NoCal

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My Journey in California started in San Francisco.  I was lucky enough to have my parents come visit while I was there, so I got to stay in a bedroom (no dorms!), make my own breakfast, do laundry, and of course spend time with my parents before venturing off to Australia.

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I have always liked San Francisco, ever since I went there as a kid. I also like the idea of San Francisco.  The nearby mountains, the hills, the beaches, the east coast city feel combined with the Cali mindset.

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It was interesting being back as an adult.  Lugging my backpack up the hilly streets to find where we were staying may have given me some back problems.  I am going to have legs of steel by the end of my travels, or a broken back. Possibly both.

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Anyways, my first day in San Francisco was a busy one. After washing literally everything I own (including myself) we headed out for some seafood lunch.  I had a salad that was just crab, avocado, and grapefruit, which was obviously delicious.

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We braved another set of hills to walk off lunch, heading for Coit Tower to meet up with some friends that live in San Francisco.  The views of the bay were pretty incredible, and we decided to continue walking journey all the way down in the direction of the Golden Gate Bridge, passing beaches and parks along the way.

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One of the things I really enjoyed about SF was all of the greenery, the amount of open spaces and parks.  The next day we spent more than a few hours wandering around Golden Gate Park, which is indescribably huge. We went through the Japanese Gardens, saw a pond full of turtles sunbathing, walked by a Bison enclosure, and even found some windmills at the end of the park.

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The far side of the park has the beach, and of course I ended up there, feet in the ocean, grin on my face.  Nothing makes me happy like being near the sea.

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I even read a book about the ocean’s effects on your emotions, called Blue Mind (by Wallace J. Nichols), which discusses how the ocean can make you feel happy and calm.

 

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That night, we toured Alcatraz Island. The tour was extremely well done, with a stop by stop podcast of accounts of Prisoners and Guards. We learned about the escape attempts, whether anyone was successful, and why it closed.

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Nothing like spending an evening in one of the most secure prisons in America to be thankful for your freedom.

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We took the ferry the next morning to Sausalito, which is a little town right on the shore.  It reminded me so much of the seaside towns in Italy, that I almost felt like I was back there.  We spent the morning exploring the town before heading back to meet up with our family friends for drinks at the Top of the Mark.

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We of course had to take the cable car at least once, which was pretty cool.   I won’t lie though, I thought it was faster, and was a little disappointed by the lack of speed.

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We went for dinner at the Great Eastern Restaurant in Chinatown, which was amazing Cantonese food.  We let our friend order everything for the table, and she did not disappoint. We tried Peking Duck, Jellyfish (tasted oddly like pasta), Sea Cucumber, and various other amazing dishes.  I probably ate my weight in food, but it was worth it.

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In the morning, my Dad headed off to the airport, while my Mom and I rented a car and drove to the Muir woods.  Standing among the giant redwoods and Sequoia trees made my life, my problems, my world seem small.  These trees have stood for hundreds of years, and they will continue to stand hundreds of years from now.

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Our next stop was Sonoma valley, where we immediately got ourselves a glass of wine and settled in.  We explored the town and found a nice market, with lots of free samples.  We bought some cheese for later, before heading over to Roche Wine for a quick tasting before dinner.

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Dinner was spent at the Girl and Fig, and was incredible.  We split a cheese and fruit plate, a fig arugula Salad, and a lovely salmon with veggies.  We finished the meal with the profiteroles, and of course, more wine.

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The next day, we started the morning off with yoga, to relax ourselves before the strenuous day of wine drinking that we had ahead of us.  We did a wine tour with a bus full of rambunctious other wine lovers.  I was the youngest on the tour, but they all accepted me into their crew.

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Together, the group of us all proceeded to try about 32 different wines throughout the day (except for one, who just found out she was pregnant!), going to four different wineries across Sonoma. The end of the day was a little blurry, but definitely involved sitting on the balcony of our room eating cheese and drinking wine.v

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The next morning, we headed over to the Jack London State Park, where his legendary wolf house was built (and subsequently burnt down by unknown causes).  We then drove around to a few wineries in Sonoma before heading over to Napa for the day.

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I was doing most of the drinking, and discovered how much I like Zinfandels and petit serahs.  We went to the Castillo Diamorosa, and I tried going into all the blocked off rooms (as usual).  We also found some delicious wine and cheese at V Sattui, which we brought back with us to the hotel to enjoy before dinner.

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Dinner was spent at El Dorado (as a fan of Road to El Dorado, I was excited), which was delicious.  The day of drinking may have clouded my judgement, but I thought my mushroom kale carbonara was absolutely divine.

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Overall, NoCal was amazing, and I was excited to see what SoCal had in store.  I hopped on a bus down the coast to see a close friend in Anaheim.

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Next post will be all about the couple of weeks I spent in Anaheim, and how I prepared for my start of Australia!

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