- Day 1: New York
- Day 2: New York
- Day 3: New York
- Day 4: New York
- Day 5: New York - Washington
- Day 6: Washington - Cincinnati
- Day 7: Cincinnati-St. Louis
- Day 8: St. Louis-Springfield
- Day 9: Springfield - Oklahoma City
- Day 10: Oklahoma City - Amarillo
- Day 11: Amarillo-Albuquerque
- Day 12: Albuquerque-Holbrook
- Day 13: Holbrook-Mexican Hat
- Day 14: Mexican Hat - Tusayan
- Day 15: Tusayan - Las Vegas
- Day 16: Las Vegas - Stovepipe Wells
- Giorno 17: Stovepipe Wells – Lee Vining
- Day 18: Lee Vining - San Francisco
- Day 19: San Francisco
- Day 20: San Francisco - Morro Bay
- Day 21: Morro Bay - Los Angeles
- Day 22: Los Angeles - Spain
28.05.2010 – h. 8.45
When I heard the small red AirBerlin aircraft rise abruptly (... but punctually, which reassured us a lot, because the fact that it was a propeller plane had made us a little anxious!) I finally realized: OUR GREAT ADVENTURE HAS BEGUN !!!
4.00 am (22.00 pm local time, New York)
Finally our very long day (24 hours standing on yarn !!) is over! Luckily the trip went very well, the two AirBerlin flights were punctual and precise, indeed the Dusseldorf -NY flight arrived half an hour early 😉 Considering the price paid (1200 € for 2 Milan-NY flights + 2 Los Angeles- Milan) the treatment was excellent. If that happens, we will choose AirBerlin again.
The controls for theentry into the USA they are many and precise: we have been searched more than once as if we were terrorists before being able to board, probably also because of the gigantic hairdryer that I always carry around and which looks like a weapon 😉
The landing at JFK, which worried us the most, instead went smoothly! No hitch, not even for the supply of cigarettes and medicines that we brought to our friends who have recently lived in Cincinnati, and that in a few days we will reach ... indeed the black agent who asks us why we are in the USA, to our answer "It's our honeymoon "stands up and, shaking hands, with a gigantic smile he replies:" CONGRATULATIONS !!! ".
Excited and amazed we realize that for the first time we have touched the proverbial kindness of the Americans ... guys ... WE ARE IN NEW YORK !!! Our trip includes 3 days to visit New York, before setting off on the road to the other coast.
To reach our hotel, we take the Airtrack train ($ 7) to the Jamaica subway station, and from there, the subway to the closest stop to our hotel (Herald Square Hotel, 19 West 31st Street). The luggage is very heavy (given that a long and varied journey awaits us, especially in terms of climate, we have only a few items with us, but for every temperature ... from the undershirt to the wool sweater!), We are tired and the road is long and now that we arrive at the hotel we are overwhelmed ... but we hardly notice it, New York is fantastic and it feels like being inside a movie! And a guy in the elevator even has the irony of pointing out that for one floor we could even use the stairs!
We unload the luggage, a shower and go, ready to discover the Big Apple...
We have a hard time realizing we're really walking the streets seen hundreds of times in movies… we spend the evening with the camera in hand and our noses up, we feel like we're dreaming, but everything is incredibly TRUE!
We have dinner in a Steak House near Times Square with an excellent steak with a side of potatoes in foil, putting our vague English to the test for the first time and trying to understand the difference between the various dishes photographed above the order counter ... incredible , we manage to have the same thing on our plate as we had in mind 😉
With our eyes still full of lights, people and colors we go back to our hotel (it is about ten minutes walk from Times Square) feeling incredibly safe, probably more than in Como in the evening !! Could it also be due to the incredible amount of law enforcement agencies that cover the city?
Fly Milano-NY = 440 €
Nordsee lunch = 10 €
Navetta JFK-Jamaica = 45€
Price = € 28
29.05.2010 – h. 8.00
On our first American day, thanks to the time zone, we wake up early but a bit dazed, and at 8 we are already looking for a place to have breakfast. It seems obvious to us to choose Starbucks ... where we do not understand anything of what we are told, we leave without realizing it a tip that makes the girl behind the counter very happy (!!) and we can drink an immense cappuccino seasoned with everything we find, with the only result of not being able to digest it all day! For the modest sum of $ 23 we also get a cake and a “Protein Mix”, with eggs, fruit and other fresh things.
The day is cloudy and even a few drops of rain descend, but it clears up within a few hours, and we set off on foot discovering the City. Today we visit: The Chrysler Building (where they are shooting a movie .. wow!) And the statue of Prometheus, St Patrick Cathedral, Central Station, we peek at the UN Glass Building, we still walk in disbelief for Fifth Avenue and then in Central park (where we also take a nap in the meadows), we go to see the Guggenheim Museum (but only from outside), and continue with a walk in Little Italy.
Here there is a very funny procession to Sant'Antonio, where men dressed as in "The Godfather" carry the statue of the Saint in front of the various commercial activities and make it picturesquely rotate on itself when they receive cash offers! We then move into the very lively Chinatown and, passing through the market, we have lunch with a hot dog taken from one stall and a glass of fresh fruit from another ... As we drive around the city we realize that 70% of car traffic is made up of taxis, it is overflowing with American flags and it is not chaotic as we expected: it is warm, tidy and human, and ancient and modern coexist harmoniously creating a unique architecture. Yet… I still haven't fully realized that I'm really in NY!
Around 5 in the afternoon we go to the hotel with the intention of resting a bit before going out for dinner but, probably due to the tiredness of the day, the spindle, the very comfortable bed and the post-wedding (the "big race" for the wedding ended only 2 days before!) we fall asleep in the big and we wake up at 21,30. Too much sleep and zero hunger, so ... let's stay in bed!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: American kindness is as legendary as it is real. They are always ready to help you without you even asking ... to us Italians this thing seems so incredible that every time we wonder if they are not trying to cheat us !!! We immediately felt “at home” (may it also be due to the fact that we have already seen every corner of this metropolis a thousand times in the movies?) And we had the feeling of a very safe city.
Breakfast = 16 €
Lunch = € 4
30.05.2010 – h. 6.00
The spindle and the mega-sleep (more than 12 hours!) Make us wake up at dawn beautiful perky. We take a shower and have a quick coffee at the machine in the lobby of our hotel (only today we discovered his presence!) And, as real Americans, with take-away coffee in hand, we go and get two sandwiches with eggs and ham (I ) and bacon, eggs and cheese (Andrea): the skipped dinner makes itself felt !!
Today the day is warm and clear and we set off to discover: Flatiron Building (the first beautiful skyscraper in NY, I take dozens of photos!), Union Square, then we take the subway and reach the long-awaited Brooklyn Bridge, where we only reach the first tower and we are enchanted by the gigantic structure. We take the subway again and reach Wall Street and the Financial District (with the Charging Bull), Trinity Church, where we stop to listen to the singing rehearsals of an evocative New York gospel choir, Ground Zero (always touching, now it's a construction site), then we head to Battery Park where we booked the visit for the Statue of Liberty (in fact from here the ferries to Liberty Island leave). Tickets booked online a few months ago allow us to spare us one of the many and very long queues for the boat, we only have to do the queues for security checks.
Unfortunately, despite the advance booking, we are unable to win the visit to the crown, but the visit to the pedestal is still satisfactory ... The greatest emotion is still contemplating the statue approaching with the ferry! On the way back we go to Pier 17, a former fishermen's wharf which has now become a shopping center, where we have lunch with an expensive but light chicken salad and a super milkshake, contemplating the Brooklyn Bridge.
We then take a walk along Broadway and try to go back to the hotel, but the subway line is out of order so we walk a few more miles across Canal Street, then make a short stop at the hotel. When we leave we are stopped by a strange character on 7th street who absolutely wants to take a picture with me ... This scares me a little but after we get rid of it we then continue to the Empire State Building where, after more than an hour between queues and checks (although here too we had pre-purchased tickets online!), 6 floors and feet and a lot of effort, we arrive at the 86th floor while the sun is going down. The view excites us and leaves us breathless, and the photos are wasted!
Tired we take a ride from Macy's then we have dinner in a Chinese "all you can eat" near the spectacular Times Square, where in the general tiredness I manage to tip the unpleasant Chinese waitress $ 7, and for this I will eat my fingers all evening !!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: while in all parts of the world at least 2 languages are spoken, the local one and another, in the nationalistic America only theirs are spoken!
