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Old 13 Aug 19, 08:21 AM  
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#51
Mortimer Mouse
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Great report. It's so useful to read others experiences when planning a road trip, to help decide what would suit your own family. Thanks for taking the time.
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Old 13 Aug 19, 03:38 PM  
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speedmum
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Mon 12 Aug - Day 16: San Francisco

Sadly today was our last full day of holidays which made us all rather depressed... ;(

We had Alcatraz booked for 9.10 which meant being at Pier 33 by 8.40! This meant an earlier start and by 8am we were heading back to the stalls in the Ferry Building for breakfast! We wandered along the waterfront drinking our coffee and commented on how much busier it was today...

We arrived at the Pier at about 8.40 and joined the 9.10 queue. I was surprised there was no security to go through, just another photo opportunity!

We got on the boat just before 9 and managed to fight our way upstairs and onto an outside bench. At this point youngest is looking a bit grey & we haven’t even left the harbour... (am silently thankful that we hadn’t tried to do a sightseeing boat in Monterey!) fortunately she was ok and much happier once we were on dry land at the other end.
We were incredibly lucky with the weather and didn’t need the hoodies we’d all brought as it was so warm & sunny!

The Alcatraz audio tour was fab - it really brought the place to life and kept everyone interested. The only downside were the numbers of people so sometimes it got rather congested.. after almost 3 hours we headed back to the boat and back to the city.

We continued walking along the seafront to Ghirardelli Square. This wasn’t what I expected as I thought there’d be some information about the background to the Ghirardelli chocolate and how it was made etc. Instead there were about 3 Ghirardelli shops mixed with other shops & restaurants... each chocolate shop we went in to gave us a chocolate each to sample! 😋by now we were flagging a bit from the heat so decided to eat lunch at Picos - a Latin Street Food restaurant with amazing views of the bay. We had 3 sandwiches and one chicken nachos and they were all tasty.

After finishing these we were all quite tired and decided to get an Uber back to the hotel for a rest and to drop off the extra jumpers etc that we were carrying!

After a quick rest we headed back out as the girls wanted to go to Bath & Body Works and we’d decided not to buy lots of heavy smellies early on snd carry them throughout the trip! 😁

We wandered back to the hotel via Macys, Union Square & Walgreens for some drinks. Once back we started the depressing job of packing and got changed for our final dinner out.

We’d decided to go to Mortons steak restaurant as a final blowout meal! We’d been to the one in New York previously and all enjoyed it and hubbie had been to this one. It lived up to expectations - the food tasted great, the restaurant was busy but not too crowded and the staff were friendly and helpful. We shared lobster bisque and prosciutto wrapped mozzarella starters then had steak with sides of mash & onion rings. The girls then shared a huge chocolate soufflé for pudding!

We reminisced about our trip and discussed our favourite & least favourite parts, places we’d return to & those we wouldn’t! None of us were keen to return to the reality of work and exam results! 😢

We slowly walked back to our hotel physically and slightly emotionally tired and made a cup of tea before bed...
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Old 14 Aug 19, 03:31 AM  
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#53
speedmum
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Tues 13 Aug - Day 17: Travel Day

So today it was time for our adventures to come to an end and for us to head home.

Although I’d done most of our packing last night, I hadn’t actually tried to shut the cases and woke early panicking that they wouldn’t close!

We were flying home in the evening from San Jose airport rather than San Francisco. The plan was for hubbie to pick up a hire car at midday when we had to check out and then spend the afternoon heading to the airport...

We were all up and dressed by 8am and headed out to find some breakfast. Eldest wanted a final strawberry acai from Starbucks as you can’t get them at home. So we hunted around until we found one with seats and without a massive queue!

We then wandered round Union Square and took in the final sights before heading back to the Loews. We agreed it had been a good hotel in a good location and had suited us well.

Hubbie went to collect the hire car while I checked out. This car was a towncar so much smaller than the SUV but we managed to squeeze all 4 cases in the boot. It was fine for today but would have been a bit cosy for the whole trip.

San Jose airport was only an hour away (although it wouldn’t be a Californian drive without some stationary traffic) so we decided to call into the Apple Visitor Centre on the way there. There was a really cool virtual reality room where you could see how the whole of the Apple site is laid out and then a glorified apple store with some extra items like T-shirts for sale... by the time we’d finished looking round here it was 2.30 and we were getting hangry! With hindsight we should have eaten before going to Apple (this is something we never seem to learn!&#128580 After driving around Silicon Valley we eventually found a Safeway supermarket and popped in to buy some sandwiches...

