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!