of salt.
Now the calculation of the cooking time: multiply the weight of the meat (in american Pounds – 2 kg is approx. 4.4 Pounds) with 5 – this is the cooking time at 260°; for a 2 kg Piece it’s 22 minutes. If your peace of meat is a lot lighter and maybe just a thick slice, you will have to lower the 2 hours resting time in the oven.
Then either switch off the oven as in the Video or lower the temperature to 80° Celsius (that’s how I do it, and it works quite well). Leave the meat for another 2 hours in the oven – ready! Serve with mixed salad, mashed potatoes and peas.
|New York City||USA, Western National Parks, Part 1||USA, Western National Parks, Part 2||Oahu, Hawaii|
*According to a German Court decision, all texts containing links to commercial pages (e.g. links to Tripadvisor, Airline, hotel or restaurant websites) have to be identified as “commercial” (in German “Anzeige”). As my texts do contain links like that, I therefore identify each post and page containing a link as “Anzeige”. However (and referring to the “About Me” page) I would like to point out that I do NOT post any sponsored content in my texts; I pay for all my trips myself.