From the Hollywood Sign to San Francisco

On Monday I took my morning run and had a delicious breakfast before Christian picked me up for our drive to Los Angeles. We had to drive off early because of the big fires in Malibu and in this region. They really have a big impact and all cities are setting up donation operations so we can help the local people there. I was so shocked as I saw all these smoke clouds and the black baked soil because of the fires. Soil is a non renewable resource and the fires will bake it so it gets less permeable and can’t contain water anymore. That’s a real catastrophe because California is already suffering water problems and agricultural declines. Especially the Malibu canyon was terrible and frightening to look at. It’s a good example that shows power of Mother Earth and what we are doing be increasing climate change.

We started our hike at 12:30 p.m. It started off with the famous Bronson caves known for their part in the Batman movies where they hide the batmobile and everything. At the beginning of the path was also a warning sign about rattlesnakes and mountain lions, haha funny joke.

The sun was burning down today luckily we brought enough water with us. The hike started off steep and had several junctions until we reached our first stop at the tyrolian tank with perfect view on the Hollywood sign.

Then we started our steep incline to the summit of Mount Lee behind the letters of the Hollywood sign. It is not allowed to touch them anymore so they are safeguarded behind a big fence and lots of video cameras. Right next to it is the radio station. The „mountain“ Mount Lee is about 500-600 m high. On the top we took a lot of pictures and were inspired by the beautiful outlook and view.

Afterwards, I discovered I ridge trail we took to another little summit where we finally rested a little bit.

Then we made our way back down to the parking lot at Griffith park. Furthermore, we spontaneously reserved a table at the Aloha Ventura Steakhouse where I have been dining with my host family already. The drive back was really nice, listening to good songs and making plans for San Francisco.

Before we got to our reservation we strolled along the pier where it was already dark. At the Steakhouse we both had a big salad. Afterwards, I ordered teriyaki chicken with grilled pineapple and mashed potatoes and Christian had pork chops with teriyaki sauce too. It was really delicious and a nice ending of the day as well!

At 8 pm I was back at home again. I was quite exhausted from the day today, so I made myself some tea, had some Striezel and watched Netflix with a nice warm thermophor haha.

Today it was pretty cold in the morning, eventually the sun came out and warmed us during surfing. The waves were little and gentle today, it was nice just sitting out there and taking in the motion and sound of the ocean. After some workouts at home I went to college for entrepreneurship and oceanography class where we had a quiz again. After college I cycled for 1:45h and shopped some grapes and apples. Back at home, I practiced my presentation and study for the geology midterm tomorrow. For dinner we had some steak, spaghetti squash, couscous with vegetables and salad.

In the evening I finished studying geology and worked on the entrepreneurship presentation. Then I watched the last series of the chilling adventures of Sabrina on Netflix, my life is over haha.

Wednesday I ran for 1,5 hours and had a good breakfast afterwards. I also discovered that it should be raining next week, good joke haha. Then I went to geology class for our second midterm which was kinda difficult actually. Afterwards, I did some workouts and sunbathing because it was very hot and totally sunny today. Then I went to Pilates class (which was really intense on the abs today) and printed out my abstract and bibliography for tomorrow’s oceanography presentation at the library. Furthermore, I received a cute picture of Latau the cat of my grandmother. Also my mother sent me a picture of Silver which is very cute.

Back at home I practiced my oceanography presentation and did the study questions on yesterday’s lecture about hydrothermal vents in the deep sea.

For dinner we had green curry chicken, couscous, vegetables and the best salad with balsamic dressing like at home. It was so delicious.

I spent the evening planning our road trip to San Francisco with a lot of stops and famous sights on the way. This was quite confusing, exhausting and took me a long time. Furthermore, I practiced my presentation some more. Eventually Christian and I figured out our plan for Friday’s drive. We will leave at 6:35 am and it will take about 8-9 hours with all the stops we want to make and sights to see. Will be a long day on Friday…

This Thursday it was really warm and sunny in the morning. Surfing class was totally awesome today. Even though the waves weren’t high, there were some god sets. Finally, I started to see progress regarding the development of my surfing skills. Now I have the feeling for the right timing and speed of the waves and standing up. In today’s class I got to stand so many waves like never before, my highest number of wave haha. I am very happy about it. Surprisingly Huppsi sent me some pictures: it’s snowing on the east coast in Lancaster! How awesome is that?! I am really missing the real fall and winter with all the foggy and snowy weather.

