My two-week adventure down the coast of California led me to my final destination with a few more people to visit and some delicious food to eat. I arrived Sunday night, after another fun Greyhound bus ride and thankfully had a friend that was willing to pick me up from the station. Jared, one of my friends from High School who now lives in Washington DC happened to be in San Diego so it was only natural we take the opportunity to catch up. Unfortunately, our schedules didn't coincide all that well as he was leaving early the next morning, but we still took the opportunity to chat about life, eat some ice cream and bitch about people (all of which we excel at).
To round out my visit to California I still had to tackle two of the bigger cities, Los Angeles and San Diego, both of which held friends and family to whom I owed visits. I had originally planned to be in the cities for longer periods of time and thus thought I'd have plenty of time to see everyone but things changed. I had a whopping 42 hours in LA with four people to meet, three of whom lived on completely opposite sides of the city, of course.
After my five day rush through San Francisco, it was time for me to move on, there was lots of California left for me to see. I booked a ticket on the Greyhound and set my sights to Santa Cruz, Monterey, a [hopeful] stop in Big Sur, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. Aside from transportation and accommodation, I had done little planning for each destination but that's the beauty of traveling by yourself, each day can materialize as you so please. I planned on taking full advantage of couch-surfing by asking my hosts for tips and advice on their hometowns, why not rely on the locals?
Although I'd heard the name numerous times I never really took the time to stop and see what "Big Sur" was all about, that was until I was actually planning a trip to California. About a week before I was set to take off the show Arial America did a special on coastal California and that's when I realized I had to fit in a visit to Big Sur during my trip. The ideal way to do it is a rent a car and drive Highway 1, but being a solo (budget) traveler I knew that wasn't going to happen. Instead I did my research and discovered the bus that would take me there, unfortunately, it only runs on the weekend after Labor day but lucky me that's precisely when I planned to be there.
Before arriving my knowledge of San Francisco was pretty basic, there's a huge bridge you must see, good food, cable cards and lots of hills - oh and of course Full House was filmed there. One of the great things about visiting 'tourist cities' is that it's super easy to plan your trip after you've arrived. I grabbed both a BART transit guide and city map at the airport before making my way into the city (via BART which is super easy to navigate and cheaper than your other options). My first day was mostly spent in transit and getting situated with my CS hosts but after that I was off and running, as I soon found out there was LOTS for me to see and do in the City by the Bay.
It may or may not come as a surprise but I have a bit of an obsession with buying airplane tickets, sometimes they're well thought out, but other times on the spur of a moment decision. To some (and their credit cards) this may come as a problem, but thankfully it's only proved successful for me. Not long after being home from my adventures in SE Asia I was tempted by an email from Southwest airlines advertising their low-fare specials. Of course, I clicked on it and soon found myself planning not only a trip out east to DC and New York, but also a California adventure. I decided to purchase one ticket into San Francisco and another home from San Diego, leaving the in between TBD.
With all of my traveling through the extremely budget friendly SE Asia I had forgotten about the magical land of couch-surfing. Not only do I love to us CS for accommodation but it is also an amazing way to meet locals and other travelers, instant friendship for a solo backpacker. Once back home in Wisconsin and itching to travel [domestically] I began to wonder how I was to afford it all, until I remembered couch-surfing! I planned to stay with friends in San Francisco but due to some date changes and confusion those plans fell through which led me to the plethora of couches at my disposal. Aside from San Francisco I was also searching for hosts in Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. Within days of sending requests I had arrangements made for a few cities with maybe's lined up for the rest, gotta love efficiency.
I grew up hearing "California, you don't want to live there" but after finally visiting, it's the one place in the US I could actually envision myself 'settling down'