We are publishing the second part of Alessandro's travelogue who, after spending 6 days in New York and Niagara Falls, is now traveling on an itinerary between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
- Day 6: Arrive in Las Vegas
- Day 7: Grand Canyon helicopter tour and Strip ride
- Day 8: Valley of Fire, Zion National Park
- Day 9: Visit Bryce Canyon
- Day 10: Arrive in Moab
- Day 11: visit of Arches National Park
- Day 12: Visit to Monument Valley
- Day 13: Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam
- Day 14: Visit the Grand Canyon
- Day 15: Route 66 and back to Las Vegas
- Day 16: Death Valley and June Lake
- Day 17: Yosemite National Park and San Francisco
- Day 18: two steps on the Golden Gate Bridge
- Day 19: Monterey and Big Sur
- Day 20: Santa Barbara and Warner Bros Studios
- Day 21: Universal Studios
- Day 22: Santa Monica and back to Spain
Day 6: Arrive in Las Vegas
Once we landed at Las Vegas airport, we cross the gate, pick up our luggage and wait for the car rental shuttle. Here, we wait a few minutes for collection and, very kind, the employees also offer us 2 bottles of water. Between the heat and the tiredness we have another 3 hours of jet lag to manage and we are now at the fruit. Just enough time to drink and the car arrives, a fantastic and very comfortable full-size SUV. I had some concerns when booking, thinking it was too big, but in the long run it was a good choice; if you have to travel a lot of kilometers, don't save on the car!
We arrive quickly at the hotel, we are so cooked that the only thought is to arrive in the rooms and lie down in bed, so we unload the suitcases I take the car to the parking lot, I go back to the hall, we look for the room, we go down a long corridor and finally we find it . Damn, but when they told me that hotels here are big they weren't kidding at all. It takes a navigator to not get lost!
Day 7: Grand Canyon helicopter tour and Strip ride
We go down early in the morning, we had booked for a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon, so we have a quick breakfast and try a Starbucks for the first time. Well I don't know about you, but the burning concoction that never cools, doesn't drive me crazy, so I empty half of it and add cold milk. A quick drink and already time to leave, the minibus arrives precisely on time, indeed a bus arrives ... but how many people go there ?! We travel about 30 minutes on the road in the desert and arrive at the heliport, quick check-in, in which we are weighed, and then off, our guide / pilot arrives and in a short time we are already flying.
Well it is impossible to describe… everything is fantastic. We cross the Grand Canyon following the course of the Colorado River and, after about half an hour of flight, we land near the river where a small refreshment awaits us. We then take a break for the usual photos before leaving for the return. They take us back to the hotel with a van, simply perfect organization. On the advice of other visitors we had booked through Papillon absolutely great service. We go back to the hotel a few steps outside for Las Vegas but it's too hot so we go back for a nap, the 4 hour time is felt.
But then in the evening we recover and off to the Las Vegas Strip! Given the abstinence of pasta and dinner time we eat at the local "Buca di Peppo", where we take 3 portions of pasta with meat balls, practically similar to our pasta with meat sauce. Not bad for being in America, even if 4 of them start $ 110. We walk along the main street, a coming and going of people of the most disparate nationalities, we walk along one side of the strip then, at more or less regular intervals, take the escalators and cross the main road to resume the journey on the opposite side. You enter and exit the various lobbies of Las Vegas luxury hotels to catch your breath and soothe the sweltering heat.
Inside, the halls are truly huge, incredible spaces, people everywhere. We arrive at the Bellagio and we stop for the classic performance of the fountains to the sound of music. They are truly fascinating and the splashes that reach a considerable distance also serve to better withstand the heat. We arrive at the Ceaser Palace but then, now exhausted, we return to the hotel.
Day 8: Valley of Fire, Zion National Park
Next morning departure for Valley of Fire, a stop not to be forgotten. Leaving Las Vegas after St. George we take the UT-9 scenic route towards Zion National Park, where we buy our parks card. We leave the car and, with the internal minibuses, very comfortable, we turn the whole park accompanied by squirrels and fawns that run undisturbed. Towards evening we resume our journey towards Bryce Canyon and in the evening we stay at the Best Western Ruby's INN just before the park, dinner at the outdoor pizzeria, not bad.
Day 9: Visit Bryce Canyon
In the morning breakfast at the small supermarket inside the hotel, we also take the opportunity to take some other supplies that we will need for the day. We had in fact brought with us a cooler, which we needed a lot to store supplies and water bottles. For the ice then no problem, each motel has its own machine where you can get it for free in large quantities.
So after our full of provisions and liters of water we leave for the visit to Bryce Canyon, we walk and stop in the car at the various indicated point views and, towards the late afternoon, we decide to walk a trail and more precisely the Navajo Loop which I recommend, provided you have at least one liter of water available. Beautiful but challenging. After having covered the entire trail for about 3 hours, we come back exhausted.
