Posts Tagged ‘Sea Lions’

Disa and Lauren Take San Francisco – Part 2

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

No one escapes from Alcatraz… except for the notorious Lauren and Disa!

Welcome back, travel friends! Click Here for the awesome first half of our adventure – Disa and Lauren Take San Francisco – Part 1!

viagra buy

Day 4 and 5 of Disa and I’s adventures in the misty City by the Bay included the epic Monterey & Carmel Tour by Bus from San Francisco on Thursday, then on Friday the Chinatown Walking Tour in San Francisco, then cruising to explore the infamous ex-federal prison of Alcatraz Island, then going on an enchanting San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise around the beautiful bay at sunset. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the virtual tours.

Thursday:

  • The Chronicles of Monterey: The Sea Lion, the Sandwich, and the Nautical Globe. The Monterey & Carmel Tour by Bus from San Francisco is a fully narrated 11-hour tour that departs from and returns to San Francisco. This tour showcases California’s natural, rugged Central Coast. As we made our way south-bound from San Francisco, we passed by M5 Industries, which is the headquarters for Myth Busters, a science entertainment TV show on the Discovery Channel. The Fire Station is close by for a reason. ;)

Yours truly took every photo opportunity to capture the beauty of the scenery

  • As we continued our journey past Daly City, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz and beyond to the right of our luxury coach we could see the gorgeous rocky coastline with a few nice sand beaches and tide pools. Something interesting that we learned is that the reason Monterey has such a wealth of marine life is because of Monterey Canyon underwater, which descends over two miles – twice as deep as Arizona’s Grand Canyon – and is home to giant kelp forests and a myriad of sea creatures. I would love to go scuba diving there someday! We could also distantly see (and mainly hear) several sea lions off on the rocks further from the shore.

Just a taste of the seaside scenery on the journey to Monterey, California

  • When we reached the famous Cannery Row in Monterey, we were welcomed with vistas of scenic piers, tons of cool little shops, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and seaside restaurants. You might see sailboats in the marina or kayakers. After reading the sumptuous menu posted outside, we decided to dine for lunch at Louie Linguini’s. I was pretty super excited about this seafood pizza, and for good reason. Salmon, crab and shrimp! I’m a seafood hound. Disa ordered the Spinach Salad, Goat Cheese, & Bacon Sandwich. Absolutely delicious. I seriously wish I could eat there every day now! :D

Decisions, decisions… everything was delicious at Louie Linguini’s in Monterey!

The Fisherman’s Wharf of Monterey, and our fantastic view from Louie Linguini’s

  • After our seaside escapades in Monterey, we were on our way southbound again along the famous scenic 17-mile road. We traveled through Pebble Beach, learning about the highly exclusive and outrageously pricey golf courses on each resort, and enjoying the views of really, really ridiculously good looking houses and estates along the coastline. There is a great variety of architecture to see, and interesting stories you’ll hear aboard the tour. We also stopped to see this natural anomaly, the “Lone Cypress Tree” growing where it is said that no Cypress tree *should* ever grow. Another of the mysteries of the Universe…
  • Finally, we arrived at the beautiful seaside village of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Yes, they do prefer the whole city name said correctly, so get it right. The city is known for its amazing art galleries, bakeries and restaurants, and of course there are the miles and miles of white sand beaches. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll down Ocean Avenue to explore the fabulous shopping turf of the wealthy. It is here that you will find the first gallery of Thomas Kinkade, the Thomas Kinkade Gallery in the Garden. You pass by the cottage door, follow the stone walkway, and into a beautiful garden exhibit with a very fine collection of the world famous painter’s masterpieces. It reminded me of one of my favorite books, The Secret Garden.

Sound like a local by saying the city’s full name, Carmel-by-the-Sea!

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a dream come true for art, food, and beach enthusiasts

Re-energizing with caffeine in a scenic courtyard near Ocean Avenue

The Orignal Gallery of Thomas Kinkade, The Garden Gallery Cottage of Carmel

  • We concluded our adventures south of San Francisco driving back through Silicon Valley, but first stopped at the lovely, historic Mission San Carlos of Carmel. It is the second mission in upper California, and is still home to a Catholic parish. We arrived just before the church bells gonged the evening time.

