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“Fishermans Friend - 'Comfort' Inn, Bishop ”


written by wahp. on 31/03/2003

Fishermans Friend - 'Comfort' Inn, Bishop

Arrived at the Comfort inn and discovered that there we were one of two guests checking in with the same name and that we had been charged his, higher, rate. The receptionist took over 30 minutes to sort the problem but when we saw the room it certainly seemed worth the wait.

Despite being next to the ice machine the room was wonderful and definitely the biggest hotel room we have ever stayed in, everything was clean and comfortable. Dave said ' I am going to sleep well here' (Little did we know!!)

In our room we discovered that the ice-machine was noisy and every time it refilled it sounded like someone was spraying a high pressure hose into a plastic bucket (this was the sound that all the plumbing fixtures made and you could hear them all several rooms away). After it refilled the chiller unit kicked in - this was louder than a jet engine on a 747, and when ever someone walked across the room upstairs it sounded like the elephant march from the jungle book.

We climbed into bed around 10.30-p.m. having decided not to run the air conditioner fan, as we didn't want it to disturb our sleep.

Although it was noisy I thought that it would be quiet over night when everyone settled down to sleep and I was right until 4 a.m. - the description hence is actual and I will willingly pay for you to stay in room 114 at the Comfort Inn in Bishop next Labor Day weekend should you want to put this to the test.

At 4 a.m. the first of a steady stream of fishermen started to fill his ice chest, to appreciate the size of these you need to think large bath plus lid and you will get some idea of what we are talking about.

As the chest is so big it stays in the truck and you fill it by dispensing the ice, scooping it into a bucket and then throwing it into an ice chest - you need to realise that the ice-chest is empty and in the back of a pickup truck so there is nothing solid underneath it to absorb the noise. Every bucketful added echoes so you get the pleasure twice, sort of imagine standing on a ladder and dropping 50 empty tin cans onto the concrete below - then repeat the action about 100 times.

It took him 16 minutes to fill his chest, no kidding. All filled up, with his truck right outside of our window, he started up. It had so much power that the beds vibrated, the windows rattled and the door burst open (no not seriously but I told my daughter that to get my own back on her - why, you'll see later!)

By 4.20 a.m. he was gone and I thought that we could settle back down and sleep, I was so wrong he was just the first of a continuous stream of people filling up their ice chests. Each time a bucket of ice was dispensed the water (remember sounds like a fireman's hose in a plastic bucket) hissed above our head and then the turbo engines kicked in.

By 4.45 I was really fed up, I couldn't imagine where all of these guests were coming from and I looked out the window only to discover passers by were actually pulling into the car park to fill their ice-chests!!!! (Seriously no joking)Made mental note only stay in hotels with internal ice machines in future!

At 4.45 p.m., obviously late risers, the people above us started to stir I hadn't realised it before but the room was obviously occupied by the hundreds, no thousands, of people made homeless by the latest floods in Korea. Managing to escape with nothing but the clothes they stood up in they were not going to take their boots off for anyone and so happy to be alive they were positively dancing to the bathroom to use the plumbing (remember the fireman's hose in the plastic bucket). Plumbed in facilities were obviously also a novelty as it sounded like each one of them used every plumbing feature several times.

All the while the fishermen were still filling.

By now our previous night's hotel the Mount n Lake Hotel in Wofford was beginning to look attractive. (see separate review)

At 5.15 a.m. Dave jokingly says ' I wonder what time the milkman calls' when honestly the garbage truck arrived. Opposite the hotel was a shopping complex and the garbage man clattered each bin into the truck and back onto the sidewalk with the maximum of noise before racing off. Not wishing to leave anyone asleep in the hotel he then reversed back down the road, truck beeping all the way, as was I, before screaming off once again.

All the while the fishermen were still filling.

Now the people up stairs were in full swing, it sounded like the original occupants had been joined by the refugees from the floods in India, China and Europe and were now having a party.

All the while the fishermen were still filling.

At 5.56 I was becoming hysterical, everytime I thought of Dave's 'peaceful' nights sleep I couldn't stop laughing and the tears were rolling down my cheeks. At this point I asked Dave whether it was open season for hunting ice-chest filling fishermen as I was ready to bag a few. I decided that I would mount the cute ones over my mantel and the others I would equip with electronic voices, like those novelty fish you get, and sell them to the trout.

All the while the fishermen were still filling.

At 5.58 a.m. Dave suddenly said now I realise what the bumper sticker 'Fishermen do it all night long' means.

All the while the fishermen were still filling.

At 6 p.m. Dave worried by my deteriorating mental state got up and made a coffee, I went to the loo, flushed the toilet, ran the taps and adopted the attitude 'if you can't beat 'em join 'em'.