After 11/XNUMX, the Americans are also afraid of their shadow, and the checks are exhausting ...
Blacks, based on what we have seen these days, seem to be about 50% of the population, and mainly employed in law enforcement!
Breakfast = 4 €
Statue of Liberty = € 17
Lunch = € 18
Empire state building ticket = 30 €
All you can eat = 28€
Hotel = 558 € (3 nights)
31.05.2010 – h. 6.00 (New York-Washington)
The time zone still helps us, so at 6 we are up ... we do our bags, have breakfast in the lobby (usual cafferozzo!), Check-out at the hotel and ... for the first time we take a New York taxi !! We call him, in front of the hotel, just like in the movies, raising his arm and thinking "It was a lifetime that I dreamed of doing it !!!"
A black boy takes us in less than 10 minutes to Hertz car rental, where we booked our travel companion who will take us to the Pacific: a Toyota Prius. In less than 5 minutes we complete the car rental procedures, we get the keys in hand and we are on the street juggling "One Way" and rebellious pedestrians ... Andrea begins to become familiar with the automatic gearbox while I study the booklet for a while instructions of the vehicle.
Half an hour of travel and the skyscrapers are replaced by countryside and farms. We stop in a special area and gulp down a series of delicious cinnamon rolls sprinkled with orange juice ... After about 4 hours we are in Washington: on the American highways you travel well, they are tidy, clean and traffic free, Americans only overshoot the limit by a few miles per hour and travel neatly in their lane, almost in a column. Thus we arrive at our destination an abundant hour before what we had foreseen; found the hotel in Washington (even if with a bit of difficulty because the navigator gave us some roads open to traffic only at other times), we park and decide to start looking around.
Today here in the USA we celebrate Memorial Day so the parking lots are fortunately free (otherwise it would have been $ 30 a day!) And when we reach the White House and the Washington Monument we discover that we are also about to witness a parade in style, with bands music and typical clothes.
There are a lot of people cheering and waving American flags, despite the excruciating heat that drips even in the shade! The parade is very representative of the true American spirit, we follow it with curiosity for half an hour then we continue to the Lincoln Memorial ... the heat, however, is really unbearable and we decide to stop at the hotel to cool off with a shower (State Plaza Hotel, 2117 And St. NW, Washington DC), in a very strategic position but also not very touristy: around there are only government offices, and if there are any bars / restaurants, it is probably closed today due to the holidays ...
However, the State Plaza is elegant and well-kept, and we have a real one at our disposal suite with king bed and equipped kitchenette.
When we go out the weather has fortunately cooled down (and clouded over!) And we take the opportunity to go for another ride to the Capitol and the 2nd World War Monument, as majestic as all the Memorial park. We silence hunger with an indefinite number of hot dogs taken by street vendors (we have no other choice… everything is closed !!) and we sling into our king bed… at 22 pm we are already snoring!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: despite the amount of people around, we have seen and made friends with dozens of very sociable squirrels!
THE KM OF TODAY: 370
Taxi = €5
Prius rental = € 845
Breakfast at Cinnambon = $ 14
Hot dogs and drinks = $ 25
State Plaza Hotel = 152$
1.06.2010 – h. 5.00 (Washington – Cincinnati)
WAKES UP!!! Today we join Francesca and Andrea who have been living in Cincinnati for a couple of months. We have 8 hours of travel ahead, so at 6.30 we are already on the road with our Prius.
The journey runs smoothly, the landscape is rural but exciting: everything is like in the movies !! The cabins are wooden, with a pointed roof and huge pickups parked outside and even larger silos next to them. THE American trucks they are beautiful, immense and picturesque, and when they pass by they are almost scary! Even crazy things pass us by, like 3 trucks stuck on top of each other like giant toys, and pulled by a fourth, and caravans as large as trucks towing an SUV (probably the "smallest" vehicle to use on vacation!) .
Everything is green around, and today we saw, in order: a squirrel calmly crossing the street in downtown Washington, a giant tortoise crossing the highway (!) And dozens of fawns, marmots and other dead animals on either side of the 'highway.
The journey is long (10 hours with breaks!) But the Prius is extraordinarily comfortable, plus with automatic transmission and cruise-control, driving is truly relaxing!
The American highways then (for a fee only in the NY district) are really pleasant to drive: wide and straight, there is no traffic or crazy behind the wheel, and you travel smoothly. Meanwhile, we immerse ourselves completely in the surrounding environment listening to pleasant country radio, and at 16.30, we are in Hebron, a village near Cincinnati where our friends live. Andrea and Francesca live in a beautiful, very green area, in a very typical American house without a fence, with the letterbox on the street and many, many rooms!
Incredible to hear Spanish spoken again… The evening flows beautifully, with a thousand and one chatter fairytale dinner in Cincinnati center, where after the appetizer (pasta with cheeses) I could also go home satisfied! At midnight our long day ends in a comfortable bedroom all to ourselves 😉
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: in a comparison between the US and Spain ... both as tourists and as residents, the US wins 10 to 0!
THE KM OF TODAY: 820
Petrol = € 24
2.06.2010 – h. 8.00 (Cincinnati-St. Louis)
This morning we greet with regret the new home of our friends, even if the enthusiasm for everything we have to see pushes us to get on board immediately!
We cross the border of Ohio and shortly after that of Indiana, and we arrive in Missouri, in Saint Louis. It seems that we have made a street parcel but the 3 borders are very close ...
We find our motel without difficulty (Days Inn Lindbergh Boulevard, 654 South Lindbergh Boulevard) and we immediately realize that it's not that great, but for one night and what it costs us is just fine ... Plus they immediately upgrade us to the king. bed (probably because at the time of booking we specified to everyone that we are on our honeymoon!) and this thing makes us extremely happy. In the room we notice the presence of a Bible in the nightstand drawer, then we remember that in the USA the catholic faith it's definitely most felt than in Spain, especially when you leave the big cities. We unload the luggage and set off to discover St. Louis!
The city is built on the banks of the Mississippi and its past is tied to river trade. Our first stop is the Gateway Arch: after having parked in the parking garage immediately below the park of the arch, we go to take a look at the banks of the Mississippi (immense and… very dirty!) And suddenly we find ourselves in front of the gigantic arch! It is splendid in its grandeur (it is almost 200m high), truly spectacular and very elegant from any perspective you look at it.
When we get exactly below we find that it is also possible to climb it: with $ 10 you can visit the small underground museum, with a guided tour that briefly tells the history of the city and the meaning of the construction of the Gateway Arch. At the end of the museum an elevator, which looks almost like a carousel with eggs, takes us at the top of the arch. In the small egg, which carries 5/6 people, we share the very little space with an American and a German couple, and it is then that we really realize how little we study English in Spain: the German boys perfectly hold a complex conversation with the American, where we, who have often heard abroad say "speak English well to be Italian!" we catch only some parts of the speech ... We go down from the eggs and after a few steps we reach the top. From the horizontal windows the view is exceptional and, due to their inclination, the sensation is that of falling ... Andrea and I agree that it was absolutely worth it!
When we get off we take a stroll to the Old Courthouse and we begin to realize that in the "young" American cities there is no "center" as we Europeans are used to conceiving it, an older nucleus, perhaps pedestrianized and full of shops ... The latter close very early (even at 17 pm) and after 18 pm there is not much else for us tourists to do but have dinner or look at the game (in St Louis they are playing a major baseball match tonight!). Furthermore, the impression is that this city was born for commerce and business, so in our short tour of the area, as well as modern buildings and closed shops, we do not find anything else.
So let's go back to our motel and try to take a swim in the pool, but the water is freezing so we can't last more than a minute! Then we fall back on a hot shower, then we go out and have dinner in a fast food restaurant in front of the motel with the nice name of Five Guys (and in fact, 5 guys really work there!), which doesn't inspire anything good from the outside, but where we eat one of the best burgers (in terms of quality and price) of the whole trip. Then, to bed!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: in the USA when you see the “Beware of animals” sign on the highway, the animals are really there !!
THE KM OF TODAY: 570
Petrol = $ 36
Arch gateway tickets = $ 20
Price = $ 20
Hotel = 46$
Parking in St. Louis = $ 6
3.06.2010 – h. 8.00 (St. Louis-Springfield)
After 10 good hours of sleep (here in the States the beds are all REALLY comfortable!) We finally wake up and have a nice breakfast in the motel's breakfast room. We "settle for" coffee with milk with cornflakes, hard-boiled eggs, bread and toasted waffles with maple syrup and orange juice ... then, with a full stomach, we set off!
