A Travellerspoint blog

San Francisco

City By The Bay!

sunny 27 °C

I loved San Francisco!
It is such a beautiful and diverse city
with many personalities and lots to see and do!

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Start off by visiting Fisherman's Wharf,
This is a popular tourist hangout and it's
here you will find the freshest seafood and fine
dining restaurants. Take a stroll to Pier 39 and see
up to 100 wild seals sunbathing on the planks.

They started to arrive at the pier in 1989
and their numbers continue to grow. Now the
area has been removed of all boats so the seals
have a new place to call home.

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Also on Pier 39 you will find cafes, stores
a Aquarium and a two story Carousel.
This is also were you can get the best view of
Alcatraz, the notorious prison, which is about
2.5k's from the shore.

No prisoners had ever successfully escaped from
Alcatraz, which started as a Military prison in 1861
and became a federal prison in 1934 for many of
American's most infamous criminals including
Al "Scarface" Capone. It was closed in 1963 and
now is one of the must see attractions in San Fran.
You can do a day or night tour of the jail from
around $35 p.p. that includes a return ferry ride.

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While in the area of Fisherman's Wharf keep your
eye out for the World Famous Bushman!
He is a homeless man who hides behinds some
branches and jumps out as unexpected people walk by.
It is funny to watch and a cafe across the street fills up
with fans of the Bushman, as they watch him do his thing.
It is believed he has made up to $60,000 in tips in the
years he has been playing his trick and now has his
own wikipedia page.

While in the city you must hop on a Tram and ride
the cable car around the steep hilled streets and many
Villages including The Haight, Nob Hill & Russian Hill.
Jump off at this stop to see Lombard Street...
'The crookedest street in San Francisco'
It's a one way street that runs down hill and includes
eight sharp turns. It would have been fun to attempt
in a car but we had to settle for running down it instead!

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But the biggest drawcard has to be the one and only
Golden Gate Bridge! Completed in 1937 it is now one of the
most internationally recognized bridges in the world.
It was originally going to be painted black and yellow
so it was visible for passing navy ships but was changed to
orange vermilion. This bridge can be admired by afar or up close
but the best way to experience is on foot. There is a walkway for
pedestrians and bikes during the weekdays in daylight hours only.

We walked across the bridge at a leisurely speed and it took us
about thirty minutes, we had a bus waiting for us on the other
side so we drove back over it but otherwise it would take about an
hour to walk over and back.

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The Bridge has six lanes opened for traffic and each cable you can
see is made up of 27,572 strands of wire. The Golden Gate Bridge
is now also the most popular place to commit suicide in the world.

From there we headed the the Castro, which has a large gay
culture that dates back to World War 2 when the U.S. military
offloaded thousands of servicemen that were discharged
for being gay. Since then the neighborhood has accepted the
lifestyle and the streets are aligned with rainbow flags, gay friendly
bars & restaurants as well as the Castro Theater-opened in 1922.

A man often associated with The Castro is Harvey Milk,
a gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's
first openly gay elected official. There is a now a plaque outside
his old camera store / Campaign Office. His story is now a movie,
released in 2009 starring Sean Penn.

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If your a pop culture freak like me, you will get a kick out
of visiting the Painted Ladies near Alamo Square. This is
the house used in the TV show "Full House." There are six
Victorian architectural houses painted in three colors.
This can be spotted all around San Francisco and have
become iconic to the city.

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Now like any great city, one of the best ways to get a fresh
perspective of the landmarks is via the water. As San
Fran is famous for it's beautiful harbour, i recommend a sunset
cruise! We went with Adventure cat cruises who offer a
90 minute cruise on board a 55 foot Catamaran.
We sailed by Alcatraz Island and under the Golden Gate Bridge
and watched the sun set behind the landmark.

Once night falls head to Chinatown for dinner,
This is the world's largest Chinatown outside of Asia
and is full of over 300 authentic restaurants and bars.

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Posted by PhotoGlen 15:57 Archived in USA Tagged california the city san francisco by bay usa america photoglen l.a Comments (0)

Los Angeles

sunny 32 °C

Sun, Sand, Surf...
Lights, Camera, Action....
Los Angeles has it all!
Here are my top 5 places to visit.

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Universal Studios
You can't go all the way to LA and not spend the day at
Universal Studios, Beat the line up and and head straight
to the Backlot Studio Tour. You will board a tram and travel
through movie sets like War Of The Worlds, Jaws, Psycho
and Jurassic Park, As well as getting to witness explosive
special effects from films such as Fast And The Furious &
King Kong. You will also visit Wisteria Lane- the real television
set of Desperate Housewives.

Another major attraction is Water World, a live action stunt show.
It goes for sixteen minutes and runs several times a day.

But if it's more action you need than check out
The Revenge Of The Mummy, The Jurassic Park water ride and
the new Simpson's ride, with is a virtual roller coaster
with a 3D film!

