Spring Break Tour 6: The way to glorious San Francisco

The trip from Santa Cruz along the coast is in no means inferior to Big Sur. Is it the flashy colors and the high cliffs in Big Sur, that make this place special, it is the green meadows and the flowers, which are everywhere, for the rest of the path to San Francisco. The city itself is majestic and the Golden Gate Bridge a masterpiece of engineering.

It’s already lunch time. I have a great espresso and a lemon tart in one of the plenty small cafes you find in California everywhere. California has, compared to the rest of the USA, quite a strong sense for good and healthy food, you find less fast food restaurants, than in  the other states I visited so far and I really like that. I follow the advice of Cassidy and drive into the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. It is a beautiful wood with plenty of big sequoias and since I did not manage to see the Sequoia National Park and good old General Sherman, I am happy to experience the silence and peace of this forest.

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The sequoias over here are certainly nothing compared in height and diameter to the ones of the national park but they are already way of too big for my camera. They are awesome and honorable and all the people I talked with, who told me about the experience within those forests are right, those forests have a soul and you feel it when you are around.

I continue northwards, up the PCH-1. I want to get to the Golden Gate Bridge, before I have to return my rental. And on my way the coastline shows its beauty again! There are  green meadows full of yellow flowers along the hills which reach to the ocean. It is stunning, and that is my personal imaginary picture of Ireland – which I have not visited yet but will for sure.

I have to force me not to stop too often, since the time is running out and I feel stressed for the first time on my trip, stressed because I would love to have more time here, to enjoy this divine landscape – for example while having a picnic. But there is just one goal today and I am also eager to get to San Francisco and meet Carl at night. So I continue…

And as you can imagine, the traffic in San Francisco, when I finally hit it, is bad. Not as bad as in Los Angeles but still no pleasure at all. Good part of the story – I reach my final destination, the Golden Gate Bridge and the beautiful city beneath that, San Francisco.

I manage to sneak into the parking lot right besides the bridge but time before I have to return the rental is too short, to make it to the plateau behind the bridge. After all I am able to return it and I feel relieved. I am in the middle of the city and find a small Diner where I wait for Carl to pick me up. But San Francisco is yet another story to tell… It is too beautiful and too much to just attach it here. And it is one of the most enjoyable cities I have ever visited!

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…