Spring Break Tour 7: Farewell Golden City

It’s the last day of my journey. I hike the north-east of the city this time. My way leads me from the Tenderloin to Japan Town, from there up the hills of Pacific Heights, down into Chinatown and the North Beach.

The last day of my trip has arrived. I am so pumped with positive energy and joy about what I have seen and experienced, that there is no time to be sad I have to return to Florida. The flight is at night, so I have the full day to spend in the city hiking around. I pack everything and start, today I hit the Tenderloin first, an areal of San Francisco right in the middle of the city, where lots of broken people hang out, yet tolerated by authorities – I decide to not take pictures here while I walk along Hyde Street. It is close to the Mission area where my exploration started yesterday. I have nothing special on my agenda today, just strolling around and see as much as possible of the rest of this awesome city.

From the Tenderloin I reach Japan Town first and continue to walk up the hills of Pacific Heights, another good area for pretty pricey living.

You have a great view from those hills, either to the bay, to Alcatraz or to the center of the city. It’s beautiful! I take some time in Alta Plaza Park, which is not overwhelming but still offers a great view onto Alcatraz. On the other side, towards the inner city, I can observe a big column of smoke, there has to be a big fire somewhere…

From Pacific Heights I walk along Broadway back towards downtown. I have no energy left to make it actually to shore of the bay, to the Marina Blvd, therefore I should have gotten up earlier.

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Soon I hit SFs typical China Town and I decide to get me some decent dinner over here, Peking duck with rice, to go. I quickly eat half of it in the Portsmouth Square Plaza but I really don’t like this area somehow, so I continue the Kearny Street towards the Telegraph Hill.

The Pioneer Park with the well known Coit Tower on top, which is closed due to refurbishment is my last destination. I eat my dinner while I watch the sun going down. It has been a sleepy day today, compared to yesterdays march. Still I made some miles, but the more beautiful areas of SF are surely to be found around Mission, Castro and Haight-Ashbury. At least I was in North Beach, the touristic area of SF, and it is beautiful after all, isn’t it. I return to Oakland and Carl brings me to the airport. If I am totally honest… I’d love to stay in California right away and not go back to Florida, at least for this moment – but on the other hand I am looking forward to see my people in Gainesville, too. It is a great state of the USA, so far the best I have ever experienced and it is worth reconsidering, if a comeback – for longer – would not be an option. Thanks Carl, thanks Californians for your hospitality and the great time! 

Spring Break Tour 7: Epic San Francisco!

The main sights of San Francisco, without entering any museum, just from outlooks are the Golden Gate Bridge, with is without doubt, the island of Alcatraz, the Twin Peaks and the Ocean Beach. Those sights are not easy to reach by foot and you better employ a car. But if you are there time flies by and you will be impressed by the synthesis of man made engineering and nature, which is unique!

Okay, I am there. The final destination of my trip, the mother of freedom within the USA. The Golden Gate Bridge is what I see first. I am embraced! Thousands of people are looking for a space to park their car, to get their share of space for their unique souvenir, a photo. It’s not that easy and it takes time.

Carl picks me up in downtown, it is absolutely great to see him, haven’t seen each other since December 2013 in Innsbruck, the last time when he stopped by before he left to work in San Francisco for two years. He lives in Oakland, this is kind of a suburb to San Francisco and since it is a fight to get back there in the traffic we decide to stay in SF directly and start with a beer of IBK-reunion – Hell YEAH! We hit the bar ZEITGEIST first and it’s crowded as hell. Pitcher time!

We get to know two guys from Cali, can just remember the name of Patrick tho. After four pitchers we decide to continue to another location. We are all quite wasted already and a smell of Sizzurp lies all over the city… For some reasons we are not allowed to access one place, are thrown out of another one and get totally wasted in a third one but the place sucks so we return to the first place and the night ends soon. Somehow Carl and me get back to Oakland, we don’t remember how, but we awake at his place the next morning…

It takes some time to recover but finally we manage to start. In Cali you work a lot and just the weekends are off, OK that is nothing new, but the vacation each year is limited to a maximum of 15 days with not even half the amount of public holidays compared to Austria. Not much if you consider to get around there and all of that getting around takes time. It is weekend and he has not to work so we actually go cruising, first of all to grab an awesome sandwich at the Sandwich Point.

