With an obligatory photo of our passports and pre-flight champers we were ready for our California Road Trip to begin. Having booked the majority of our trip back in October of last year, Tez (trusty BF remember?) and I were more than gung-ho to start our next adventure. Bring on the next three weeks filled with sun, boy bands, cocktails, food and FUN!
DAY ONE: Our flight from Melbourne to L.A. was all smooth sailing (we even managed to score the row to ourselves!) and it all went off without a hitch… until we landed and found out that we didn’t have a gate. Sure, that’s usually no big deal BUT we had to clear U.S. immigration and security (always a pleasure) and THEN check in to our next flight to San Jose, so we could make it in time for the NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK meet and greet. Yup, no big deal, just something I’d been dreaming of since I was nine!
As the minutes ticked over into an hour we finally got word that we had a gate to disembark. WOOHOO! Then it was more waiting to clear immigration where we had mere minutes to make it to our flight. Running through LAX with our luggage we managed to check in to our Delta flight only to be told that the flight had been closed to checked baggage! Not only that but the next flight was FULL and the next flight after that was at 4:30pm which would have meant that we missed the meet and greet and probably most of the concert too!
My face must have conveyed a ton of emotion as the lovely lady behind the counter went above and beyond to help us and popped us on the stand-by list for the next flight (which by the way doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get on)
I think I managed to pray to every God in every known religion and had all my fingers and toes crossed hoping we’d get on to the next flight… AND WE DID!
Mid flight Tez and I took turns changing in the bathrooms (thankfully Tez had the foresight to tell me to pack a change of clothes in my hand luggage) and I felt like I was a spy in a James Bond movie! Once we landed and grabbed our bags we jumped into a cab and applied our make-up on the way to the hotel where we managed to check in all whilst changing our shoes and trying to look lady like!
Our fabulous cab driver who waited for us to check in then drove us to the concert where we made it with TIME TO SPARE!
And before you know it we managed to meet some fabulous new friends who we had to form a group of 10 with for our meet and greet. The actual meet and greet took of all 10 seconds but hey, I managed to get a hug AND get told we had amazing accents!
My favourite Boston boy band!
The line up for the show was pure 90s realness; Boyz II Men, Paula Abdul and New Kids On The Block – what more could you ask for?
After the show (and maybe after a few tears) we started to walk back to our hotel but I underestimated how far it actually was from the venue so we hopped in the back of one of those bike/rickshaw thingies (hey, we couldn’t find a cab) and almost ended our adventures there as the guy rode like a total nut bag.
That’s one way to start a holiday!
DAY TWO: After what felt like two minutes of sleep we were up and ready for our first American breakfast! Our concierge recommended Whispers which was a short walk from our hotel and it didn’t disappoint. Once fed and caffeinated we hopped into a cab and made our way back to the airport to pick up our rental car – WOOHOO – let the road trip commence!
I felt like I got the hang of driving on the
wrong right side of the road pretty quickly (kinda, sorta) and we drove north to San Francisco to pick up our American travel buddy and sister from another mister, Karen! After plenty of hugs and lots of jumping up and down with excitement it was time to hit the road and head to our first stop, Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz is a spot that’s been on my bucket list for the longest time. Yes, it’s on the beach and it’s definitely pretty but forget all that because it was actually the setting for The Lost Boys, the best vampire movie of ALL TIME! Getting to glimpse the boardwalk and feel a little bit of the ghosts of Corey’s past I was in high spirits.
Excited by the warm sand and the prospect that Corey Haim was here!
After a quick spot of lunch it was back in the car and a drive further south to our next stop; Monterey. This was another spot that’s been high on my must-visit list and ever since watching Big Little Lies (have you watched it? YOU MUST!) it zoomed straight to the top. Once checked in and freshened up we Ubered out to Fisherman’s Wharf where we settled in at Paluca Trattoria for some much needed celebratory champers (it’d been two years since we saw Karen last) and some divine lobster pasta.
We were so engrossed in our surroundings and lost in the moment that we completely forgot to ask if the restaurant was used in the filming of the show and only later did we discover that YES not only was it used it basically featured in the show!
DAY THREE: The day started off with breakfast at the kitschiest of the kitsch, Grandma’s Kitchen. It honestly felt like I was at someone’s home with all the knick knacks strewn around the diner and the serving sizes were enormous! Back in the car we did lots of gorgeous scenic driving along the 17 Mile Drive through Pebble Beach with amazing (but chilly and windy) views of the Pacific Ocean.
We finished up in Carmel-by-the-Sea, the little sleepy yet super chic town that Clint Eastwood was mayor of back in 80s. Here we stopped off at Hog’s Breath Inn for a bevvy (non-alcoholic for this driver, thank you!) trying to see if we could spot Dirty Harry himself, alas all we saw was some cool memorabilia.
Dinner was at the fabulous Mexican restaurant, El Torito, in Cannery Row (when in California eat Mexican right?!) where the margaritas were going down a little too easily and the table side guacamole BLEW MY MIND!
DAY FOUR: We had a huge day of driving ahead of us as the recent mud slides along the coastal Highway 1 meant that we had to detour inland to go further south. Before all that though we began the day properly with a scrumptious brekky at From Scratch then onto the Bixby Creek Bridge where I totes felt like Reese Witherspoon as we drove back and forth over it. If you’ve seen Big Little Lies (I told you you have to watch it!) you’ll recognise it from the opening sequence, what they don’t tell you is that it’s actually 30km south of Monterey! Big Little Lies indeed!!
Almost two hours later we hit Paso Robles for a much needed rest stop to stretch the old legs (and pee, but that’s probably TMI!) We noticed the weather was a lot warmer here inland but we couldn’t enjoy it for too long as we had another hour or so drive back to the coast to see the elephant seals in San Simeon. There were seals as far as the eye could see!
Once we had our fill of sea air and seals it was back in the car for the final hour drive to our next stop, Pismo Beach.
We checked in to what must have been the TINIEST motel room in the state of California and went out in search of food and were ready to call it a day after all that driving.
DAY FIVE: I fully blame watching too many Loony Tunes cartoons as a kid for wanting to come to Pismo Beach! We spent the morning at the pier and I couldn’t resist getting my tootsies wet in the effing cold Pacific Ocean. It was simply stunning but WAY too cold to be sunbathing let alone swimming.
So, instead of braving the chilly ocean waters we went to San Luis Obispo and took to the rejuvenating (and warm!) mineral springs at Sycamore Resort and Spa, where we spent an hour soaking our travel weary bones.
After being sufficiently relaxed and rejuvenated we chose to eat a low-key dinner at the Brooks Burgers near our motel and tried wine in a can for the first time and they were surprisingly good. Who knows, maybe the mineral spa relaxed us a little too much!
DAY SIX: A mammoth day of driving today!! We went from Pismo Beach to Solvang, a sweet little Dutch-inspired town, then on to Santa Barbara where we stopped for some refreshments and shopping (it would have been rude not to!). Finally we drove through Ojai (anyone watch Brothers and Sisters?) before being trapped in horrendous traffic on the outskirts of L.A. I’m talking an extra two hours was added to our trip!
Finally, like a mirage in the desert, we spotted (well our GPS did) our magnificent hotel where we checked in and immediately made our way to the bar.
Next week… Palm Springs!