Thursday, August 27, 2009

OS Trip.

I have just arrived home from a trip around the world. We started in San Francisco, then flew to Vegas, then onto New York City, Montreal, London and back via Hong Kong. Because we were only in each city for a few days one of the frustrating things was figuring out where the best spots were to visit. So while I was away it got me thinking about writing some travel tips about Melbourne. When I travel I like to visit the areas where the locals hang out and try and avoid the touristy spots as much as possible. Some touristy things can be interesting, but it doesn't usually take more than a day to see all of that kind of stuff. (unless your in a big city of course). I also like to find some good local restaurants and bars. So I have decided to write about the things that I did on my trip and then write about things to do when visiting Melbourne.

First stop: San Francisco
We stayed at The Westin on Market st, which was close to Union square, China town, Pier 39 and fisherman's wharf. The hotel was really nice. It wasnt anything ultra fancy, but it was nicely decorated, clean and the beds were really comfortable. We were upgraded to a room with a king bed and on a high floor. So that probably made a difference too.
While we were there we walked around and looked at all the touristy sights like china town and Fisherman's Wharf etc. We also made sure we hopped on a cable car, walked up Lombard st and went to Alcatraz. Most of the information about those places can be found on your typical touristy web page.
As for the more personalised part of our trip, we hired a car and drove out of San Francisco to have a look around. The first day we drove to Silicon Valley and had a look at all of the I.T companies Like Google and Microsoft. (my partner works in I.T, so it was his part of our tour). However, even if your not an I.T geek its still interesting to see. After all 'google' is basically part of the dictionary now. The companies are so huge that I think they are called campuses and the employees are given bikes to get around. They are also sounded by perfectly manicured gardens and have basketball and tennis courts. Its probably not worth the trip if you don't have any interest in that kind of stuff.
A large part of our trip to America was to shop, so the second day we drove out to Nappa valley and went to the Napa Premium Factory outlets. You can get massive savings at Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Barneys New York Outlet, Brooks Brothers, Gap Outlet, BCBG Max Azria, Calvin Klein, Coach, Cole Haan, J.Crew, Jones New York, Kenneth Cole, Liz Claiborne, Lucky Brand, Tommy Hilfiger, TSE and more. Its well worth the visit, however it probably varies depending the time of year. We also went to the Gilroy Premium outlets the following day. All of the stores the same there as well, but it was much bigger. So if you only have time to go to one, Gilroy is much better. You can check them out at
The scenery is really nice on the way to the Napa outlets and you can also do a detour and check out all of the winery's. We drove back to san Francisco via Half Moon bay. It was a beautiful drive there, but in the afternoon the Fog decided to roll in. So when we arrived at the beach we couldn't actually see the ocean (for those of you who dont know, San Fransico is often foggy). We drove back via the coast, but again we couldn't see much because if the fog. But I would definitely go back and check it out again if I go back.
I tried to find some good places to eat dinner while we were in San Fran and succeeded! firstly, we stumbled across a great Mexican restaurant called Puerto Alegre , 546 Valencia St. (bet. 16th & 17th Sreets). The food was so good (especially compared to Australian standards). There was a half an hour wait but it was well worth it. Plus its usually a good sign that the food is good. There are probably some other great Mexican restaurants in the Mission District as well but this one was fantastic. Secondly, we were told to go to L'Osteria el Forno. It was a cute little restaurant and again we had to wait 30 mins or so. The ravioli was superb and their pizzza's are supposed to be really good too. You can check out the menu at
Hiring a car was a great way to check out San Fran. They also have a scenic drive you can follow to check out the city. The scenic drive is sign posted and you can begin at Fisherman's Wharf and work your way around from there. Next up Vegas!

Second stop: Las Vegas (to be continued)
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