America. Long and straight roads. Hamburger and clay. Twinkling lights and chaos, and the silent contemplation of a large hole called the Grand Canyon. The Indians, those with the feathers on their heads are no longer there, however? California really exists. Bob Dylan on the radio as they whiz past us, endless arid fields of cacti. 35 to -2 degrees. Explosions of fake volcanoes, water, colors, famous fountains and 360 ° music, ferrari and lamborghini competing on the Strip. And then, the starry sky more? nice that I have ever seen.
Finally arrived! We've been around for 24 hours now between flight delay and time zone. Two hours for the exit checks (and go this way and go there and stay here and leave the footprint) and run to take the shuttle that takes us to the rental. Between the anxiety of an automatic transmission SUV and the weight of a 14-hour flight, we arrive safely at the hostel a stone's throw from the Walk of FAME in Hollywood. I had read many negative comments about this neighborhood but it doesn't seem so to us? evil, perhaps thanks to the night of Halloween, the lights, the music and hundreds of people in disguise around. Reminds me a bit? Times Square, the American neon kitsch that I love, but we're exhausted and can't even make a margarita in a Mexican club. There are many places and we opt for any fast food. $ 20 for nachos, tacos and coke.
The day begins American style with waffles and maple syrup. Is it raining and? according to the reception guy? It hasn't rained in LA for a year, what a bad luck. Like good park enthusiasts today we go to Universal Studios: we take the metro on the Boulevard and get off at the first, then the comfortable and fast shuttle takes us up the hill. We were right not to take the car, in fact the parking costs from 16 to 30 $ and tonight c ?? Halloween horror night, a very popular event given the thousands of people queuing to enter. We are awake since 5 but we are full, expectations are high and our American dream? just started. We bought the tickets online saving $ 5 each (but are they still $ 87?). The setting? beautiful, the best I've ever seen and the atmosphere? really Hollywodiana. There are many shows and few attractions: I found the Transformers 3D funny despite not knowing the movies, beautiful the 3D of Despicable Me with the adorable Minions and the Ride of the Mummy. Are the effects super and all? attention to detail. We then met some characters from the movies / cartoons and luckily the employees checked the lines and also took pictures with your mobile. I found Marilyn Monroe leaning on a pink cadillac, the ultimate myth! She really looked like her and she even complimented me on the hair color. Then I nibbled on a minion and got Gru? S wrath from Pig? S we ate great hot dogs with coke for $ 20 for two. In the evening we manage to find a place in a very nice Mexican club on the boulevard. We spend $ 40 for a caesar salad, burger, two beers. I must say that here everyone is very kind and smiling despite the high concentration of strange characters! I don't mind this area of LA, after all Hollywood? always Hollywood!
Even today the city? welcomes us with the rain. What bad luck again. But it passes quickly and we start looking for the famous hill. The access road? closed for works and we begin to turn to find a secondary street; path ? narrow, uphill and full of curves but among the millionaire villas you can see a crazy view over the city. The Gps? on strike and we pass 3 times for the same point until at the end we come out on a street with many cars and a crowded park? .c? was another way of access! Ritual photo with the inscription HOLLYWOOD and we set off leaving LA to the east. Traffic ? sliding, everyone is in his lane at speed? constant and no one zigzags between cars, honks the horn or commits misconduct. Even the trucks? albeit huge? they do not bother in the slightest. The dodge SUV? huge and very comfortable and we travel for 6 hours without realizing it. Shall we leave the bleak city outskirts? and we meet the desert, dry and flat, which accompanies us for about 300 miles. The street ? straight and there are no gas stations or refreshment points if not some rest area equipped with toilets and drink dispensers. Pi? we get closer to Arizona pi? the wait rises: I can't wait to see Willy the Coyote's cacti! In reality? the cacti are dry at the base and you can not? approach. I'm happy to take some shots from the moving car. We pass through Phoenix which offers us a fiery sunset, we see the amusement parks, the skyscrapers, and we pass between two giant rocks. We arrive in Scottsdale what? already? dark, there are many clubs and restaurants in the street lit up as if it were Christmas. We visit the old Town, a very characteristic western-themed neighborhood with many Indian handicraft shops that unfortunately are closed now. We eat in a place called Burger Therapy, furnished in free style with bikes hanging on the wall and videos of extreme sports. The hamburger will be 15 cm high and? enjoyable, smiling and kind staff as found in all places so far (except at the car rental). We pay $ 29 + tip for two mega burgers, sweet potatoes, a beer, a free refill coke. With a full stomach we walk around the semi-deserted center on Sunday evening. We sleep at the Howard Johnson, a new, clean and serviced motel for $ 80.
