Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 22 - Home again!

Finally departed LA at 2am. Had a meal and watched The Kings Speech which was a great movie. Started to watch another one and woke up 6 hours later,then tried to watch the new Harry Potter movie but also fell asleep and woke up 3-4 hours later again. Watched a few half hour shows, had breakfast and then it was time to land back home in Brisbane. V-Autralia are an excellent airline, great service and the 777 aircraft is very comfortable and quiet.
Weather was wet on arrival at 8:20am. Went through the rapid immigration queue which uses a machine to take your photo and then matches that to your passport picture, picked up bags, showed customs our golf shoes, into a taxi and home.
Great to see my little cat again, I did miss her heaps. Even nicer to have a lovely shower. First load of washing in the machine, cat asleep on my lap :-)
Holiday over, had a wonderful time. Can start dreaming of the next one now.......!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 21 - Final day in the USA

View from our hotel - Monterey
 Last day today. Woke in our beautiful room in Monteray. Leisurely breakfast brought to our room. Closed the case for the last time, didn't quite have to sit on it!!!. Packed the car and headed south. We had originally planned to take the coast road all the way down, but there was a big landslip a few days ago and a large part of the coast road is closed.
Called into Santa Barbara for a late lunch, another lovely city with a very Spanish influence.

Malibu - homes on the beach
 Kept driving south, went through Malibu and saw some awesome homes right on the beach - just like in two and a half men!!
Wanted to find a shop to bug a luggage strap for my case as the zipper was looking a bit "stressed". Almost went into LA before we found a Macey's which had them on special!
Time to go to the airport, dropped the car back, hopped on the shuttle, checked in very quickly, straight through security ........ And now sitting waiting and chatting as we are delayed for 2 hours.
Wonderful wonderful holiday, thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it - as Arnie once said - "we will be back".
See you all back in Oz ;-)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 20 - Golf at Spyglass Hill

Jane & Sean - Spyglass Hill

Spyglass Hill
 Woke to the sound of the waves outside, very relaxing, slept well. Had breakfast brought to our room, this hotel is very nice :-). Went for a drive down 17 mile Drive, you are supposed to pay a fee to drive down it, but as we were playing golf there we did not have to pay. There are 6 major golf courses in this region, plus a Par 3 course. We followed the coast around and then went to Pebble Beach for a look.

Lone Cypress Tree
 Walked down to the 18th green, very nice. Beautiful sunny day, not a cloud in the sky, so the photo opportunities were good. Saw the Lone Cypress Tree, which is the logo that you see whenever you hear about Pebble Beach.

18th at Pebble Beach
 Went to Spyglass Hill and paid them a large amount of $$$$ to be able to play their course :-). Hit some balls on the practice range then met our playing partners, Matt and Mike. Matt was a local but his mate was from New York. Nice guys.
Very difficult course. It is listed as being one of the most difficult, and it certainly lived up to that, the greens were sooooooooo fast it was scary. Awesome course, every hole was different and the fairways and greens were in the most magnificent condition. I did not play very well for the front nine, but eventually got it together and came back well for the last 6 holes. Sean did not start well either, but he improved his game before me and came out ahead in the scores today. Not sure who won more over the 3 weeks, will have to read back over the posts, but I think that I may have just come out ahead?

Spyglass Hill

The Lodge - Pebble Beach
 Packed up the golf clubs and then came back for a shower. We did stop at the Pebble Beach shop or a final little shopping expedition! Did most of my packing, can just about get the case shut!! Off to the local Irish Pub for a St. Patricks day dinner, fish and chips which were very nice.
Last night tonight, leaving LA tomorrow night at 11:55pm and arrive home at 7:30am on Sunday - we miss Saturday completely. Will have a little sleep in and then take the scenic route back to LA via the coast. Will try to post a blog before we leave tomorrow night, otherwise I will see you all back in Oz.
Some local wildlife - deer!

Spyglass Hill

It has been an awesome holiday and I have enjoyed every minute of it, it has not gone by too quickly, just nice. I am looking forward to seeing my little cat again, I have missed her heaps. Back to work to pay for it all now !!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 19 - Golf at Pasatiempo

Up and gone from hotel by 8am. Drove an hour or so to Santa Cruz where we were playing golf at Pasatiempo. Arrived early and had breakfast there overlooking the course - very nice. Weather started off overcast but no rain which was good, sunny by the afternoon, perfect for golf.

