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Day 13 – Homeward Bound

I got up this morning and had the dorm to myself, everyone had checked out yesterday night so I cranked up the tunes, hit the shower and got packing with some added feel good dancing moments. I checked out with 2 minutes to spare.

I had a few hours to burn so I went to my favourite coffee shop in San Francisco – Peet’s, where I can get coconut milked mocha with coconut milk whipped cream – so much yum! Sadly no cream today….just my luck.

I downed a litre of water to keep the headache at bay, used their super high tech facilities (I felt like I had moved forward a decade into the future) and then walked to the BART station to go the the airport. 

40 minutes and a desperate pee dance later, I was at the airport and the waiting began. I was 40 minutes early for check in…oh the joy! I did however manage to get an emergency exit seat for free, so fingers crossed for the leg room….

Then more waiting and more waiting and more waiting…..

It’s going to be so long to get home *sigh*

Day 12 – Decisions

I woke up this morning in a bit of a turmoil about what I should do, where I should go, what I want. It never seems to be a straightforward answer.

I got up and out into the sunshine with some water, the worst shoe choice I could have possibly made and my phone. I needed to make some calls to my friends and family to help me with perspective on this.

As I wandered round talking through the problem and delving my mind for the answer I got to see the teams of people throughout San Francisco and lots of the street art!

Each person I spoke to made me feel like I needed home more and more. I booked my ticket to head home. I feel like although this hasn’t been long that I am not in the right place right now. I am definitely run down and in need of a visit to the good old NHS system back home for starters.

I have had a lot of time and reflection today on what I want and where I have been going, the things I have been doing and achieving. It has been a “deep” day….

I’m not sure if my decisions are the right ones or not, but right now I feel like home is where I need to be, for better or worse and if I decide it’s not….the world is waiting for me next week – I just pick a destination.

Day 11 – Goodbyes

Well today sucked.

All good things come to an end right? Today was the day Jackson had to head back home. I went with him to the airport and honestly thought about getting a plane ticket back home too….it’s funny how I am finding myself thinking of home more and more and setting up a home for myself.

I left the airport and made my way to my hostel for the night – a patient ride on the BART and then an aimless walk to get there. I’m in a female only dorm….well I’m not sure you can really class it as a dorm with only two other girls in it, but still. It is super nice and clean which is a relief. 

I have no plans, no schedule, no ideas and no one right now. Today was definitely a wobble day. A call home to mum was needed so I sat by the Asian Arts Musuem and had a pep talk. 

I then went to grab some Thai food which I couldn’t finish and so donated to one of the hundreds of homeless people in the Tenderloin before heading back to the hostel to settle myself for an early night and a more positive day tomorrow.

Tomorrow I need to get myself in gear and kick some butt!

Day 10 – San Francisco

So our day started with an early morning domestic Goddess moment of getting the laundry done. Opposite our hotel was a launderette (Mission Bubbles) so we headed over as soon as it opened. We were the first in there and I had fun singing and dancing to the old school music whilst feeding the machines my quarters – I felt like I was in the movies!

After getting into fresh clothes (best feeling ever), we packed and checked out. Our accommodation had been mediocre at best, if I was generous so for our last night we decided to splash at a cheeky five star joint on the main tourist drag. They even let us check in early.

Bags dropped, breakfast eaten, coffee smashed, time for the open top bus tour of San Francisco. We had a great live guide who kept us clued in and we even had an authentic San Francisco experience of the Golden Gate bridge…..cold and foggy….

We decided to hop off at China town and hit up some Chinese food for lunch. It was this cute place the offered lots of dim sum dishes off of trolleys (we arrived as the trolleys were finishing up).

We checked out all the tourist spots including Pier 39 with the underwhelming sea lion views but awesome dairy free Ben & Jerry’s!

The walk back to the hotel was fresh and breezy but the sunny day was beautiful. We chilled in 5 star style for a little while before heading out for dinner – chicken pot pie, so freaking cool!

And on the way back we managed to catch the sunset and of course the obligatory toilet stop for me – living life San Fran style!