Whilst at Universal Studios you will bump into some familiar
characters like Shrek and Scooby Doo. Other attractions include
a Special Effect show and Animal Actors, an insight to how
the animals are trained for the big screen!

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Disneyland
Located in Anaheim, which is about a one hour drive from Downtown L.A
is the happiest place on earth, Disneyland! Before going i have heard alot
of people say that Disneyland is so big and there is so much to do there,
you will need atleast two days to do it all. With that said i spend one full
day at Disneyland, did i fit everything in? no but would i have gone back the
next day to do more? no. I think like any big attraction you just do and see
what interests you the most.

Don't get me wrong i was super excited to go to Disneyland and i had fun!
Our first stop was the Sleeping Beauty Castle, followed by Toontown
and inside the Mickey Mouse house to meet the man himself. We went up
inside the Tarzan tree house and checked out the famous spinning teacups.

Unfortunately at Splash Mountain, the line was very long so i did skip that
but went on the Haunted Maison ride and the Indiana Jones adventure,
That was cool! You can get a pass a Fastpass for an extra cost that allows
you to skip to the front of the Que if your super keen.

Wondering around the park you are likely to bump into many Disney
characters including Princess Jasmin and Goofy. I would strongly
recommend hanging around to see the parade at the end of the day.
When i was there the theme was "Celebrate, a street party" but it
changes every year. This was the perfect way to end a Disney day!

I then went over to California Adventure Park which is directly
opposite Disneyland, This is more for big kids, age 15 and up and has
more adventures rides like The Tower Of Terror and The California Screamin'
roller coaster. There was also characters and a parade here too.

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Santa Monica
Santa Monica has become a backdrop for many Movies and TV shows.
It's most recognizable landmark would have to be the Santa Monica Pier.
It is now over 100 years old and as well as being a popular hangout for
locals and tourist it also features restaurant, shops and a theme park
with a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel. Another draw card is the beautiful
beach with the beautiful people and if it's shopping you like best than head
over to Third St Promenade, it's a pedestrian street with a mix of cool cafes
and high end shops, it also attracts a few talented street performers.

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Venice Beach
So much than just a beach, Venice Beach is a mixing pot of people,
culture, art and freaks! But it's one of those cool places that you won't
ever forget. It features a picture perfect beach and a very familiar
lifeguard tower, as seen around the world on Baywatch.

Stroll along the boardwalk and you almost feel as if your at the circus,
It has become a hangout to artist, musicians and the very wacky but that's
what makes Venice beach so unique!

Along the water front you will see restaurants, Tattoo parlors and even
a two headed turtle! If you have time check out the Venice Beach
Freak show, or if you don't want to pay to see freaks just head to
Muscle beach. An outdoor gym for bodybuilders that love the attention!
You may also notice the basketball court that features in the film,
White man can't jump!

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Rodeo Drive
Last but not least take a stroll along Rodeo Drive!
If you have any money left after Disneyland and Universal studios
you won't have for long, This is where the mega rich and famous shop!
You can find all the high end fashion stores including Christian Dior,
Dolce & Gabbana, Jimmy Choo, Ralph Lauren and Versace to name a few.
There is one store on Rodeo Dr you must make an appointment just to
shop in. Rememeber to keep an eye out for celebrities while your
window shopping, while i was there i spotted Joan Rivers! haha
You may even recognize the Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel
which was used in the movie, Pretty Woman.

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Posted by PhotoGlen 03:35 Archived in USA Tagged venice beach california la santa usa america studios los drive disneyland angeles rodeo universal monica photoglen Comments (0)

Hollywood!

sunny 32 °C

===Hollywood ===
It's a city inside a city, a place of Glamor & Celebrity.
It is a destination that has been around since 1920's
but never goes out of style. It is constantly re-inventing
itself to a newer and younger crowd.

I have always wanted to see visit Hollywood,
The possibility of rubbing shoulders with a
movie star is almost guaranteed seeming most of the
town's residents are "Celebrities!"

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I visited in April 2009 and had a big list of things
to visit! I wanted accommodation close to the action
so decided to stay at the Best Western on
Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.
It was affordable and in a great location, within
walking distance of Hollywood's must sees!

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After a Sixteen hour flight from Sydney and over
90 minutes until i checked into the hotel the
last thing i wanted to do was sleep! I couldn't
wait to get amongst it... It was about 9pm and
we had walked down to Hollywood Boulevard.

As we approached the city centre, the Hollywood
walk of fame had began and we followed the stars to the
Kodak Theater! This was an icon in it's self as this is
the home of the Oscars! It's actually a shopping mall
on the other 164 days of the year.

Once there we were greeted by over twenty street
performers, all dressed up as movie characters!
There was Bumblebee, Freddy Krueger, Spiderman,
The Joker, Jack Sparrow and Wonder woman...
Just to name a few!