Today we would have "only" 3 hours of driving ahead, so we choose to avoid the highway to enjoy as much as possible the landscapes of the American hinterland and finally be able to travel HER, the legendary road, the symbol of freedom and the American dream ... Mother road, Route 66!
The journey is then extended by a couple of hours, but for some stretches what remains of Route 66 runs parallel to the highway, so our route changes a little, and ... never was the choice more appropriate! We don't have time to get bored, every mile enchants us with something different ... the American wooden houses, the large pickups parked on the driveway, the rows of mailboxes on the street (and every time we see them, we say to ourselves: " if we were in Spain we wouldn't even save a postcard! ") ... And then the incredible roads that look like roller coasters, the big shiny trucks as if they had just come out of the dealership ...
On the way we begin to see the signs of the past of these areas linked to Route 66 in Missouri: from fast food restaurants that keep the legend alive, to ghost towns that convey all the desolation of once lively and busy areas, and now reduced to abandoned ruins. ...
We then stop to browse the "real American life" by taking a stroll in the supermarket (a Walmart) of a village called Owensville, and while we try to understand the tastes and habits of the average American, we take the opportunity to buy something, including bread, sliced of chicken and a disturbing orange fluo cheese (with which we will have lunch later in the equipped area of a lay-by) and, of course, a bottle of Original Syrup, of which there is a full shelf !!
Here it is impossible not to notice the American flags of all shapes and sizes on sale in the supermarket, and above all not to be tempted by buying some flags for our new house! And of course it is impossible to buy clothing… although I am certainly not skinny, within 2 times in the smaller women's sizes !!
We are then once again amazed by the courtesy of these people: at the cashier they greet us and ask us how we are, and when they hear the foreign accent, they ask us with interest where we come from, if we are on vacation and ... if we like the United States ! But… WHAT A QUESTION!
At the exit we even find an old man who, next to a pickup older than him, tells us: "I was looking at your strange car ..." it must be that you don't see many Prius around here!
Almost arrived in Springfield, we also let ourselves be tempted by a gigantic gift store, where we fill the trolley with souvenirs (especially of Route 66) for us, families and friends.
We resume the journey among eagles that fly beside us and houses so perfect as to seem fake, and at about 17 pm we are at Springfield. It doesn't take us long to realize that this town is even more lifeless than St. Louis, at least by our Spanish standard ... we take a short tour of the main streets and then we go to get our room at the motel (Best Western Route 66 Rail Heaven, 203 South Glenstone, Springfield, MO) and this really gives us satisfaction! A typical movie motel, it boasts no less than origins linked to Route 66 at the time of its maximum splendor, as evidenced by the splendid vintage cars parked at the entrance, as well as the original Phyllis 66 gas pumps and paintings with vintage photos in the room!
We put ourselves in order, then we go out for dinner at the nearby and equally typical "George's" (it seems to have entered an episode of Happy Days), where we eat very well for a $ 26 tip including a plate of onion rings that seem doped so big they are, while I, who already feel the effects of this hypergolic diet, dedicate myself to a soup, which I am beginning to miss! We still take a walk through the deserted streets of the town and then go to bed!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: American nationalist pride is reflected in everything… on sale we find swimwear decorated like the American flag, as well as t-shirts and beach slippers! In Spain, someone MAYBE bring something like this only to coincide with the World Cup !!!
THE KM OF TODAY: 350
Petrol = $ 11
Price = $ 26
Motel = 72$
Spermercato = 35$
4.06.2010 – h. 7.00 (Springfield – Oklahoma City)
Wake up a little earlier than usual this morning: today's stage is quite long, so we get up and get ready quickly, even if we are a little sorry to leave this historic motel! Breakfast is included, although not particularly varied or excellent, but we still manage to leave for Oklahoma City on a full stomach.
Today we travel a bit on the highway, trying to cover the original stretches of Route 66. We pass towns that seem to have come out of a TV show, and in one of these (Carthage) we stop at the supermarket to make some purchases, then we enter the plains towards Okla City.
Here the climate is very hot and humid, and the plains very green and rich in water: we see rivers, ponds, swamps and dams, but as we approach Oklahoma City we notice that the landscape dries up: the plants become rare, the colors of the ground fade from the green of the meadows to the reddish of the earth and the gold of the wheat. The temperature always exceeds 30 ° and the sky is clear.
We arrive in Oklahoma City and go straight to our motel (Howard Johnson Oklahoma City, 400 South Meridian Avenue, I-40 at Exit 145 (Meridian), Oklahoma City, OK) to take the room. Then we learn from the guides that OC is one gigantic and very industrial city, and there isn't much to see other than a few museums, which doesn't appeal to us that much, so we fall back on some shopping in a western clothing center a few steps from the motel. The shop is a gigantic shed that overflows with boots of all kinds and shapes, jeans, hats and so on, which makes our Como cowboys fans and the like light up our eyes!
After more than an hour we both buy a pair of boots and various t-shirts at a great price, then we return with the loot to the motel to freshen up before going out again for dinner (we have an agreement with Louie's next to the motel). In the meantime, we take the opportunity to try to do the laundry for the first time in the motel's laundromat, and with a few dollars we have the scented suitcase as if we just left, even if it doesn't take very little time!
Dinner at Louie's, on the other hand, is fast and cheap: I've been a bit upset since we started eating American-style, and the clothes are clearly starting to get tight on both of them, so I choose a nice salad (however not very light, given who here season it with sauces of all kinds and add fried croutons, walnuts and so on and so forth ...) and Andrea fillet with various side dishes, all for 22 $. Even tonight the evening ends early, at 22,30 we are in the bed cooked by the heat ... tomorrow awaits us Texas!!!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: We notice that almost everywhere here in the US the air conditioning temperature is close to freezing, so sitting for a long time in a diner… it's impossible!
THE KM OF TODAY: 460
Coffee at Burger King: $ 3,50
Price = $ 22
Motel = 65$
Supermarket = $ 15
Shopping/souvenirs = 270$
5.06.2010 – h. 7.00 (Oklahoma City- Amarillo)
Today breakfast is BIG !! Although it is included in the price of the room, nothing is missing: there are waffles and sweets, bacon and sausages, baked potatoes and eggs with mashed potatoes (or at least ... it seems!) After having gorged ourselves very well and having learned from a native to prepare ourselves the waffles with the gigantic and hilarious special plate, we go on a journey. It's about 8.30 and the Prius, despite being really spacious, is starting to complain about lack of space ...
Along the way we notice that the landscape becomes more barren and the plants decrease; the countries we pass through (El Reno, Clinton with its small museum on Route 66, Elk City) are truly characteristic and, relative to American history, ancient! In one of these, McLean, we found the first Phillips 66 petrol pump, renovated with such bright colors as to seem almost fake… despite the fact that the rest of the town is practically uninhabited. We are finally entering Texas! A few miles after the border, a very modern rest area welcomes us with a spatial view of the surrounding landscape. We continue visiting other desolated villages, now decayed due to the decommissioning of Route 66 ...
We stop for petrol in one of these, and for a moment we feel like we are on the set of "The hills have eyes": the petrol pump is deserted, it's just us, the wind and gigantic silos (I think it's destined to the grain) on the other side of the road. The first absurd thought that crosses my head is: if we shoot here, nobody notices!
We travel along other stretches of Route 66 in Texas that are equally deserted and silent ... this thing at the same time enchants us and fills us with melancholy for the now extinguished magic of this road ...
We then finally reach Yellow and, with a little effort - because we cunningly miss the address (but the locals do not let us lack help!) - the very famous Big Texan Ranch, a little touristy but very very nice and characteristic… to go from the bedroom to the bathroom we have to go through the saloon doors! The Big Texan is a historic motel that does not deny its reputation as an excellent steak house (dinner is FANTASTIC) and we also have the chance to see live the famous 72 oz steak eaten by an incredible character, who manages to finish it in veeery less than an hour, thus winning the chance to have the whole dinner for free!
We then do some shopping at Cavender's (another gigantic one western store just outside Amarillo) and we dedicate ourselves to visiting the real attraction of these areas: the Palo Duro Canyon, much less known than others but which appears to be the second largest canyon in the USA. Truly fascinating landscapes entertain us for a couple of hours: the canyon can be traveled with your own car and allows you to see the incredible area from various perspectives. The ground is red and the river is very small compared to the immensity of the gorge it created!
