San Francisco

Recently I made the drive from Reno, Nevada to San Francisco, California. The drive was only about 3 and a half hours and full of mountains, water, and a bit of desert. Towards the end of the drive you come around a mountain and you are greeted by the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Photo Credit Travelin’ with T

Once you cross the Golden Gate Bridge, there several beaches you can park at and enjoy the view of the ocean and the bridge. While taking pictures on the beach, the tide snuck up on us and we got a little wet.

After a short while enjoying the views on the beach we made our way to Alamo Square and saw the “Painted Ladies” which are Victorian or Edwardian houses in American architecture.

Last but not least we went to the piers. Other than the outrageous $10 an hour for parking the piers were awesome. You can find gift shops, restaurants, views of the golden gate bridge and Alcatraz, ships in WWII that you can board and plenty of other things, if you aren’t bothered by the high parking bill you could easily spend a day here. We had planned to visit and tour Alcatraz but we were suprised to find out tours were already sold out for the whole week.

We were bummed but found plenty of other things to do. We got dinner at a restaurant with views of the bay and we hopped on the Jeremiah O’Brien for a tour of the WWII ship that is one of the 2 fully functional Liberty ships left. Walking around the several levels of the ship where the soldiers fighting in the war walked was a unique experience.

The tour of the Jeremiah O’Brien concluded our time in San Francisco. There was a lot to see and i wish we planned more than just 1 day here. Hopefully I get the chance to go back soon!

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Alaska

fb_img_1513868446312476569004.jpgMy first real experience travelling was when I went to visit a friend that lived in Alaska. Sure I had been a few places here and there with my family when I was younger but never had I been on a plane or went anywhere without my family travelling with me. Early in the morning I got to the airport, excited and a bit nervous, I was ready to go. My first flight was from Boise to Seattle and my last flight was from Seattle to Juneau. Both flights weren’t very long and I was eager to be in Alaska for the first and only time so far.

Once I found my way through the small Juneau airport to the main entrance I was greeted by huge snow topped mountains outside of the glass windows. My friends mom picked me up from the airport while he was finishing up his day of work. On the way to their house we were surrounded by huge mountains and large bodies of water. After my friend got home from work we went out and he showed me around. One of our first stops was at the Mendenhall Glacier.

The Mendenhall Glacier is about 1.5 miles wide, over 100 feet tall, and the glacier is where the border begins between Alaska and Canada. Next to the glacier’s visitor center you will find Mendenhall Lake, there are trails next to the lake lead you by a large waterfall on your way closer to the glacier. Around the visitors center there were smaller ponds that you could find different kinds of salmon, trout and other species of fish.

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Later, during low tide, we walked a couple minutes from my friends house down to Auke Bay. Eventually we did this every morning so we could see all of the starfish, sea urchins, anemones and we even found a few tide pools. In one of the tide pools, I found a baby eel along with several other cool sea creatures. Across the bay, at Douglas Island, we (mostly I, he doesn’t like fishing) tried fishing. I hooked one fish but I lost it swinging it to shore trying to avoid hitting him with it.

Alaska has a reputation for being covered in snow and full of wildlife. When I was there in March, I got lucky, it only rained once which i enjoyed and there was only snow on the mountain peaks. I also didn’t see a single moose or any bears but I was lucky enough to see a couple hundred bald eagles which have always been my favorite. They were all around no matter where you went. I would love to visit again any chance i got and if you get the change, take it!

Gifts for Travelers

With the holidays already here we are all trying to find gift for our friends and family. It can be tough finding the right gift so I am going to give you ideas for the traveler in your life. Click on the picture to shop for each item.

pillow

What traveler doesn’t need a travel pillow. This is perfect for long days of travel so you don’t have to use the shoulder of the person next to you!

passport

I don’t know if you have ever got water damage on your passport but I have. I accidentally left it in a pocket and washed it. I had to hurry and get another one before i left the country a few weeks later.

adapter

Plug in adapters are a must for travelers. This adapter will work in over 150 countries. I have one and every time I am abroad I have it with me.

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Portable battery packs are very nice to have. This one allows you to plug in any device that uses a USB cable and also has a LED light on it.

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map

Scratch Maps are fun ideas to help track the places you have been.

globe

Cork Globes are another fun way to track where you have been.

lock

TSA approved locks are a good idea to keep your items safe. I find these helpful as well if you are staying in hostels.

drone

If you love photography a drone is a must. I have this DJI Phantom 3S and it is so much fun and give a different angle for any picture.

journal

Travel Journals are a good way to write memories, experiences, and information so you don’t forget them!

case

Lifeproof phone cases are really nice to have. Make sure it isn’t a cheap one though because I have seen them leak and ruin phones!