After some workouts at home I went to college for entrepreneurship and oceanography class. In the lab we had our project presentations today. In the beginning I was kinda nervous. I think I talked a little bit to fast like always but I managed to present it very well. I also had good feedback and could answer freely all questions. It was super interesting to listen to the others presentation covering a wide variety of topics. I especially like Dominique’s presentation about octopodes on mdma drugs and Jeshua’s about Symbiodinium versus climate change. During all presentations we had to write down feedback and do a self evaluation at the end as well. Furthermore, I found some more pictures from the slingshot art gallery volunteering project which I think are very cute.

When I drove back home it was already dark and cold outside which was quite depressing. For dinner we had pumpkin soup, cauliflower and roasted potatoes as well as sweet potatoes and a big salad.

In the evening I did the laundry, packed everything for San Francisco and did the study questions for oceanography. I was really tired in the evening, luckily Carmen surprised us with fresh made corn bread which was really delicious, I haven’t had it in a long time.

On Friday morning I got up early for my trip to San Francisco. We left at 6:30 am and started our way on the highway a bit inland until morro bay then we reached the scenic drive along the ocean. Furthermore, we came across some beautiful vineyards which reminded me very much of home. Our first stop was Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery 7 miles north of San Simeon after 2,5 hours drive.

There the Elephant seals were just lying on the beach and sneezing. They were so adorable! Good that they have a place where they are protected and can be admired by us humans with disturbance.

Afterwards we stopped at a small gas station with a cafe called Whale Watchers, what a coincidence. There Christian bought some gas and I got a tea before we head off to McWay falls in Big Sur.

The McWay fall is a small waterfall located in the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park of Big Sur. There we hiked for little bit on the Overlook trail until we finally got to the waterfall which was falling onto the beach. It was such a stunning view there!

Our next stop was the famous Bixby Bridge of Big Sur. Big Sur is a wild Region perfect for surfer and seal watching. The bridge was really impressive and an awesome spot for pictures.

Next stop was the 17-mile drive to Pebble Beach Links, the world most famous golf course (I have never heard of it before). The 17-mile drive is also one of the worlds most famous scenic drives. Pebble Beach Links is a beautiful course on the Oceanside. There are a lot of expensive restaurants, shops and hotel complexes around there as well. Christian was in paradise – he even changed into his golf clothes to show his passion and respect for this place.

After 1 hour drive we arrived in Santa Cruz. It’s a little surf town where O’Neill comes from (famous surfer). They have a big attractions park and boardwalk along the beach. They are currently setting all up for Christmas time. They also set up a ice skating area which is really hilarious. We strolled along the boardwalk and also visited the municipal wharf before we drove off to our last stop before San Francisco: Half Moon Bay!

We didn’t exactly land at the city Half Moon Bay we just stayed at the Cowell Ranch Beach next to it and watched the beautiful sunset there.

Driving through San Francisco was really crazy and we both were already hungry, almost starving and very tired. Luckily we found the hotel, checked in and had to drive to a parking lot some blocks away. Then we walked to the hotel and got our room. The elevator was very old with a chain in front of it and we almost didn’t fit in there. Our room was small but it will fit for two nights.

Hungry as hell we looked around our district until we finally found and decided on somewhere to eat. We went to a Crepery and had some awesome cheese, chicken, dried tomatoes and salsa crepes. Back at the hotel we planned our bike trip for tomorrow. We will spent the whole day biking around San Francisco!

On Saturday we got up at 6:30 am and had breakfast. It was a small continental one but offered a lot of good choices and fruits as well. After breakfast we also had a fun Skype conversation with my mother and Waltraud (who had birthday), I am really missing the both of them! Afterwards, we made our way to the bike service shop. The weather was really cold in the beginning around 10 degrees.

Firstly, we got our bikes at 8 am. Luckily, these were kinda like mountains bikes because our cycling plans were really ambitious. We started heading off to the Ferry Building where a big food market and the ferry gates were.

After that we drove to Pier 39 with its famous attractions, shops, the aquarium of the bay and the sea lions bay. There we could get a look of the Alcatraz prison island as well.

Almost next to it was the Fisherman’s Wharf with submarines, boats and a lot of fish and seafood restaurants.

Furthermore, we stopped at the fine Palace of Arts. It’s architecture, lake and the birds diversity there was amazing. Spontaneously we decided to head up the famous Lyon Street Steps (about 300 of them). At the top we had a good view and also enjoyed hiking back through the Presidio Park.

Our next stop was the Golden Gate Bridge including crossing it. There is only one way for cyclists and it is a pretty steep drive (the whole city is like up and down). Moreover, it was cold and windy. On the other side of the bridge we drove down the steep hill to Sausalito. A small fishing town with a cute harbor and shops. There we strolled along before we made our way back up the very steep hill and over the Golden Gate Bridge again.