Photo Op Stop at the historic Mission San Carlos of Carmel by the Sea

Friday:

  • We started the day off with a fascinating and very informative walking tour through Chinatown, on the Chinatown Walking Tour in San Francisco. Our tour guide, Linda, gave us an excellent historical, cultural, medicinal, and culinary overview of Chinatown. This tour is definitely another “must-do” in San Francisco! Chinatown is like a city within the city filled with mysterious sights, where an ancient culture from the other side of the world survives and flourishes with remarkable authenticity. I loved the pagoda-style architecture of the buildings and shops ranging from martial arts weapons displays to Hello Kitty merchandise. What a cool place to shop and explore!

Linda explained the rich history behind this mural and many buildings

Awesome martial arts weapons display at a shop in Chinatown

Chinese School passes on the language and cultural traditions of generations

  • Linda told us that a majority of the people in Chinatown today are actually Christians, but you will still find many Authentic Buddhist Temples. From the street, we wound our way up a narrow, steep staircase to a beautifully adorned temple. Inside we saw entire walls decorated with red ribbons with the names of deceased loved ones written in gold. For many residents, deceased loved ones may not have been buried nearby or inaccessible in the East, so a ribbon serves as a token of veneration. Chinese Ancestor Worship is the belief that deceased loved ones possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Gifts of oranges or flowers are customary, or simply time spent remembering and honoring those dearly departed. Tangerines and oranges sound like “luck” and “wealth” in Chinese, respectively. That is why you will see many oranges as gifts for good fortune.

Buddhist Temple adorned with lanterns, gold antiques, and incense urns

  • Inside the temple, we found dazzling altars adorned with red lanterns, priceless gold antiques, incense filled bronze urns, and more. I was even given the unique opportunity to be a test guinea pig for the traditional Chinese Fortune Sticks and the Chinese Yin-Yang. For the Chinese Fortune Stick (or Divination Sticks), I was handed a circular wooden container filled with many long, flat wooden sticks with a different Chinese symbol at the end of each. Linda asked me to think of any kind of life question that I wanted an answer for, and concentrate on it, then to tilt the container and shake it until only one fortune stick fell out. Sure enough, only one stick fell out. Linda looked up the meaning of the fortune stick and gave me a small slip of paper written entirely in Chinese, and told me I could have the note translated more in depth with a Chinese expert, but basically it meant that research is important to me. I can’t argue with that – I love me some science! Next, Linda handed me two pairs of wooden moon blocks (jiaobei) which she said symbolize the Chinese Yin-Yang. She said the objective is again to ask it a question (aloud or not), and then drop the blocks. You hold the pieces together, flat sides facing each other, and drop them to the ground. How the blocks fall determines the answer. If it lands with both flat or rounded sides facing up, the answer is no. If one side lands flat and the other rounded, the answer is yes. I asked “Will it rain today?” Yin-Yang: one side landed flat and the other rounded, so the answer was yes. It did not rain in San Francisco that day, but I also failed to specify *where* it would rain, so it definitely rained somewhere in the world!

I volunteered to test the Chinese Yin-Yang at the Buddhist Temple

Honoring ancestors is a special way of remembering deceased loved ones

  • Next stop: the Golden Gate Fortune Cookies Factory!! The sweet aroma of the freshly made fortune cookies is sure to lure you in whether you can read the Chinese store signs or not. Inside, you will find fortune cookies of all shapes and sizes, and watch as cookies are made right in front of you.
  • Linda gave us each delicious circular samples of the freshly-made fortune cookies. Yum! You can even order custom fortune cookie messages there at the factory. I wish I’d had time to return to order some fortune cookies with custom messages… with the lyrics to “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, so I could pass them out to my friends, just to drive them crazy. *evil laugh* :D

Our next stop was at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory with a free sample!

At Golden Gate Fortune Cookies you can even order custom fortune messages

  • We also stopped at Stockton Street Food Markets, where you will find an amazing variety of local and exotic foods. This is the place to be to buy the freshest and cheapest produce, meats, live seafood, and dried herbs.

Stockton Street Markets offer the freshest and most exotic foods in the Bay Area

  • After our journey through Chinatown, we walked to In-And-Out Burger at Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch, because it’s just so delicious. After another glorious round of double-double cheeseburgers, we proceeded to walk off the calories to Pier 33 for our second tour of the day, and the most famous sightseeing attraction of San Francisco — Alcatraz Island!!!