Then we had back to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area close to the Golden Gate Bridge. We spend about one hour there and it is just relaxed after the last night and the view to the city is breathtaking.

We continue to the Marine Headlands (Point Bonita) which are further outside of the bay. On the way I realize that there is lots of green and there are lots of hills or small mountains even, surrounding this city. Must be a paradise for bikers, for surfers anyways and for winter sport enthusiasts if you are willing to drive out to Mt Tahoe. This city has it all!

We return in direction of the city and take another exit directly in front of the bridge, this is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area directly by the bridge. And we meet two nice Cali girls who are willing to take pictures of Carl and me and in return we take pictures of them. Cali has lots of nice and open minded people, who give you a helping hand here and there all the time, I love that!

The timeshift of last night favors our plans to see more sights of the city this day. We head to San Francisco’s main beach, the Ocean Beach at the Pacific. It is huge and beautiful but freezing cold.

And there is still time left before sunset. Since the clouds block the sun totally and it’s cold we decide to drive up to the Twinpeaks to have our next stop. The view from the peaks over the city is unrivaled and we have another beer while the evening wins over the day and the lights pop up in the city.

In Haight-Ashbury we have another stop and there are pretty cool shops. It’s already 10 p.m. but a music store has a DJane giving her best (cool!) and she plays some crazy tunes. We dance a bit, have another beer to the music and decide to head home afterwards.

The day was not too long but we are tired and decide to go home and relax. Carl has to work the next day but it was a great day and we saw a lot and for me it is time to recover from the last days roadtrippin’.

On our way back we make a stopover on Yerba Buena Island, to enjoy one last glimpse onto the city. With the surfing in Santa Cruz in the morning of the day before, IBK-reunion at night, all those wonderful impressions and the great food my most memorable 24 hours of the whole trip! Thank you bro for your hospitality it has been the most fun 24 hours for a long, long time – and remember, PUSH!

Spring Break Tour 5: Rocking Santa Cruz!

Santa Cruz of California is like Innsbruck of Austria in regard to outdoor activity. It is a sleepy little town, in the middle of the most beautiful part of Californias coast I experienced. Redwood is surrounding the city and the campus is built in this forest. You find nice and laid back people over there and for surfing there is probably no other place – like for snowboarding there is no other place like IBK.

I hit the campus right out of a big CF* in Santa Cruz. It is a tad elevated over the city and – interesting! You have a humongous forest around all the university buildings and in between the little condo houses of the students. It looks a bit like the elven village from Lord of the Rings. I want to talk to a Professor I know from a congress and I am lucky to find him in his office. Won’t say more, can’t say more, believe me it was quite an interesting talk… But University of California, Santa Cruz is for sure a nice place to be. It’s comparable to Innsbruck from the spirit, in IBK you got mountains and snowboarding, in Santa Cruz you got the Pacific in front of your door, supreme surfing and snowboarding if you are willing for a two hour ride into the mountains – what is a couple of hundred miles, right? Awesome!

After sunset and some observation of the skills of the local surfers (hilarious!) I make my way into the city. It’s tiny! I stroll around and discover a bad-ass shop for vinyl LPs, some of the most cool shops for surfers clothes, I’ve ever seen – and that’s where I get my new beloved hat – and a little further into downtown, some artists performing Hip Hop and Samba on the street. I join them, of course and party until 10:30 p.m.

And after this really cool experience, I attend the Irish Pub Poet & Patriot, where I get to know some really nice people. A girl called Violet from south Italy and her American friends, and later this evening Cassidy, a dude from Washington D.C.