Pasatiempo Golf Club
The course was wet underfoot and the greens had been cored in the past week (we knew this when we booked) so we got to play for half price which was good. Great layout with some wonderful holes.
 I played quite well again, had 3 x 3 pointers in a row on the back nine - 2 pars and a bogey. Sean did not play so well today, had a bit of trouble with the cored greens. We both really enjoyed the course though which was the main thing.

Pasatiempo GC
 Headed into Santa Cruz for a drink and a snack after golf. It is a really lovely town, very clean and a bit "trendy or alternative". Great coffee too!!

Pasatiempo GC
 Headed an hour or so south to our final hotel for this trip - the Spindrift Hotel in Cannery Row, Monterey. WOW, it is beautiful. We were greeted with wine and cheese in the foyer, then headed up to our room which literally has the ocean lapping under the bay window. A magnificent canopied bed and 2 armchairs in front of an open fire and large plasma with over 100 channels (heaven! - I may stay here for ever).

Spindrift Hotel

View from our window!
 Nice shower and sat around in the robes for a while. Went out for dinner, only had to walk about 100 meters as everything is so close. I had crab encrusted sea bass which was delicious. Sean had steak which also looked good.
Back to hotel to relax for a while, watching the golf channel, and listening to the waves crashing down outside. Tomorrow we are playing Spyglass Hill - can't wait. Weather forecast to be fine. Almost got onto Pebble Beach but called a few minutes too late (have to stay there ordinarily to play there, but you can ring up at 7am the day before to see if there are any empty spots), very happy with Spyglass Hill though, one of the best courses in the USA. Going to enjoy the chocolate on my pillow now............. :-)

Cannery Row - Monterey

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 18 - Raining in San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge

Waves breaking under the bridge
 Woke late again. Had breakfast at the lovely cafe across the road - I had vanilla French toast with banana, very nice. Weather was overcast but no rain early on. Drove around and had a look at some of the beautifully renovated 4 story townhouses - really beautiful. Went to Fort Lookout which was right under the Golden Gate Bridge, great views today, watched the surfers catching waves as they came under the bridge, pretty scary as the waves were breaking onto the rocks.

 Drove over the bridge and headed for Muir Woods to see the Sequoia trees, but it started raining and by the time we got there it was quite heavy. Didn't feel like getting wet so decided to give this a miss and head over to Sonoma. Nice little old fashioned town with quite an interesting history. Had lunch in a nice cafe - second mouthful of my open sandwich with mushrooms, bell peppers, spinach and goats cheese and I found a hair (head hair luckily) in my meal!. The manager must have heard me say it was there and quick as a flash my meal was whipped away and a new serving prepared amongst big apologies. They did not charge us for my meal either so it was a cheap lunch!

Driving over the bridge
 Close to another outlet centre so decided to have a look as there was not much else we could do in the rain. Very small centre this time, only bought 1 pair of Gap jeans for $10 and Sean got a pair of golf shorts.
Headed back to hotel for shower and change then went to Sam's grill and seafood for dinner. This restaurant seems to be quite well known in SF and the reviews were pretty good. Very old fashioned, older male waiters wearing tuxedo's. We were seated in a booth that had high sides to give us some privacy. Nice sourdough bread on table waiting. I had the linguine with prawns and mussels which was absolutely delicious and only $16. Sean had veal piccata which was cooked in white wine and capers, also served with linguine, his was $16.50. It was a very enjoyable meal.
Tomorrow we are leaving San Francisco. Playing golf at Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz then going to Monterey. Weather is supposed to be slightly better tomorrow, but we came prepared for golfing in the rain so should manage to stay dry if not. I have enjoyed SF but I am pretty sure that
it is not Sean's favorite city, but then life would be boring if we all liked the same things :-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 17 - Sightseeing in San Francisco

Lombard Street
 Slept late this morning - very comfortable bed :-). Bought a daily ticket for the cable car and hopped on board to go to Fisherman's Wharf. The cable car ride was great, the streets are very steep in places and the cable cars zip up and down them, ringing their bells across the intersections, people hanging off the sides - just like you see in the movies :-)

Sean riding the cable car
 We got off at Lombard Street - the crookedest street in the world. Being the end of winter the flower beds were bare but it was still pretty cool to see it. I could not walk all the way down because of the dodgy knees so we will try to drive down it tomorrow to get the view from the bottom looking up.
Found a nice bakery in the Fisherman's Wharf area for breakfast/brunch. It specialized in sourdough and you could see the bread being made through huge windows from the street. Had the best grilled cheese I have ever had and also a nice coffee. (The coffee over here can be pretty ordinary, so much of it is Starbucks which is awful stuff).
Wandered along the waterfront. Could not get tickets for Alcatraz today, but we did know that you had to pre-book them. I was not too keen to go anyway because of the huge hill you had to climb at the beginning of the tour - I am alright going up hill, but down hills is very painful for me!