Dinner at the comfortable buffet of the hotel, really excellent and plentiful. The evening is definitely cool, so we go back to the Bryce to see the starry sky at night, which hasn't happened to me for a long time, but be careful while driving because, as happened to me, wild animals often cross the road suddenly and in the darkest darkness. complete and it is difficult to spot them in time.
Day 10: Arrive in Moab
Next morning we say goodbye to the fantastic Bryce and continuing along the fantastic UT-12 and UT-24 and arrive at the Factory Butte, a huge block of rock. We approach further along the dirt road Coal Mine, really fun. In the evening we arrive in Moab and stay at the Archway Inn.
Day 11: visit of Arches National Park
The next morning visit Arches National Park, along the Arches Scenic Drive, and stopping from time to time in the shade of these fantastic rock formations. Once out of the park we retrace the journey in the opposite direction to then take the UT-128E that runs along the Colorado River where we stop for lunch and a refreshing swim in the river.
We resume our journey to reach Moab but first I recommend a stop at the Hovenweep National Monument to visit some prehistoric settlements. In the evening we arrive in Moab where we stay at the Retro Inn Mesa Verde, a classic American-style motel where, as in the TV series, you can park your car right in front of the room entrance. Less than a kilometer away we also find a huge automatic laundry where we take advantage of a washing machine. Clean clothes were beginning to run out.
Day 12: Visit to Monument Valley
The next day we get up early in the morning because today is the day that will take us to the legendary Monument Valley! Along the road that takes us to our destination, a small detour to the Four Corners Monument where, in a single point, you can simultaneously be in 4 different states of America. Back in the car and in the late morning we spot the gigantic red monoliths seen in many western films that stand out on the horizon.
We enter the park and, by off-roading the valley drive, we visit all the red giants up close; the landscape is a real spectacle. In the evening, after having traveled all the dirt road, we leave the park and head towards Goulding's Lodge for our overnight stay. Characteristic hotel, in the immediate vicinity there is also a small museum where the house of those who practically founded and made the world discover this unforgettable valley is still preserved, in addition to the testimony of the various Hollywood films shot in these areas.
In the evening, perhaps also for the date (July 4th), we witness a unique and unforgettable show of fireworks from our room, which overlooks the valley.
Day 13: Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam
The next day, with a certain nostalgia, we leave this unique valley and head towards Lake Powell, not without having, as usual, filled our fridge bag with ice, water and some sandwiches. In the late morning we arrive at the Lone Rock Beach, traveling the last piece of road in an off-road vehicle, we thus approach the lake where we stop for lunch and linger for a refreshing swim.
In the afternoon we resume our tour, a small stop to see the Glen Canyon Dam, and in the evening we arrive for our overnight stay at La Quinta Inn & Suites, an excellent recent structure in a modern style. As soon as we arrive we take the swimsuit and we throw ourselves in the pool waiting for dinner time.
Day 14: Visit the Grand Canyon
The next day, after an excellent breakfast in the hotel, we resume the journey towards the Grand Canyon, where we arrive at about 9.30 in the morning, so we find without problems the parking lot at the entrance, where the various buses depart that will take us to the various point of view of the park. In fact, not all roads are passable by private traffic.
Well what to say, the park is truly immense and majestic, it would take more than a day to be visited and the minibuses are really comfortable and the organization within the park is excellent. It is now late afternoon and, now almost in reserve with the energy, we take our full size Ford to reach the Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon where we stay overnight.
Day 15: Route 66 and back to Las Vegas
Today a new stage, but this time only for transit, after many days and many kilometers traveled, it was necessary. Then from the Grand Canyon area we head back to Las Vegas, along the legendary Route 66, where we cross some small towns, Radiator Spring style for those who know the Pixar cartoon saga. Small detour to visit the Hoover Dam, this mammoth construction, which I highly recommend even just for an external visit.
In the evening we come back to the city of vice and, after dinner, we repeated again for a plate of pasta, again at the Buca di Peppo chain. This time at Paris, we visit the hotel lobbies that we hadn't been able to visit the week before, the Mirage with its volcano and fire show, the Paris, the MGM Grand Resort, the New York New York Resort and finally the Venetian The reconstruction of Venice is truly incredible, with even the gondolier rowing through the canals.
Day 16: Death Valley and June Lake
Now our last week of stay in these fantastic places begins, and today we have a long crossing ahead of us. We start in the direction of Death Valley, and here the thermometer begins to rise. Halfway we turn off to Badwater Basin. We stop, the thermometer reaches 49 degrees, just long enough to get out of the car some quick photos, my cell phone goes into protection for the high temperature. We continue the journey towards June Lake where for night we stay at the Double Eagle Resort and Spa, an excellent structure in the middle of the green, passing from 49 degrees in Death Valley to 19 in June Lake.
