I couldn’t help but have the Portlandia theme song repeating over and over in my head as we cruised into the ultra cool city of Portland, Oregon.
As we made our way from Portland airport, our super friendly Uber driver enthusiastically told us that Alberta Arts District was an awesome neighbourhood, and lucky, because that would be our home for the next four days. He gave us advice as to what to check out and after dropping our bags off at our AirBnB we went out to explore the neighbourhood.
After a long drive from Big Sur, our next stop on our 2015 US holiday was vibrant San Francisco.
Arriving at our AirBnB late on a busy Friday afternoon, The Castro District was buzzing. Commonly known as The Castro, it’s one of the first gay neighbourhoods in the United States and full of personality, great food and a welcoming neighbourhood. It’s also really well positioned for exploring, with the Mission District walking distance away and a main tramline ready to take you directly into the CBD in about 15 minutes.
After our last city jaunt in LA, San Francisco was a welcome change in pace and size. As long as you don’t mind the odd gravity defying hill, San Fransisco is a very walkable city. Its neatly packed streets are filled with colourful homes to uncover, each with their own personality. We quickly felt at home in San Francisco.
I hope you’ve all had an amazing break over the holidays and had a chance to relax, contemplate and hit the snooze button at least a few dozen times.
Keeping with tradition we spent our break soaking up as much sun as possible in our home state of Western Australia, dividing our time between family in Perth and Denmark (a small town about 5 hours south of Perth).
There was plenty to see in Perth, with new arrivals from friends and family to welcome, and this year we had the chance to share my home state with one of our closest friends, Aoife, whom was happy to indulge us with a personalised tour of some of our old haunts.
My parents are finally back in Perth, retired and looking relaxed, and as their house is just a few minutes from the stunning City Beach, that seemed an obvious first stop.
Having left Hearst Castle in the rear mirror and now well and truly on the road, our next stop was stunning Big Sur where we’d stay for the next three days. For this post, I’ve handed the writing reins over to my hubby Mark. Enjoy this amazing extensive review!
What people commonly refer to as Big Sur is a strip of coast that stretches from San Simeon in the south to Carmel in the north. The ‘park’ offers plenty to see within its bounds – state parks, rugged coastline, majestic redwoods, fine restaurants and the odd beach or two to soak your feet at – but the highlight is the voyage through itself, with each minor stop contributing to your ‘Big Sur’ experience.
Next stop on our US holiday was Hearst Castle, in San Simeon. We arrived for the last tour of the day, catching the late California sunshine on this immense 1950’s creation. The castle certainly impresses, with its expansive 165 rooms, two olympic sized swimming pools and 127 acres of gardens with breathtaking views of the Californian coast.
The regulation ‘walk-in-a-neat-line’ interiors tour is mandatory, but most people just go to stroll the exterior grounds afterwards (which is really the best part).
A really great end to our first day on the road to Big Sur.
Photography by Monique and Mark Welker