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They are happy to pose for photos with tourist but
remember to them this is a job so tipping is a must!
I remember trying to explain to the Terminator that i only
have Australian coins as i had just arrived in the country
and hadn't exchanged my currency as yet, haha.

I returned the next day to see the stars on the Walk Of Fame.
There are now over 2,500 stars over 15 blocks in Hollywood.
Each star recognizes a Celebrities contribution to the
entertainment Industry. To be nominated the celebrity must
have a minimum of five years experience and needs to show a
record of their charity involvement. Each year 20 celebrities
are chosen and a fee of $30,000 is needed to create, install
and maintain thier star on the Walk of Fame. One of the most
famous stars visited is Marilyn Monroe, her star is easy to find,
it is located outside McDonald's on Hollywood Boulevard.

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Next up was Grauman's Chinese Theatre, this is made famous
by the celebrity hand prints marked in the concrete,
It's one of Hollywood's oldest traditions. Today there is over
200 hand prints including Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Brad Pitt and
Will Smith. Hugh Jackman was the newest addition,
done a few days before we arrived. (Pictured)

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The next must do is a Celebrity Homes Tour!
You won't need to book in advanced, just hang around
Hollywood Boulevard and you will be approached by several
tour operators. I did a bit of research online before i left and
had chosen Starline Tours. What i liked about them was there
bus was open aired which makes photography alot easier,
also because you can book and get picked up right out front of
the Chinese Theater. We went an early option hoping to spot
a celebrity out and about.

Our tour went for 2 hours and included Beverly Hills, Bel-Air
and Rodeo Drive. We cruised by the celebrity homes of
Tom Cruise, Orlando Bloom, JLo, Richard Gere, Courtney Cox,
The Osbournes and Nicole Ritchie. We even passed by
Lauren Conrads former house as the removalist were packing
up her belongings.

But the highlight for me came as we passed by Michael Jackon's
home and there he was, in the backseat of a SUV with his
window half down! They slowly drove out of the driveway
as everyone on board realized which famous face we had
spotted! It was awesome!

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(Above- Richards Gere's House)

I told my driver i would double my tip if we saw a celebrity
and i kept my word hehe. During the tour we also passed by
some filming locations including the houses used in
Father Of The Bride and Halloween, we stopped at a lookout
on Mulholland Drive and saw the iconic Chateau Marmont!

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The next best thing to seeing a celebrity in the street
is seeing them upclose at the Celebrity Wax Museum!
This is located on Hollywood Boulevard and for $16 US
you can have your photo taken with one hundred stars
including Angelina Jolie, Jude Law and Leonardo DiCaprio.

You can also see the stars dressed up in their most
famous movie costumes like Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura.
This museum gets a bad write up and they are not as well
crafted as Madame Tussauds wax models but overall
it was a bit of fun! Atleast a whole lot funner than
the Guinness World Records Museum across the street.

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Now your day in Hollywood would not be complete with out
a photo of Hollywood's most famous resident, the Hollywood
Sign! This can be viewed whilst standing in the streets but
for a closer look head up to the lookout in the Hills.

The sign was first erected in 1923 and originally it read
Hollywoodland as it was originally a sign to promote a new land
development. In 1949 the letters to "land" were removed and the
Hollywood letters were replaced. The newest version of the sign
was unveiled in 1978, during Hollywood's 75th anniversary.
Nine celebrities each purchased a letter for $27,777.
The Y now belongs to Hugh Hefner and one of the O's is Alice Coopers.

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Posted by PhotoGlen 22:53 Archived in USA Tagged la usa los angeles hollywood Comments (0)

San Diego

sunny 30 °C

San Diego is the eight largest city in the United States of America,
It is famous for it's world class Zoo and large U.S Marine Navy Base.
But what brought me to San Diego was Sea World!

I still remember that feeling i had when i seen
the Killer Whale up close for the first time!
It was so amazing to see a whale right up close!
The size and power of him as he glided around
a seven million gallon tank without effort!

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Sea world have six Killer Whales in total and
twice a day they preform in a 30 minute show
called "Believe" in Shamu Stadium.
It is defiantly not to be missed!

I suggest getting there atleast thirty minutes before
show time as it is common for the show to fill up.
We decided to sit in the wetzone and believe me....
You will get very wet! haha

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You can defiantly fill in a whole day here as there
is so many attractions to see including a full sized
Aquarium, and upclose encounters with Sharks,
Dolphins, Walruses, Penguins, Polar Bears, Seals,
Stingrays and my fav was Ferdinand, the Beluga whale!

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We have a Sea World here in Queensland, Australia
but what amazed me with this Sea World was the chance
to touch or feed everything! It is so hand on, your
given the opportunity to touch the dolphins in their
enclosure, feed the seals and even pat the stingrays!

