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Jelena went to...California!

Hello and welcome to I Went Somewhere!

Everybody knows California, and being such a large place, there's so much to see in this Pacific Ocean bordered state!

Today we're learning more about this beautiful place with some amazing pictures and great travel tips to California!

 

Hello! Tell us a little bit about you and where you traveled to...


Hey, everybody! My name is Jelena and I'm from Zagreb, Croatia. Last year I had an opportunity to visit the Golden state of California with my family where we spent 10 exciting days exploring many of the places that California has to offer.


How great was the trip?


Our trip started in Los Angeles where we wanted to see how Hollywood stars live. We visited all of the main sights like every first timer is LA does such as Universal Studios, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Santa Monica Pier, Rodeo Drive, Venice Beach, Warner Bros Studio and many more.


We decided to rent a car and our roadtrip started on the portion of the famous Pacific Highway one. We made many stops along the way and saw Solvang, a Danish Town in the middle of California, elephant seals sleeping on the sandy beaches and countless views of beautiful Californian coast. Our last stop on the coast was San Francisco where we had limited amount of time but enough to see the main attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge.


After San Francisco our journey continued north towards Nappa Valley filled with vineyards. We stopped for a glass of wine at Grgich Hills estate that was founded by Miljenko Grgić, fellow Croatian. Then it was time for some national parks.


First we were in awe of the giant sequoias in King's Canyon and Seqouia national parks and after that we spent two days in stunning Yosemite National Park. First day we explored the Yosemite valley as much as we could and on the second day we drove down Tioga Road which is equally as beautiful as the valley but with half the crowds. Our last days in California were spent in the Mammoth Lakes area were we visited several lakes, my favorite being incredibly unique Mono lake, and many other sites like Hot Creek Geological area that is reminescent of Yellowstone.


Final stop on our California roadtrip was supposed to be Death Valley National Park, however the hottest place on Earth was flooded at the time 😂. Ohh the irony 😅, I guess we have to come back and further explore this beautiful state.

How did you learn and prepare for this trip?


While planning this trip YouTube was my best friend as I got many great suggestions from different sources. I also read plenty of blog posts, tripadvisor and google reviews before deciding on our accomodations and experiences.

How did you get there?


We flew Lufthansa from Zagreb,Croatia to Los Angeles with one stop in Frankfurt. Our tickets were premium economy but what you get is not much of a difference compared to regular ecomomy tickets.


Inflight entertainment stopped working midway through the flight, we didn't even get cheap earbuds so we can conncect to TV and on top of that I paid for the wifi which also stopped working with 5 hours of the flight left. On our way back had premium economy tickets as well and our experience was 100% better, but the plane model was different.


Maybe that was the reason for the poor experience the first time. When we got to LA we took a taxi to our hotel and for exploring LA ubers worked great. After we rented a car with Avis and had good experience with them.

Where did you stay?


In LA we stayed in Mosaic Hotel Beverly Hills because of it's great location and resonable price compared to other hotels in the area. The room itself was a little run down and the AC unit was super lound but nothing that you can't suffer through 😅


While in Big Sur we stayed in the Big Sur Lodge in a beautiful cabin surrounded by the woods however we have some experiences.


I have to warn you guys to ALWAYS check you receipt because of two separate ocasion people noticed that we weren't American and I guess assumed that we didn't know English that well and tried to scam us. First time it happened at the convenience store at the Big Sur lodge, the worker overcharged us $100 but luckily we noticed right away. Second time it happened in Yosemite View Lodge 's restaurant, we were charged for somebody elses receipt that was more expensive that ours. In that same lodge we paid for a room with a view, but instead of a beautiful view of the river we got a view of a construction site.


Other accomodations were okay, they don't stand out in my mind meaning they weren't exceptionally good or bad.


Where and what did you eat?


We didn't really have time for fine dining, but I do remember some great meals:

  • Masala chicken at Yosemite View Lodge's restaruant (where we were scammed 🤣)

  • Buffet style lunch at the Universal Studios (included in our VIP ticket)

  • Country Rose Café in Hollister, California - amazing breakfast and local atmosphere

  • Breakfast at the Hilton Hotel San Francisco

How much did it cost?


Accomodation was about $200 for 3 people a night in 3-4 star hotels mostly without breakfast. Our car was around $200 a day (more expensive than usual because of the one way fee).


Price of an average meal in "normal" restaruants was $20-$30, fast food is of course cheaper. How much you pay for this trip will depend on your style of travel, we could've spent way more but we could've paid less as well.

Would you go back and do it again?


I would go back in a heartbeat. California is incredibly beautiful place and we had only seen a small portion of what it has to offer.


Advice for people planning to do something similar?


Personally, next time I would spend less time in Los Angeles and San Francisco and spend more time in Yosemite or include other places like lake Tahoe or Lassen National Park. I would also love to go back and see Death Valley this time. I don't regret the time we spent in LA and SF but there is so much natural beauty in California, which I prefer over the big cities.

Any other experiences or businesses you wish to mention that made your trip better or more comfortable?

  • While in LA make sure to visit El Matador State Beach. It's genuinely one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. Be patient with the parking situation, it's worth it.

  • If you're planning to visit Universal Studios think about getting express or VIP tickets so you don't waste time standing in lines.

  • Always check your receipts 😂

  • If you're interested in movie making or just like televison, visit the Warner Bros Studio and you might see sets of your favorite shows.

  • And most importantly, don't cram to much on you schedule and enjoy yourself 😊

Where can we go to connect with you?

 

Have a travel story you want to share?


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Catch you next time. Happy travels!

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