All the while the fishermen were still filling.

At 6.15 a.m. the people upstairs finally leave, there were just 4 guests and they were the smallest, daintiest looking(obviously with very big feet) guests that you could imagine.

All this because the hotel was $20 cheaper than the super quiet Holiday Inn that we stayed in last time and it promised a deluxe buffet breakfast.

The Mount n Lake motel was definitely looking more appealing, at least the dogs waited until a respectable 7 a.m. before they ripped each others throats out. Even the campsites, were the tents were pitched so close together, on rocky ground with just two, take your own paper, catch whatever's bugs going, port-a-potties between 300 or more campers seemed appealing.

All the while the fishermen were still filling.

At 6.45 a.m. there were two people filling an ice-chest and it suddenly dawned on me that I could hear EVERY word they were saying and that simply wasn't right. At this point I looked behind the curtains and discovered that not only was the window open but that the insect guard wasn't in place either, that was why we could hear every sound. I closed the window and we were left just with the water filling (remember fireman's hose in plastic bucket) and the chiller unit (think 747 engine)

All the while the fishermen were still filling.

At 7.30 a.m. I was telling my daughter about the window and she said 'Oh I knew it was open' at this point I jumped on top of her, put my hands around my throat and tried to throttle her. Weak from lack of sleep I just didn't have the energy to finish what I started.

All the while the fishermen were still filling.

But at least now we were ready for our deluxe breakfast buffet, oh my what a disappointment, stale Danish Pastries and donuts, cereals, bread and English muffins washed down with orange coloured water (it wasn't juice and had no flavour so it could only be water) in the company of the gum chewing receptionist who snapped at guests trying to check out 'you'll have to wait as I got to clean'

All the while the fishermen were still filling.

After breakfast we made a hasty departure and guess what - the fishermen were still filling and there was even a motorbike with an ice chest strapped to it.

All the while the fishermen were still filling.

Next time I travel it will be with an 'out of order' sign, which I will attach to any nearby ice-machine that can't be unplugged, ear plugs and a shotgun. I won't be staying in any more Comfort Inns with external ice machines within 200 miles of a river.

One final note about 90 minutes into our journey to Bodie I suddenly realised that if I could hear everything that everyone outside was saying that they must have been able to hear my constant giggling, no wonder the lady in the next room looked at Dave very oddly, she obviously thought that he'd been hard at 'it' for the past three hours!!!

And I bet the fishermen were still filling

This was our second visit to Bishop - on our previous visit we stayed at the Holiday Inn and I can recommend it, internal corridors with internal ice machines, slightly more expensive but with a far better breakfast.

Whiskey Creek is a great restaurant which offers great food including fabulous steaks at a very reasonable price - their web address is http://www.thesierraweb.com/dining/whiskeycreek/

And Erick Schat's Bakker is a definite NOT TO MISS - they open very early in the morning (around 5 a.m.) - when I shopped at seven it was already crowded. Try their bread, donuts or pastries.

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179983_Lestercarlile's Response to wahp.'s Review

Written on: 19/12/2004

Better an ice machine than 50 harley davidsons firing up outside your room. Count your blessings

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“With three weeks and a rental car at our disposal, we...”