We kept driving along the coastline and saw the Legion of Honor, Lands End and the Cliff House.

Afterwards, we finally got to the Golden Gate Park. Surprisingly, they have Dutch windmills at the entrance there. The park is so green and big and has a lot of lakes, meadows, golf courses and attractions in it.

In the Heart of the park we found our next stop: The California Academy of Sciences. It contains a museum of natural history, a big aquarium, 3 story rainforest, a planetarium and a lot more attractions. I really loved the aquarium and rainforest, the exhibitions there were awesome. Moreover, we saw a show in the planetarium called a journey to the stars. There you sit in a round hall and it’s all dark. In front of you they project the whole universe and talk about the Stars. It feels really like you are flying through the universe, it was amazing.

Our last stop was the Alamo Square with the Painted Ladies, cute little colorful houses. According to our plan we got the chance to watch the sunset there.

Then we finally called back to the bike shop and returned the bikes. After a quick stop at the hotel we went to L’Ottavo an Italian restaurant for dinner, which was very delicious.

Because it was very cold and often windy today and of course because I am not used to cold weather now, I got really cold throughout the day. Christian was so cute and was always holding my hands while walking or whenever he got the chance to and was warming them. I really enjoyed this gesture and appreciated his comfort. Today all in all we cycled about 45-50 km in total, often it was extremely steep. With all the sightseeing and walking together today was quite a workout but I really enjoyed spending time with Christian. Guys, I mastered San Francisco in one day! It’s crazy!

Tired as hell we spent the rest of the evening in the hotel and I taught Christian how to play Schnapsen which was really entertaining. He learnt pretty fast and even bet me in the first round! Exhausted from the long day, after we made our plans for tomorrow we finally fell asleep.

On Sunday we got up at 7 am and after the breakfast we started our walking tour to Union Square. It’s a beautiful little square in the center of the city with a lot of expensive shopping boutiques, a big Macy’s store, a holiday ice rink and a big Christmas tree already.

Then we made our way to the Chinatown entrance gate. From there we strolled through Chinatown (not to confuse with Japan Town, another district of San Francisco). It was cute and I really got the feeling being in China. It’s so foreign there they have a lot of different markets and unique shops.

After wandering through Chinatown we reached a famous cafe. It’s called Cafe Trieste where a lot of famous stars and poets went to. There we got some coffee and tea and made our way up to the Coot Tower. It was a steep hill to climb and the view from above wasn’t that good due to the smoke and fog.

At the top of the Telegraph hill we decided to find another famous sight of San Francisco: the Filbert Steps. Luckily, we could go them down. These are very steep concrete or wooden steep surrounded by houses and a beautiful garden. At the bottom, where we stopped for restrooms at the headquarters of Levi’s haha, I unfortunately realized that we had to climb up all steep 600 steps again to get to Lombard street at the other side of the city. It was for sure a good workout!

Afterwards, we went down the Telegraph hill and all the way along Lombard Street. On part of the street is really famous because it is the crookedest and also on of the steepest streets of the world. It was really fun walking up there and watch the drivers drive down there. Parking on such steep streets is also quite a challenge haha. Moreover, Christian picked a bougainvillea flower from a bush for me and put it behind my ear which I think was a really cute gesture. I will keep the flower for sure!

Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to ride with one of the famous cable cars of San Francisco due to the air pollution. Back on the way to our hotel we stopped at T-Mobile and subway. At noon we had to get out of the hotel room and before 1 pm out of the parking lot. At 12:30 pm we started our drive back home.

In San José we stopped to visit a famous golf store. It was funny how excited Christian was about this. But he really took his time, we spent almost 1,5 hours in there. He could have warned me!

Afterwards, we started our 4 hour drive back home (5-6 hour total). Our journey from the Hollywood sign to San Francisco ended in Solvang, the danish town in California. (I have been there before in the first weeks with Carmen). The drive home was very nice, we talked a lot and listened to good music. We arrived at 6:30 pm in Solvang and had an amazing dinner at the Petros Kafe. I had a flatbread pizza with potatoes, yellow tomatoes, peppers, onions and Greek cheese on it while Christian had danish meatballs. It was delicious!

Finally, I arrived at home at 8:30 pm where I just unpacked my things and made myself some tea before going to bed. Furthermore, Christian and I declared „Next to me“ from Imagine Dragons as our song. It was difficult for us both to say good-bye to each other because it has been an incredible weekend and great experience for both of us. I am really grateful that I have him as my friend and got the chance to spend the weekend in San Francisco with him! Being with him is certainly one thing that I am really going to miss when I am back in Austria…

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