In the evening, exhausted by the heat, we enjoy a bath in the whirlpool of the motel and then we dive into the gigantic King bed covered with cowhide cushions in perfect western style!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: The most amazing thing is to find an immense gorge like that of the Canyon in the middle of such flat and boundless plains ...
THE KM OF TODAY: 430
Park admission: $ 20
Dinner at the Big Texan = $57
Motel = 97$
Cavender's shopping = $ 50
6.06.2010 – h. 6.00 (Amarillo-Albuquerque)
Today a fairly demanding stage awaits us, which by mutual agreement we decided to extend a little more (!!) to cover the still existing sections of Route 66 and visit the famous town of Santa Fe.
As soon as we leave Amarillo we stop to visit the very special Cadillac Ranch: in reality, there is no shadow of a ranch, but the 10 Cadillacs are all there and leave us speechless: they are stuck in the ground for half of their length. , slightly tilted, and completely covered with graffiti. We take dozens of photos, aware that as we are photographing them now many will not photograph them, because anyone can leave their signature with the spray cans, allowing this unusual work of art to constantly change clothes.
We then continue to travel Route 66, and we realize that even if we spend a few more hours in the car, we could not have made a better choice ... The landscapes we cross, still different from the previous ones, almost completely devoid of any sign of civilization, are truly sensational ... in the stretch of Route that almost no one goes through now because it has been replaced by Interstate 40, the panorama catapults us into a western movie, leaving us breathless. We find ourselves immersed in a silence unknown to us, surrounded by immense prairies interspersed only with plateaus of red rock ... it seems another world, and as much as we take photos after photos, we realize that the vastness of these spaces and the emotions they transmit do not are reproducible by any camera!
We stop for a quick lunch, after discovering that the healthiest of the various American fast food is Subway, we will always try to stop in one of these.
We then reach Santa Fe, but the town leaves us a little disappointed. The beauty is all in the "Old town", But when we reach it (with great effort because heat and humidity make our steps very heavy) we find ourselves in front of a sort of" Gardaland "where everything has a Mexican-like aspect, but also a fake and artfully reconstructed ... the adobe-style houses they are so perfect that the feeling is that of being in a tourist trap where the clubs are extremely trendy and the shops full of very expensive and not very characteristic objects and clothes, and for the first time we also notice well-kept and refined signs, something never seen here In the USA! In short, it is definitely different from the ancient and somewhat rustic town that we expected. After a short tour of the center and a visit to the cathedral of S. Francesco d'Assisi (where we could only have a quick look because a function was in progress) we decide to get back on the road, and in less than an hour we are at Albuquerque.
Here the heat is terrible and although the hottest hours have already passed, it is hard to stay in the sun. At the motel (Americas Best Value Inn, 615 Central Avenue NE, Albuquerque) a rude and mellifluous Hispanic greets us; on the other hand, the room is large and clean and even has a nice bathroom with a window!
We change and then move to the center to visit theOld Town di Albuquerque: this presents itself to us as a cross between a Mexican village and a western town, and at least here we satisfy our desire for ancient, authentic and genuine ... here we find a village festival dedicated to the patron San Filipe de 'Neri, which gathers people from all over the city. The atmosphere is intimate, that of an old-fashioned town where everyone knows each other, it almost seems to be in the 70s: rides still operated by hand, groups of mustaches strumming in the center of the square, children chasing each other between a stall of fajitas and one of cotton candy ... we do some shopping in the souvenir shops, then as we walk through the streets the wind rises and the sky begins to turn terrifyingly black .. we go to a typical Mexican restaurant, Aria de Fiesta (d ' otherwise we are in New Mexico!) recommended by a friend to eat chili (the best ever tasted !!!) and fajitas. The restaurant does not disappoint us and we go out rolling, and swearing that from tomorrow we are on a diet! We take a few more steps then we take refuge in the motel: we do a quick check of the addresses of the next steps to the PC in the hall, the usual shower and we collapse into the king bed, gigantic and very comfortable as always!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: every time I order a sandwich in a fast food restaurant they look at me as if I were green… it will be because I choose to fill it “only” with cutlet and fresh vegetables, rather than with cheeses, sauces, chips, pickles, fries, etc.!
THE KM OF TODAY: 560
Subway lunch = $ 18
Petrol = $ 22
Price = $ 37
Motel = 62$
7.06.2010 – h. 6.00 (Albuquerque-Holbrook)
Departure for Arizona! After the squalid breakfast in the motel (moreover quite lonely, practically it was just us ...) we set off, and before the border we see the landscape take on still different colors, and become barren and desert. The plants give way to some species of sparse and low bushes, and the only sign of civilization is represented by the desolated Indian villages. Route 66 is here definitively defunct: the few remaining sections are closed to traffic and left in a state of total abandonment ... as regards the rest of the route, it coincides with the usual Interstate 40.
Looking at the signs along the highway we realize that, finally, we are entering the real Indian areas, and the advertising on the signs on the side of the road is not lacking! Then we stop for the usual refueling stop at what is called the Indian Village here ... in reality what we are facing is squalid little shops in "Indian-style" that sell souvenirs mostly made in China.
We take a walk and resume the march, entering Arizona ... thus we arrive at the entrance of the first park that we will visit during this trip, the Painted Desert, and we begin the journey!
The spectacle that appears before our eyes already at the first view point leaves us speechless ... the immensity of the spaces, the breathtaking view but above all the colors in front of which we find ourselves, true protagonists of this natural wonder, make us forget the terrible heat and make us travel several hundred meters in the desert ecstatic.
We continue with the visit of the Petrified Forest, a park within the park, whose origins date back to 250 million years ago, when these areas were covered by the Gulf of Mexico. A long process that lasted millennia has allowed the fossilization of the remains of trees (it is hundreds of trunks or pieces of trunk), where stone and crystal have taken the place of wood, keeping their shape intact. The show is truly unique and more than once we are surprised to stretch our hands towards a trunk convinced to feel the warm touch of the wood, and being instead surprised to feel the cold of the stone !!
We go out and again with our eyes sparkling with wonder we reach Holbrook, where we booked the motel (Americas Best Value Inn, 720 Navajo Blvd, AZ 86025 Holbrook). This doesn't look particularly new or clean but it has to be considered that the price is the lowest we've ever paid for a room: less than 20 euros each!
Then we go out for dinner and walking through the streets of the town we realize that everything here has stopped in the 50s: the cinema, the times when people go there, the signs, even the motel, which has a I don't know what of neglected, ancient and dilapidated ...
After a shower we go out for dinner, and we find ourselves eating some excellent Mexican food (perhaps the best of the whole trip!) In a perfect happy-days-style diner, equally decadent and dusty (Joe & Aggie's Cafe, 120 W . Hopi Dr., Old Route 66, Holbrook). The owner, a very nice guy and very willing to give advice on the Grand Canyon (he insists that we visit it from the North Rim instead of the more touristy South, to enjoy the visit in total solitude!), And he also makes us sign the guestbook of the restaurant, very proud of the origins of his restaurant and of the fact that everything has remained exactly as it was then (... and it shows!). He also advises us how to spend the evening (since Holbrook is not exactly full of attractions, also like in the rest of the USA we have dinner at 18.30 pm, go to the cinema at 19.30 pm and then all to bed!) So in 10 minutes we find ourselves to admire an Indian show in typical clothes with about 30 spectators ... we watch it for half an hour, then we leave, particularly disappointed to see how this proud warrior people has been reduced to being a parody of himself!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: We were very struck by the condition of the Indians: poor and fattened by American food, they live in shacks in what was their land, which they loved and respected ... all that remains of their ancient glory are little shows of dancing and singing in which they are reduced to the same level as clowns.
THE KM OF TODAY: 400
Supermarket = $ 10
Price = $ 30
Motel = 40$
8.06.2010 – h. 7.30 (Holbrook-Mexican Hat)
Today the day has finally arrived when we will visit Monument Valley, and perhaps thanks to the emotion, we are awake early to get going. Breakfast has an agreement with the restaurant in front of the motel. So we find ourselves eating pancakes, hamburgers, bacon and eggs… It's amazing how quickly we got used to pancakes, elongated American cafferoni and baked potatoes…. Even today we regret those fabulous breakfasts!
Then we fill up and go! For a change, we choose a different route from the one suggested by the navigator: a shorter but slower route instead of a longer but faster one. The choice turns out to be right this time too: with the same travel time, however, we have the opportunity to visit a "piccolo painted desert”(Very beautiful despite not being signposted anywhere) and to see unique panoramas in absolute silence, climb rocky mountains and discover small Indian cemeteries.