written by Christa. on 22/03/2003

With three weeks and a rental car at our disposal, we set off on a roadtrip of the Southwest that took us through some of the best sights, cities and scenery in the USA.
We picked up prebooked DOLLAR rental car at LAX. (They provide a free shuttle service to their depot)
We spent the first two nights in LA, stayed at the Travelodge, Pico Blvd, Santa Monica. This was a decent budget motel ($55) but the location was pretty dull.
Checked out Santa Monica beach & Pier, Venice beach area the first day (jet lag and all) and drove around touring the city the following day ~ hollywood, Griffith Park, Sunset Blvd.
Next day we headed north stopping at SIX FLAGS to ride roller coasters ~ go midweek if possible, the crowds on the day we went were extremely light, (mid May )The gate charge covers all rides.
Overnight at Pismo Beach ~ a lovely small coastal town. Cheap motel The Sea Garden ($36) not recommended, things kept falling off and it was very shoddy.
Next day drove HIGHWAY 1 to Santa Cruz via BIG SUR.
This was one of the MANY highlights of our trip ... fantastic coastal scenery, sea otters, red woods, deer, the road is a two lane highway which seems to scare some people off but we found this to be an easy drive. We were held up by roadworks from time to time.
Overnight Santa Cruz The Sandpiper Inn ($38) pretty good deal, great king size bed.
We were wowed by the sight of hundreds of pelicans and sea lions feeding just off the beach that evening.
Next day we rolled in to San Francisco around midday. Such a beautiful city, it's a must-see.
Drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and took in the sights before exploring the city.
2 nights at Royal Motel on Lombard St, ($100) quite expensive but an okay motel , clean quiet and parking was free.
Rode cablecars, explored city, waterfront markets, Pier 39, harbour cruise.
Left early afternoon destination YOSEMITE National Park. Ended up in a small town called Groveland needing a bed for the night. Found ourselves a trailer at the GROVELAND MOTEL for $46. This was fairly overpriced for what we got but we were desperate.
Got an early start and arrived in Yosemite around 8:30 am.
One of the most beautiful places in the world, well worth going out of your way for this one. Spent all day here, did a few short walks before heading off towards Fresno for the night. pulled off the freeway and spent the night at the noisiest motel in the area -The Welcome Inn ($30) one word - DONT. If you want to get any sleep at all go somewhere else. Spent all night listening to the traffic roaring on the freeway.
Next day breakfast at Denny's then hit the freeway to Las Vegas. Mojave is another must see, great drive. Got to Las Vegas about 4pm, found a room AZTEC INN CASINO -($32)- not recommended, seedy and the airconditioning didn't work and Las Vegas is very hot.
Spent two nights here, explored Las Vegas, check out the view from the observation tower at the STRATOSPHERE, DO visit Fremont Street at night for the buzz ( Las Vegas does have a soul and you will find it here),get married at the Little White Chapel Drive - in and check out as many casinos as possible for such sights as exploding volcanos and pirate fights. What a place ...
Left Las Vegas and headed into UTAH, found a small roadside motel in LA VERKIN which wasn't really a place but a crossroad. Gateway Motel ($38) good value and it was lovely and cool after the heat of Las Vegas.
Next day we explored ZION National Park. Wowed again, another fantastic N/P withone of the most scenic drives ever. Overnight at BRYCE JUNCTION MOTEL ($35) good value slap bang in the middle of a Prairie Dog colony. Have dinner at the restaurant next door, highly recommend the great homecooked meals.
On to BRYCE national Park (Yep, another one just as spectacular) before hitting the road for the long drive to Moab via Green River. This drive rated up there for scenery as well, from the most beautiful to the other extreme, I thought we were on the moon at one stage the scenery was so foriegn, more like the bottom of the ocean then the planet Earth.
Arrived in Moab late Saturday afternoon and hunted for a room. Comfort Suites ($99 with discount coupon) good room but slightly overpriced.
Next day we explored Arches N/P and Dead Horse Point. Both are must-sees but be warned, it is very hot here.
Moved motels for the night, stayed at the APACHE MOTEL ($59) claim to fame is that John Wayne stayed here once.
It must have been a while ago though going by the decor of the place. Reasonable room and quiet location but slightly overpriced.
Off to Colorado from here arriving at Mesa Verde N/P late morning. Spent the day here before heding to Durango for the night. Budget Inn ($35) cheap and shoddy but clean and quiet.
Next day we headed into the mountains and drove the Million Dollar Highway. It was spectacular with snow on the ground in places.
Overnight in Cortez - Sand Canyon Inn ($45) decent motel.
Went to an outdoor exhibition put on by the local Indian tribes for tourists that evening.
Next day we drove to the GRAND CANYON via MONUMENT VALLEY. Fantastic scenery that will blow you away...what a great drive through miles and miles of desert.Monument Valley is another place to see, make a detour if you have to !
Arrived at the GRAND CANYON late afternoon and booked into Pre-booked Maswik Lodge. Make sure to book in advance if you want to stay inside the park because last minute rooms are hard to come by.
($77) for a motel type room was good value and the cafe / restaurant served good food at reasonable rates.
Got up early to see the sun rise over the Grand Canyon. - followed the rim trail for a few kilometres, not overly many people were around here but I suppose it was still early in the season.
Left here around midday - drove to Phoenix via Sedona (Scenic Highway) We got a bit lost here so pulled off the freeway and found a room at a SUPER 8 ($46) possibly the best value for money yet at this motel. It was extremely hot here, even at 9pm but the air-conditioning kept us cool.
Next day we hit the freeway and headed tp San Diego. Arrived around 3pm after travelling through some VERY strange terrain. I have never seen hills made of rock boulders before ???
Found a room at the Dolphin Motel in Point Loma for 3 nights (Fri, $66, Sat $82, Sun, $55)this was another overpriced motel but considering it was Memorial weekend and everyone was showing No Vacany signs we considered ourselves lucky. The room was tiny, not much room to spare around the bed and the bathroom was tiny but it was a bed!
Loved San Diego, great beaches, the Zoo, Seaworld, Tiajuana,
We left San Diego and headed back to LAX, handed in our car and caught the shuttle back to the airport for the flight home and a rest from driving.
We did get a bit travel weary but we saw a fantastic array of sights in the 3 week road trip. This is a once in a lifetime sort of holiday so we wanted to make the most of it.

