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The Travel Map - June 2008

Fishermans Wharf

June 29th 2008 23:37
Fishermans Wharf is one of the most popular tourist spots in San Francisco. The historic waterfront is the home to many seafood restaurants and tourist shops, and offers some of the best views of the bay and Golden Gate Bridge. It is also the spot to pick up a boat tour around the bay or out to the famous Alcatraz.

I enjoyed the atmosphere at the wharf. It was a bright and sunny day, and there were street entertainers were out in force.

There was even a homeless guy with a sense of humor standing with a begging bowl in one hand, and a sign in the other sign that read ‘Why lie? It’s for drugs?’


Most of the action happens at Pier 39, which is home to 110 shops, 12 restaurants, the Aquarium on the Bay, and the Turbo Ride. It is also where you pick up a boat tour around the bay, or to Alcatraz. The best part of Pier 39 though is the sea lions that come in and bask in the sun at the end of the pier.

Sea lions at fishermans wharf San Francisco
Sea lions at Pier 39


If you are a chocoholic, head down to Ghirardelli Square at the western end of Fishermans Wharf. Up until the 1960s, this used to be home to the Ghirardelli chocolate factory. The factory is no longer there but The Ghirardelli chocolate shop remains. You can tour the old chocolate manufactory or just indulge in one of their famous hot fudge sundaes, and get yourself a box of delicious chocolate to take away with you.


Some feel that Fishermans Wharf is a tourist trap, and a rip off. I would say there are better places in San Francisco to eat delicious seafood, which are not as expensive and possibly better quality than the restaurants at Fishermans Wharf.

However, there is a buzzy atmosphere with great street entertainment, and it is almost worth the trip to see the sea lions basking in the sun. My advice would be it is definitely worth a look but keep your money in your pocket there are much better places in San Francisco to eat and shop.
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North Michigan Ave - Chicago

June 25th 2008 00:33
Chicago is referred to as the windy city and it became obvious why as soon as I stepped out of the airport and into the wind that seemed to whistle around head bringing tears to my eyes. Still, it is a fantastic city and well worth a visit.
After checking into our hotel, we decided to visit the John Hancock Building in the heart of the tourist district to get an overview of the city from the observation floor. However, our taxi driver told us instead of paying to go up to the observatory deck, go to the Signature Bar on the 94th floor, and have a drink the view is just as good. The cost of a drink is about the same price as admission to the observation deck but you do get a drink as well. On one side you get a great view of the city, on the other you can see the beachfront along Lake Michigan.

View from John Hancock centre
View from John Hancock building


If you want to say you have visited the world’s second tallest building (tallest up until 2004) you can try the Sears Tower. The Sears tower is expensive and the queues are long, and I do not think the view is as good. The Sears tower is located in Chicago’s financial district - 233 South Wacker Drive. The John Hancock building is located in the heart of the tourist district – 875 North Michigan Avenue.

After visiting the John Hancock building take a stroll along the rest of Michigan Ave, referred to as the ‘Magnificent Mile’ you can spend a whole day just checking out the amazing architecture. Some of the best sights include the the Wrigley Building, Old Water Tower, and Pumping station. There are also great restaurants cafes and entertainment on the street or streets nearby.

Old water tower
Old Water tower


This street is also a shopper’s paradise starting at the corner of Michigan and Chicago Ave walk toward Adams St. You can spend a whole day shopping or browsing without getting bored. Check out the eight storey-shopping complex - Water Tower Place with over 100 stores and eateries.

Chicago is also known for its own unique style pizza that is definitely worth trying. True Chicago pizza is deep-dish style with a buttery crust, a lot of cheese and chunky tomato sauce. Many pizza restaurants serve this style of pizza. If this sounds too much for you though, there are plenty of places that offer the standard thin crust variety.

Chicago is a beautiful city full of interesting architecture whether you are viewing it from the John Hancock building or at street level. Visit during the summer months June – August otherwise it can be very cold and windy. The summer months can be hot (up to 32 degrees) but pack a couple of warm things to put on. I was there in August and we had a couple of days of cold winds.
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Going shopping in Mexico

June 18th 2008 23:30
No trip to San Diego would be complete without a day trip across the border to Tijuana Mexico. Thousands of people make the trip everyday to shop for cigars, leather goods, or drugs on Revolution Ave (Avenida Revolucion).

It is very easy, all you need to do is hop on the blue line trolley bus from San Diego and an hour later, you are standing on the border between the two countries. Then cross highway using the overpass, walk through the turnstiles and follow the walkway viagra generique. You will get to another set of turnstiles where you can go straight ahead to get a taxi, or turn right to walk to Revolution Avenue. You can also get a bus across the border. Nobody checks your travel documents when you travel in this direction, but they will on your way back through to the US.

