Daniele and I drove from San Francisco to San Diego. Along the way we stopped at Purisma Redwoods, Morgan Hill, Santa Maria, Santa Barbra, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Hollywood, LA, Redondo Beach, Long Beach, Lagoona Beach, Oceanside, and finally landed in San Diego (which I’ll save for next time).
Having just left San Francisco and picked up our rental car and headed South. Our first stop was to see some big trees. Chris had recommended Purisma Redwood park to us, which was perfect. It was more wild than Muir Woods, we didn’t see anyone else while we were there though it was pretty early. Also not too far out of our way driving South; we would hve lost way too much time trying to hit up Muir Woods. We were able to drive pretty far in, though I never saw a parking lot so we did it “Italian style” and just left the car on the side of the road by the trail head. The trail we did was a nice loop, like an hour or so, good start to a long day of driving!
The objective was to drive to Santa Barbra today and arrive not too late. We decided to take the Pacific Coast Highway / Route 1 despite this goal because it is more scenic and more of an experience. The PCH takes much, much longer than the 101. My friend Nick, who used to live in LA and knows the PCH pretty well, told us a few cool places to check out, unfortunately it was dark by the time we got to any of them.
We stopped in Morgan Hill for lunch at a little Mexican place called “Jesus” that was pretty good and amazingly cheep. Later on we stopped in Santa Maria for dinner at a Thai place. We ordered our food spicy. When it comes out, the man who presumably prepared it and would seem to be the father of the hostess/waitress brings it to us. I wish I had a photo of this wrinkly, hunched-back, long-haired, one-eyed old Thai man. He made me the best Thai food I have ever had. Unfortunately, I could hardly eat it because every bite was like eating fire, but I kept going because it was that good!
We eventually made it to our hotel in Santa Barbra.
We had a nice breakfast at the hotel and went off to explore the town. Santa Barbra is really cute! Main Street is lined with stores and there is also the waterfront and the pier.
After that we headed toward LA. We stopped first in Santa Monica and had some Mexican (again) for lunch. Then we went to Venice Beach, which I really liked. I had never been there but it’s so famous and it really is just like it is on TV. There were tons of people on bikes and skateboards. There was “Muscle Beach” and volleyball courts. There were a bunch of medical marijuana vendors saying “the doctor is in” as we passed – that I don’t remember from any movie. There was a full mix of teenagers and families, tourists and people who live there. We were there for sunset, too, which was nice; though everything (except the pot vendors) shut down pretty quick after dark.
In the morning we walked around Hollywood, saw the stars, etc. Then we took the subway to Civic Center to see downtown. We went to Chinatown, had some sushi in Little Tokyo, saw City Hall, the Police Headquarters, even bought some fruit at the Central Market.
First thing we went to Beachwood Ave to take a few photos of the Hollywood sign. Then we drove to Manhatten Beach for a quick stop and then Redondo Beach after where we walked around a little.
In the evening we went to Long Beach were we walked around downtown and the waterfront. Later we met a Couchsurfing friend of Daniele’s and we went to the 2nd Street / Venice area. There we saw beautiful waterfront houses and ate very yummy Lebanese food.
We left LA in the morning to continue South. Our first stop was Lagoona Beach, which has these beautiful beach front parks that we walked through. Also a cute downtown; we stopped for a snack at an impressive bakery.
We stayed the afternoon and night in Oceanside. Daniele picked this this town because it has the longest wooden pier on the west coast. We walked around the town, ate in a cute little diner, and visited their library. In Italy you have to be a member to enter the libraries, so I showed off to Daniele how anyone can come in and use our American libraries, read the books, use the bathrooms. We actually did read a little bit, he was impressed. This was our last stop before heading to San Diego, which I’ll leave for next time.
I have even more pictures from this part of our trip here, like this picture of a Pelican https://picasaweb.google.com/111221349198606775660/20111114CACoastSoCal