And we are back from our little California trip! My poor husband drove almost 2000 miles in this crappy Jeep that the rental station gave us! ;-) I thought Jeep is a good car, but that engine sucked. For all those mountains you surely need a better car. But hey: we managed to see some really awesome things! We are not so much into theme parks and that kind of (stressful) things: nature and history are our game! So here are a couple of things, that I think are worth checking out, if you are every gonna visit California! (You should!)
1. THE GETTY CENTER
The Getty center is a huge art museum with attached park that offers grande views of the city of L.A. Entrance fee is FREE- but parking is $15 which includes a little ride in a tram up the hill as the Getty center sits up high on a mountain. Surprisingly the cafe offers great, fresh cooked food and fabulous tables inside or outside!
The Getty Center is so worth visiting! Get yourself a free parking ticket here for the Getty Villa as well! ;-)
2. GETTY VILLA
About 30 minutes from the Getty Center lays the Getty Villa. What a gem! You will feel like in Italy. Stunning views of the wild dark blue pacific. You need to make a reservation upfront, but it is free!
3. HEARST CASTLE
William Hearst build this mansion as a "little vacation bungalow" in the San Simeon area. Well, with 165 rooms and 250.000 acres of gardens and ranch land, it is not exactly what I call a bungalow. Hearst was rich -of course -and the reason was, he found gold! Masses and masses of gold! Many years later he actually lost the castle (because he was overspending and the recession) but the city made it possible that we get to see this beautiful castle.
The indoor pool is definitely a highlight to see! The water in the pool is fresh (ice-cold) spring water and crystal clear. Everything that you see in and around the castle that looks like gold IS GOLD. Real gold. Hearst invited celebrities of his time- like Charlie Chaplin- to play tennis and swim in his pool. Stunning views to the wild pacific and up here the ocean seems always to be very foggy and almost a little mystic. Even horror movies come to my mind- you know where that dead tree is up on a cliff and everybody wants to jump in the ocean? LOL. Deadly rocks and waves!
Hearst was a huge animal lover and to this day you see zebras up in the mountains. That was fabulous to watch!
You can make reservations for different tours as it is not possible to see 165 rooms at once and we did the Grande room tour where you could see, how playful Hearst was. He apparently liked all kind of games from board games to billiard or tennis and he even has a movie theater inside where you get to watch a little movie with original footage of him and his famous guests.
4. NEWPORT BEACH
I just love the wild blue pacific! These waves are crazy. Not used to that here in Florida. At our gulf coast you barely see any waves at all. Therefore the gritty yellow sand needs some adjusting to my eyes, that are used to powdery white sand. But I found it was easier to clean my shoes with that California sand. The water is wayyy to cold to swim there, but it is November of course, so no clue, how the temperature is in summer? Walk on that beautiful board walk beside the beach to see those pretty beach homes that we all can never afford to buy. Or can you?
5. SANTA BARBARA
How adorable is this beach town? We saw so many active people and overall -compared to Florida- you see so much younger folks! ;-)
6. DANA POINT & ALISO VIEJO
We loved it the most in Dana point and Aliso Viejo. Gorgeous homes, beautiful mountains besides the fabulous pacific. Weirdly I have no pictures to show from there lol. Maybe I was too relaxed here and forgot to take some!
7. MALIBU BEACH
OK. I asked a couple girls on SnapChat to recommend me a beach that isn´t too crowded but still pretty. Malibu Beach was the one that got recommended to us. I am mentioning this beach because apparently people seem to like it. Personally we weren´t impressed. The beach was actually quite ugly- even though we managed to make some pretty photos. It looked not taken care off and there wasn´t any palm trees and a really ugly cement wall that divided the street from the beach. But yes: it was definitely not crowded.
8. LAS VEGAS
Of course Las Vegas isn´t in California (it´s in Nevada), but it´s around the corner and so it will be in my must sees as well. I was there before with my husband many years ago (before my son was born) but thought, it would be cool to see for him as well. He thought it was amazing!
9. PHOENIX IN ARIZONA
We decided also to check out Phoenix in Arizona but weren´t quite aware of how much of a drive that would be. Holy cannoli we still can not believe how much unusable desert land we have here in the U.S. SO MUCH DESERT! LOL! We drove and drove and drove, until....we arrived in Phoenix and were so, so surprised what a modern and clean city that is! My husband even decided that he wants to move there and while checking out the home prices, even I got sucked into his idea (cause you get a lot of bang for your buck lol). But living in the middle of the desert and having a couple month out of the year 100 or more degrees just won´t do it for me. Hot enough in Florida already! :-)
We took a walk on Camelback mountain in Phoenix. Right there in the middle of a big city (1.5 Mio population!) is a park with great views.
Of course there is so much more to see in California but this wasn´t our first trip there. Some other impressions I made on this trip: wow, did we see many homeless in L.A.!!! Craziness! There was a whole huge camp beside a dried out canal in Anaheim. Not really a great impression when you arrive from the airport. L.A. has some really dirty, nasty areas and overall the highways look all not taken care off and are full of trash. I didn´t remember it like that from my last visits.
Also: wow, so many giant lakes and rivers are dried out to the last drop! No water at all! I used up in 8 days almost one complete lip balm because my skin did not like the dry weather! I always complain about the humid weather here in Florida but having hands that look like 200 years old isn´t fun either. Ha! ;-)