With regret then we re-enter highway 163, until we see that the ground turns into a very fine red sand and after a few miles ... here are the first red monoliths on the horizon ... they are immense, incredible! But before visiting the much-dreamed Monument we do our duty and go to check that the motel (and our reservation) are really there. The room is in the very typical St Juan Inn, one of the real surprises of our trip ... we find ourselves very well both for the pleasant position in front of the river, for the large and fragrant room and for the kindness of the manager, who makes us all die laughing in an attempt (useless) to pronounce correctly my name and surname!
We thus prepare for the visit of the Monument. On the road (we are about 15 minutes by car from the park entrance) we find ourselves in a queue due to an accident that will keep us for about half an hour. The heat is hardly bearable, but in the end the timing for the visit of the park will turn out to be perfect: at 16.15 pm we enter, and we finish the tour exactly at sunset as we wanted (after 20, closing time).
The show that we are about to see is anticipated by the view at the entrance to the park (where there is the fabulous The View Motel ... 400 $ a night, sigh!) Where the extraordinary red monoliths leave us breathless with emotion. The tour of the park will then continue for a dirt path that will put a strain on the good old Prius (especially on the way back when it gets covered up in the final climb, making us fear we will have to end the day by pushing it!), Which will cover everything with red earth and that it will make our eyes shine hundreds of times… Everywhere breathtaking views and unique views!
At sunset the colors flare up and the panorama is of those that one would like to impress on one's mind forever. We leave the park overwhelmed by the heat, sand and fatigue, but with eyes so full of wonder that we keep looking back as we reach the motel.
We have dinner at the St Juan restaurant: the portions are huge and the meat excellent, as always, even if we spend a little more than the average. Then we roll up to the bedroom ... indispensable shower, then sleep!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: Today we have had many contacts with the inhabitants of these lands, the Indians. Although I deeply respect this ethnic group, imprisoned in these lands and in a lifestyle that does not belong to them, I must confess that the first impact was not very positive ... the stop we made for lunch in a supermarket on the street was a nightmare ! We practically ran away with the first edible thing (a fried stuff that I didn't digest all day) due to the phlegm and the unavailability of the cashier. From that moment we have had to notice against our will that this is a very common attitude among Native Americans: they are inexpressive, phlegmatic and very little available. After several days of wowing us with incredible American kindness, this contrasting attitude leaves us a little perplexed!
THE KM OF TODAY: 560
Supermarket = $ 8
Price = $ 47
Motel = 93$
Park admission = $ 10
Petrol = $ 28
9.06.2010 – h. 7.30 (Mexican Hat – Tusayan)
This morning we wake up hot… it almost seemed that the mattress under the sheet was made of plastic! We make use of the motel laundry again this time (but the stuff will not come out perfectly dry and we will have to "spread out" part of it in the car!) And then a light breakfast with cafferone and pancakes at the St Juan Inn restaurant, and we still manage to stay shocked by the size of the overwhelming sardines who manage to gulp down the Americans for breakfast ... one is even eating chili con carne!
Then we jump in the car and in 5 minutes we are at the rock that gives its name to the town, Mexican hat, a nice overlapping of stones that from a distance looks like the profile of a Mexican with a hat. We then retrace the approximately 70km that bring us back to Tuba city, the point where we can take Highway 160 ... towards the Grand Canyon! Wow, 2 great American legends in such a few hours ... will my little heart hold up?
The trip is quite short (3 and a half hours), in which we also stop to contemplate a "scenic view" which will turn out to be a small canyon; the zone is run by the Navajo who charge $ 2 for admission. We then arrive at the entrance to the Grand Canyon Park in about ten minutes. We are in front of the first observation point, Desert View: the view that presents itself in front of us is something unimaginable. In the face of so much immensity, one cannot but remain silent and savor the feeling of infinity that only such a wonder of nature can convey.
We continue with the visit of the other viewpoints, and the feeling is always that of feeling infinitely small ... Halfway through, as expected, we park the car because from there on you can only continue with the shuttles, and we stop for lunch at the self-service park service: excellent food (finally some light vegetables!) and excellent prices (in Spain, only for the fact that you are in a park, they would have doubled them ...). After lunch we head towards the stops of the free shuttles, which are not clearly marked at all, and we leave for the visit of the next section of the South rim. The views take your breath away every time and the climate is pleasantly cool because of the altitude (even if you don't realize it, we are at 2300m) and the explanations on the origin of the Canyon that we find at the Info Point are clear and very interesting.
When the journey of the first shuttle ends and we get off at the view point, when we take the next one we are discouraged by the long queue, and we decide to walk along the promenade that runs along the Rim. We like the solution so much that we decide to walk to the next two view points, enjoying exceptional views in total solitude.
At the third stop, however, we are tired, and we get back on the shuttle for the next two stops ... until we realize that time is running out (at 19 pm we MUST be at Javapay point to enjoy the sunset !!) so we return. We settle on a comfortable step and wait patiently for the change of lights and shadows that makes the sunset over the Grand Canyon one of the most spectacular views in the world...
Around 8 o'clock the lights have gone down permanently and the altitude begins to be felt in the form of a cool breeze, so we set off to reach the Red Feather Motel in Tusayan (10 minutes drive from the park entrance) where we find the our excellent and well-equipped accommodation. We have dinner at the Tusayan Cafè (a few meters away) with the usual excellent meat with various side dishes, then shower and sleep!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: As much as you may have seen images, photos and videos… read realistic descriptions and stories… there is no way to come prepared for the sight of the Grand Canyon.
Simply, our mind is not able to conceive such vastness, which extends as far as the gaze reaches ...
THE KM OF TODAY: 300
Breakfast = $ 6
Scenic View admission = $ 20
Laundry = $ 3
Lunch in the park = $ 25
Price = $ 45
Motel = 133$
10.06.2010 – h. 8.30 (Tusayan – Las Vegas)
Departure for Las Vegas! Today the alarm gives us the opportunity to rest a little more and set off on the road around 10. Today we are back on Route 66! We have a sign for a typical village called Seligman just off Highway 40, so for a long way we go along the Old Route, then we stop right at Seligman to have a delicious breakfast / lunch and to buy "some" souvenirs, including a couple of Route 66 plaques that now decorate our house. Our brunch consists of the most fabulous and genuine pancake of the whole trip, eaten in an incredible Fifties atmosphere bar attached to the souvenir shop ... but then taking a stroll we realize that the whole country is like this, and maintains the original characteristics of those years: signs, parked cars, petrol stations ... in short, a unique place!
We continue to follow the original route of Route 66, but making several stops to photograph bars and restaurants that look like they came out of some fifty-year-old film. For the rest, today's landscape is quite monotonous and does not have much to offer ... moreover, before the Hoover Dam we find ourselves involved in a very long queue caused by works in progress (they will be used to build a new road that will pass outside the dam) as well as from an accident, and from the checks that are carried out on all vehicles before passing over the dam ...
The column is endless and the heat hardly bearable, and everything will delay us not a little on the roadmap. However, we make a short stop to see the famous "Trasformers" dam, but because of the heat we resist a little and we go back to the cool of the air conditioner.
By the time we reach the outskirts of Las Vegas it is around 5 am and traffic is at its peak, and it takes us more than an hour between entering the city and when, after briefly visiting another western shop, we manage to reach Planet Hollywood Resort. The hardest part is figuring out how to access the hotel; in the end we realize that each facility is equipped with its own small parking garage, and from there you can reach the check-in (after an attendant has kidnapped the Prius, sending the new husband in panic, to park it no-knows-where)!
Fortunately, check-in is quick and the room… fabulous! It is practically one vera suite composed of an immense sleeping area, a corridor as large as that of motels and a pharaonic bathroom consisting of 2 twin sinks facing each other, bathtub, shower and to top it off, a satisfying view of none other than the "Bellagio" !!
After a refreshing shower (also preceded by a relaxing hydromassage bath) we get back on our feet, ready to face the PH buffet (which is considered the No. 1 in the city) and the Las Vegas night!
Dinner, when we finally manage to reach the dining room, is exceptional, the quality of the dishes is very high and the choice is practically infinite ... I dedicate myself mainly to fish and I taste lobster, sushi and fish salads ... Andrea instead prefers to devote himself to ethnic and chooses Mexican, Asian and traditional American dishes.
Then we go down to the casino to try our luck: you can't not play in Las Vegas! We play $ 10 on slots, win 2, replay them and…. we lose everything. OK, the game is not for us!