There are many great gift ideas for the traveler you may know. These are just a few ideas of what they may enjoy.
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Oregon Coast

A couple of months after i turned 18 and graduated high school I decided i wanted to go somewhere. I wasn’t sure where so I asked one of my friends if he wanted to come with me and had any ideas of where to go. After looking a while for a place within driving distance that we both agreed on, we decided to go to the Oregon Coast (specifically Newport).

We started our drive at about 7am and we planned on driving about 10 hours, making a few stops here and there to see sights that caught our eye. One of our first stops was Multnomah Falls. After getting off the highway there was a road that took us through a tunnel loke road on the side of this tree covered mountain and on the way to the waterfall there were a couple of places to stop and see other smaller water falls. After we parked, we headed up the stairs and were met by a giant water fall and there was a bridge about halfway up you can hike to.

We continued on to our final location in Newport and after a long car ride we made it there in the afternoon. We stayed at the Waves Motel which is fairly affordable and a couple minute walk from Nye Beach. The road by Nye Beach had a few restaurants and little shops, across the street was a fudge store as well that was amazing. Since some of the days were windy we even found a local kite shop and flew our new kites on the beach!

The next day we visited the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and the Devil’s Punch Bowl. Both of these places were north of our hotel but not too far. We hopped in the car and stopped at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse first. You have to pay a small fee to get into the area but it’s worth it. Once you are there you can walk around the cliffs right behind the lighthouse, there are also stairs that take you down to the beach. There are usual muscles everywhere and quite a few colourful starfish to see.

A little further north we came to a park area that was kind of hidden and this is where we found the Devils Punch bowl. This Devils Punch Bowl is a big rock formation that had an opening for waves to crash through it and a big circle hole in the top that you can see the waves through.

About a 45 minute drive south of our hotel we took the Oregon Coast highway to the Sea Lion Caves. The drive was beautiful as we had green hills and tree covered mountains on one side of us and the beaches and ocean on the other side. The gift shop was where you purchase your tickets to enter the caves. To get to the caves you walk down the stairs in the gift shop, head out the doors, take the walkway on the side of the cliffs down to the elevators. The elevators takes you down 200 feet or so down to this big hallowed out room in the cliffs and there are serveral windows to see out of. There were hundres of sea lions on the rocks and swimming around in the water. There were also a few pannels that had information and history of the caves and of sea lions themselves.

If you ever get the chance to visit anywhere on the Oregon Coast definitely go! Its beautiful and there is a lot to do and a lot of places to see! It may be cloudy or windy somedays but well worth it.

Final Stop

The last stop on our journey led us through Alsace, France to Frankfurt, Germany. As we made our last long bus ride to our final destination, we took a detour from our planned route and landed in Alsace, France. As we hopped off the bus we were greeted by narrow cobblestone roads and colorful buildings all around us. There were bright, colorful flowers in planters along the building windows. After we grabbed something to eat we headed to our wine tasting. Unfortunately the event took place outside and it was on a very hot day in the middle of July. We were all pretty worn out from our lack of sleep and the heat that drained us the following week. We tried to rush the wine tasting event so we could get out of the heat and get back on the air condition bus. Even though our visit here was short, I felt very lucky to visit this beautiful place and I’d love to visit again.

After our short stop we finished our last long bus ride and made it to Frankfurt, Germany. Our hotel was very nice and well kept and a couple of us got our own rooms which is rare for Ef Ultimate Break travelers. After we got settled in we headed to Heidelberg Castle which has the worlds largest wine barrel in it. We got to tour the castle, take pictures, walk on top of the huge wine barrel, and tour the city streets near by. There were a lot of tourists but that didn’t take away from the experience. Our group had fun together and we all took pictures and soaked in our last destination.

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Our last night in Frankfurt we had our farewell dinner together. We all found out we were having pancake soup and pork knuckle, we weren’t too thrilled but it was surprisingly good! We all laughed and told stories, some people cried and Antonio surprised us with a few souvenirs he picked up for us. As the night grew old we made our way back to the hotel and said goodbye to our new forever friends.

If you ever get the chance to go to Europe, take it! If you get the chance to take any trip and need help, definitely check out EF Ultimate Breaks website. They are very helpful and often have sales and discounts for trips to many places around the world.