Sea World would have to be on of the must do experiences
while in America and was one of the highlights on my trip!
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Another must see in the area is San Diego Zoo...
It has over 4000 animals that include Elephants,
Gorillas, Polar Bears, Giraffes and features a Panda
Bear enclosure!

The Zoo is open aired and easy to walk around
but you can opt to take a double decker bus or ride
the cable car lift to get around.

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It featured eight different animal zones including
Urban Jungle, Africa Rocks and Polar Rim.
For $40 US dollars a ticket you will absolutely
get your moneys worth at San Diego Zoo!

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San Diego is so easy to get around with
Trams, Buses and Trains, It is also very clean and
safe city. The city is split into two city centers,
Old Town and Downtown and check out The Gaslamp
quarter for the cities best bars and restaurants!

Seaport Village was my fav part of the city
and is located on the waterfront in the Downtown
district, It's a marina that features Shops, Galleries and
seaside Restaurants including the famous San Diego Pier Cafe.

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One of the best ways to see San Diego is by
water so we opted for a cruise along the harbour.
We went with Hornblower cruises that for $20 US
included a one hour narrated cruise that went up under the
Corondo Bridge and past the large Navy ports.

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During our three night stay in San Diego we
had an included day trip to Tijuana Mexico!
There was abit of trouble in the area a month prior
and alot of people in San Diego advised us not to go
but I was looking forward to it, plus i love Mexican food!

We went on a private coach tour and got to the Mexican
border in about 30 minutes, While crossing the border we
were all told not to take any photos or video and an inspector
had searched in and under the bus as well as checking
everyones passports. This is the busiest land border in the
world with over 40 million visitors a year!

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The bus dropped us off in Avenida RevoluciĆ³n,
which is Tijuana's main street and was full of life and colour.
Many tourist visit the area which is filled with shops,
Taco stores and mexican restaurants. The street venders approached
the bus as soon as we pulled up and many shop owners greeted
you in the street and persuades you inside to show you their products,
some even took you behind the scenes to show you the product
being made. All store items have price tags but Bartering is encouraged.

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We went to a mexican restaurant for lunch and got our
photo with a Tijuana Zebra, which is really a donkey painted
to look like a zebra hehe, Overall it was a great samplier
of what Mexico has to offer and a fun day out, I would recommend it!

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Posted by PhotoGlen 16:36 Archived in USA Tagged sea california mexico zoo san world usa diego tijuana photoglen Comments (0)

Chile

My first trip Overseas.

At 22 years old i was so keen to start traveling,
i was influenced by it on movies and in magazines
and i really wanted to go somewhere new and exciting...

I had been working and saving hard for a while now
and i was starting to day dream about where to go
and what to do... I was inspired to Google travel and
soon after i found a job advertised for a Photographer
on board a cruise ship! I couldn't believe my eyes...
Someone would pay me to travel the world and take
photos all day! I applied for the job and after a long
process i had a job interview on Skype. I was successful!

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I couldn't wait to see which amazing place i would end up
working in, I had so many places on my bucket list that i
wanted to visit! Soon after i received my ship's itinerary
and i was going to South America...

I never had any interest in South America at the time,
and it was one of the only places i hadn't imagined visiting.

So one month later i farewelled my family at Sydney airport
and boarded my 30 hour flight to Santiago, Chile!

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I had now arrived in this foreign country,
and i was starting to realize how far away from home i was,
Santiago was a world away from Sydney and could not
be more different. I caught a mini van out to Vina Del Mar
where i was put up for a night before the cruise ship left.

That day i didn't even sleep. I got my camera and
spend the afternoon walking around the streets
capturing the cityscapes as i went. In my mind i was
cautious not to get lost as all the signs were in Spanish
and no-one around me spoke English. I felt vulnerable.

(My first souvenir, i found this wooden statue key ring in a market)
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The next day I was transfered by coach to Valparaiso
and boarded the cruise ship. Long story short i didn't enjoy
my ship life, For me the conditions of crew and only seeing the
world via a port hole had deflated my dream and on that
long flight home I remember thinking this was it for me.

Perhaps I am not suppose to travel, perhaps this was as good
as it gets? Those feelings didn't last long... I was back at work
and back to saving again. This time going to do it right,
Do it my way... It would have to be with a tour group so i am
not alone. I remember at the airport in Chile i had to take my
very large suitcase into the toilet with me because I didn't have
anyone i could leave it with. I also remember taking my photo
myself because i couldn't trust handing my camera to a stranger.

For me, my first trip overseas was uneventful,
I was Homesick and a working holiday meant i was
at work while everyone else was on holiday.

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Posted by PhotoGlen 04:20 Archived in Chile Tagged my home south chile america sick trip first travelling alone working overseas Comments (0)

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