At 5 we are already? wake up and plan the day. I'm finally driving today. I have to get used to the automatic gearbox but the car goes by itself. We cross cactus fields in an ups and downs of roads that then leave room for more vegetation. green as you climb to the top. We also see a police car hidden behind the trees ready to skid and go in pursuit! We go out to Flagstaff to refuel with supplies and to intercept the legendary route 66. But where ??? where ???!? I know you don't? pi? a state road and what? been replaced by a pi? new but it flows parallel to us and we cannot reach it. We get to Williams where he must pass by force. It seems to be in a movie, abandoned premises, a Grand Canyon locomotive, a diner with neon signs, a very old petrol pump and I finally find the legendary white sign with the words? Route 66? .. how wonderful, a dream that it comes true! The atmosphere? muffled and nostalgic and I am finally satisfied! In Tusayan we enter the Visitor Center to do the annual pass of the parks but there is no ?? no one to ask for information! The ride to the Grand Canyon? a straight road with some ranches here and there? up to the rangers toll booth. The park ? very well organized and easy to visit both by car and by shuttle. unfortunately our schedule does not allow us to go on an excursion or rafting (which in any case is very expensive) and therefore we visit some observation points. Initially the clouds did not do justice to the color of the rock (at one point it started to snow?) But then the sunset gave us wonderful views of yaki point and kaibab point. The canyon looks like paper mache, and I can't get over the grandeur? of nature. The temperature drops suddenly but luckily at the Holiday Inn there is ?? a nice heated pool? it's 21pm and Dario falls asleep, the day? it was really intense.
After a super American breakfast at the Holiday Inn we return to the park. It is very cold, the thermometer shows 2? but not ? humid. We walk along the Desert Drive stopping at the various observation points: from here you can see the Colorado better. Not C?? a cloud and the Canyon shows itself in all its grandeur. Along the way we also find a couple of very nice small museums and historical, naturalistic and geological illustrative panels. A Desert Drive c ?? a beautiful tower to visit which in a certain sense decrees the end of the Grand Canyon: from here it narrows more and more. The road to Monument Valley? terribly straight and can be seen here and there? Native American homes (actually, they are shacks and caravans). Let's go to Kayenta, what else? if not a cluster of prefabricated houses built around an intersection. Can you see them already? the reddish monoliths. Admission costs $ 20 per car (not worth the annual pass because it's an Indian reservation) but it's all worth it. I was amazed by the beauty of the landscape, just as I expected it, indeed more? beautiful! The 17-mile dirt path winds through gigantic monoliths of various shapes (associated by the natives with hands, camels, nuns etc) well marked and with rest areas for taking pictures. Fortunately there is not? a lot of people and take a pi? I can not. seems to be in a movie, c ?? also the possibility? to take a picture on horseback in john wayne point. In time for the sunset we reach the exit to take some wonderful photos of the fiery rock and the sky that goes from blue to red to purple? I have never seen such an impressive sunset. The sun and the temperature go down and we leave for Page. We sleep at the Quality Inn Lake Powell. We are tired and thanks to the super abundant breakfast we are not even hungry.
Today we take it a little? calmly. We are ready for the excursion to Antelope, a canyon that can be visited inside where the light creates spectacular games. The rock ? smooth and polished. to visit it you have to do a tour with the Navajo who first ask $ 8 per person as an entrance fee and then you have to pay for the tour ($ 40 if done in the best light hours from 10 to 14); however, would we expect more? that a half hour tour with a guide who doesn't say a word? but maybe we were just unlucky because? the other guides seemed very talkative! Stop at Walmart for supplies and visit Horseshoe point, a corner of the canyon from which a red rock emerges from Colorado. We then go to Scenic Point to see Lake Powell from above (both are free). We set off again and as we climb the desert landscape gives way to coniferous forests and wooden houses; there are the mountains, the streams and I recognize the colors of autumn. The street ? perfectly paved and with some Rest Area. We pass through the red Canyon which at sunset gives an even more effect? beautiful. Do we get to Bryce Canyon for a while? late but also in the shade? very suggestive. We booked in Bryce City, a tiny, almost deserted center this time of year. We move about 3 miles and have dinner at Foster? S steakhouse. We spend $ 40 for two burgers with side dishes, 2 cokes and two apple pies. The temperature ? dropped to -2.2.
