A Travellerspoint blog

San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge

Day 4

sunny 11 °C
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Even though we were supposed to be exploring Yosemite National Park today, we still thoroughly enjoyed what we did. We had a little bit of a slower morning before making the drive back to the city.
It was about a 3 hour drive, avoiding toll roads. We had to go past Walmart again to return our snow chains and get our money back!! As we didn't get into the city till about 2:30pm, we decided we would got the the Presidio National Park and do a walk around to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was quite nerve racking driving into the city with our big car and trying to find a park. The walk was really nice, and the bridge was amazing. The weather was great today, albeit windy. This made for great views across to the city and around the whole bay.
It was a great way to see the bridge and explore the park that is so close to the city. We then drove back into the city and found our hotel to drop off our bags. We were staying at the Grant Plaza Hotel, which is in china town. It was a very nice and comfortable hotel, and cheap for San Francisco. We then had to try drive through the city again and out to the airport. It was about 5:30pm by this time, on a Friday afternoon, so traffic was pretty heavy. It was quite stressful at some points, but we got there in the end. We dropped the car off, then took the train back to town. By now, it was 8pm and we hadn't had lunch or dinner, so we were very hungry. We had a wonder around China town. I don't know if it was because we were looking in the wrong place, or if we were too late, but it was pretty dead. We ended up finding an asian vegetarian place that looked pretty nice. The food was alright. I think Thomas enjoyed it more than I did. It had been a very long day, and by this time we were more than ready for bed!!

Posted by vansantjordan 17:22 Archived in USA Tagged sanfrancisco holiday usa amazing goldengatebridge Comments (2)

Off to Yosemite for the night

We thought - day 3

rain 5 °C
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Breakfast was included at our cheap motel, which consisted of waffles and cereal, needless to say i had the waffles!! :) We the drove for another two hours to get to Yosemite National Park. The weather was not ideal. It was very wet and cold.
The drive was extremely pretty, and the park itself was AMAZING!! Well worth the hassle it was to get there. 90_IMG_0778.jpg
Due to the awful weather, we didn't really do much adventuring around the park. We drove around to all the major hotspots and admired the beauty and magnificence. We did a short walk around Yosemite village and the welcome centre, a then another one to lower Yosemite falls. It was just spectacular.
I can't wait to go back and explore even more when the weather is a bit better. We went back to the welcome centre to make sure the camp site would be open for the night tonight. They told us that due to the heavy rain throughout the day, and the rain forecast for the night, they would be evacuating the all the campsites with in the park, and closing the road in and out of the park in half an hour. They strongly advised us not to camp here, and that we should either leave now, or book a room at one of the hotels within the park. The latter was not happening due to the extremely high prices they charge!! We decided to leave the park straight away before the road closed. We then had the option of camping somewhere outside of the park or finding another motel for the night. The temperatures were expected to drop significantly during the night, and snow the next day. Because of this, we decided it would not be very safe for us to attempt to get back into the park the next day, so we decided to go back to the same motel we stayed the night prior. We were quite disappointed about this as we loved our time in the park so much, and the camp ground we would have stayed at was in an amazing sport. However, it was not worth the risk associated with staying, and now we would at least have two days in San Francisco. Another day not as planned, but such an amazing experience!!

Posted by vansantjordan 16:59 Archived in USA Tagged holiday usa weather yosemite amazing spectacular Comments (0)