We finally go out to discover the fabulous Vegas: we leave the hotel and we are overwhelmed by rivers of people (many families and, surprisingly, many middle-aged ladies!), Lights, colors and music, and above all ... a lot of flyers with offers of young ladies on every street corner. The feeling is a bit like being in Gardaland… in short, Las Vegas kidnaps us a bit, but not too much!
Then we visit the famous Venetian with its reconstructed lagoons, we are enchanted by fountains of the Bellagio dancing to the sound of music and from the forum-shopping of Caesar's Palace ... all very nice and spectacular! We continue contemplating the Mirage, the MGM, the Coca Cola museum, the beautiful New York New York (which reconstructs the city, including the Statue of Liberty !!), and Paris complete with the Eiffel tower.
Around one o'clock the streets are now empty, the Bellagio has now finished its shows and many attractions are closed ... in short, for a city that lives at night, there seems very little stuff!
However, we are exhausted by the day, by the heat and by so much walking around the city, so we go back to our immense room dedicated to the film "Kazaan" (with the feeling of not enjoying it at all) and we throw ourselves into the immense king bed ready to a galactic sleep!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: Las Vegas presented itself to us as a giant playground for adults… too bad the shops closed at 22pm… a little early for the city that never sleeps!
THE KM OF TODAY: 460
Breakfast / lunch = $ 12
Keepsake = $40
Petrol = $ 14
Casino' = $10
Hotel = 84$
Price = $ 55
Supermarket = 46$
11.06.2010 – h. 7.30 (Las Vegas – Stovepipe Wells)
Program of the day: take a walk in Death Valley! At 8.30 we have already checked out from the PH and got our travel companion back (with consequent visible relaxation of Husband!). We leave the city smoothly and after a short stop for breakfast and gasoline, we set off. In three hours we are at the park entrance, and the first part does not seem so "deadly" ... of course, the vegetation is sparse and gradually decreasing, but it is still present .. and the temperature seems acceptable to us, as opposed to that that we had read! The car does not seem to have any difficulties whatsoever and the climb does not seem that demanding either. But there are really, along the way, the plinths for the radiator water ...
Our desire for the desert is gradually satisfied, and the first "lunar" landscape we encounter is that of bath water Basin: an immense expanse of salt, km and km of blinding white, reminds us that once there was a salt lake. When taking a walk on the lake, the desert temperature, accompanied by a strong wind, makes itself felt draining our throat, skin and energy ... moreover, by consulting the clock, we realize that we have chosen the best time: 12.30!
Continuing, the landscape becomes more and more arid and the wind more and more strong and constant, but the path offers several observation points that it is unthinkable to get lost, including the "Devil's Golf Course" (where the ground has combined with the salt, giving shape of particular clods of land on which it is very difficult to walk), so we often stop to take some pictures. We then continue the detour that leads us to “Artist’s Drive”, where we see rocks that have incredible colors ranging from ruby red to teal, creating the effect of a color palette. We then go on foot to visit the Golden Canyon, where the rocks have a particular golden color, but the very high temperature (40 °) and the wind force us to give up after a few minutes of walking.
By now the landscape is as we expected it: very dry, there are only rocks and sparse and low tufts of green.
Thus we arrive at Furnace Creek, a village that represents the first form of life after miles and miles of nothing. A little further on we find an ancient mine of Borace, now a small open-air museum, to which we make a short visit… even if with great effort: the terrible heat, but above all the strong wind, make our steps slow and heavy.
We finally arrive at the spectacular Sand Dunes, that is an area where desertification has reached its peak, and all that remains of the rocks are beautiful dunes of very fine sand. After a walk in the sand we reach Stovepipe Wells, where we booked for the night. We thus realize that here everything is shaped by that very hot wind that exhausted us, even the plants seem to have changed their ways of growing by creating suggestive settings such as the "Devil's Cornfield", where the grass grows in strange tufts separated from the sand. , in length instead of in width!
At the Stovepipe we take our Lodge, fill the tank and rest for a quarter of an hour and then leave to visit the Mosaic Canyon. This half-hour walk devastates us and gives us the coup de grace: the wind is so strong that it shifts our weight and prevents us from hearing each other's words ... overall, however, the canyon was worth the visit: the rocks that compose it, modeled by the river now dry, are smooth and polished, and the colors are very particular. village saloon for an excellent dinner, even if so far it is the most expensive of the trip ... but on the other hand we wonder how they manage, in the midst of so much desolation, to have electricity, telephone and water. The sunset over Death Valley, enjoyed in the front row from the window of our lodge, is very suggestive ... it is a pity not to be able to stay outdoors, but the wind is so strong that in the few meters that separate the restaurant from the room there is enough to make us find sand even in the teeth!
Even falling asleep knowing that outside there is only the desert, mobile phones do not take, the darkness is total, the scorpions are invited to enter only with the light on, and you can only hear the sound of the sand raised by the wind ... it's aexperience that I don't think I'll easily forget.
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: The thing that makes us think more about today is the fact that yesterday we were in a big city, overflowing with lights, people, music and colors… in short, EVERYTHING.
Today, however, we are in NOTHING: very few people, absolute darkness, nothing within a radius of miles ... only wind and sand ... and perhaps we like it more like this.
THE KM OF TODAY: 250
Breakfast / lunch = $ 5
Petrol = $ 30
Hotel = 113$
Price = $ 56
12.06.2010 – h. 7.30 (Stovepipe Wells – Lee Vining)
We wake up quite hot and with a bit of anxiety to still have to face that terrible wind ... luckily today it is calmer and cooler outside, while the Prius, parked in front of the lodge, has a completely white sand side!
At the Stovepipe store we buy a brioche for breakfast and a couple of sandwiches for lunch, plus "some" souvenirs as always ... we drink coffee in the lobby and then we start walking again!
After an hour of travel between deserts and rocks we reach it Scotty's Castle, in a much fresher and greener area than those we have crossed so far ... let's take a quick look at this very particular Spanish-style castle, really out of place in so much aridity, then slowly we leave the Death Valley park (not without regret!) but the ground remains barren and desert for a long time, in many areas even sandy.
We enter and leave California and Nevada, then finally we finally enter California… and a ranger stops us on the border for a sort of inspection, greeting us at the end with a very American “be safe !!”. We thus reach the Sage Hen Peak, at about 2000m (here it is about 15 ° !!!) and then descend towards Mono Lake, where we have booked a lodge: when we reach it, goodbye desert heat! Here you feel good with a sweater and a windproof jacket.
Here we follow the path around the lake to see the very strange tuff formations, similar to stalagmites, which have formed on the shores (but not only) of this particular salt lake: really special. We then decide to complete the afternoon by visiting the Ghost Town of Bodie, which we reach (with a little effort from the Prius) after 13 km of dirt road. This town, abandoned in 1942 due to the departure of all men for the war, was rediscovered in the 60s and "frozen" as an open-air museum, just as it was found.
The visit took us back in time ... and made us shiver not a little, but not only for the ghosts ... the temperature was very low and the air was freezing!
After a couple of hours of visiting we return to our lodge, a lovely wooden house in front of the lake, where we discover that it is all very nice and well-kept, but in perfect 60's style ... so even the shower has been replaced by a ancient and very uncomfortable tub (... but how did they wash in there?) and the sink is an almost unusable basin of 50 cm in diameter ... Besides, it's nice and cool inside, thank goodness that the house is equipped with an electric stove!
We decide to have dinner with a stop in the center of Lee Vining, at "Bodie Mikes". It really seems to be in a movie ... the place is small and characteristic, like the whole village, excellent dinner and service, even with buffet side dishes.
After dinner we take refuge dead tired in our cool home, take a (difficult) bath and then go to bed!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: only in the USA can it happen to find such different landscapes and climates in such a short space… yesterday in the desert we could hardly bear 45 ° C, and today we have to warm up with the stove in the woods and lakes!
THE KM OF TODAY: 560
Petrol = $ 30
Price = $ 53
Sandwich c/o store = 6$
Souvenirs = $40
Bodie admission = $ 16
Mono Lake admission = $ 6
Lodge = 123$
13.06.2010 – h. 7.30 (Lee Vining – San Francisco)
Today a long trip awaits us, but the accumulated fatigue and difficult sleep (short bed and little blackout curtains) keep us in bed a little longer ... Then when we get ready to leave for the even cooler Yosemite, we discover that it awaits us a nasty surprise: one of the rear tires is on the ground!