After a champion breakfast of eggs and bacon we return to Bryce for an easy trek. Are there many routes of varying difficulty? which descend into the canyon, made of spiers and pinnacles with various levels of stratification. The warm November sun and the almost total absence of other people makes us calmly walk the Queen Trail, where we reach a spire that really looks like a queen in profile. A few hours later ?. the first impression of Vegas not? what I expected: not? that emerges from the desert as I was told but can be reached by a road in the desert mountains. We enter into what? their ring road. Do I recognize already? the hotels I've looked at a thousand times on the internet: Stratosphere, MGM, Hilton, Caesar? s palace, Paris with the Eiffel Tower lit up? how many lights! we arrive at the Platinum, slightly set back from the strip but a 15 minute walk, one of the few hotels without a casino; we have chosen it both for the great price and why? away from the chaos. Our room? a suite on 12? floor overlooking the strip. Las Vegas also makes heads spinning for those who, like me, like music, lights, the casino. All ? fake and exaggerated, the themed hotels are hyper-luxurious and immense, with restaurants, clubs, casinos, theaters, discos, shopping centers connected together, casinos inside. full of people who make you feel like a mouse in a cage, the fountains of the Bellagio and the volcano of the Mirage, Venice reproduced to scale, the roller coaster inside the New York, masked people, neon signs, alcohol, ferrari and lamborghini? of Las Vegas can not? describe, it must be lived! Then there are the monorails that connect the hotels, the huge all you can eat restaurants, the stalls that sell discounted tickets for shows and dinners, the shops, the 4-storey M&M store and the Coca Cola center where can you? do the world coke tasting for $ 8. We walked almost a day and a half and didn't even get to see all the hotels on the strip!
IS? a shock to leave Las Vegas and go into Death Valley, a dry and desolate landscape where only rattlesnakes live? the roads are straight and all the same but paved (except for one stretch that led us to see the first settlement of Stovepipe Wells while we were looking for a place to eat). We arrive at Furnace Creek Visitor Center in the afternoon and we manage to visit Zabriskie Point, the Artist? S drive where the rock has different colors and Badwater, at -86 meters below sea level. The air? dry and heavy and the trip to the Bridgestone hotel? long, dark and full of natural bumps. On the other hand, in the total darkness of the night, we admire the starry sky more? beautiful we have ever seen.
We arrive at Sequoia National Park in the early afternoon and find that we have to drive another two hours into the mountains to get to General Grant. We therefore opt for General Sherman, the redwood most? big in the world, but still it takes half an hour of tight switchbacks and a 15 minute walk in the forest. Sar? that we are used to the woods of our Alps but the coniferous forest mixed with sequoia does not drive us crazy. Certainly the general? unique in its kind but it will be the noisy families on a Sunday trip that do not make us appreciate this gift of nature.
We had many expectations about San Francisco: it will be? why? I have seen her in many films and they had told me about it like this? well that I was looking forward to seeing her. We proceed slowly in the traffic on this mega bridge that offers a first beautiful view on the ups and downs of the city. We cross a part of downtown with very high skyscrapers, around business men running with their take away lunch and girls with a glass of coffee to go .. ahhhh America! We pass in passing from a street that enters Chinatown but we are too focused on the street since they are not exactly like this here? correct driving. We are on the tram tracks, the climbs are scary and the traffic lights? red (luckily they have an automatic gearbox and I hope it never snows!). There are even cars with reinforced bumpers to withstand the shocks caused by parking in these incredible climbs! We leave things in the motel (the city? ? full of motels, comfortable and relatively cheap but with parking, which save 40-50 $ per day). E? the bleak and dingy-looking Broadway inn with large, clean rooms, 5 minutes from the cable car stop and across from the 47 bus stop to Fisherman? s Wharf. I recommend taking the MUNI pass for cable car + bus why? walk around? unthinkable, a lot of time is lost. We eat in a Thai restaurant and set off to discover SF. We head towards Union Square, the beautiful commercial district where the cable car leaves from? and a very long line to go up! I recommend taking it two stops more? up, maybe you won't be attached to the outside poles but you will save 45 minutes of queuing! Unfortunately I find SF very dirty, it seems that the sides of the streets are never cleaned? Union Square? a little? better but still full of poor homeless people, schizophrenics and drug addicts; their presence? disturbing but not bothering (avoid the Mission and Tenderloin districts in the evening). The image that remains with me of the city? are the beautiful colorful Victorian houses on the ups and downs overlooking the bay (the Russian Hill neighborhood must be seen) and these poor people who preach about religion, scream at ghosts or simply sleep on the ground, hugging their dog. At first