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Travelling advice

PostPosted: Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:25 pm
by laney21
hi everyone

i'm planning on going travelling around the U.S from beginning of july time for a couple of months. i will be staying in hostels, and on a budget but i'm looking to get as much out of the experience as possible whilst i'm there. as i can only go for about 2 months i am planning on travelling around the california area (i'm also meeting my friend there) so probably going to visit places like l.a and san fransisco. we also might visit hawaii. i was just wondering if anyone had ever visited these places, what its like and what attractions are a must-see. also if anyone has been backpacking before, do u have any tips? and any idea of how much i will need to take with me?

Re: Travelling advice

PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:34 pm
by Bel Bel
I can't advise on the area but I will say it will be a round a 5 hour flight to Hawaii which is gorgeous. I wnet there for my honeymoon. I would definately go to Big Island if you are going to go there, although that will be another hours travel on top of the flight.
Check it our here

Re: Travelling advice

PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:00 pm
by snail
Reckoner would be a good person to answer this post, if she's around. I think she's recently been to this area.

Re: Travelling advice

PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 10:27 pm
by reckoner
Why are my ears burning?

I'm actually in California right now. I've been here for a month, mainly bumming around the house in my pyjamas cruising the web, but every now and then I do get outside.

Something to bear in mind about Hawaii (haven't been there) is that they had a tsunami warning following the Chile earthquake and this link shows you how many earthquakes there have been since 23rd February: 346 (most of them small, mind you). I'm not saying 'don't go', just check it out beforehand. Just in case.

feed:// ... day-M4.xml

My dad reckons that knowing what to do in an earthquake is as important as knowing where the exits are on a plane. Under doors, lintels and tables are some good places to be if you're indoors.

And on to less terrifying suggestions.

Firstly, I can't really help with LA because we were there for 20 minutes before catching a bus up to San Jose where the friends we are staying with live. Some people love LA, others found it "miserable". I don't think it's cheap. Also, we are staying with friends, so I don't really have a clue about places to stay, but Best Westerns, and Super 8 motels and the like are reasonably good value, I think. My guess is that camping or hiring an RV (recreation vehicle) might be good options on a budget.

These things are in the order I thought of them (so, no order at all):

Watch the film Sideways and perhaps Bottle Shock before you go (although I couldn't concentrate in Bottle Shock because of Chris Pine's fake hair).

The cheapest and most flexible way to get about is to hire a car. If you can't do that, there are buses (like Greyhound) and trains (like Amtrak for big distances and Caltrain for smaller ones round SF and perhaps beyond) to get about.

The Pacific Coast Highway (Route 101) is really beautiful - wild seas, pelicans, long beaches - and goes through a lot of wine country so lots of wine tasting to do. Check out Big Sur, and the restaurant there called Nepenthe - apparently all the hippies are down there and they still think it's 1960. There's a couple of stunning bridges (one at Bixby and the other not far from it). Carmel is very pretty in a chocolate box kind of way (and who doesn't like chocolate) and check out The Mission there (we didn't, actually, we were drinking wine). There's the 17 Mile Drive through a national park type thing where you can see seals and sea otters - like, hundreds of sea otters all swimming on their backs.

San Luis Obispo is where we are headed tomorrow and is supposed to be gorgeous, as is Santa Barbara apparently, but we won't have time for that.

Near San Jose, there's a little town called San Gregorio and the general store is supercool and has live music: there's a band that plays there on the last Saturday of every month and they rock the house from 2 in the afternoon until about 8. I nearly cried they were so good (I was quite drunk).

I didn't go to Hearst Castle, but my other half says it was his best day out ever when he went a few years ago. Owned by WR Hearst, some rich dude who played Fantasy Dinner Party with actual celebrities like Einstein and Marilyn Monroe, inviting them round to swim his gold plated swimming pool and such.