I still have no place to sleep and I really don’t care. Could just ride up to campus and sleep in the car, right? But that’s not necessary. I talk with Cassidy about mountaneering, surfing, snowboarding and want to say goodbye, like “Dude, was awesome to meet you and your buddies, have to leave now to find a place to crash in the car, where the cops don’t find me at night…”. And he invites me to crash at his place. It’s really great! And so I crash at their place. The guys are all PhD students in physics, really nice folks, love to surf, to snowboard and the craziest thing is, Cassidy will come to Europe by the time I come back, for a conference and I invite him to experience the mountains of Tyrol with me. That will be fun! Cassidy, you are still very welcome and I hope you will be able to manage our mountains… 😉

The next morning I have breakfast with the guys, the other one is Juan from Spain. And since I had the intention to go surfing – second time of my life, 6 years after my first experience on Eleuthera of the Bahamas – I ask them for advice, where to rent the equipment and where to go. They send me over to Freeline, a small but very well sorted surf shop in the south of Santa Cruz. And they tell me to visit the Nisene State Park close to Santa Cruz before I leave… You can rent your equipment for just $25 a day, that’s what I do. Glad the board fits into my small rental car.

I hit Sharks Cove right at the end of 41st Street and enjoy two hours of surfing. Probably looks pretty clumsy but I don’t care. It’s the second time as I told you and for that it still works alright! I am able to catch some waves, they are pretty big. And all the paddling and swimming really exhausts me, yet leaves joy, happiness and adrenaline. After two hours I am just done, with a big grin on my face, and I still need to hit San Francisco… Exhausted, but happy and relaxed I continue my journey and I will never forget those friendly and nice people who live in this city.

*I will use CF as a abbreviation for cluster fuck = traffic jam

Spring Break Tour 5: Big Sur, divine beauty of CALI

My travel brings me along the coastal line between Santa Maria and Santa Cruz. You will hit stunning cliffs, turqouise water and massive big waves along shore. A deep forest of redwoods and eucalyptus and lots of wildlife. On a good part of the trail the country looks like Ireland and since it is spring, there are blooming flowers all over the place…

The night was too short. I feel ill and crawl out of the bed. Another trip of around 200 miles lies in front of me. It’s probably the most scenic route of the trip, the Pacific Highway US-1 (PCH-1) along the coast and I will pass Big Sur, the most well known region there, known for its divine beauty. My destination is Santa Cruz. I have heard about Santa Cruz about one year ago, when a Professor of the Institute of Chemistry of UCSC was talking in Fulpmes and since this day I am totally eager to find out about that tiny city at the coast. The first place I hit this morning is Pismo and it’s a cute little village by the sea.

I haven’t had any Internet service during my stay at the crappy Motel so I decide to stop and find a cafe to get some breakfast and to my surprise I find the best breakfast of my trip, and of my time in the USA. The place is called

Old West Cinnamon Rolls, the name of the cafe, in Pismo at the coast offers true Espresso, cinnamon buns and everything else a European heart would desire for a great breakfast. The experience is so great, that I need to report on it and if you ever hit this area, make sure to grab you breakfast over there. The Wi-Fi access is granted with the password cinnamon by the way… 😉

I continue the trip and the ocean is wild and merciless. The coastline changes every once and a while, every turn you make along PCH-1 reveals a different scenery. There is not much traffic and the picturesque landscape forces you to stop often and enjoy the views. My music pushes me even more, the windows down, a black and mild cigar in the ankle of my mouth, the spume of the ocean stroking my skin, delivering an unique and incomparable scent to my nostrils. This is how freedom feels and just California offers it in this way. I luv it!

This whole landscape is a theme park of earth porn. You stop the car here and there, have a look down to the beach and see splendid of wildlife. A massive group of elephant seals just lies around and chills. It reminds me of obese German / Austrian / American tourists, taking a sunbath in an all inclusive hotel. Just chilling there, without moving most of the time and when moving just shoveling sand on their fat bellies. Have never seen a stranger animal alive so far!