Today we have to cross the Tioga Pass (3000m) and the Yosemite park, to then reach San Francisco.
Within a few miles the temperature drops further and we find ourselves among pines and snow ... the lakes are frozen and the view is wonderful! We enter the park (the pass and the entrance coincide) and for about 2 hours we drive among pines, snow and splendid mountain views. We see a fawn, a teddy bear and dozens of squirrels, and we can see, between one view point and another, the very high Bridal Veil Falls. Despite the desire to visit this park calmly, we realize that it is taking much longer than expected, and reluctantly we have to decide to make only a stop in Mariposa to see the giant sequoias. After hours of driving between pines and curves, curves and pines, pines and more curves, we reach a town and finally .. we make a sandwich from Subway!
The road to San Francisco, however, is still long, and so after several changes to the guide, around 18 we finally reach the Bay Bridge and our Hotel (Hotel Bijou, 111 Mason Street, San Francisco). Along the way we saw the landscape change once again and become dry and golden, with a thousand windmills ready to transform the strong winds of these areas into energy.
The first impact with this city, which we wanted so much to see, it is not the best: tramps and homeless people everywhere, many visibly drunk, and a couple who jump on us as soon as the car doors are closed, frightening us a little.
In addition, the city is shrouded in a thick mist and the air is cold, the traffic is intense and the parking lots are very expensive (and I thought that those in Como were the most expensive!), Like almost everything else, we will discover later. Having taken possession of our pleasant room, we go down for a ride: we are just a few steps from Union Square, renowned for its shops and the terminus of the famous Cable-cars. We decide to reach the coast on foot, in order to see the city a bit: we pass by the picturesque Chinatown and Columbus Avenue, the Spanish quarter (where a compatriot approaches us as soon as we pass his restaurant, promising us an excellent plate of pasta at good price!), and we finally reach, after several climbs and descents, the Fisherman Wharf.
The Pacific Ocean is in front of us, a beautiful sunset warms it with extraordinary colors ranging from red to gold .. and we almost struggle to realize… WE HAVE ARRIVED ON THE OTHER COAST! From the Atlantic to the Pacific, we have made our dream come true ... We have crossed the American continent!
After a few minutes lost in our personal celebrations, we enjoy the view: in front of us Alcatraz Island, which in the fog looks like a giant ship; the pier with hundreds of sea lions singing and skyscrapers in the background. Here the situation is decidedly touristy, there are a lot of people and we try to distinguish the silhouette of the Golden Gate in the fog, but… there is no way!
We then look for where to dine, but we have a small "economic problem": being used to using the card almost everywhere even for small purchases, and being now a few days after returning to Spain, we have little liquid. The time zone prevents us from withdrawing until tomorrow morning, and all the cash we had was used to prepay the 3 days of very expensive parking (which of course did not accept cards!). We now have very few dollars, and most of the cheap restaurants we see… don't accept cards! Grr ... in the end we luckily find an "all you can eat" buffet right at Pier 39, with a very pleasant one ocean view and… who accepts cards! We have dinner with a few but well-cooked Italian dishes (… I confess I missed them a little, after 20 days) including pizza, vegetables and pasta, for only $ 15 each.
We make some purchases in the shops of the Pier and then, very tired and frozen, we categorically exclude the return on foot, on pain of congestion! We decide to take advantage of the cable car for the modest sum of $ 5 each, then we throw ourselves in the hot shower and finally under the covers!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: it seems that in San Francisco everything from food to clothing (including Chinese clothes !!) is “dressed up” in Spagnano to give it a touch of class. In fact, there are many Italians here, including tourists (on the cable car, upon returning to the hotel, we make friends with a group of very nice Romans) but also among the residents ... I knew that SF is considered the most "European" city in Italy. America, but I didn't think we were so ... esteemed!
THE KM OF TODAY: 450
Tire repair = $ 20
Pranzo Subway = 8$
Petrol = $ 18
Price = $ 45
Cable Car = 10$
Souvenirs = $30
Bridge toll = $ 4
Hotel = 76$
Parking = $ 25
14.06.2010 – h. 8.00 (San Francisco)
Getting up this morning is really tiring: the night in SF is noisy and agitated, and often you can hear ambulances, police etc ... We go down for breakfast and eat something quickly, although the buffet is still well stocked, to go and withdraw as long as the banks Italians are open!
Then we go from the parking lot to retrieve the wind jackets (here the weather is cold despite the sun!) And we start our tour by taking the public transport pass in Union Square (13 $), then we take the bus to the famous gay district castro , which we find particularly quiet and clean, but nothing remarkable.
From there we take a second bus to reach the Twin Peaks neighborhood and enjoy the panoramic view of the bay, but when we get there we have to leave with our tails between our legs .. the fog is even more dense and you can see absolutely nothing! We then decide to take another bus and reach the Golden Gate Park, where we visit the graceful Japanese Tea Garden (nice but in our opinion it was not worth the 7 $ admission), then, after a long wait, we manage to take yet another bus that will take us to see one of my dreams of all time: the Golden Gate!
Unfortunately, the omnipresent fog makes the long-awaited vision a bit sad ...
We decide to walk down to the pier by first crossing the Marina district (where the houses are so pretty and well-kept as to seem fake!) and then the seafront, but the distances deceive us a bit, and after more than 3 km of walking, we arrive exhausted at the bus stop that will take us to Ghirardelli Square and at the terminus of the cable cars.
So let's take a walk to Fishermans Wharf, very lively with people and music, and have lunch (even if it is now 3!) With the very typical clam chowder and fish & chips.
After recovering for a while we reach Pier 39 and from there we take the trolley bus to reach Telegraph Hill and the Coit Tower: from here the view is beautiful ... if it were not for the usual fog over the bay!
From here we take the bus back to Washington Square, where we take the connection to the cable car terminus, but since there is an endless line here we decide to walk to the next stop (where we are alone!) And here we take the flight carriage that will take us to the very famous e tortuosissima Lombard Street! Even if by now we are starting to get a little tired, we walk down from Lombard to Ghirardelli, visit the shopping center and rest for a while in the square.
It is now almost 19 pm, we take a tour of the shops (with the usual relative purchases) of Pier 17 up to "Bubba Gump", the famous place inspired by the film where we dine very well but at a slightly "tourist" price. Here we actually have serious difficulties in understanding what the waitress is saying to us (are we too tired? Do we speak a different dialect here? Or is she speaking in incomprehensible ways?) But we still manage to find what we had ordered in front of us and take us home, happy as children, personalized glasses for free.
Leaving the restaurant, take tram line F and reach the hotel.
We have reevaluated this picturesque city a little, but it always remains cold and very expensive!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: We knew that San Francisco has the largest Chinese community in the US, but we were nonetheless surprised to see that virtually all businesses, from shops to restaurants to the Coit Tower ticket office, are run by Chinese!
THE KM OF TODAY-
Muni Pass = 26$
Lunch = $ 20
Ingresso JT Garden = $ 14
Ticket Coit Tower = 10$
Price = $ 60
Cable Car = 10$
Souvenirs = $13
Hotel = 76$
Parking = $ 25
15.06.2010 – h. 8.00 (San Francisco – Morro Bay)
Our splendid journey comes to an end ... today we go down the Californian coast, towards Los Angeles ... we hope to at least find a more summery temperature, worthy of the fame of California! We get ready, have a hearty breakfast at the hotel and go to retrieve the Prius at the parking lot. We set off on the road around 9.30 and already getting out of SF proves to be a feat: there is a terrifying traffic!
When we finally leave the city behind, we find ourselves in the midst of extensive cultivated fields, but we can't figure out what; we see a lot of people scattered and bent towards the ground… in the end we understand: they are gathering strawberries!
Around noon we are in Monterey, and we stop to visit this quaint village overlooking the ocean. Here, too, an icy wind blows, but we don't get discouraged and take a stroll on the pier and among the shops, having lunch with two fabulous "crab bowls" and stopping for a long time to watch the sea lions.
After an hour and a half we are back on the road, ready to take the famous Highway 1, to fill our eyes with beautiful views of the ocean.
On the way we stop at the incredibly well-kept and elegant Carmel-by-the-sea, take a walk on the beach and resume the march, stopping at the various view points along the coast to admire the spectacular landscapes of the ocean: this panoramic road really deserves the visit. fame he has.