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179983_Lestercarlile's Response to 82102_Christa.'s Review

Written on: 19/12/2004

Wow, I live in California and I haven't seen those sights in a long time. I will go back. I would have thought the Grand Canyon would have impressed you more. Did you visit calico goast town when you went through Barstow? It's a treat. Where did you find motel rooms at that price? Of course they are dumps

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“San Diego is a low rise city that buzzes all day the...”


written by june. on 25/02/2003

San Diego is a low rise city that buzzes all day the beaches were spotless even in February. City driving is a doodle and crime minimal, the Mexican border is 15 miles away and if being a tourist you can cross the border with no problems For the camera it's just wonderful from the high mountains surrounding San Diego bay. At night the restaurants come alive for all levels and income and if you are still awake in the early morning then doughnuts and coffee shops are all over. Loved it, go there, enjoy

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“The US west coast is truly an amazing place and it is...”


written by Goldilox. on 19/02/2003

The US west coast is truly an amazing place and it is definitely worth a visit. I spent December travelling from Las Vegas, Nevada, up to San Francisco, California and I have never had a better time in all my life. Check out my review for info on some of the best places I visited.

I flew from Heathrow to Los Angeles on what was about an 11hour flight. This was very tiring, but it's amazing flying in over L.A and seeing the sprawling city and massive traffic jams. Once in the airport, I had to take an internal flight to Las Vegas. Being very near to the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, the security was top notch; very paranoid airport security and armed army recruits were everywhere, so there was a lot of waiting around as check-in took 3hours for everybody. This was a little excessive, however I don't know if they are still requiring this check-in length now.

The internal flight to Las Vegas took about another 1hr15mins, but it was spectacular. Flying in over Las Vegas at night was unbelievable, it looked like a giant fairground and all the lights just left you in awe, especially the light beam from the Luxor Hotel and Casino. You could apparently read a newspaper in space from the intensity of the light beam.

Las Vegas itself is an amazing place. I had the impression that it would be really tacky before I got there, but that just wasn't the case at all. The Casino's are truly spectacular and like nothing you would ever imagine them to be like. You will really start to miss the sound of cash falling out of the slot machines when you leave, and you'll even continue hearing it for a while too. Haha!

Las Vegas Boulevard, which is more commonly know as 'The Strip', is without a doubt the most amazing stretch of road anywhere in the world in my opinion. Plenty of amazing resort hotels, casinos, theatres it definitely is a Disneyland for adults. "Glitter Gultch" is the downtown area of Las Vegas, which appears to be more westernised. It still has amazing casinos, but its 'The Strip' where most is happening.

~ The Stratosphere: This is the hotel I stayed in and I was very pleased with it. It's main attraction being the tower itself; the tallest free standing tower in the US. It has its own shopping mall, restaurants (I thoroughly recommend the 'eat-as-much-as-you-want buffet) including the revolving restaurant and cocktail bar at the top of the tower, casino bars, and the rollercoaster rides on the top of the tower. The casino floors with thousands of slot machines and card tables are stunning; you could easily find it hard to leave them and I can understand totally why it is called the 24hr city.

~ The Luxor: Wow! That is what I said when I saw it. A giant glass pyramid, with a full scale sized Sphinx at the entrance and a light beam that can be seen in space! This hotel is themed around yes, you guessed it Ancient Egypt. The hotel is covered in hieroglyphics which are exactly identical to the real ones to be found in Egypt would you believe. The shear size of the hotel is unreal too, with statues inside that give you neck ache from looking up at. You MUST visit this hotel!

~ Aladdin: As I walked into this hotel, it seriously felt like I had been transported to some Arabian street market. I was fascinated! The whole of the inside of the hotel is set out like an Arabian street bazaar, with authentic looking buildings lining the cobbled floor. Then the ceiling wow! You look at it and really believe you are standing outside, especially when you find that it can rain! In the centre of the hotel there is a water pool and as one of the attractions there is a thunderstorm inside! You look up at the ceiling and see the clouds moving over all dark, then it starts raining (don't worry, you don't get wet unless you are stood right next to the pool) and before you know it, you're caught up in a thunderstorm of loud bangs and lightning.

~ Flamingo: This was the first hotel on the strip, however not the original building as it has been replaced. This is a much "calmer" resort hotel, with the main attraction being its garden. A really pretty hotel, with Flamingos and many animals roaming the gardens. Inside there is also a talking parrot which delights in abusing onlookers! Haha!

