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Travel

California Dreaming Part III: L.A

Sultana Patail

We drove into L.A under the biggest, brightest moon I'd ever seen. (I don't have a picture to prove it, you'll just have to take my word for it - it was big)

If I'm being honest, L.A was a mixed bag for me. Views, nature, and weather were gorgeous. Our mornings were greeted by hummingbirds outside our window and mountainous landscape high enough to make our ears pop. On the other hand, traffic and commuting around were less than ideal. But we only got caught in the latter because we were newbie tourists. If you live there, you learn to get around it. 

Our adventure includes: Venice Beach, The Canal's Walkway, Griffith Observatory, and Hollywood Blvd.

 

Venice Canal Walkway

 

Venice Beach

 

Griffith Observatory

 

Hollywood Blvd.

 

And that folks, concludes our California adventure! Hope you enjoyed the journey, and take a trip out to the West Coast yourself some day. 

 

 

 

California Dreaming Part II: Pacific Coast Higway

Sultana Patail

I'll admit, when my husband first suggested we do the Pacific Coast drive down to L.A., I didn't really jump at the chance. He said "scenic route" and I heard '10 hour drive... with a baby'. However, once I started researching, and he threw in a quaint hotel stop, I was game.

The drive took us two days, but it could have easily taken a week if we had the time to enjoy all of it's sites. Running North-South, the Pacific Coast Highway offers up some of the most breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline. And driving it's winding, mountainous roads (p.s. - probably not the trip for you, if you have vertigo) proves nothing short of an adventure. Personally speaking, the best part of this trip was driving alongside the ocean. It was like a sparking blue expansive treasure chest, guarding a world of wildlife. We saw pairs of dolphins skip through the waves, pelicans skim the surface, and seals washed up on shore. Perhaps animals we've all seen before, but there was something nice about driving the open road and seeing them in their natural habitat. (Hey, I'm coming from suburbia, where the only wildlife I see is the weekly raccoon-cat brawl on garbage night. This was a treat.)

A must see is 17 Mile Drive. It'll cost you $10, but well worth it to take the drive through Pebble Beach's gated community. Here you'll get a mix of beautiful coastal scenery, as well as the mansions and golf courses of the small community - The Hamptons of California if you will. You can follow the numbered look out brochure, or simply drive through at your own leisure. Either way, you'll take in some gorgeous views.

As promised, we made that hotel stop for the night, at none other than Tickle Pink Inn. Located in the Carmel Highlands, this luxury hotel meets cozy cottage was the perfect stop after a long day's drive. With ocean front view, marshmallow soft bed linens, and impeccable service, I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone doing this drive. (They secretly stole my heart when they magically produced a crib for our baby - but that's another story for another post). 

We continued our journey through Big Sur to cap things off. Although we didn't have enough time, Big Sur is well known for it's camp grounds and hiking trails - a fantastic spot for the outdoorsy traveler. We did however stop at the famous Bixby Bridge, home to thrillers such as James Bond and Fast and the Furious. It wasn't nearly as much fun driving it at 25 miles per hour, but exciting to see nonetheless - as was the entire drive.

*Click all images to expand

 

It started out as an overcast day - but we were on our way! Down the PCH.

 

If you're considering hotels in the Carmel area, may I suggest the Tickle Pink Inn

 

Take a drive through 17 Mile Drive at your own leisure, or plan a detailed trip with their interactive map.

And so begins our 17 Mile Drive

Waves crashing down like thunder at 17 Mile Drive.

From a distance, it's just a rock formation. 
But take a closer look and...
...it's a giant island, home to seals and pelicans.

 

The famous Bixby Btidge

 

It's true what they say, at some point in your life, you should live by the water. 
To let the waves drown out your thoughts.
To stare out at it's peaceful expanse. 

 

Our last stop before hitting the interstate - Elephant Seals
(No they're not dead. They're sleeping, scratching, sparring, vocalizing, and flipping sand.)

 

I'm glad we did the drive, and honestly can't wait to do it again to see everything we missed. Between the open roads and water, wrapping around winding cliffs,  and jumping out every few miles to shoot, this 'scenic' drive was pleasantly unexpected. For those seeking adventure, add it to your bucket list - file under must do road trips!

California Dreaming Part I: San Fran

Sultana Patail

Once upon a time in the land of The North, a few leaves began to fall. So a family of three - baby in tow - packed up and left for the west coast.

Coming from concrete jungle, California was a breath of fresh air. I mean literal, mountainous, tree-filled, fresh air. Secretly, when I travel, I look for signs within the first hour of landing as a larger indication of how the trip will go. Needless to say, when we drove out of the airport and the first thing we saw was a motorcycle pop a wheelie - well we knew it would be an adventure.

Our first stop - San Francisco (and no, I did not see the Full House, house). 

We stayed in Freemont, just an hour out from the downtown core. (Although, as we quickly came to realize, everything in California is at least an hour outside of anywhere you're trying to go.) The Bay Area was surprisingly diverse in culture, which coming from Toronto, is a luxury I always take comfort in. It was a breathtaking mix of city and mountainous landscape, as we drove through the serene fog filled mornings to get to our daily tourist spot. 

Our first destination - as with any newbie tourist - was the bridge. We left around 6:30AM, trying to get there for sunrise. Enveloped in darkness, we sailed through the freeway, literally racing the sun that was quickly rising behind us. It was an early day, but well worth it.

Looking on from the bridge, we could see our second stop - the one and only, infamous Alcatraz, home to notorious inmates such as Al Capone. Now a well preserved tourist attraction, Alcatraz provides one of the best audio walking tours I've experienced. From the moment you put their headphones on, you're immediately transported back in time, reliving every moment from the daily grind prisoners faced, to the more dramatic jailbreaks such as the Battle of Alcatraz. If you're a history buff, Alcatraz is a must see.

  
No better way to finish off our day, than with a stroll on Pier 39. This is one of San Fran's jewels. Packed with buskers, restaurants, shopping, carnival rides, and sea lions, you really can't ask for much else from a city water front. 

 

A trip to San Fran wouldn't be complete without visiting the Redwoods. I don't know if it's their enormity or longevity, but there's something inexplicably majestic about stepping into these woods. It's like being engulfed in peaceful bliss and separating you from the noise. 

And of course when in Silicon Valley - Google yourself! To be honest it wasn't as thrilling as you'd think - mainly because we didn't have a visitors pass - but still exciting nonetheless. 


After a week we'd had our fill of San Fran. It was time to move onto our next adventure - a two day drive down the Pacific Coast Highway - we were L.A. bound!