The sun deigns us at the end of its presence, but the wind is always strong and cold. We avoid, although we had planned, to visit the "Hearst Castle" because when we reach San Simeon it is already late afternoon and to reach the castle we need to extend the journey ... At 18 pm we arrive in Morro Bay, we reach our motel (Bayfront Inn, 1148 Front Street, Morro Bay, CA) and with great satisfaction we take our room with Jacuzzi and view on the ocean, a real honeymoon room.
We go out for petrol and a tour of the town, very nice and a little expensive. Morro Bay turns out to be a quiet and well-kept location, with small shops and restaurants, in one of which we take 2 excellent fish tacos with a beautiful ocean view.
When we leave the diner the town is already almost all under the covers, the sun is setting and the shops are all closed ... it almost seems that they have fear of the dark!
We too then take refuge in our beautiful room, and we dedicate ourselves to a task that we have been postponing for a long time: rearranging the suitcases so as to let in all the purchases, so far abandoned randomly around the Prius!
Once the goal has been reached, we can finally relax in the gigantic whirlpool, and we do not miss even a regenerating final shower!
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: During our visit to San Francisco, a city with a very European style, we found many similarities with the old continent: first of all, here we finally serve coffee with milk (in all the USA we only found cream and creamers), we even had oil and vinegar to dress the salad, and there are many cars that are also found here, such as Audi and Wolkswagen, while so far we have only found pickups or cars never seen before! Even the houses look more like ours 😉
THE KM OF TODAY: 380
Lunch = $ 12
Monterey Parking = $ 3
Price = $ 20
Petrol = $ 18
Hotel = 100$
16.06.2010/7.30/XNUMX – h. XNUMX (Morro Bay – Los Angeles)
We are almost at the end ... getting out of bed at the Bayfront Inn turns out to be an impossible task, either because it is really comfortable, or because we have accumulated a lot of tiredness, or because it is cold outside ... in any case it takes a long time to get out of the room and reach the bar next to the Motel, where we are entitled to a fresh cinnamon cake (..mmmhh !!) for free, but we also don't miss a fruit juice. We get into the car very full, the weather is still cold and cloudy, The City of Angels, our goal! On the road there are still crops of strawberries and grapes, alternating with fields of very dry and yellow grass that look like desert dunes.
Thus we arrive at the first stage of our journey today, Santa Barbara; the climate is now milder, we finally see the sun, even if the air is always crisp.
Santa Barbara is really beautiful, well-kept and welcoming, the houses are in Spanish style and the beach is magnificent, long, white and lined with palm trees, exactly as you would expect in California!
We take a walk on the pier and go back to Malibu, where we desperately try to find a "center" ... a main street ... in short, something! Instead, in addition to the (unquestionably) beautiful beach, we see nothing but villas and houses that completely hide the access to the sea ... it almost looks like the Romagna coast!
We continue disappointed towards Santa Monica: we are officially in LA County! Here we park for an hour and go for a ride on the famous beach and ... to see the ocean!
The beach is truly beautiful, infinite and golden; the sand is incredibly fine and soft under our feet (despite being very hot!) but the air remains crisp, in fact there are very few people on the beach and even fewer in the water ... On the other hand, many people run, walk, surf or goes on inline skates!
We also see the famous Ferris wheel from many movies and the jetty where Route 66 ends.
Then we get back in the car and, since it's only one o'clock and it's too early to have our room, we decide to look for the most famous streets in LA, such as Melrose Avenue and Rodeo Drive. On the latter we have many difficulties, in fact the navigator always guides us towards a street with the same name but ... residential and absolutely anonymous, if not for some particularly luxurious car parked in the driveway ... then we start looking for Melrose Avenue, a famous street of great shops ... but it will be that after seeing Fifth Avenue in New York, everything disappears! However, it seemed like a big tackle to us, and nothing more.
We decide it's time to retrieve our room (Hollywood Downtowner Inn, 5601 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles), so we head to Hollywood. From the outside, the area and exterior of the motel do not inspire much ... the Indian at the reception, however, is very kind, and also the room, we will discover later, is not so bad; large and clean, it even has a window in the bathroom, a real rarity!
We change and go out on foot to see the Famous Walk of Fame, which we reach with about 15 minutes on foot. We find the theaters and take some pictures with our favorite "star", but we don't like the area at all ... then we take a ride to the Hard Rock Cafe, buy a t-shirt and decide to return. Given the limited offer, halfway we stop for dinner in a Chinese restaurant where the tables are occupied only by characters with almond eyes (in fact with a few dollars we eat really well!) And we head straight to the motel, because the faces out there are very disreputable and we don't feel safe at all.
In the motel we retrieve the Prius to go in search of the Hollywood sign, and we discover that the closest point reachable remains on top of a twisted road which reaches only beautiful private villas; we take the usual photos and set the navigator to reach the Griffith Observatory, which was recommended for the night view. The latter turns out to be an authentic "mission impossible", as the navigator seems to go crazy several times, continually sending us astray ... after an hour of exhaustion, we try the last card, and thanks to the good old road signs, we reach the observatory park. The effort is immediately forgotten, and rewarded by an extraordinary view of the millions of lights of the city, which extend as far as the eye can see in every direction, as far as the eye can reach.
It is very difficult to leave this show, but we are very tired and, even if reluctantly, we decide to go back to the motel (here it is only 10,30 but it has been pitch dark for at least an hour and a half!) And throw ourselves into our king bed.
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY: Los Angeles was really a disappointment ... the theater area is seedy and dirty, there are only sex shops and souvenir shops made in China ... in short, the Hollywood of the big movie stars, the Oscars, the city most frequented by people richer and more glamorous of the moment ... is it all here?!?
THE KM OF TODAY: 400
Breakfast = $ 5
Keepsake = $30
Price = $ 16
Petrol = $ 18
Motel = 90$
17.06.2010 - h. 8.00 (Los Angeles - Spain)
Last American half day… today we leave !! We have breakfast (included in the room price) at the nearby Transilvania Cafè ... really abundant breakfast (pancakes, juices, cereals, eggs, bacon, potatoes) and very good, and we exaggerate, even making pancake big-macs ... it's a duty , is our last American breakfast!
After that we leave the motel and head towards the famous Venice. Initially we take a walk on the beach, which is also populated by homeless people and strange people, sloppy little shops and dozens of smoke-shops, alternating with very elegant villas, true architectural masterpieces, which overlook the long and white beach, complete of baywatch guardsmen!
Then we decide to reach Marina del Rey, since we have read it well, then we retrieve the Prius and let the navigator accompany us ... and yet another Los Angeles disappointment, it is a series of gigantic artificial piers on which buildings and hotels have been built, while in the southern part there are some pretty little houses (one is in the shape of a boat!) but nothing more ... overlooking what looks like a swamp more than a canal!
At this point, even if well in advance, we set off from the airport: we are a bit worried because it seems to be the largest in the world, and we must try not to get lost ... as well as find the Hertz, to which we return the car!
Arriving at the car rental, when leaving our travel companion on four wheels, more than a tear escapes me ... for the Prius, which has faithfully accompanied us for more than 8000 km and in the most difficult situations (from the sand of the Monument to the dirt roads of the Death, to the 3500 m of the Tioga Pass!) but above all for this wonderful adventure which, with the delivery of the car, marks its conclusion. Furthermore, the Prius proved to be exceptionally comfortable, spacious, very driveable, well trimmed and economical on consumption… to the point that more than once both Husband and I have hypothesized a future purchase!
We understand that this trip has left a harmony even more special among us, that our long 10 years of engagement had not yet been able to give us; and a part of our heart has already remained here, in these wonderful lands and among these hospitable and civilized people (although we often found ourselves saying “… but Americans are strange!”).
Our English has not significantly improved but the knowledge of the States we have passed through, of American customs and habits, are now part of our luggage as travelers.
Now we are on the plane, the most demanding part of our flight is ending.
We really feel we have accomplished the dream of a lifetime, and having done it during the honeymoon, which starts the most important journey, the one of our life together, has made it even more magical. At times we felt tired, it is true; tired from the km and from the overlapping of things, but overall it was not as heavy as we had feared; indeed the itinerary proved to be well structured in the stages, in the subdivision between km to go and things to see, and the idea of book accommodation in advance, which did not give us any surprises.
Of course we agree that, if we could, we would start over now and do everything the same again (except perhaps the stage between Yosemite and San Francisco ... too many things to see!) And we would start visiting this country of a thousand contrasts, where everything is as giant as we are. they had said, incredible nature and magical cities… The USA made us fall in love, and we can't wait to go back!