As I promised here I'll write a report of my West USA roadtrip. So here it is.
I think this is going to be a loooong post so get comftable :)
This was our plan.
We flew in to SF from Frankfurt in B747. It was a nice 11 hour flight with beautiful views from 11.000 m. (Yes, in this post I'm gonna use meters and km/h and °C and liters and kilograms… because I have enough calculating between US and metric units for a while :) )
We landed late afternoon, collected our luggage and went out in front of the international terminal. We were in USA :) The airport is as big as my home town and there are so many roads going in and out of the airport I got the feeling we won't get far here and that our trip is gonna end at the first crossroad from rental parking. Then I switched to optimistic view and everything went even better than I planned.
Complimentary hotel bus soon arrived and took us to Best Western Grosvenor hotel where we had reservation for 3 nights. It's a 10 min drive from SFO. If bus driver helps you with luggage tip him 1-2$ per bag! Tipping is a little confusing for Europeans so I'll write who to tip.
Hotel was great. It's near the airport, which is a big plus. It has a pool but the temperatures in SF in july and august are not for outdoor swimming :) it was below 20°C. If you reserve a room on their internet site you get free breakfast, which was quite good. (yes there was meat also :) ) Wi-Fi internet was good and ice machines are on each floor. Parking is 3$/day (I think).
Next three days we were exploring SF and suffering from jetlag :) Before you go to SF get some free maps of town from hotel or airport. We used hotels shuttle bus to get to the airport and then we went to B.A.R.T. It’s a train that gets you from SFO to SF center. It's a 15 min ride. Round ticket is 16.20$ to Powell st. Powell station is the best place to go if you don't know where to go :) Cable car end station is there so you can continue towards the sea where everything is. One way ticket for cable car is 6$ and it doesn’t matter how far you ride.
It was a long line for boarding but it goes fast.
You can save $ and go on a walk to the shore as we wanted but let me warn you first. Roads in SF are steeper than they look and shore is not just over that hill. There are many hills (especially if you get lost :) ) and they are steep as hell. But we saw a lot of SF on that "short" walk :).
When you get to the last station just follow the crowd. You have to see Golden Gate, Fishermans Wharf, Alcatraz, Pier 39, sea lions, Lombard Street, China town and everything in between.
Yep, that's us :)
Pier 39 is a good place to take a bite. We tried every restaurant there and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. was my favorite.
Tip the waitress 15-20% of total bill. I always tipped at least 20% to waitresses because they are all so nice and they take their time to advise what to eat.
Late in the evening we went to pick up a car. We rented from Hetrz at SFO. From there we went shopping in nearby Target. It's open until 22:00. We got everything there from sleeping bags, tent, cooling bag, GPS, dishes to food and clothes and it was so cheap (maybe because I'm from EU :))
We packed the car and waited for morning.
Sunrise in SF
Roadtrip begins. We left SF in the morning and drove on CA1 to Monterey. This road is amazing. If you are driving from SF to LA you have to take CA1. It's not that slow as some may think. We drove it in two days with only a few hours of driving a day. And most of the time we were alone on the road.
There are many pullouts and picnic places on the way and the scenery is awesome. It's better to drive from north to south so you have better views and u can easily stop at pullouts.
Yes, we drove in this car :)
O, and the car :) THE CAR! :D Let's say something about THE CAR. It's amazing. There is nothing else to say. :)
OK, there is a lot more to say. Mustang 2011, V6 convertible was the car I wanted to drive. I reserved convertible car at Hertz SFO and called them the day before pickup and we got it. It had enough room for our entire luggage (2 big suitcases, tent, 2 sleeping bags, 2 inflatable beds and a lot more camping stuff). On the back seats we had only a cooling bag. A/C is great. We drove with top down at 45°C and at 10°C. Cool/warm air stays in the car and it's not windy at all. You just have to look out for the sun. Put on a shirt with long sleeves, a hat and some sunscreen. And drink a lot of liquid with minerals, salts, electrolytes… like Gatorade.
Hertz has also Mitsubishi Spiders for convertibles but that car is waaay too small for road trip like this. There are also Chrysler 200 and Sebrings which are nice but they are not Mustangs with 300+ HP and average fuel consumption below 10 L/100 km :)
The car is a big part of a road trip so I think it's worth paying a little more for a car that you will really enjoy driving than saving on a car and be "compacted" in a compact and just waiting for the miles to end. On some days when we got to our end stop we didn’t want to stop and we drove a little more around the place :)
(aparently this post is so long i have to split it)