glance it did not make me mad with joy as for example New York had hit me, sar? that ? considered the most? European cities American (and to me its streets and buildings remind me so much of Paris, so something seen and reviewed) but I wanted to see more? ? americanity ??. Below is a brief description of the district by district visited on foot, cable car and bus:? Russian Hill: Nice quiet neighborhood with all different Victorian houses. Not to be missed ? Between Lombard Street and Hyde Street - the beginning of the section considered among the most winding to the world surrounded by hydrangeas and passable by car. ? Chinatown: chaotic and full of souvenir shops and restaurants. cheap? Union Square: jewelers, luxury shops, cafes and a few tourist restaurants. At the 7? Macy's plan? sc ?? Cheesecake factory, $ 8 for a 5 finger slice of delusional goodness ?! ? Soma: on the other side of Market street, full of shops and restaurants. Should it be the center of SF ma-sar nightlife? that ? a Tuesday? November - after 19 is not there? around a soul! Do you have dinner early at 21 pm in any restaurant? already? closed?. Obviously not having a real center, many choose a place and spend the whole evening there making an aperitif, dinner, after dinner together! However, there are some pubs or some trendy places to have a drink. ? North beach: chock-full of Italian restaurants, pizzerias and cafes with a local flavor. high prices and dubious quality? as few are really run by Italians, but for those who miss home a pizza always cheers up! ? Fisherman? S Wharf: super touristy, full of restaurants and souvenir shops; I suggest the 43 1/2 pier where, in front of the Boudin pastry shop, c ?? a row of street food stalls with fish: the bread bowl (potato and squid soup in a mega loaf for 7-8 $), shrimp salad, crab cream sandwiches, lobster? in the area I also suggest IHOP for breakfast , super abundant and delicious pancakes! At pier 39 you can also see sea lions lying in the sun. The trips to Alcatraz depart from the docks, very interesting and sinful for the too many crowds and many children running and screaming around disturbing the visit. ? Golden Gate Bridge: to get there we changed two buses and on the way back we took the wrong one? Always ask the driver why? the maps and signs are not easy to understand (we took one that according to the display should have taken us to the pier and instead we ended up out of town?). The bridge ? almost always immersed in fog. Must see for a photo or a walk but nothing more. ? Golden Gate Park:? quite out of the way. The park ? giant and if you want you can rent bikes. some parts are not well cared for, others have beautiful gardens and ponds. We visited the Japanese garden for $ 7, only to be seen if that's your thing. On the way back we passed by the Haight-Asbury district, the old hippy district today a bit? degraded, with Indian and Pakistani costume jewelery shops with a new age flavor. Then from market street we took the very slow historic tram F that runs along the docks, taking us 2 and a half hours from the park to the fisherman? S wharf! Maybe the total immersion in nature in the past days has made it difficult for me to reintegrate into the city? and I think SF is a city anyway? pi?
California isn't there? friend: after the rain in LA, here she is again in what should be one of the most? beautiful state: the Big Sur! Before for? we stop in Monterey where the nice and kind lady of the Visitor Center (by the way, always look for them, they are an excellent reference point and provide free maps and other material) suggests that we skip the visit to the town why? we absolutely have to face the coastal road with the sunlight and to get to San Simeon it takes from 2 to 5 hours depending on the stops in the various viewpoints! We still take a trip to the pier, a small version of San Francisco's Pier 39. We do not take the 17 miles drive due to lack of time but they say it is very beautiful: it runs along the Monterey headland and costs $ 10 per car. Keep in mind that any park, monument, river or forest in the United States is of national interest and there are scenic drives and observation points everywhere. The toilets in the Rest Area are also provided and very clean. We take Pacific Highway 1 which winds its way narrow and winding along the Californian coast overlooking the icy ocean waters. The fog ? and the machine of Chinese in front of us? make us proceed at speed? very small and we admire the landscape that reminds me of the wild coasts of Ireland. ANECDOTE ? THE CHINESE In the reddish quiet of Monument Valley we see two ugly and identical SUVs emerging from the dust, traveling at high speed. sustained in the wrong direction. There are 8 Chinese who are doing all the way backwards! The day after ? as we walk towards Horseshoe BendPoint, where the Colorado flows around a Canyon, there they are again screaming and noisy marring the sacredness. local? Annoyed by not being able to contemplate the landscape in harmony with nature, we cannot even take pictures as they are in every corner. I can't believe my eyes when we see them in the supermarket too! And here they are now at Big sur, right in front of us, driving at a good 15 miles / h with their foot on the brake? We obviously can't overtake why? the street ? dark and narrow and now the fog? really thick, so we arrive at the Sea Breeze Inn in San Simeon in the late evening.