The Guard Tower looms ominously high over former prison grounds

Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelley, and other famous inmates

  • Alcatraz was a federal penitentiary that operated from 1934 to 1963, riddled with mysteries and dark mystique. Once home to the likes of Al “Scarface” Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelley, and Robert “The Birdman” Stroud, the Federal Bureau of Prisons used the facility as a maximum security prison. It housed prisoners too notorious or dangerous to be held elsewhere. Alcatraz was closed in 1963 due to its expense. The trip includes the ferry ride to the island and an amazing self-guided audio cell block tour, complete with actual interviews of former guards and inmates. Alcatraz is still known today as one of the world’s most legendary prisons.
  • Here’s a fun fact: Juan Manuel de Ayala was the first Spaniard to document Alcatraz Island in 1775. He also charted San Francisco Bay, and named the island “La Isla de los Alcatraces,” which translates to “The Island of the Pelicans.” You will still find Alcatraz covered with a countless number of seabirds, although the California Brown Pelican is not known to nest on the island today. Instead, you are likely to see hundreds of Western Gulls, and, if you are lucky, you may get a glimpse of pelagic cormorants, California gulls, pigeon guillemots, or black oystercatchers.

Alcatraz is a sanctuary for a variety of seabirds, most prominently Western Gulls

  • If you’re more of a nature lover than a mystery or history buff, walk along the Agave Trail. The trail begins near the ferryboat landing on the east side of Alcatraz Island and continues to the southern tip of the island. The Agave Trail passes through a protected bird sanctuary and features beautiful plants and flowers. This trail also offers fabulous views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.

This is how a typical cell would look upon a prisoner’s arrival to Alcatraz

I’ve been bad. On the plus side, now I can polish my Cell Block Tango.

  • Alcatraz was well known for having an excellent menu compared to other prisons. Warden James Johnston believed that good food in the cafeteria would help to quell dissension among the prisoners. So why was the Mess Hall regarded as the most dangerous place of Alcatraz? Imagine angry, hungry men with knives (even with steak knives, when the menu called for such) gathering together three times a day… A few food and fist fights broke out occasionally, but the armed guards on the outside catwalk rarely ever had to break the windows with their rifles, and never had to fire warning shots or release the tear gas canisters.
  • One bad-tempered incident occurred when Warden Johnston was attacked while standing routinely near the Mess Hall door and beaten up by inmate Burton “Whitey” Phillips. Phillips was later sent to the Treatment Unit in Cellblock D for the assault – a dark, barren cell of Solitary Confinement, also known as “The Hole.” He didn’t leave the Treatment Unit until years later when Warden Johnston retired.
Alcatraz Mess Hall Food Menu

The food quality at Alcatraz was regarded as the best in the prison system

The Mess Hall of Alcatraz was considered to be the most dangerous place.

  • I highly recommend reading the story of the Alcatraz Spaghetti Riot of 1950. Inmates had to find cunning, creative ways to communicate for an organized anarchy under the constant supervision of the prison guards. The inmates were rebelling because they were tired of bland spaghetti. Personally, I think the inmates may have been a bit spoiled. Red velvet cake on the menu?! Dang, prisoners ate great back then. Perhaps the riddles inspired by the hit mystery-thriller FOX TV show “ALCATRAZ” can shed light on the mystery… I would also recommend reading the story of the Battle of Alcatraz.

Guards’ recreational office near the Lighthouse of Alcatraz Island

The iconic Lighthouse of Alcatraz Island, now a museum that can be toured.

  • Disa and I escaped from the sinister clutches of Alcatraz in time to return to our secret hideout and freshen up for our charming sunset dinner cruise along the bay aboard the San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise. We were so lucky that it was a clear night without the dense fog rolling in yet. Very pretty sunset. Cheers to an amazing week in San Francisco!
San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise

Aboard the San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise with dazzling sunset views

Lovely dinner cruise views of the Golden Gate Bridge and more around the Bay

Amazing views of Alcatraz Island and the ferry for the Night Tour

Beautiful sunset as we passed by Alcatraz Island on the Dinner Cruise

  • What you get on this amazing dinner cruise? A sightseeing yacht cruise (Fri. – Sat. is 3-hours, Sun. – Thurs. is 2.5-hours), a 4-course seated dinner, coffee and tea, live entertainment and dancing, scenic San Francisco Bay views, and available for purchase are soft drinks, wine, beer and cocktails from the full-service bar. Truly a magical evening out for any occasion along the scenic Bay as you watch the sun set, the stars come out, and the city lights of San Francisco glistening next to the water edge, all while enjoying an amazing 4-course dinner and dancing to live entertainment.