Day 9 – Alcatraz

Our first day in San Francisco we decided to let Bumble Bee have a rest and headed out on the tram. We had no real plan so decided to head to Fisherman’s Wharf and have a little explore.

We walked through the market, past all the various piers, people and artworks before hitting up the Hard Rock Café (and getting my pin of course!).

Before the trip I had really wanted to get tickets to Alcatraz but you have to book a month in advance and we had long missed that. We arrived at the ticket office and it said that the next available tour was August 21st….maybe a little far ahead….so defeated we left. 

On the way to our next stop there was a ticket stand that seemed to want the luck to be on our side….the guy had four tickets left for the night tour (the best one) for tonight! I couldn’t agree to buy them quicker! For once something was going right!

With a spring in my step we went to Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Where of course I was the adult that I always am….

We had a little spare time before our Alcatraz trip so we walked to the City Lights Bookstore to have a little peruse and a peek at China town. As always, I lost Jackson to his design book section which left me to cause trouble!

Back at the port we were ready for Alcatraz! The trip was freezing….as it wasn’t exactly planned, I wasn’t exactly prepared so I was freezing my butt off!!! It was worth it though, it was fascinating going round and we got to wear some rather fetching head gear.

We got back to the port about 9pm so another late night by the time we got food and settled back at the hotel. Another touristy day to cram in tomorrow!

Day 8 – Monterey & Santa Cruz

First stop – Monterey aquarium to see the sea kittens aka sea otters!

The aquarium was highly recommended everywhere you went and although quite expensive, it was good! My favourite was seeing the fish and sharks get fed in the kelp tank. A diver went into the tank to hand feed them calamari (haha). What made it was that the driver had a microphone so it was completely interactive. It was really comical watching the sharks nudge him and try and sneak inbetween the tubes to get food – they were like dogs!

Of course I was a giant child every opportunity I got enjoying the touch pools and peek-a-boo spots! I think Jackson was ready to deny knowing me…..

After the aquarium and a quick bite to eat, it was time to hit the road Jack and head for Santa Cruz. The drive was on some great windy roads with some very beautiful views of the coast. I loved the changing landscape; from city, the highway, to beach, to vineyards, to mountains and back.

At Santa Cruz we checked out the famous boardwalk. It was packed and the buzz was evident from a mile off. The challenge was on and we hit the miniature golf….(yes I won….with a handicap in my favour….) It turns out my coordination hasn’t much improved!

After a few more scenery stops….

We finally arrived in San Francisco!

Day 7 – Big Sur

We had a laid back start to the day enjoying breakfast at the hotel and a sit down on our rooms balcony.

When we hopped into the car, the sun was shining which was perfect for some top down driving along the Pacific Coast Highway.

We drove out to Big Sur with scenery stops along the way. There were some really breathtaking views and even when we were sat in traffic we could see for miles, hike up the music and catch the rays with the top down.

We stopped just outside Pfeiffer State National Park (from there the roads were closed due to mudslides and collapsing), so we grabbed some lunch and enjoyed the forest around us. There were so many wood peckers around despite the people and they had no fear whatsoever….you had to keep a close eye on your sandwich!!!

We turned road and headed back to look for a scenic point to chill at. We stopped at the impressive Bixby Creek Bridge to get some iconic snaps…

Five minutes down the road, we pulled in to a stop point with no one else there. The view wasn’t visible from the car as there were some bushes but when we got out and had a look it was gorgeous and there was a little path way taking you down the cliff. Obviously we had to go!

It lead to a forgotten rockery area with the most perfect views of the sea and coastline. We were completely alone. The only sounds were the birds and the sea and the views were the surrounding cliffs and sea….that’s it! Perfection.

We stayed for an hour or so. It was so relaxing and tranquil. The climb back up the cliff was less so….a small price to pay!!

That evening we went to one of the best restaurants in Monterey. Everywhere we walked past on the way was dead but Hula’s was PACKED and for good reason. Firstly, the food was flipping awesome, secondly the cocktails were happy hour all night (they went down very easily!) And finally, the vibe there was the best! I ate myself into a food coma and topped it off with one or two cocktails…or three or four….it would have been rude not too!!!!!