Beware though, if you do go shopping on Revolution Ave you will be constantly harassed by persistent shopkeepers. Some people are not bothered by it, but if you do not like it, there are some fantastic restaurants and bars where you can hide out. Alternatively, you could head away from the main streets to Calle Segunda. Here you will find an arts and crafts market and a quieter place to shop than the main streets. The prices are better too!
My friend and I decided we were going to brave Avenida Revolucion (after we had drunk a few margaritas!). I am not sure why I was shocked by the sleaziness of it but I was. There were photographers with donkeys (some painted like zebras) ready to take your picture. The shopkeepers would not leave us alone and, as I was travelling with my female friend, we had all sorts of indecent proposals, and a few marriage proposals too!

I was also shocked by how many pharmacies there were ready to sell you anything without a prescription from antibiotics, to human growth hormones. If you are planning to buy anything, be sure that it is legal in the US if you are planning to cross back over the border. US security is likely to check your bags.

We visited several jewellery shops and I managed to bargain a shopkeeper down from $US35 to $US20 on a bracelet and ring, that I have only worn once (the day I bought it) and threw it away because it was junk.

A couple of warnings if you know what you want to buy check out the US price first sometimes it costs more in Tijuana. In addition, you should always bargain they expect it and factor it into the price. If you do not like bargaining then visit one of the fixed price department stores

Revolution Ave

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For nearly 100 years, The Gas Lamp District in San Diego was one of the seediest areas in the city, full of brothels and pornographic picture theatres. Then in 1982 the area was redeveloped, all the beautiful Victorian architecture was lovingly restored to make it one of the most vibrant areas in the city today.

The area is now home to many sidewalk cafes, restaurants, bars and jazz clubs, making it one of the most happening nightspots in San Diego


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One of the best San Diego Zoo

June 13th 2008 06:19
San Diego Zoo is known as the best zoo in the US, possibly one of the best in the world. With one of largest selection of animals on display, it is one of the best I have ever visited.

The zoo began with a roar (literally) in 1916, when a number of animals were brought to Balbao Park San Diego to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal. Local physician Harry Wedgeforth was driving through the park when he heard a roaring lion and thought that it would be great if San Diego had its own zoo. From there the zoo grew into an excellent research facility and home for endangered animals. The zoo tries to create a home that is as close as possible to the animal’s natural habitat


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Red Rock Country - Sedona

June 11th 2008 01:29
For those of you who love breathtaking scenery Sedona, Arizona in the USA, will have you mesmerised. Just two-hour’s drive North of Phoenix Sedona is often referred to as ‘Red Rock Country’ due to the spectacular red-rock monoliths that surround the town. Every year many tourists come here to experience the amazingly beautiful red landscape.
As we drove through the main street of Sedona, my first impression is that the buildings reminded me of the scenery in an old Western movie. Indeed Sedona has been the backdrop to many movies and TV commercials.
We did a one and a half hour jeep ride, around and up some of the rocks, which is a fantastic way to see some of this amazing scenery up close


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The Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA has been described as the eighth wonder of the world and it is not hard to see why. At one mile deep, 18 miles across, and 277miles, long it is an awe-inspiring sight.

We arrived there late in the afternoon just in time to see the magnificent fiery sky as the sunset over the canyon. We were there in February, which is the off-season and can be very cold but we did get accommodation in Grand Canyon Village. If you are planning to visit May – November accommodation can be booked up well in advance (up to a year a have been told), and if you are planning to drive to the canyon you need to be there are there by 8am in the summer months otherwise it is very difficult to get parking


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As well as being the gambling capital of the world, Las Vegas is also the wedding capital of the world with more than 120, 000 people getting married there every year. So when my brother in law told us he and his fiancé were going to Las Vegas to get married, we jumped at the chance to go along for the ride!

He had a traditional (if you can call it that) Elvis Presley wedding but it is not the only sort of wedding available; you can have any theme you want. I have heard Star Trek weddings are very popular too. For those in a hurry or on a tight budget, there is always the drive through option


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The Strip - Las Vegas

June 2nd 2008 07:17
It was dusk when we flew into Las Vegas but already the neon lights from the casino lit up the sky as our plane came into land. We hopped into a cab to our hotel, it was dark by this time and I sat in the back of the cab staring open mouthed at the neon lights that lit up the casinos along “The Strip” (Las Vegas’ main drag). It is no wonder astronauts can see The Strip from space.
Obviously, the main activity in Vegas is gambling and people were gambling big money at the gaming tables; I stuck mainly to the slots so I could just put in 5c at the time. My one time at the Blackjack table was a bit of a disaster anyway because I could not keep my mouth shut. Instead of tapping the table for ‘yes’ and waving my hand for ‘no’, I kept saying ‘yes’, ‘no’ much to everyone else’s annoyance. (I can’t play poker either)
Once you have had enough of gambling or you have lost all your money, take a stroll through the other casinos. A number of the casinos are connected, either by tunnel underground or by walkways over the road. This was great for us it meant we did not have to go out in the stifling August heat too often. We started at Paris as it connected to Ballys Casino where we were staying. As we walked through the tunnel from Ballys to Paris the decor suddenly changed to give us a feeling of walking through the cobbled streets in France


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