~ The Mirage: Home to the white tigers (and Sigfreid and Roy unfortunately). This is a nice hotel but one of the more basic. I think they have some dolphins in the back pools, although I never got to see them. The white tigers here however are the main attraction and although they were gorgeous, I couldn't help but think they were in a cruel environment. The tiger I was watching looked so unhappy and it's pen was awful; so artificial and nothing for it to play with. I was not impressed at all. Hopefully when Sigfreid and Roy have just spent out on another facelift, the tigers will eat them both!!! Outside however, there is a volcano. Pretty amazing structure in itself and you'll find it erupting about every 30 minutes after 8pm.

~ Treasure Island: How cool is this hotel? Too cool is the answer! Outside is a massive pirates ship and if you are lucky enough you will get to see a show performed on it, where you actually see one of the ships sink. Inside is also like outside. When I was in 'Treasure Island" the number of times I heard "It's a jungle in here" was quite frequent. This is another of the great resort hotels.

~ Mandalay Bay: This hotel is one of the ones right at the far end of 'The Strip' near Hacienda Ave, but don't let that put you off visiting it! It's one of the classiest, most beautiful hotels in the whole of Las Vegas, hosting many events, such as when Lennox Lewis was fighting there. This was one of my favourites.

~ MGM Grand: Grand it is too! The Billboard Music awards were taking place when I was here so it was quite hectic, but another fascinating hotel nevertheless. Inside the main attraction were the tigers and their cubs. I was much more impressed with how their lions were treated compared to at 'The Mirage'. They were enjoying themselves and had a lot to keep them occupied. The Rainforest caf is also in here, which is good fun, especially when a snake appears. (Only fake mind you!)

Other fascinating hotels that are not to be missed include:

~ The Bellagio (Stunning water to music shows). I believe this to be the most expensive hotel in Las Vegas.

~ Caesars Palace - they are soon to build "The Coliseum" here.

~ The Venetian (Nicer and less smelly than the real Venice I thought, with a miniature St. Marks square)

~ Excalibur (Medieval England apparently!)

~ Circus Circus (Clown around would the machine stops throwing game tickets at me? NO! I ended up with 300 and about 15 cuddly toys)

~ Ballys

~ Monte Carlo

~ Paris

~ New York, New York (I dare you to ride the coaster! Mwahahahahaha!)

Okay I guess you have now established that Las Vegas is a great place! If you ever get the opportunity to go there I suggest you go!

Enter California!

After three and a half days of "largin' it up" in Las Vegas, I then moved on to California. I was planning to go straight to Palm Springs but along the way Desert Springs and its massive outlet shopping centre caught my eye! Shoppers delight! Although I didn't find the clothes here much cheaper (only about 20%) because of the V.A.T, however they were unique to England, which made it worthwhile.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs is such a beautiful place and the weather was constantly gorgeous. Many people retire out here and feeling like one of the only young people in the area I could understand why it's called "God's waiting room". Just a lovely, slow pace of life; a complete contrast to Las Vegas.

One thing you must do when in Palm Springs is go on the 'Palm Springs Arial Tramway' up Mt. San Jacinto. There are two revolving tramcars, each capable of holding 80 people (I couldn't quite believe this!) and at 8,516 feet, if you make it, you'll find a restaurant, cocktail lounge (the 'Bloody Mary' was apparently invented right there), gift shop, movie theatre and a bunch of stuffed animals. The view at the top is astounding too, you can see the San Andreas Fault line and in the Mt. San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness, you'll find many hiking trails (whoops I had no boots), cross country skiing and snow-tubing. Sounds dangerous and I guess it was but it was fun, and fun is what's important.

Actually, I forgot I went to this place called Calico before I reached Desert Springs. A small little 'ghost town' right out in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Fun little place it was too. Originally a silver mining town however I really don't recommend you eat the 'kind lady's' pizza or sausages because I seriously thought 'stray tourists' were part of the ingredients.

Los Angeles

L.A is not how I thought it would be at all. It seemed to be one big sunny traffic jam! I loved the place, it was just very, very overcrowded and considering I was there just after the September 11 attacks and the place was considered "quiet", I wouldn't like to think what it would be like when it was actually "busy".

I stayed in the Ramada West Hollywood, which was quite a nice hotel, but the area appeared to be pretty dodgy. I didn't feel particularly safe walking around at night, but the place had character. Some interesting places around L.A are of course Hollywood itself, with Graumanns (Mann's) Chinese Theatre; not the glitzy place I thought it would be however. The 'Hollywood' sign up on the hills and the 'Hollywood Bowl'. The Hollywood Bowl is somewhere you should visit, holding host to many open-air concerts, where groups such as The Beatles have played.