We then found a reservoir to sit beside in the sun and also drove through Saratoga Springs (the real town not the Disney resort&#129315 which was really pretty.

Finally we sat in more traffic, filled up the car with petrol and dropped it off at hertz. San Jose airport is very small and laidback compared to San Francisco so I would definitely use it again...

Now waiting to board my flight home...😢
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Old 14 Aug 19, 07:32 AM  
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4fromsuffolk
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Hope you had a good flight home. Loved reading about your adventures. Thank you.
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Old 14 Aug 19, 08:35 AM  
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samhartwell
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Aw loved your reports - safe trip back
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Mar 2009 & May 2010 - Port Orleans Riverside
Aug 2013 - West Coast Grand Californian
Aug 2015 - West Coast road trip number 2
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Old 14 Aug 19, 01:44 PM  
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Sounds like a great trip 😁
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Still quietly saving so we can return to see Star Wars land...
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Old 14 Aug 19, 03:23 PM  
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I’ve loved reading, thanks for taking the time to share with us all. Hope the journey home wasn’t too painful!
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Old 14 Aug 19, 10:02 PM  
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Hope you have arrived home safe.
Loved reading the rest of your report, Monterey sounded beautiful and to be in the coffee shop from Big Little Lies, wow!
My DH and I went to San Francisco for part of our honeymoon in 2002 and i just absolutely loved everything about the city. Sounds as though it's as fabulous as ever.
Union square was where we stayed too and really liked the area, Alcatraz is just fab although sounds a lot busier than when we went. I'm sure we didn't need to pre book tickets and just rocked up for a tour, cant imagine that's be possible now.
Have also really enjoyed reading about all the lovely food you've had.
Hope your girls enjoyed it too, great experience for them. X
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Old 18 Aug 19, 04:00 PM  
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speedmum
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Originally Posted by beegnjasmum View Post
Hope you have arrived home safe.
Loved reading the rest of your report, Monterey sounded beautiful and to be in the coffee shop from Big Little Lies, wow!
My DH and I went to San Francisco for part of our honeymoon in 2002 and i just absolutely loved everything about the city. Sounds as though it's as fabulous as ever.
Union square was where we stayed too and really liked the area, Alcatraz is just fab although sounds a lot busier than when we went. I'm sure we didn't need to pre book tickets and just rocked up for a tour, cant imagine that's be possible now.
Have also really enjoyed reading about all the lovely food you've had.
Hope your girls enjoyed it too, great experience for them. X
I do still love San Francisco but there were definitely more homeless than on my last visit...

When we were at Alcatraz on Monday (12th?) it said that the next available tour was 26th August! 😳
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Old 18 Aug 19, 04:03 PM  
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Can’t believe we got home on Wednesday and its already Sunday - am not sure where the time has gone but before the holiday becomes a distant memory here are some random thoughts...

We drove 2013 miles from Yosemite to San Francisco.
Over the holiday we did 336,000 steps which according to my Fitbit is 142 miles 😳so make sure you have comfy shoes! 😜

I seriously underestimated the driving times and the amount of stationary traffic throughout California.

I’m pleased I visited LA and Santa Monica but don’t feel the need to return (the teenagers disagree!&#128540 I would however return to Disney and also redo the Warner tour on a ‘working day’ and I’d also like to visit the Griffith Observatory.

If I were planning the trip now I’d do less one night stays and spend longer heading up the coast... Monterey is definitely somewhere I will return to.

We all took our own water bottles and found lots of places to fill them up along the way. Hubbie & I both had Chilly bottles and I was impressed at how long they kept the water cold for!

I was pleased to have my travel kettle as not all the rooms had coffee machines, although I didn’t use it quite as much as I’d expected to!

Wifi in Disney was very patchy so I wouldn’t recommend relying on it if you want to use Maxpass...

The beds in Grand Californian were higher with space for open suitcases underneath which meant the room felt less crowded with the 4 of us.

There was homelessness in both LA and SF but they were not threatening and I felt as safe as I do in London.

The smell of weed was quite overpowering at times and really shocked my girls. There were adverts everywhere for it. Our favourite said “Come in Curious, Leave with Cannabis” and became the quote of the holiday. We saw a lot of ‘curious’ people...🤣

The jetlag has not been the same as coming back from Florida- maybe because we were up early for A level results on Thursday but I have found myself waking early each morning. Although hubbie & youngest did struggle to stay awake on Thursday & Friday evening!

The trip has been amazing and lived up to my expectations. Thanks for reading along... Sorry there were no photos but daughter is working on a short video of the trip so once she’s done that I may add a link in case anyone is interested. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment I hope it was helpful and I hope you all get to experience California at its best... x
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