Seals at Pier 39
 Decided to do a boat tour under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz. The weather was very typical for San Francisco - foggy and a lightdrizzle at times. It was quite cool also. Forecast did not look like improving so we went out on the boat into the fog - amazing just how much swell was in the bay. There were waves breaking under the Golden Gate Bridge. We could not see the top of it because of the fog, but it was pretty awesome to go under it.
Sailed around Alcatraz and then back to Pier 39. Saw all the sealions by the Pier and also walked through the shops there, watched a street performer who was quite good - still can't believe how cheap clothes are, like 3 t-shirts for $10, and they are good quality!!
Golden Gate Bridge in the fog

 Decided to get the cable car back to the hotel for a rest. It is very easy to get around and the cable car stopped only a short way from our hotel. Had a couple of hours to rest the knees then we got the cable car back to Fisherman's Wharf for dinner. I wanted to have the Chowder that is so famous here, so we found a nice restaurant that had sampler pots of chowder which meant I could try 3 flavours - had crab and corn, clam chowder and mussel chowder, all were delicious. Sean had fish and chips which were also very good - the fries had garlic and parmesan on them, unusual but nice.

Cable Car
 I really like San Francisco, it is a very vibrant city that has lots of energy about it. It is not the cleanest city though and there are quite a few homeless people around (also saw that in LA). I could not live here because of the hills and the more inclement weather patterns but I am enjoying the visit here enormously.
Tomorrow we are going to Sanoma to see the giant Redwood trees. Weather is supposedly going to be much the same as today so we shall decide what else to do on the day as they are not always right with the forecast - much the same as at home :-)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 16 - Golf at The Olympic Club

Golden Gate Bridge

Union Square

Wonderful day again. Slept late after listening to the A-League final until 2am (Clocks also went forward here). Nice breakfast in cafe across the road then walked one block down to Union Square where all the high end shops are located - Had a quick wander around then back to the hotel to get ready for our afternoon of golf.

Sean at Olympic Club
 Weather was overcast and showers were forcast. Was quite cool too, so added a few extra layers again. Went for a drive around the bay and beaches area - accidentally came across a park with wonderful views of the Golden Gate Bridge, still overcast so photos are not great, but it is a very scenic view.
Headed to The Olympic Club for our 2pm tee time. This is a fully private course but Sean wrote them a nice e-mail telling them we were members at Royal QLD and they gave us a tee time. They certainly charged us for the game - very $$$$$$$$, even had to get a caddy to come round with us as we were unaccompanied by a member. His name was Paul and his knowledge was excellent. I could not believe how well he could read the greens - I have never putted so well (thanks to him).
Olympic Club - SF

Olympic Club
  As previously mentioned, this course is hosting the US Open next year. It was great for us to play it so that when we watch the golf on TV we can really know where they are hitting. etc... - only a golfer could understand this :-)
I played really quite well. Very thick rough and no run at all as they have had rain and it was wet underfoot. I had 32 points, including a 4 pointer (missed the 5 pointer by 2 inches!). Very glad I had a couple of lessons before we came away, it has made a huge difference. Weather was cool and we did get showers on and off. Had full wet weather gear on and remained warm and dry.

Jane - Olympic Club clubhouse
Sean also played ok. He ended with 29 points, again not bad considering the conditions. Shame the photos are a little dull because of the cloud and rain, but we thoroughly enjoyed the game and feel that it was worth every cent. It is ranked in the top 20 courses in the US and I can see why.

Olympic Club
 Back to hotel for shower then found a Spanish restaurant close by. I had a really nice paella and Sean had the steak. Very good good again - we have had a real variety of foods and have enjoyed nearly all of our meals.
Time for sleep soon. Sightseeing tomorrow. Love San Francisco so far :-)