Sunset Boulevard and Rodeo Drive are interesting places to see and the Brea Tar Pits are also worth visiting. Perhaps you'll actually see them bubbling. Someone actually told me that some idiot only recently had to be rescued from literally being "stuck in the mud". I couldn't quite picture it however.

While I was in LA, I also paid a visit to Universal Studios. Overall I was really impressed and was very interested, being a film student, in all the studios and behind the scenes stuff I managed to blag a look in on. The studio tour is very good; where you get to see things such the Bate's motel and house (Try spot Mrs Bate's peeping out the upstairs window!), a Mexican villages' flash flood, experience an earthquake and be shook on a bridge by King Kong. Other attractions which were also very good were the Jurassic Park water ride, on which I got absolutely drenched, the Backdraft experience, which helped dry me out a little and the Terminator 3D show. Terminator was fantastic and the 3D images were spectacular, but it's something you need to experience for yourself. My favourite ride however was 'Back to the Future'. You get to sit in your own Delorian and the ride itself is excellent. On the way out you also get to see the actual Delorian that was used in the film. There are many other attractions all over the park, including shows. 'Waterworld' is one of the shows I recommend; just don't sit too near the front unless you want to get soaked. Pssst any of you Buffy and Angel fans, keep an eye out for Sunnydale too and if you're nice enough they'll even show you the Sunnydale set.

The original Disneyland is also worth a visit, although I didn't actually go there. You'll find it located in Anaheim, but people I know who have been thoroughly enjoyed it.

Long Beach is a really beautiful area too; you'll find the Queen Mary located here (originally from my home town Southampton may I add!) It includes the 365-stateroom Hotel Queen Mary; the Queen's Marketplace and a shopping and dining area. The Queen Mary is truly a "must see" in Long Beach. There is also a ghosts and Legends tour. I recommend you go it because it was really fun not for the faint hearted however! All the public transport within Long Beach is completely free as well, so it's very easy to travel around. Other places around Long Beach that are worth a visit are the beach itself, the marina, the aquarium (it's quite expensive though), the general downtown area and waterfront and the Russian submarine 'Scorpion', which is located next to the Queen Mary. If you're into surfing or body boarding, I also think you'll like Huntington Beach.

The famous Farmer's Market was also a fabulous place to visit in Los Angeles. A real bustling place where you can shop, get stuff to eat etc if you ever go to L.A it is a place you really must visit.


After a general laze around Los Angeles, I thought it was time to move on so I travelled really far (note the sarcasm!) to Malibu! A lovely sunny place with a gorgeous beach. I think 'Baywatch' was filmed here and it looked very familiar just minus David Hasslehoff and all the silicone!

Santa Barbara

This was my favourite area that I visited in the whole of California. The city is shaped by its Spanish past and this is reflected in its architecture. There is a strong commitment to keeping Santa Barbara beautiful and it makes the city very easy on the eye!

At the waterfront you'll find about three beaches, loads of restaurants, a wharf, a museum, a harbour and a skate park. If you are visiting Santa Barbara, this is an area you must go to.

There is also a courthouse, (Anacapa Street) which is probably one of the most beautiful buildings you will come across. It's just 75 years old but it has the look and feel of a 200-year-old Spanish Colonial. I'm not sure if you are allowed in the courthouse whilst people are on trial, but give it a try. If you go inside make sure you go to the top of the tower because it gives an amazing view over Santa Barbara. Ever seen the film 'The Mask of Zorro'? well I haven't, but someone told me it looks like a building in that film.

There is also a zoo, which is developed like a park, with plenty of picnic and open areas. It's quite small, but there are apparently 600 animals.

Other places around Santa Barbara which I think are worth a visit are the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, El Presidio State Historic Park, Casa De La Guerra, the Museum of Natural History, the Historical Society Museum, and the Botanic Gardens. These are just some of the places to visit, although there are many more, including other museums and the shopping facilities there are fairly good.

So where was my next stop?

San Luis Obispo!!!

San Luis Obispo is a great place to visit! The central coast of California is the start of the Big Sur coastline of California, and home of one of California most popular attractions, Hearst Castle. Before my arrival in SLB, I stopped off at the beach on Ragged Point and wow, was I glad I did! The whole beach was covered with hundreds and hundreds of Elephant Seals. They were just gorgeous and one of the most amazing sites I have ever seen.

