From San Francisco to Los Angeles

We planned to leave early in the morning from SFO but as it always happens getting ready took longer than expected. We had a nice breakfast at Johnny Rockets, packed up and, after getting the rental car, a cool Mustang, we headed out of the city. Getting out of San Francisco was a bit of a problem due to the high traffic and because we had to get used to the roads here and to our new car for the next 10 days.

I wanted to visit the companies in Silicon Valley since we were in the neighborhood anyhow so we went to Palo Alto for a short walk first. We found a free wifi and looked up the addresses of some of the companies that we planned to check out.

Right next to Palo Alto is the Stanford Campus so we drove there first and made a round. It is huge and pretty impressive.

Facebook was next but it was a bit difficult to find it since 1 Hacker Way was not in our map app and we had to figure out the real address. The area didn’t seem so great but once we found Facebook I was overjoyed.

Next up was Google and I absolutely loved it! A nice security guard even pointed us to a building with sculptures in the front where we took a bunch of pictures. This was definitely my favorite of them all.

Last but not least 1 Infinite Loop was on our route, I mean Apple. We checked out the main building from outside and was disappointed that the company store was closed but it was Sunday after all. Nevertheless I’ve seen a lot of employees coming out from the building. Work never stops at Apple apparently!

The last stop was Monterey where we stayed the night. I found a good restaurant on Foodspotting and we went searching for it. It was not what I expected as I was looking at it from outside but the food was amazing! It was the best burger I had in some time. Our hotel, Best Western Plus, was wonderful. The room was great and the breakfast delicious.

After a good night sleep we visited the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium and I can definitely say that it’s worth the money. Our ticket was for two consecutive days valid but we were all packed up to head to our next location otherwise I would’ve visited the aquarium the next day too.

The Pacific Coast Highway was one of the sights that I was looking forward to the most and I was not let down. Nice curves, amazing sights. Our drive took longer than estimated because we stopped constantly to admire the view and take lots of pictures.

Our final stop for the day is Morro Bay, where the Pacific Coast Highway ends. We considered driving all the way to Santa Barbara but I am glad we didn’t because SB is expensive and would’ve been too far to drive to, we probably would’ve arrived late in the evening.

Upon entering the town of Morro Bay I felt like in a cowboy movie. The sherrif’s car was on the side of the road and lots of typical Californian houses were stretching on both sides along the street. Some of these houses were decorated with flags as a preparation for the 4th of July.

We’ll soon go out to hunt for our dinner which seems to be more difficult than we thought because it seems like there are no restaurants near our hotel, the Comfort Inn Morro Bay.

Compared to New York, California is so much more laid back. No hurry, no stress. Everyone is super friendly, as it was also in New York, and I am every time surprised at the nice welcome we get at every hotel, restaurant and cafe.

Tomorrow we’ll be driving to LA and spend three nights there. The plan is to find a hotel in Santa Monica but we’ll see where we find a nice one with an acceptable price.

I am very happy with the car we picked out, the Mustang. It’s exactly right for cruising with open roof along the coast leisurely and admiring the scene. What surprised me was that the rear blinking lights here are red, as opposed to ehite in Europe. This took some time getting used to because the brake lights are red in Europe (also here in the USA) so I kept thinking that the cars were breaking and not blinking to the right/left.

Where to stay:

Best Western Plus Victorian Inn
487 Foam St, Monterey, CA
http://www.victorianinn.com

Good:
– good location, close to the Canary Row
– breakfast
– very nice rooms with fireplace
– antique looking reception and breakfast room
– computer to buy & print tickets to the aquarium (no wait in line at the aquarium)

Bad:
– 13$ parking
– had to carry luggage by myself
– free wifi is slow, you have to pay for the faster internet

Comfort Inn Downtown
590 Morro Ave, Morro Bay
http://www.comfortinn.com/hotel-morro_bay-california-CAC47

Good:
– free parking, although there are plenty free places directly on the street
– close to Embarcadero, lots of restaurants

Bad:
– too expensive
– one level higher than an average motel
– breakfast: plastic cups, plastic cutlery and paper plates at breakfast; bad food; I would’ve rather paid for breakfast somewhere else if I knew this upfront
– no safe and “do not disturb sign” in the room
– had to carry luggage by myself
– the lady at the front desk was on the phone for 15 minutes while we waited for her to check us in

Where to eat:

Henry’s BBQ Restaurant
401 Lighthouse Ave, Monterey
http://www.henrysfamousbbq.com

Thai Bounty Restaurant
1219 Embarcadero, Morro Bay
http://www.thethaibounty.com

What to visit:

– Silicon Valley companies: Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo!, Oracle, eBay
– Stanford
– Palo Alto
– Monterey and the Aquarium
– Carmel
– Pacific Coast Highway
– Santa Barbara
– Big Sur
– Bixby Bridge
– Hearst Castle

Pictures: https://skydrive.live.com/redir?resid=E8B667E963E6DBDD!10631&authkey=!AF_hY9Ukp2NijEI