Our Appetizers were South American Scallop Ceviche with Fried Plantain Chips

2nd Course: Fontina, Leek & Carrot Tartlet with Champagne Shallot Vinaigrette

Disa ordered the Roasted Chipotle and Garlic Marinated Bone In Pork Chop

I ordered the Salmon Moqueca with Peppers, Red Coral Rice, & Black Beans

For desert, we had these super cute and delectable Blueberry Pies!

Marvelous views of the Golden Gate Bridge and a passing Sailboat out in the Bay

Another gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset in the Bay

That concludes our overview of amazing adventures in The Taking of San Francisco with Disa & Lauren. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading and seeing some of our journey as much as we enjoyed being there. Stay tuned for more pictures and new videos as we continue to share our experiences throughout Reserve123′s social media networks. You’re going to love seeing even more of our trip photos and the video magic we captured on each tour!

Are you ready to plan your own adventures to the City by the Bay? We want to earn your business with the best customer service around. Book your tour tickets online and save or call us toll free for assistance with reservations at 800-410-8233 or at our local phone number which is 678-320-2200. Did you know that Reserve123 also offers a San Francisco Hotel Directory, Rental Car Services, and even Airline Tickets? Leave everything to your travel friends at Reserve123.com and we guarantee that just as Tony Bennett so smoothly serenaded, you’ll leave your heart in San Francisco. ;)

San Diego Summer Sightseeing Excursions

Monday, July 18th, 2011

BookingBuddy

With the approach of the highly-anticipated San Diego Comic Con 2011 only days away, fans have no doubt already designed their perfect SDCC panel schedules of science-fiction & celebrity bliss, which the powers that be allow us but once a year. Whether you’ve got a coveted ticket to the most popular comic convention in the world or prefer to avoid the crowds out on a city excursion or a boat cruise in the azure bay, be sure to make time this summer to enjoy the splendors of this charming city. Here are a few ideas for fun things to do and sightseeing tours.

Fold up your map, put away the guidebook, and discover the San Diego most visitors never see. Zip all over town in a GoCar for a GPS-guided adventure! As you drive, it tells you where to turn and what you’re passing, and it waits patiently if you want to stop. As soon as you turn your GoCar back on, the tour picks up where you left off. That’s the best thing about it – you’re on your own schedule, not a tour bus operator’s. Experience the coolest sightseeing in San Diego!

Salty bay breezes, sparkling waves, and stunning views make San Diego ideal for cruising. Enjoy gracious hospitality aboard our San Diego Dinner Dance Cruise as you take in views of the Coronado Bridge, Cabrillo National Monument, and California sea lions. Your evening includes welcome champagne, 3-courses pre fixe, 2 entree dinner, salad, & dessert. After dinner, dance the night away or stroll the spacious decks to watch San Diego light up along with the stars.

Explore even more of the magnificent Pacific Ocean at La Jolla – and there’s no better way than in a kayak! On our La Jolla Sea Cave Kayak Tour from San Diego you will discover southern California’s surf culture, observe abundant wildlife, and view a variety of unique marine environments. This 2-hour guided kayak tour will take you to the gorgeous La Jolla Sea Caves and through the fascinating marine paradise of the La Jolla Ecological Reserve. Best of all, no experience is necessary!

One of our most popular excursions is of course cruising to lovely Catalina Island. Little over an hour’s drive northbound of San Diego is Dana Point, your departure port towards the Island of Romance. Our convenient Catalina Ferry – Dana Point to Avalon – Roundtrip provides fast, comfortable ferry service between Catalina Island and Dana Point on the Southern California coast. Be sure to reserve your seats a minimum of 4 days in advance – dates sell out quickly.

San Diego is very close to the exotic enchantment of Mexico, but driving your own vehicle is not advised, and most U.S. rental cars are not permitted to cross the border. Our day trips from San Diego make everything easy. Take a fantastic day trip to Rosarito Beach Mexico from San Diego to enjoy the scenic Baja Gold Coast. This tour even includes free hotel pick-up and drop-off from listed hotels. Enjoy shopping in Rosarito, tanning, sightseeing, delicious Mexican food, and much more.

One of the most beautiful metropolitan cities in the world, San Diego is absolutely full of fun things to see and do! Book your reservations online at San Diego Tours and save, or call us toll free at 800-303-7197 for reservations, group tours, and private charters. To San Diego City… And Beyond!!

Visit Small Town Whittier on Your Next Alaskan Getaway

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Now that the winter season is passing us by, it is the perfect time to start planning your next vacation.  In fact, now that the weather has gotten a little warmer, Alaska is a great place to scope out.  If you are going in that direction sometime between May and September, Whittier is just the place.