There are lots of things to see and do in San Luis Obispo-a delightful downtown with great dining, shops and nightlife; arts centre; Mission Plaza; and a world-class performing arts centre. Being a university town, there are also plenty of students around, so a big difference from Palm Springs. There is also this Mexican restaurant that I recommend called 'Izzy Ortega's' which is on Monterey Street, but err strangely is closes no later than 9:30pm.

Continuing northwards along highway 1 you'll see the cliffs of the Big Sur. Wow wow wow! The scenery is truly stunning! Take the coastal route wherever you can, it may take longer, but it is far better than some over crowded American freeway.

I then reached Carmel. A really sweet little town, where the mayor I believe is none other than Clint Eastwood!

This is a very quiet place and there is not much to. They have strange rules here too you're not allowed to chew gum and none of the streets have lighting so take a torch unless you want to be tripping up. I can't imagine there being much to do late at night anyway. Carmel was more of a rest stop for me! In the centre there is a little shopping complex, but I don't think you can afford anything unless you're on Clint Eastwood's earnings! Haha! Carmel will be your heaven if you are into buying paintings and pictures, because every building appeared to be an art gallery.

One place you should visit while in Carmel is the 'Hog's Breath Inn'. Clint Eastwood owns it and much to my madness, he had only just left the place 10 minutes before I walked in. I almost cried! Haha! He apparently goes there at least once a week, so maybe you'll be lucky enough to catch him! You will find it on San Carlos between 4th and 5th Street, but it's a little tricky to spot. (You have to go down this little alleyway).


Monterey is another must visit! Another beautiful place I would visit again without any hesitation. Read Steinbeck's 'Cannery Row' and you'll understand what I mean! Visit the Monterey aquarium on Cannery Row, you'll also find many shops, restaurants and wine tasting places here. Go down to the sea front too and you'll most certainly spot otters and seals. You can probably smell and hear them before you see them.

I then made my way to San Francisco, taking the famous 17-mile drive along the way. You can see the most beautiful houses and coastline imaginable along here along with Pebble Beach. There is a toll for the 17-mile drive, but I think it's definitely worth the money. I've never seen such breathtaking scenery in my life.

Along the drive, there are numerous points of interest. There are of course, the expensive multi-million dollar homes of the rich and famous, golf courses, the most famous being the Pebble Beach. Some guy also has a putting green as his garden! See if you can spot it! One of the most beautiful views however would be the Lone Cypress Tree. The famous Lone Cypress Tree, one of California's most enduring landmarks has withstood time and rough weather and prevailed on its rocky perch for over 250 years.

~ San Francisco ~

There was so much to see and do in San Francisco, but it really wasn't what I expected. I had this image of the Golden Gate Bridge being absolutely huge, but it really wasn't as amazing as I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, it was fantastic, just not what I expected.

I was staying on Market Street (down the dodgy end due to a lack of money by this time), where the people are shall we say "a little crazy". It was very fun though and gave the place character. Don't be put off by the large amounts of really strange people; they're pretty much harmless. There are many neighbourhoods an attractions so I'll tell you about the ones I visited.

The Civic Centre - Landmarks in this part include the great dome of SF City Hall, I think it is at Van Ness Avenue between Grove and McAllister, but I'm not 100% on that. The elegant Opera House, Van Ness Avenue at Grove, is home to the San Francisco Ballet and award-winning San Francisco Opera, so if you're interested in that, give it a go. Herbst Theatre and the Performing arts museum and library, and the stunning Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall are also in this area.

Union Square - Located in the heart of the city, Union Square is bordered by Geary, Powell, Post and Stockton Streets. It has many fashionable stores such as Macy's, major retailers and hotels, and is one the City's major shopping areas. The adjoining streets are lined with restaurants, theatres, boutiques, and galleries and Chinatown the financial district are within Walking Distance. Cable cars run from Market Street (just off Union Square) to Fisherman's Wharf.

Chinatown - Enter through the Dragon Gate, which someone in a shop there told me was a gift to San Francisco from the Republic of Taiwan. (Just off Bush and Grant Streets). The streets are lined with shops and trading companies offering a variety of colourful merchandise - silk, jade, artifacts and antiques etc. There is also this gorgeous diamond necklace in one of the stores, so if anyone wants to buy it for me, I won't complain! Hehe! Be sure to take advantage of the renowned restaurants and outdoor food markets though because the food is great. One restaurant that I really recommend is the 'Oriental Pearl'. Its really good value and the food is fantastic. Sean Connery's favourite (a regular guest) I was told, is the Mongolian Beef. I passed on that, not liking red meat but the chow mein and sweet and sour chicken was the best I ever had. I also had this lovely other meal, but I can't spell the name of it! Haha! There is also Old St. Mary's Church, nearby which was one of the few buildings to escape destruction by the great fire of 1906.

