CALIFORNIA DREAM, Meltem Bozkurt Kaya | 15.12.2014

In June of 2012, my daughter and I went on a spectacular tour, where we crossed three states of the US. We spent many days to the fullest in California, known for its beaches, Arizona, famous for its canyons, and Nevada, the state which is home to Las Vegas. I can tell you that this vacation was the most successfully organized and realized travel program of my life. In this article, I will tell you all about the part of our vacation which includes the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco in California, or CA for short.

The flight from İstanbul to Los Angeles took approximately 14 hours. As soon as we arrived in the city we took our rental car form the National Rent a Car company at the airport. Throughout our journey, we put nearly 4000 miles under our belts with that car. Driving in the USA is quite easy and enjoyable... If you want to avoid trouble, the only rule is to "obey the rules."

City of Angels: Los Angeles

We had a rather intense schedule in Los Angeles, the second most populous city of the USA with a population of 18 million. I split the four days we'd be spending in this city as follows: One day for the city tour, one day for the beaches, one day for the theme parks, and one day for a San Diego excursion. And that's just what happened.

The must-see neighborhood of Los Angeles is Beverly Hills, the choice of the wealthy and of Hollywood stars. The neighborhood stands out with its extremely grandiose houses, nice streets, and spectacular landscaping. The Hollywood Boulevard, a tourist favorite, is in the downtown area and is very much alive. The Kodak Theatre, where the Oscar Awards ceremony is held, the Madam Tussaud Museum, the Chinese Theatre, and the Walk of Fame, where the names of the famous stars are, are all in this area. It feels great just being there.

Santa Monica, which, seen from the shore, reminds me of a Mediterranean city with its white buildings, is the entertainment and shopping district. The 3rd Street Promenade is a street closed to traffic, and is home to many famous brands and restaurants. The Santa Monica Pier is another center of attractions with its funfair, and restaurants. Its beach, which is kilometers long, seems indispensable for sun-bathers, surfers, roller-skaters and cyclists. We greeted the sunset here, and it was very enjoyable. I can tell you that with such features I loved Santa Monica because it met many of my expectations for a trip. We know Malibu Beach from many movies and TV shows, but I felt like it was a bit of a let-down.

We spent a day at the Universal Studios, and the Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. I don't remember having so much fun. At the Universal Studios, the entrance fee of 80 dollars entitles you to participate in all of the activities and shows inside. The tourist favorite is the journey you take with a small train through the studios where they shoot all the movies and TV shows. Apart from that, there are shows you can participate in, where movies like King Kong, Transformers, Jurassic Park, the Mummy, Shrek, and Psycho are performed. You can't see these anywhere else in the world. The plane crash, flood, and earthquake in the metro were very realistic. If you have the time, you can also add Disneyland in Anaheim to your schedule.

Daily Excursion: San Diego

San Diego is to the south of Los Angeles, on the Mexico border, and it only takes an hour and a half to get there. The daily excursion to San Diego, albeit a bit compressed, was a success. Besides, it's so much fun to drive.

The city is famous for its zoo, and LegoLand, this meant one more day which we didn't have, so we weren’t able to visit those places. We saw Queen Mary, the greatest liner of the world, from afar on Long Beach. As big as three football fields put together, she was really eye catching. Sea Port Village is a tourist destination where you can buy authentic products, and relax and dine in the seafood restaurants and cafes. We spent our day on the Pacific coast eating seafood, running among the waves on the long beaches, watching the surfers, and buying souvenirs.

A Fairy Tale City: San Francisco

From Los Angeles we hopped into our car and drove north to San Francisco. It was an enjoyable eight hour drive along the west coast of the USA. On the way we passed through beautiful and interesting places like Hearst Castle, Monterey Bay, and Santa Cruz.

I can readily say that I think San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is a fairy tale city... It was very exciting to be on the streets of the city I'd watched on TV shows as a kid, and explore on the trolleys, street cars, one of the city’s symbols. I especially recommend having some seafood while you’re out and about... In an open market place near the ocean a wide array of products were being sold, and it was a struggle for me to restrain myself.

We immediately joined a tour, and had the chance to see the Golden Gate Bridge up close from the Twin Peaks and pass over it. Later we also passed under it by boat. This red bridge is arguably the most important symbol of the USA, after the Statue of Liberty. Eleven people died during its construction, and the bridge was completed in 1937.

Seeing Alcatraz Island, from where it is said to be impossible to escape because the surrounding waters are teeming with sea lions and sharks, was a nice experience. You can tour the island for 30 dollars, but the tickets run out fast.

One of the things that draw my attention in San Francisco is the weather. It was surprising to see the temperature drop from 29 degrees Celsius, to 18 suddenly. I had my daughter calculate it because the indicator in the car was in Fahrenheit. The aggressive drops in temperature made us buy a couple of polar coats that serve as souvenirs now. If you are planning a trip to San Francisco, keep in mind that this is a city where the sun can give way to clouds suddenly, and that it is a foggy city.

After completing the California route, the first leg of our trip, we threw ourselves to the Nevada desert. We were quite pleased with California....

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