This small town, with a population just under 200, has a lot to offer to visitors, with its breathtaking scenery easily topping the list.  It is also conveniently located near Fairbanks, Anchorage, Denali, Seward, and Talkeetna so should you decide to venture out to a larger city, you don’t have far to go.

On your trip to Whittier, a ride on the cruise ship Emerald Sea is a must.  During your voyage, you will see the incredible glaciers around Prince William Sound while riding in the comfort of a Coast Guard-certified boat with indoor heating, a full bar, and a number of outer viewing decks to get the best possible view of the glaciers.

The wide array of wildlife you will see during the ride will amaze you, as you will likely pass by porpoises, sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, and various whale species.  In addition to those you will see in the water, you may be able to spot some Bald Eagles, Cormorants, Common Mures, and other types of birds nesting, fanning their wings out, or diving for food.

For those who are looking to dine on their cruise, there is an all-you-can-eat option with a tremendous buffet of salmon and prime rib.  When you have finished your dinner, belly up to the dessert bar for some cake, brownies, and Jell-O.

To get the best out of your Alaskan vacation, don’t forget to consider a side trip to Whittier.  It just may help make this your best vacation yet!  For more on this fabulous cruise, visit www.whittiertours.com.

Swim with the Sea Lions in Honolulu

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Evergreen: Fly Non-Stop To 10 West Coast Cities
So you’ve heard about swimming with the dolphins, but have you ever thought about taking a swim with the sea lions? If this sounds like an activity you might enjoy, sign up for the Sea Lion Discovery Swim at Sea Life Park, located near Honolulu, Hawaii.  Offered with or without transportation from your hotel, this is a once in a lifetime chance to get up close and personal with these friendly little critters.  After a brief orientation given by one of the trainers, you will hop in the water and become part of the action.  Watch the sea lions as they swim underwater and give them a little rub; they will surely return the affection.  They may even give you a show as they jump over hurdles and mimic their guests.

Visitors aged eight and above can enjoy this rare opportunity to get a peek at these friendly animals, and everyone will be thoroughly entertained during the special interactions with the sea lions.  These swims are very interactive, and you will learn a lot about how sea lions communicate, both by seeing it and through the informative commentary of the trainers.

Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit, a towel, and a smile on the day of your park visit.  Safety vests areprovided at the time of the swim.  For more information on this activity and many more, visit www.honolulutours.net.

 

See the Tallest Living Things on the Planet, Plus More!

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

John Muir Woods has been called the best tree-lovers monument that exists.  President Teddy Roosevelt named this old-growth redwood forest America’s 10th National Monument.  It actually just celebrated its centennial anniversary.  The area is a wonderful place to visit as it so astoundingly beautiful.

If you are looking for a complete tour of the area, try out the Alcatraz Tour with Muir Woods & Sausalito.  This is offered by Muir Woods Tours and gives you a comprehensive look at the area.  For your convenience, the tour bus picks up its passengers at select area hotels making this tour extremely convenient for you and your guests. 

The visit to Muir Woods is absolutely wonderful.  The forest is full of giant redwoods, the tallest measuring at 258 feet.  Because these trees are so giant- they are the tallest of all living things-you could park a car under one of these massive trees!  Further north, these redwoods grow even taller; one is 74 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.  They generally live between 600 and 800 years so don’t worry, they will be there for a very, very long time.

Following your journey through the vast forest, the tour will head over to Sausalito.  This charming waterfront community with a Mediterranean flair is often compared to the French Riviera.  While you visit the area, you can walk along the water and listen to the wave’s crash in, watch the sea lions play, explore the open air market, or take a break and enjoy a snack at one of the local eateries.  It is a beautiful location to you will make a point to visit again.

Lastly, you will arrive at Alcatraz Island to tour the world renowned prison.  Walk through the cell blocks where some of the most notorious felons were retained like Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.  Your tour is extremely informative as every person receives an audio headset with stories from former guards and inmates.  While you are there, you can hike along the Agave Trail or head on up to the Cell House where several exhibits are on display for your viewing.

If you are looking to experience some of the greatest parts of not only this area, but of the country, then check out these exciting activities.  Reserve these and other fun vacation attractions through Muir Woods Tours today at www.muirwoodstours.com.


Close
Connect with us on social media!
Follow for real-time travel updates.

Twitter

Facebook

Google+