Fisherman's Wharf - The north end of Columbus Avenue marks the beginning of historic Fisherman's Wharf. Within walking distance are PIER-39 (my fave area), The Anchorage Shopping Center, The Cannery and Ghirardelli Square. Hop off the cable car at the end of Hyde Street and explore Hyde Street Pier with historic ships including the Balclutha. I was lucky not to have to queue for the cable cars, but I guess now as tourism in the US is getting back to normal, you could find yourself queuing for at least 2 hours. At the foot of Polk Street at the edge of Fisherman's Wharf, is Aquatic Park which includes National Maritime Museum and a beach. Numerous ferries leave from Piers 41 and 431/2 for scenic bay cruises and stops at such popular destinations as Alcatraz (you must visit!), Angel Island and Oakland.

On Pier 39 you'll also see tonnes of seals that are really cute, so pay them a visit too! You should also try clam chowder, which is a speciality seafood. It normally comes in it's own bread bowl but I didn't try any because the thought of eating clams didn't really appeal to me, although the people I did see eating it said it was lovely. You may as well give it a try!

Other areas you should perhaps pay a visit to are North Beach (get some nice Italian food), Richmond/Sunset, Financial District and the waterfront, Japantown, Union Street and Pacific Heights (the famous Franklin Street with Victorian houses). There are plenty more neighbourhoods which I'm sure they would be great to visit too.

Now onto the feature attractions

Alcatraz Island - Alcatraz became a federal prison from 1934 to 1963, home to the likes of Al Capone and the "Birdman." You will learn all about them when you visit. Alcatraz, a mile and a half off the coast of Fisherman's Wharf, is now maintained as part of the National Park Service. You can visit the barred cells while a tape-recorded tour lets you hear what life was like from its former residents, both prisoners and correctional officers. There are the actual papier-m ch heads used to fool the prison guards the night 3 convicts escaped in some of the cells. I didn't really think I would be interested in Alcatraz, but I'm very glad I did visit it because it was very interesting. I would strongly recommend that you book your tickets before you go to San Francisco because family of mine recently went and people were queuing for hours to get tickets.

Winchester Mystery House - This historic mansion is the legacy of Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune, who thought she would die if construction on her house stopped. The mansion has 160 rooms and 2,000 doors - some opening to blank walls. Now do you believe San Franciscans are a little wacky?

Lombard Street - This is the jagged, bendiest street in the world! You can attempt to walk up all the steps along the side (and end up with buns of steel!) or just as fun, get a taxi down the road!

Twin Peaks - The highest point in San Francisco! Make sure you go all the way to the top and just wish that it is not foggy! I was very lucky having perfectly clear skies because the Twin Peaks provide sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island, Yerba Buena Island, Berkeley, Oakland, Downtown San Francisco and much of the San Francisco Bay and beyond.

Alamo Square - this is the area where Franklin Street is. Probably the most photographed area in the whole of SF.

Anyway there is so much more to see and do in San Francisco, I've just highlighted some of my favourites to saves my hands from dropping off, but the whole of California is a truly stunning place and I would recommend anyone to go there.

So I left San Francisco from San Francisco Airport and had another short internal flight back to LAX, Los Angeles International which was once again a nice little flight, if not a tiny excessive with the security. I'm sure 18 year old girls could have a real attempt at bringing down a plane! I just think the guys fancied a peek in my bag however! Haha! So 11 and hours later I arrived back home in Blighty to the freezing cold, said my goodbyes to people I'd met on the trip and caught my coach back home to Southampton. Whoa! What an adventure! It was great too because I was so jet lagged, that having a night out on the town until 3am that evening with my mates felt like I had just got up! A bargain way to finish my travels!

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91791_Milliesdad.'s Response to Goldilox.'s Review

Written on: 24/04/2003

Just back from San Francisco and thoroughly agree with the sentiments. What a place - not a "typical" American City !!
<br>One thing to watch out for when booking Alcatraz tickets - we searched for them and the first thirty or so that came up were about $70 each !! We knew someone in SF who told us to look at the Blue and Gold line site *they do the ferry to Alcatraz) and their prices were about $15 !!!

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179983_Lestercarlile's Response to Goldilox.'s Review

Written on: 19/12/2004

You only saved 20% at the outlet by Barstow because of the vat? We don't have a vat. When you were in LA you should have gone south to Laguna beach or Newport beach. Orange county is a totally different world than LA.

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Woodpecker's Response to Goldilox.'s Review

Written on: 10/12/2003

This tour seems to be the same as the Travelsphere Wonders Of The West Tour an excelent report and very accurate sums up all the points I would want to know if touring in this area for the first time.

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