Travelling to San Fransisco

For real this time!! - Day 2

overcast 15 °C
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We woke up at 8am this morning, after not enough sleep. We had to be at the airport at about 9:30am, so we had enough time to pack up and have a bit of breakfast. The hotel had a buffet breakfast options for $35 each. It was a complete rip off, however we still had credit left over from Qantas, so what the hell. All I had for $35 was a juice, croissant, and a few hash browns, lucky it wasn't my money!! We then caught a cab to the airport and waited in line to check in, with all our very heavy bags that we were quickly getting sick of carrying around!! When we got to the check in desk we again explained our situation and what had happened. The check in lady was very sincere and sympathetic to our situation. It was so nice to feel heard and valued as a customer. She tried everything she could and gave us options via other cities, however everything was booked full, and nothing would get us there earlier. She saw that the seats we had been assigned for our flight to LA were terrible, and knew we would have a horrible flight if we stayed in them. She called up the person who assigns the seats and told them she had some very tall customers who had been severely disrupted, who needed exit row seats! They were able to move some other people out of some exit row seats and put us in them. She also gave us an express pass to get through immigration quickly and apologised for everything that had happened. She is an amazing employee and a credit to the company. When then flew through security and went back up to the lounge. We explained that we had purchased a pass to the lounge yesterday, and because of the disruption we did not get to fly out, and they let us back in!! We only had about 20 minutes before boarding, but enough tim to get a nice coffee and breakfast, much nicer than the hotel!! We then boarded, and as we were on the upper deck of the A380, we got to board with all the business class customers, which was way faster than economy!! Our seats were so good. We were in a cabin of just over 30 people and had unlimited leg room. Because there were so few people in our cabin, the service was really quick and personalised. It defiantly didn't feel like economy!! The meals were exceptional too. I had a chicken salad with sesame soy dressing, that actually tasted fresh, and fruit salad and yogurt for breakfast. The flight is terribly timed though. leaving at 11:30am, you fly through the day, then arriving at 6am in Los angeles, your body feels like it is 1am. That means that breakfast is served at 11:30pm Australia time. Because of this, i didn't get much sleep, just a few hours rest here and there. upon arrival in Los Angeles, we had to clear immigration, along with about 1,500 other people from Australia coming from other flights. Despite this, it only took about 1.5 hours to clear immigration and drop our bags off for our next flight. We decided we would go to the Qantas Business Class lounge in LA and try and talk our way in there. To our surprise we, we managed to get in!! It was another really nice lounge and a great way to kill 3.5 hours. Our American Airlines flight to San Francisco was delayed by about 1/2 and hour, but we were so tired we just slept in the terminal, and on the plane all the way to San Francisco.
As we were in San Francisco a day later than planned, we had missed our first day to rest and recover. We had hired a car for this day to drive and camp in Yosemite National Park. We were both so tired, but we decided to get the car, and drive as far as we could. The rental company upgraded us to a very large SUV, a Toyota 4Runner. We then drove to Walmart to buy food, a phone plan, and snow chains!! everything in one shop, how convenient!! :) By this time it was 5pm, so we weren't going to get to Yosemite. We drove as far as Thomas could safely handle and got to a small town called Merced, and stayed in a cheap motel there.
It was quite nice, and had two queen beds in the room. For the price we payed it was a great motel!! It was certainly a long day, and defiantly not what we had planned to do, but glad we finally made it to the USA!!!

Posted by vansantjordan 09:37 Archived in USA Tagged holiday usa yosemite delays qantas sanfracisco Comments (2)

Day 1!!

Hobart to San Francisco - we thought!!

