Monday, 27 July 2009

Time for an update!

So, it's been a couple of days since last time guys! The night before last, we had problems getting a connection in our hotel, and yesterday we went to a late night showing of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince so we didn't come back to the inn until well after midnight and I was too tired to even look through the pictures.

A note on HP6... I'd give the film 4/10. Plus points for being quite truthful to the book in some respects, and for increasing that dark, ominous feeling that's been building up over the last couple of films. A HUGE minus for completely disregarding some vital stuff from the previous films. If you want to make a film adaptation that differs from the book, at least stick to the story throughout the films themselves!

Anyway, our experience was somewhere between hilarious and unbearable thanks to a man a couple of rows down who promptly fell asleep 5 minutes into the film and kept snoring extremely loudly through the whole show. Whenever there was a quiet (and therefore usually tense or emotional moment) bit in the film, the whole screen kept giggling and sighing at this guy. Several people went up to him (and his wife) and complained but nothing seemed to help. We'd heard that American audiences were a lot more noisy than Swedish ones, but this wasn't what we'd expected :)

Right, over the last couple of days, we've been travelling up the California coast. On Friday, we made our way slowly out of L.A. After an hour or two of suburbs, the country turned rather pleasant, this being the southern wine country of California. The road wound on through grape fields and sunny hills and we felt glad to be out of the city. We spent the night in the cute town of San Luis Obispo (the one without the internet connection). A few miles away lay the seaside town of Avila Beach, where we bought cheap, locally grown strawberries from a street market and watched the kids boogieboarding in the evening sun and surf. Avila had a long, lovely pier, and the walk to the end was well worth it, because we got to see some wild seals!

They were frolicking around the waves by the pier, no doubt hoping for food scraps from the people watching them. Unfortunately we didn't have any fish on us, but we got some good pictures all the same.

Yesterday morning we set off on Route 1 - the Pacific Coast Highway and the old main road before the inland interstate routes were built. One of the reputedly most scenic routes in the country, the road takes you right along the stretch of coast known as Big Sur. Through the early hours, the hills were covered with morning fog, and for a while we thought our entire drive would look something like this:

While the scenery was nice enough, foggy or not, we were very happy when it cleared up for the very best bits of the route. Here's a couple of pictures from a lookout point along the road. I think they give a pretty good idea of what most of the coast there is like:

The day was one of the nicest on the trip so far, and we have tons more pictures of this pretty area.

We arrived in San Francisco around 7PM, and because we were tired from all the driving, we just had dinner and went to the cinema.

Now, San Francisco... We really don't feel we did this place justice. It looks like a gorgeous city, and it had a cool feel to it, but we had too little time, and the wrong kind of time.

We'd read in the guide book about a 'scenic drive through the city' which sounded good. We've since come to the conclusion that the authors of these guide books don't actually travel anywhere themselves, they just sit on their fat arses and throw together some shit they found on the net along with some stock photography and laugh all the way to the bank.

This scenic route was supposedly 'well marked out' by some kind of sign with a bird on it. On our 1 hour drive, we saw a total of ONE of these signs. Secondly, there was some kind of sporting event going on, and half the streets were closed off and the traffic was horrendous. Also, you drive along the same roads as the trams, which added to the stress. While Mattias was completely absorbed in the traffic, I was doing my best to read the map, with the result that none of us saw any of the points of interest on the route. We did see the Opera House and something else that was big and white nearby, but the thought of stopping to take pictures, in the middle of all this traffic with absolutely no parking spots... No. Just no.

We eventually left the route for some quiet side streets and did some fun/scary driving on those extremely steep streets that San Francisco is so famous for. We had to take it really slow to not literally scratch the front of the car when we crossed a street (obviously the streets are like steps, because the streets crossing them have to lie flat as well!), coming from that kind of angle. Sadly, I was too busy digging my heels into the carpet and holding on to my handle to get any good pics :)

Eventually, we ended up in a large park area overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown and the Alcatraz prison island. It was calm and pleasant there, and we had lunch in a cozy little park café and watched the people of San Francisco being all recreational on their day off. At last, I could get my camera out!