You certainly have the feeling of a small creature, if you experience the coastline and its power. Building up PCH-1 in this surrounding must have been a challenge, taming this nature will probably never be possible… And every once in a while the sea has gotten a piece of land and the highway is broken apart into the deep. Impressive!

The heart of this coastal strip is called Big Sur and the colors, the sea brings up are like in the Carribean. Nothing more to say, just enjoy the pictures.

And when you leave behind those turquoise lagoons you will hit a deep forest of redwoods. It goes hand in hand. You will find the scent of Eucalyptus as well. The tree came there as an endemit from Australia and causes lots of trouble to the settled specimens… Soon I hit Monterey and all too soon this trip is over. Before I can lay back on the shore of Santa Cruz I have to face the traffic and that is the non-appreciable experience of the day…

Spring Break Tour 4: Back to CALI’s shore, Mojave and Sequoia Ntl Forest

This is a pure Roadtrip, getting back marvellous Las Vegas to shore of CALI. It’s great to witness the diversity and change of the countryside on just 100 miles in diameter. You will see desert without a droplet of water, to mountain lakes and forest. The only thing I misses were giant redwoods, I assumed to find them, since you pass the Sequoia National Forest. But they seem to be more in the region of the National Park, which I decided to leave out.

Now we talk roadtrip! The distances are huge in California and Nevada and so is my way back to Cali’s shore, where I booked a shabby Motel room for the night in a place called Santa Maria. Just read up somewhere that it’s the best entrance to the stunning, breathtaking beauty of the Pacific’s coastline along PCH-1. I leave I-15 at JCT 395, it leads me direct into the Mojave, California’s huge desert in the east. It seems endless and I just cruise, 80 mp/h shows my tacho, it seems like 30 km/h, the mountains pass by so slowly and the hours pass as if it were minutes, like in a beautiful dream. There is basically nothing, some civilized spots every 30 – 40 miles, some big solar energy power plants, albeit from that just sand, dryland, some dried bushes, some cactaceae, mountains, blue sky and some clouds. It’s a beauty for itself.

After some time, I decide not to stop anymore to take pictures, but to take them while riding the car out of the front window with my phone… Works great – and snap – just after I start, I am pulled over by the cops. They don’t issue a ticket, lucky me, but they fine the rental company for not having the insurance papers on the car. Hope ALAMO won’t charge me for that, since it is their mistake after all… It’s a strange feeling to be stopped by an American cop in the middle of nowhere and he has always his hand at the gun, man.

The way leads into the mountains and the Mojave ends abruptly. The mountains become more and more green over here. The region I enter now is called the Sequoia National Forest.

I come along Lake Isabella, which is beautiful and the mountains get higher and the streets narrow and become steeper. The countryside looks just as out of a Western movie, totally transformed from desert now to plenty of farms, with huge stones and creeks in between, it’s like in a movie and I have the certain feeling, that the dudes who produced Rockstar’s Game Red Dead Redemption must have lived here or at least must have hung out a lot in the plains.

It starts to dawn and the sun hides behind the mountains quickly. I push the gas since I don’t want to ride this street at nighttime, the Americans go crazy in regard to speed over here, same like we would do in the alps. I just make it out of the mountains in the last light and what I see surprises me. I find a countryside totally similar to what I have seen travelling Italy and the Tuscany region. They grow their wine over here, those are wine yards for sure, and I don’t wonder about that at all. There was sun the whole time, the grapes will have the water from the mountains on the western side, since all the water from the Pacific goes down here – in contrast the east side of those mountains is arid as hell, the Mojave desert starts over there. It’s a great trip and seeing how drastically nature changes on maybe 100 miles diameter is impressive, too.