Today finally c ?? the sun. Along the panoramic view we stop to admire a colony of sea lions: they are huge, funny and clumsy; some play with each other in the water, others yawn or scratch. IS? incredible resemblance to humans. On the road we find another colony but more? populous and idle. After a couple of hours of travel we begin to see a landscape more to us? known: palm trees, megavillas, surfers looking for the wave, beach houses and beach guard cabins .. we are in Malibu! We have the feeling that at any moment a Baywatch lifeguard comes out. C ?? even a helicopter that takes off for a? rescue operation? will be? was a shark? Stop for lunch in a fish market (Malibu? S sea food) where we enjoy excellent fish and chips. Our journey continues to Santa Monica where we booked a room on Airbnb. Lindsay, the hostess,? really kind and makes us feel at ease, giving us useful tips on what to do in the city. We walk to the beach and see the first outdoor gyms. We realize that Americans are super sporty, they run, walk, pedal everywhere. Among others we remember a mother who goes jogging holding the stroller in the right and the dog on a leash in the left; a dog sitter on the skateboard with 8 dogs on a leash; mom and kids on the skate board swinging the hula hoop with their pelvis. On the much of Santa Monica we walk among the stalls to the illuminated Ferris wheel and take the usual photo at the sign? End of route 66 ?. Can I imagine the emotion of those who reach this point after having crossed all the States on two wheels? a ramp leads us to Main Street from where a pedestrian promenade with shops, restaurants and street performers begins. IS? already? all decorated for Christmas, and it's strange to walk in a T-shirt among lights and snowmen. We stop for a drink in a Mexican club and - irony -? of the same chain as the one where we stopped two weeks ago, on our first day on American soil. With Happy Hour (2? 1 goes a lot in the US at certain hours of the day and evening) we get 2 Corona, 2 excellent raspberry and banana Margaritas, a portion of fried jalapenos and the inevitable nachos for $ 30 We walk up to a open-air mall where there is no shortage of Italian style restaurants with pizza for $ 16. Us for? we are attracted to a bikers-style pub with signs hanging on the walls but it turns out to be a bad choice: my chicken sandwich? in reality? a burger with fried chicken marinated in vinegar and inedible paprika. On the way home we pass a school where boys and girls are playing mixed-team football and I think I've never seen anything like it in Italy.
Venice is located a few minutes drive from Santa Monica and its beach ne? the extension. Years ago the city? it was strewn with canals which were then covered; today only a few remain, overlooked by small colored wooden houses. The real draw is the beach and the Ocean Front Walk, where really bizarre characters meet. The promenade is full of street artists, peddlers, fortune tellers, painters, even a dog guarding the goods wearing pink sunglasses; then there are rastaman, tattoo and piercing shops with dubious hygiene, places linked to the culture of cannabis. The atmosphere? colorful and lively and? really nice to walk in the sun with music in the air. The beach ? very big and I am amazed to see that everyone is holding their surfboard under their arms: in the water there are many surfers floating waiting for the perfect wave but only a couple attract our attention, doing twists and riding the wave ... what a show ! Here c?? also the original Muscle Beach where Arnold Schwarzenegger trained, an outdoor gym for strictly tanned and bare-chested exhibitionists who let themselves be photographed while they train !. Tonight we sleep at the Travelodge LAX, a cute motel close to the airport, car rental and Denny? S, where we indulge in the latest super burger.
The next morning the shuttle takes us directly in front of the Terminal entrance and we quickly check in and check (unlike arrival). But I can't leave the States without my latest coffee to go and a sublime cream and strawberry cupcake that she gives me? the energy to face a 15-hour journey.We don't really want to go back to the routine but we are fully satisfied with the trip we organized with such care: we did and saw everything we had planned, we allowed ourselves moments of relaxation traveled 3000 miles by car without ever taking the wrong road (thanks to a good GPS and excellent driving directions); we had our fill of burgers and cheesecake; we have seen landscapes that could not be more? different from each other, from the glory of the 50s in Hollywood to the deserts of Arizona, from the grandeur? of the Grand Canyon to the particularity? of Bryce Canyon, from crazy Las Vegas to the wasteland of Death Valley. And yet the sequoia forests, the ups and downs of San Francisco, the wild California of Big Sur and the worldly one of palm trees and surfers. A journey into the myth, in the America of the far west and the TV series, but even so? real, to admire and? why? no- imitate. Why? not only the landscapes have amazed us: we have in fact found helpful and friendly people even in the most fast food? lost, people who first ask you how you are and then ask you about your country of origin, polite people who apologize if they bump into you when you leave a shop and keep the door open for you to enter. Have we seen examples of civilization? which unfortunately do not exist in Italy, from road safety education to attention to disabled people. But for every finished trip there is no? another to organize: I pass the gate where they are boarding a flight to Papeete and a thought crosses me ?. ON THE ROAD AGAIN!