Downtown S.F. Note the steep streets!

Alcatraz island:

Golden Gate Bridge:

Look at those low clouds! If that wasn't the Pacific Ocean underneath you might think this was high up.

We left the city behind, promising to return sometime and really spend some time there. However, the rest of the day wasn't bad either!

We hadn't booked a hotel, which was good because we ended up driving much further than we thought we would. Route 101 took us through Napa Valley and the real wine country, and into the mountains and a taste of the Redwoods. The road was so beautiful, smooth and empty it was pure joy driving. Most of the woods were pine and leafy, but here and there we saw some Redwood trees. Look at the car in this picture, and compare it to the tree next to it. We think this is probably a tiny example of a Redwood tree :)

Have a look at this:

You might ask yourself, what is that big SUV doing driving so close to that bus? Actually, this is something we see every day when driving. It's an RV (recreational vehicle, a camping truck, husbil) truck pulling the family car along. Yes, they actually tow their big fat cars so that they can use them for shorter trips while camping and sleeping in that big old camping truck. It's crazy! Also, they completely ignore any towing/truck rules on the freeway and speed along at 65mph/110kmh with the car bumping along behind it!

Just as the sun started to set, we reached the coastal areas again after driving through the inland forests all evening. Our first hint of that was once again those low clouds:

Now we're in a very comfortable inn in Eureka, and tomorrow we're off to the actual Redwood Forest National Park to have a look at the world's largest tree. We'll see if it fits in a picture at all :)

Until then.


  1. Hallo there!
    Det var intressanta och vackra bilder från San Franskridsko (som Robban Broberg uttalade namnet en gång!) En annan har ju aldrig varit där, men jag har sett det berömda "taxirallyt" genom dess gator, i jakten på bovar, medan ett äldre japanskt par entusiastiskt hejar på från baksätet, istället för att bli rädda! Minns inte om det var i filmen "Taxidriver" eller i filmen med Steve McQueen (vad den nu hette) - jag kommer säkert på det, när jag avslutat i vanlig ordning!? Förresten, kör ni båda två -etappvis - eller är det Mattias som är "the driver" hela tiden?! Nästa etapp blir väl inåt landet igen, eller har ni flera kustmål?? Ha det bra, och kör försiktigt, please! Bye, bye!

  2. Det är bara jag som kör eftersom Vanja inte har nåt körkort (även om det inte verkar vara nåt hinder här med tanke på hur illa många kör). Vi ska se Redwood-skogarna idag innan det bär av inåt landet igen, mot Yellowstone.

  3. Hi there
    It´s pointing back home again:)
    I think you have seen all that is worth to see on your way.
    You also seem to have a natural talent to catch all funny, wierd typical things and people, that seem to be the american style.
    And they say Sweden is little america as we always pick up influences from over there. Some i don´t mind, but other things i can really live without.
    I so regret i didn´t do this trip when i was young, but i grove up during the vietnam war, and among me and my friends it was tabú, to even think you should go there, and now i am old and tired:(
    But i do this trip through your eyes and that is really amazing, i am so greatful you give this to us:)
    Thanx for all shards:)
    And the cats are just fine.....still
    Many hugs

  4. Gunnar (igen!)27 July 2009 at 21:48

    Tack Mattias! (The driver - sure!)
    Jag m å s t e ju svara, även om jag just har mailat - så jag hänvisar till detta, medan jag rekommenderar att hålla till höger på vägen, och att krama varandra i trafiken! (Fast stanna då bilen först, please!)

    "BÄTTRE ATT VARA BORTKOMMEN OCH OMKÖRD, ÄN ATT VARA OMKOMMEN OCH BORTKÖRD", som något kvickhuvud har sagt, något drastiskt men sant!