sunny 36 °C
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The morning started very early with a 4:20am wake up in order to catch the 6:20 am flight to Sydney. We checked in and said goodbye to our 4 bags until San Francisco. We then went through security and waited for our flight and said good bye to Mum and Dad for 5 weeks. Our Qantas flight to Sydney was really nice.
We had exit row seats, so plenty of leg room. Breakfast consisted of a muffin and muesli bar. We arrived in Sydney flying over the cliffs south of the airport, which was really pretty.
We had a 9.5 hour layover in Sydney, so we had bought passes to access the Qantas Business class lounge. The lounge is very nice. It had great views over the airfield and out towards the city. The seats were really comfy, and we managed to get some right next to the windows. There was free food, coffee, drinks, freshly made juices, an ice cream bar, showers and more. It was a fantastic way of passing the time. The time came for us to board our plane at about 5:30pm. We had been given pretty good seats in the 2nd row of economy, with a row of three for the two of us. The seats were in a kind of mini cabin with no one behind us and a bit of privacy. The flight wasn't all that full, probably only 65%. This is where the day got really interesting!! All was fine, and we taxied out to the run way.
I was even starting to think it was going too well, surely something had to go wrong. We lined up on the runway, and the engines spooled up ready to blast off.
Full thrust was set, and we started rolling down the runway. Next thing we know the engines get pulled back to idle and we taxi back off the runway. The captain came over the PA saying that there had been some unusual indications with one of the engines. He said it could just be due to the string cross winds at Sydney airport, so we'll do a few tests on the ground to see if it persists. A few minutes lated he came over the PA again. The problems were still persisting, so back to the gate we go to get an engineer to have a look at it. We were told it would be about a half an hour wait for the engineer to sort out the issue, and we'd be back on our way. The crew came around and offered us water while we waited on the plane. After about 1.5 hours the issue was 'fixed', and we were shown the safety video for a second time. The engines started, and then nothing else happened. The captain came over the PA again, and sincerely apologised and said that the same warnings were being displayed and we would have to return to the gate once more. The engineers came back on board and found that the simple problem was something far more complex, but they thought they could probably still repair it tonight, but it would take about 2 hours. We had to stay on the plane still, however the crew came around and offered food and drinks to keep us happy. They were all really friendly and happy to answer anyones questions. It was soon decided that the flight would be cancelled and we wouldn't be leaving tonight. By the time they fix the problem, and do all the tests, it would be after the curfew at Sydney, meaning we would not be allowed to depart. The ground staff had to sort out a few things before we could get off the plane and make our way back through immigrations and customs. It was about 10:30pm before we got off the plane. We then had to wait in line to get a hotel and taxi card for the night. We stayed at the Novotel on Brighton Beach. It was a pretty old and scummy hotel, but fine for a night just to sleep. We didn't get there till about 11:50pm, having still not really had dinner. We had each been given a $50 credit to use at the hotel, however the hotel food wasn't all that appealing, so we just ordered a bowl of chips to share. Smallest $13 bowl of chips ever!! we then had to call Qantas to sort out a flight out for the next morning. We were on hold for almost an hour before someone answered our call. As they had cancelled our flight, and not rescheduled another flight for the next day, there was about 200 people trying to squeeze into what ever seats were available. We had been rescheduled onto the 11:30am flight to Los Angeles with a 5 hour stopover before flying to San Francisco. We were not very happy with this as we had been up since 4am that morning, travelling for almost 20 hours, and not really getting anywhere. And now the next day we would not be able to sleep in, then we would have to fly for 22 hours before reaching our destination and missing out on almost 2 days there. We expressed these concerns with Qantas, however they offered us no alternative as there were so few seats available. needing some sleep we went to bed hoping to try and sort something out at the airport the next day. We didn't get to bed until about 1:30am!!

Posted by vansantjordan 22:53 Archived in Australia Tagged holiday usa lounge delays excited qantas cancellation Comments (2)


A brief explanation of our trip

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Welcome to my blog about an adventure my brother, Thomas, and myself, Jordan, are taking around the USA.

The main purpose for our trip is to visit our cousin Wesley who is currently studying in Colorado, and to ski and explore the areas around him. Our first stop will be San Francisco where we plan to explore the city, head out to Yosemite National Park for a few days, and then come back and do the Alcatraz tour. We then fly to Denver and stay with Wesley for 4 weeks. In those 4 weeks we plan to do a road trip down to the Grand Canyon, stopping in a few places such us Bryce and Zion National Parks. We are also going to be spending an extensive amount of time up at the ski fields in Colorado. To finish off our trip, Thomas and I are flying to New York City and having 3 days experiencing the city life. We are both passionate skiers, and love to explore the more remote and exciting areas.

I look forward to sharing my experiences and adventures with you throughout this journey!!


Posted by vansantjordan 15:57 Archived in USA Tagged welcome usa Comments (0)

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