By: Aga Olewinska, Senior Certified Travel Associate
There is something about California that always ends up on the bucket list of my friends from Europe. So when my friend from Poland came in May I wasn’t surprised she wanted to visit this beautiful state too. I’ve been there many times before so this time I wanted to take a tour that would cover some places I’ve never visited before. After checking many tours that Affordabletours.com offers, I decided that the best one for both of us would be the “Northern California” with Trafalgar.
Our first stop was San Francisco. We stayed in the Hyatt Regency hotel, which was very coveniently located directly across from Pier 1, and within reasonable walking distance of Ghirardelli Square, Chinatown, Lombard Street and many others SF attracions. If you don’t want to walk, you can ride a San Francisco famous historic cable car that stops just next to the hotel.
San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the US. There is always something to do there. No matter how many times you’ve been there before, the city never ceases to amaze me…This time the absolute highlight of my stay in this beautiful city was Golden Gate Bridge Walk and Sausalito. We started this adventure with a cruise across the bay to the quiet seaside community of Sausalito. It is a very small but very charming town with many boutigue shops, art studios and galleries and a wide selection of restaurants, outdoor cafes and bistros with stunning views back across the bay to the city. After a short visit there, we walked across the 1.7 mile span of the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge.
From SF we drove to the Wine Country where we boarded the historic Napa Valley Wine Train. Many people say that a trip to Napa isn’t complete without experiencing the Napa Valley Train, and I fully agree. It was such a memorable and relaxing way to experience the flavors and beauty of this region! We started the ride with wine tasting, and later, we were served lunch in a beautiful antique dining car. The food was great, and the views were breathtaking.
Our next stop was Lake Tahoe, which was one of the reasons I chose this trip. I have been dreaming about visiting this place since I watched the movie “City of Angels” with Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage. The lake, with its clear blue waters surrounded by evergreen pines and rocky outcrops, was exactly as I pictured it. I strongy recommend taking an optional sunset dinner cruise on the lake, because the views from the boat are magical and magnificent.
From Lake Tahoe we drove to Yosemite National Park. It was a very long drive because the Tioga Pass was closed due to snowfall, so we had to take a longer route. The views were amazing! Even though we arrived in the afternoon, we still had time to walk to the Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Village, or take a free shuttle to the famous Majestic Hotel and end this beautiful day with a great dinner and a glass of wine… I wish we had stayed another day there…
The next morning, on the way to Monterey, we stopped in Salinas Valley, where we had an agricultural education tour to learn about fruit and vegetable production, and advanced farming techniques. It was very interesting and informative. The highlight of this evening was the Trafalgar “Be My Guest Experience.” We had dinner in the “Happy Girl Kitchen” cafe and cannery, made of the freshest ingredients. The owners of this place shared their knowledge and love of healthy food, and we had a chance to understand the farm-to-table experience.
We spent two nights in Monterey in the beautiful “The Portola Hotel and Spa”. It is conveniently located right in Portola Plaza, very close to the beach and Fisherman’s Wharf with many restaurants, shops and a vibant street life. The Cannary Row and the famous aquarium was only a mile away.
From Monterey, we took a scenic, 17-Mile Drive before traveling to Big Sur. Curve after curve, we saw picture perfect sceneries, beautiful mountain tops, steep and sharp cliffs with cold Pacific Water crashing below and the bright sun with grey clouds above. We stopped in the quiet village of Carmel-by-the-Sea where we had free time to explore all it’s beauty.
The next morning, we said goodbye to our travelling companions who drove back to San Francisco to extend their stay or fly back home and we headed south to show my friend the rest of California…It was such a wonderful trip, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to see the northern part of California. Our hearts and memories remain in this beautiful state.
Senior Travel Consultant, CTA
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