Day 6 – Hearst Castle

Well today did not go at all how I thought. Best laid plans and all that…..

My morning ended up being spent in the local Santa Barbara doctors clinic (don’t panic, nothing major….just lady issues!). So instead of heading out for the highway, I was instead sat talking to a very lovely nurse. Turns out the healthcare is efficient, friendly AND I qualified for it to be free – phew!

By the time I was done, it was already 1pm so we had to cut a stop out from our plan for the day. The agenda was now Hearst Castle.

We had a scenery stop and toilet break for me on the way, but otherwise it was hard core road tripping to get there and get on a tour before it was too late in the day. Luckily we made it and got on the 4:40pm tour.

Bus number one was ours and we hopped on for the beautiful drive up the hill to the perfectly positioned Hearst Castle. 

At the top we were given a walking tour which told us all about the Castle and it’s artifacts, some of which turned out to be a couple of thousand years old. The rebel in me couldn’t resist breaking the rules and sneakily touching a couple!

After our visit, I decided to take Bumble Bee for a little spin on the next stretch of our road trip! After a few dodgy moments of forgetting which side of the road you drive on here….we were off…

…Off on our way to Monterey….our stop for the night!

Day 5 – Santa Barbara

Waking up in the Disney hotel was just as cool as going to sleep in it…but a tiny bit sadder as you have to leave it!

After breakfast (a huge portion of French toast and an Instagram worthy donut that I would show you, but SOMEONE ate it before I had chance to get a picture!), we headed to the car to get the road trip properly started. 

Music on, satnav running, shoes off, sun out and the open road ahead of us we started off on our way to Santa Barbara.

There was a fair bit of traffic on the way there but luckily we were in no rush. The beginning of the journey looked very much like a bigger version of the UK motorways but the closer we got to Santa Barbara, the prettier it got.

We stayed in a beautiful motel for the night. I was so excited it felt like I had my own little apartment and was living the American dream. I insisted we cooked in our little kitchen for dinner. So queue, the gourmet mexican fajita dinner we prepared after visiting the local Spanish supermarket! 

I was feeling a little run and tired, so Matt and I decided a film night was necessary. Being in American meant it couldn’t just be a normal movie night though….we had to hit up a drive through!

It felt almost like I had slipped back in time (ignoring the new cars, new film and high tech details). We went prepared with snacks and drinks and people watching was almost as interesting as watching the film. There was something really awesome about sitting in the car with the film coming through your speakers, watching other people sitting out on camping chairs and snuggling in the boots of the massive vehicles.

The drive home was quiet where I was fighting to stay awake. I happily fell into bed when we got in to our little apartment – ready for the next stage of the road trip.

Day 4 – Disneyland

Oh my goodness….Disney!!!!!

Most people by my age can appreciate the magic of Disneyland for children and enjoy in the excitement of those said children around them. Me however, I am more excited than any child I know!

I literally spent the whole day like I had an unlimited access to a bag of sugar and dreams…..I guess I kind of did at Disney!!!!!

The day started with a very grown up breakfast of cake and Disney coffee of course whilst I build up a steady hype ready to run free in the park. Of course I made sure I bought my Minnie mouse ears to complete my giant child look…. Maleficent was clearly the only way to go with this!

Next stop….bring on the rides! We were nice and early at the park and for whatever reason, luck seemed to be on our side and we never queued for anything more than 45 minutes the entire day. The best ride was Splash Mountain. Unfortunately I got the honour of the front seat and so had to pull off the soggy look (thank goodness it was about 36°c so I dried in less than half an hour!).

Ruling the ride poses like a boss!

After the rides, the snacks, the excitable running round and pictures, it was time to meet some characters! It makes my day watching the kids meet them and how they genuinely feel and believe about the characters….it’s only right that I behave in a similar manner right?!

The best however was clearly Fairy Godmother making all my dreams come true….

After a long fun filled day (all the awesome 😍), we headed back to our hotel – The Disneyland Hotel!

Best day ever….