Switzerland

After we left the beautiful country of Italy we headed off to one of our last countries, Switzerland. If you love green scenery with endless water and mountains then you must visit this country. Most of our journey seemed to spoil us with picturesque scenery but then Switzerland topped it all off.

Our first stop in Lucerne was a quick one at the Lion Monument. It was behind a green pool of water and it was really cool to see. The Lion Monument is a memorial for the soldiers who served King Louis XVI during the French Revolution.

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The next day, after getting settled into our last hostile, we set off to the summit of Mt. Pilatus. We got off our tour bus at Lake Lucerne and got on our water taxi. As we set off we chose the seats with the best views and we enjoyed the ride. A few minutes later, Antonio (our tour director) found us and was laughing at us and told us we needed to move because we chose to sit in first class. Who knew a water taxi had first class? After a few jokes we found a different spot on the boat that still had good views on the way to our destination.

View from first class!

After about 30 minutes on the water taxi we arrived to the base of Mt. Pilatus at the steepest cogwheel railway in the world. We grabbed our tickets, hopped on the cogwheel and road about 30 more minutes past cows, hikers, mountain bikers, and even some snow(in July) to the summit. We were all surprised as we didn’t expect there to be almost a mini mall at the top of this huge mountain. There was a place to shop, several restaurants, and even a hotel up there! We walked along the trails and hiked up the stairs as we made our way to the highest point of the mountain. When you looked out over the mountains to Lake Lucerne everything seemed so small. Planes and clouds flew below where you were standing.

As we made our hike back, we enjoyed lunch then headed to the Aerial Cableways. It was intimidating to see a huge, mostly glass, cable car that fit about 50 people with only a cable preventing us from falling straight back to the ground. We all slowly made our way in and tried to find a safe place to sit. As you get used to the ride you come over the peak of a smaller mountain and all of a sudden the cable car speeds up and starts to descend more rapidly. We all laughed in fear as we came to the end of our first ride. The second cable cars were a lot smaller, holding about four people, way closer to the ground, and were similar to a enclosed ski lifts.

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As we wrapped up our time in Lucerne, Antonio had to take us by his 2 favorite stores, the Swiss Chocolate store and the Christmas store that is open year round. We all stocked up on Chocolate and souvenirs got back on our tour bus and headed back to our hotel for our last night in Switzerland.

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Journey to Italy

cropped-20160706_1422342.jpgVenice, Italy, the second stop of our journey. Or bus ride from Germany to Italy led us through the gorgeous country of Austria. Austria was a busy country with tons of scenery, from the huge mountains to the small communities surrounded my giant green fields. There were lots of little shops, one which had more cuckoo clocks than you could imagine and no matter where you went gelato is always close by.

After a few hour bus ride through the huge mountains topped with castles and waterfalls we arrived in Italy. We got checked into our hotel and discovered we were less than half of a mile from the beach. We all hurried and thew all our bags in the room so we could make it to see the sunset on the beach. The next morning we headed to the boat taxis and headed off to Venice. The boat taxi took us next to a few different islands and even next to cruise ships as we made it to our destination. Once we arrived we all gathered together and we headed to St. Mark’s square. We got the opportunity to see the bell tower Campanile, Torre dell’Orologio (Clock Tower), and got to take a tour of St. Mark’s Basilica.

After our tour of St. Mark’s Basilica we headed to take a ride through the streets of water in the gondolas. Our groups ride was one to remember for sure… We started off with too much weight on side, we tried to adjust the group to balance the weight but our guide wouldn’t allow us. We all quickly got nervous as the water got closer and closer to the edge of our gondola. Throughout the ride water started slowly splashing over the edge and some of us started getting wet! We all did our best to remain calm and enjoy our ride as it came to an end and it was definitely a story to remember.

Our next day we headed to Verona, which is the home of Romeo and Juliet.We started at Romeo’s house, which is now a government building. It was attached to a few other building and was pretty large. We then made our way through the packed cobblestone streets to Juliet’s balcony. It was in the peak of tourist season so it was tough to get your pictures and navigate though the smaller gardens and gift shops. The next place we were visiting was one I was very excited about, Arena Di Verona. We were walking through the streets and all of a sudden you walk around the corner and there it is, it’s huge and amazing to see, and not to mention the best pizza I’ve ever had was right next to it. In the area there was a good size green, well-kept park, a few statues, and a very good selection of restaurants.