Near Saratoga, there's the Winchester Mystery House, once owned by the wife of the Winchester gun manufacturer who was convinced she was haunted by all the people shot by Winchester guns. So, she built the weirdest house in the world to confuse bad spirits - with stairs that lead to the ceilings and doors on second or third floors that open on to nothing but a twenty foot drop. If you ever want to know what more money than sense looks like...

Haven't had time, but the aquarium at Monterey is supposed to be fantastic.

San Francisco is brilliant. At the train station, they have maps of SF, but behind the counter, they have the San Francisco Book which is a free comprehensive guide to everything you can do in the city. Exactly why you have to ask at the booth for it, I don't know. You can cross Golden Gate Bridge by bike: the shop that arranges it is opposite the entrance to In 'n' Out burger in Fisherman's Wharf (get a burger too, and look on wikipedia to find the off-menu names for orders - we always get Animal Style. The burgers are great, but the fries are slightly rubbish - ask for extra crispy fries to get them a bit less rubbish. The drinks are bottomless and great selection. A meal for $5.24!!!). On your way from there to Pier 39, watch out for The Bushman. He will be watching out for you.

On the other side of Golden Gate Bridge, on the right with the bridge behind you, there's a great viewpoint of it and the water and Alcatraz etc. With the bridge still behind you, there's a left hand turn which takes a windy road along the hills and more stunning views of the bridge - in fact, the road goes all the way along and round and on and you could go for miles into the Marin Headlands. Personally, I couldn't do all that by bike, but you might be fitter than I. There's also Mount Tamalpais in Marin County that has fabulous views when it's not foggy / cloudy (which is why we didn't go).

On the weekend, there's lots of street theatre along the waterfront in SF - The Embarcadero - where all the piers are. Pier 39 is fun in a pleasantly touristy way - it's where all the sea lions hang out lying in the sun like big poos. Coit Tower has awesome views. Coming down from Coit Tower onto Kearny (they don't say 'street', just the name of the road) there's stunning views of steep hills down to the city. The Ferry Building is a great place for lunch, especially if the farmers' market is open (closes about 1 or 2pm).

There's Lombard Street, the world's crookedest street, near Russian Hill. Russian Hill and Nob Hill have the classic street views you get in Bullit (with Steve McQueen - another film to watch before you go). Apparently, you can go up and down glass lifts outside the St Francis (?) hotel? Or the Sir Francis Drake hotel? China Town is great. My other half reckons he saw what looked like reasonably priced between North Beach and Chinatown, but we don't know.

There's also a great view of the city from Twin Peaks (not the David Lynch Twin Peaks), with the city spread out and Market Street cutting a dead straight line through it.

If you get a bus in SF, ask them for a transfer which you can use on another bus within the following couple of hours or so.

Um... that's all I can think of for now....

Re: Travelling advice

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 11:47 am
by snail
Glass lifts :o :sick: =;

But a restaurant called Nepenthe. . . how utterly fabulous! Why has no one done that here. (Although a pub would be more appropriate - I had a boyfriend who used to say he went to pubs for a bit of "nepenthe" :-s ).

Re: Travelling advice

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:13 pm
by Bel Bel
snail wrote:Glass lifts :o :sick: =;

I have always wanted to have sex in a glass lift :lol: :P - high enough up so they can't see the cellulite of course :wink:

Re: Travelling advice

PostPosted: Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:32 pm
by LME79

I haven't been to those places but two websites I would recommend are and - great place to check out other peoples' opinions of the hostels you're thinking of and also things to do that might be off the beaten track! Oh, also check out for flights and other bits :)

Re: Travelling advice

PostPosted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 1:26 am
by laney21
thanks for all that info! i am actually going to print this off and keep it for my travels! :)

Re: Travelling advice

PostPosted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:38 pm
by LME79
Oooh, this book should be really helpful. Lonely Planet guides are great! Lonely Planet also has a website with a forum where you can talk with other travellers.

Have fun, I hope to tour the US myself one day - make sure you let us know what you get up to!