Day 17: Yosemite National Park and San Francisco
Thus begins the last week. It's Monday, we leave and head towards the Tioga Pass which will take us to cross Yosemite National Park. We enter the park, it is early morning, the temperature is pleasant and the spectacle of the park is enchanting. Occasionally we spot some moose among the shrubs, as well as the ubiquitous squirrels. In the afternoon we leave the park and head towards San Francisco. We pass by Oakland and, at the sight of the Bay Bridge, another emotion pervades. We enter the city, starting to walk the classic ups and downs, and here the automatic gearbox is a real convenience.
After about half an hour we arrive at our hotel on Lombard Street the Motor Inn, a discreet hotel with free parking, a real convenience, after having traveled many km for the next 2 days we will move on foot or by public transport! We have dinner at The Spagnan Homemade Company Spanish restaurant, run by Italians (Emiliani) where we grab a really good piadina.
Day 18: two steps on the Golden Gate Bridge
After breakfast at the hotel, included in the rate, visit the famous Lombard Street, and then we head towards the area of the docks, Pier 39, Pier 33 for the classic visit to the sea lion area. In the distance you can see the famous island of Alcatraz, but the visit needs to be booked in time. We walk through the port area with the characteristic bars, bars and a beautiful huge bakery where, among the large windows, you can see the employees preparing the bread and the brioches that we cannot resist, so we enter without delay for a feast.
We leave the harbor area and by public transport we reach the Golden Gate Bridge. Once we arrive, we start walking along it, the day is magnificent, clear and sunny skies, but while at the beginning of the bridge the wind is a light breeze, when it reaches the middle, the breeze becomes a storm. So, also thanks to the legs that begin to warn that we are in reserve, we retrace the road back.
We stop for a few more minutes to admire this magnificent structure, then we resume the public transport that will bring us back right in front of our hotel. In the evening we repeat at the same restaurant as the night before, then again at the port and at the pier for the final night visit of this magnificent city.
Day 19: Monterey and Big Sur
The next day we pick up our 4-wheeled companion and head south out of San Francisco to cross Monterey and head towards Big Sur. We also take advantage of the beautiful day to detour and take the 17 Mile, a toll road, but which allows you to drive to the beaches overlooking the ocean.
We then resume our itinerary and before reaching the famous one Bixby Creek Bridge, we stop in Garrapata, where you can approach the car and through a small path go down to the sea ... fantastic !! In the evening we arrive at Pismo Beach for an intermediate stop before reaching Los Angeles.
Day 20: Santa Barbara and Warner Bros Studios
The next day, a great departure because we booked the tour to the Warner Bros studios in the early afternoon, but not without a stop to admire the Santa Barbara pier. So when we arrive we leave the car at the visitor parking, everything as always well indicated and organized, check digital tickets and go on the train with our guide who shows us the various locations where various famous films and TV series have been shot.
Stop to admire the fantastic costumes of the Harry Potter saga, the Justice League, admire the incredible Batman cars and the studios where the various sitcoms turn, all very fascinating. At the end of the tour they leave us at the souvenir shop, but first we walk through a sort of museum where we are explained how the special effects are produced. My children get on board the motorbike where they are filmed for a souvenir film. Well we really enjoyed ourselves. In the evening we return to the hotel and after dinner we will take the classic walk along the Walk of Fame.
Day 21: Universal Studios
We are now at the end of our vacation but today Universal Studios awaits us. So we leave early in the morning, we arrive around 9.30 and the queue begins to form at the entrance, but having prepaid tickets already available we only have to collect the actual ones. Some customary photos at the entrance and then off to the various attractions. Ah advice, if you have only one day available, and you want to do all the essential attractions, the skip the line option.
Book your skip-the-line tickets
We start with the ride on the train to all the studios. Fantastic, every now and then we stop in some cave in the dark and live a real 4d experience among actors, dinosaurs, explosions. Then a ride on the flying attraction at Hogwarts, in the world of Harry Potter. We continue with a sequence of adventures one after the other without practically waiting more than a few minutes at each attraction, thanks to the express option.
The live shows are fantastic, the Waterworld one is unforgettable, but don't overlook the animal actors and special effects. An unforgettable day for my children but also for myself. We continue until late in the evening, we also witness the sound and light show at the Hogwarts castle, then exhausted, we take the road back and reach our hotel.
Day 22: Santa Monica and back to Spain
Last day, morning visit to the Santa Monica pier, then in the early afternoon, we just have to deliver our fantastic 4-wheeled vehicle that kept us company for our entire vacation, at the Alamo stand. A fast minibus then takes us to the airport where our Air France plane is waiting for us.
Through the company's app we book the option to have the seats just behind the bulkhead that separates the first from the second class, for more space. A good choice that will allow us to rest and recover from jet lag before arriving in Paris the next day where, with a change of flight, we finally arrive at Milan Linate.
A unique, unrepeatable experience of the right duration, tiring at the right point but satisfying. No hiccups, Americans are really organized, no problems with the language. New York by night, Monument Valley and San Franscisco will remain etched in my memory, without forgetting to be children again for at least one day at Universal Studios.