At 10:30 p.m. I finally reach my Motel, room is OK, not more not less. Anyways just a place to sleep and since my credit card won’t work anymore and I don’t have too many cash left, I decide to not book for Santa Cruz and just travel there and see what’s going on the next day…

Spring Break Tour 2: Los Angeles, Malibu, Santa Monica, great names, huge city!

L.A. is my next stop and it is vast! Many people said they have been disappointed, I am not so far, albeit from the parking tickets I got issued. It’s a lively city with awesome beaches and lots of great things to discover, those 20 hours I will remain here are way too short.

I start at Kirsten’s (my airbnb host) place much later than actually planned. I wake up at 3:30 a.m. and fell asleep again. You know that kind of deep sleep you hit when you already woke up, no chance of realizing the alarm at 5:00 a.m. that was actually the time I intended to leave. Doesn’t matter, it’s vacation right? I start at 9:45 a.m. after yet another round of splendid scrambled eggs from Kirsten’s hens and two decent coffees. The night before I got instructions by one of her friends, to leave as early as possible because of the horrific traffic. Yeah whatever… out of San Diego everything is fine, I make a good mileage but 40 miles towards the greater L.A. area I hit the first CF – would that be nice to be on that passing Amtrak…

Unbelievable to see a train in the USA! I leave interstate 5 at Dana Point and take US-1 PCH (Pacific Highway), great thing to do, but you need time! I see many splendid beaches, one of the most beautiful close behind Dana Point, with dozens of Beach-Volleyball courts in the fine sand.

From there it takes basically 3 hours to Malibu, 2 stops included. Malibu – most likely known due to Charlie Sheen and the TV Series Two and a Half Men – might be great, the cribs are for sure, the accessible beaches aren’t too beautiful tho and the one that probably is has access only for members or a $30 entrance coverage… WTF – officially covered as parking fees, since it is not allowed to close beaches for the public in California.

I decide to proceed to Santa Monica beach, after i have dinner at Malibu Seafood, pretty decent. Half an hour later I’m finally there and go jogging first, about 3 miles directly at the beach, thereafter some workout, great! And afterwards I take a bath in the Pacific, again although it’s pretty cold today. But still so  rewarding!

The sun starts to set as soon as I finish and it’s awesome! I stay there for another hour although it’s freezing cold in the meanwhile. Then I climb the steps up to the Santa Monica district and Palisades Park. It takes me longer than thought but strolling through a beautiful neighborhood never hurts, right?

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Unfortunately  a ticket is waiting for me, for just being 20 min. late at my car. A sweet ticket of $53 for disobey of the night parking prohibition. They charge you $6 parking fees for the whole fucking day, no matter when you arrive, total amount and if you are a couple of minutes too late you get busted. That sucks! Santa Monica beach is great tho and the walk along Ocean Drive just after sunset was a pleasure. I’m pretty done and try to find my way to my place. I.e. time for espresso at Starbucks (Wi-Fi-access for free)…

After a good hour “at home” I start again. Make my way to the Griffith Observatory before closure and it’s totally worth it! You know what? L.A. has several skylines and it’s just humongous in size! While I digitalize some of my impressions about 2 dozens of coyote start howling to the moon which is just newly born, yet just a sickle. What a great mood, directly under the sign of Hollywood!

And thereafter? Right now I’m in the Satellite at Silverline Blvd, today is Monday, they are free of charge and Monday means there is a chance for yet unknown artists. And this place is known as a great location where unknown rock stars were born! I listen to some guys while I blog, couldn’t be better :-), The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers are a tad weird and pretty much country, they sing about Jesus, but somehow gotta say it rocks bad-ass, interesting anyways and they are absolutely real, like devoted to their band’s name.

The guy, Rich Aucion, who’s the last one of the night is crazy, but I really like his style, he knows how to get the people going, although he is a bit scary. His song Push still sticks on my mind!

End of the night for me, still another 45 min. to ride home, L.A. is stretched out! And when I come to my car I find another ticket, this time for $68 for wrong parking, because there was a sign I have overseen… Parking tickets suck, no matter if in IBK, Montreal, Toronto or over here in the US. I just get the feeling they are really cheap in Europe compared to the US. It’s kind of a mean tourist fee, that’s what it is…

Spring Break Tour 1: San Diego

One full day in San Diego offers a lot if you have a car. The beaches are stunning, the wildlife is so close that you can get in touch and the smell of pines fills the air. This certain smell which reminds you of vacation at the mediterranean sea or the Bahamas. It mixes with the smell of the Pacific, a great combination that guarantees a comfortable feeling.

My first night in San Diego already starts good. I hit the Waterfront Bar & Grill in San Diego’s midtown as soon as I have claimed my rental. It is a neat area of the city, right in the center. The phone is going to die soon and I have basically no directions how I get to my place…. I order fish and chips and have a Guinness, very British. Awesome! It takes some time until I finally find my place and first of all I have a power nap. But it’s still early, like 11 p.m. (for me it feels like 2 a.m. eastern time) and it’s my only night where I can have a look at San Diego’s nightlife so I decide to hit the gaslamp district and enter the club FLUXX, and that’s a great show… 🙂

I’m in bed at 2:15 am Pacific time and of course I wake up at 8 a.m., which is 11 a.m. eastern time, I’m crushed and sleep another 2 hours, it rains anyways. My host Kirsten offers me fresh eggs from her hens for breakfast, awesome! I decide to start following her recommendation and get a tortilla with seafood at a little RV in the neighborood, it’s so tasty! Then I have a look over San Diego at Balboa Park, but I decide not to access the zoo since a single ticket is $47 and even if this is the biggest zoo on mother earth and even if they have pandas and everything, there are limits in my point of view which should be obeyed in pricing and my budget is limited as well.

I continue to Coronado an island in front of San Diego, protecting the city from the ocean, forming a bay, and it is really cool, have a great view on the cities skyline and visit beach where the Grand Coronado Hotel is. A massive power the Pacific has today after the flooding, those waves are at least 7 m high without overexaggeration!

But there is much more I’d like to see today so I drive to Point Loma on the northern end of the city, a piece of land which reaches even further into the Pacific. There are plenty of graves of fallen soldiers, the area is not accessible which is a pity and to access the tip you have to pay $5 park entrance fees, that sucks so I continue to La Jolla. And what I get to see I just awesome. First of all I go all the way northwards to world’s famous golf yard Torrey Pines and to the Black’s Beach to its “feet”. This beach is pretty secluded and wild and the cliffs over the beach with the width of the shore are breathtaking!

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I observe some tough surfers and wish I had a board and some more practice… I barely came in touch with surfing but when I see this, I want more! “Maybe it’s time to hit the sea, after 5 years of mountains…”

That is my thought of the moment and so I decide to take a dip, better than nothing… 😉

I get back into my clothes, there is still plenty to see for today so I head off to Children’s Pool Beach. This beach is called like that because of a colony of seals who live there and get their babies over there.

They are protected and chill out at this beach, very close to civilization and in direct neighborhood to the Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the whole Scripps campus. What a great place to work and live!

While I take my pictures, three nice American ladies come by and ask me if I could take a picture of the three of them. Sure! In return they take a really good one of me. All easy in the US. Hi girls!

Time to continue it’s getting dark and I want to reach Mt Soledad over La Jolla, before it is totally dark. The way up there is plastered with cribs worth billions of dollars in a sum or at least millions, if you look at every villa individually. But they are most beautiful and the location is nearly perfect so close to those great beaches!

I reach the summit and my reward is a great panoramic view over the greater San Diego area at night. Absolutely recommendable!

I decide to finish this awesome day in a Mexican Restaurant in San Diegos Old City. This is probably one of the parts of the city which is not really necessary to visit – for my humble understanding – since it just focusses on tourism. Was still good to be there… I’m glad what’s next!