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Entries about tlwforgiven

The most beautiful city in the United States

Many cities will claim the title, but only one can be truly named the most beautiful city in the U.S.

What is the most beautiful city in the United States? Some would argue New York City, while others would choose Miami, and some perhaps will argue that Denver, Colorado takes the prize. However in all my travels throughout the 50 states, one city certainly claims the title for me. San Francisco, the “City by the bay,” has it all. Stunning water views, iconic towering landmarks, hills, a great Warf, and the list can go on and on.

Coming across the Oakland Bay Bridge at night is enough to excite even a librarian. The lights may be bright on Broadway; however San Francisco has its own Broadway. Murals adorning the buildings of the Height Ashbury district tell the stories of those looking for free love and an escape form the issues facing modern America in the 1960’s. A prison on a rock is filled with history and legend. The painted ladies that overlook a park with children playing are the houses that American film and television have made famous worldwide. And who can ignore the curves of Lombard Street, where flowers adorn the median and tourists flock to capture the curviest street in the United States.

All of these and more led us to choose this location to visit on our next edition of wanderlust. We’ve decided to road trip it from San Diego on up the coast and enjoy some of the great items our home state has to offer.

Starting in San Diego we will head up to Camarillo, spending the night there to get the journey going. From there, we can choose to head up to the hills of Ojai, or to the beaches of Ventura and Santa Barbara. Having lived in Oxnard, the area does have some hidden gems including the Channel Islands and fresh farm stands that provide fresh goods along Pleasant Valley Road.

After a day there, we will end up in Solvang. Spending a whole day and two nights there should provide enough time to fill up on food and Danish fun. A trip to Hearst Castle San Simeon is a must on the itinerary and has been included. Designed by architect Julia Morgan between 1919 and 1947 for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951, the castle is now maintained by the California State Parks commission and provides insight into the man and his life.

Leaving San Simeon, we will be traveling up CA-1 along the coast and ending the day in Santa Cruz. Staying on the boardwalk that inspired scenes from the movie, “The Lost Boys,” this stop provides a good break before heading into the bustling city of San Francisco.

After that we will have 5 days in San Francisco, with one day in the Napa Valley where I spent my college years. Based out of the Union Square district of San Francisco, we will be walking and taking public transportation to get the most out of this unique city.

We’ll be sharing photos and the story of our trip here. Several great restaurants and activities have been lined-up, but we also have plenty of time to just get lost in the City. If you have any special spots that you think we should include on the itinerary, let us know in the comments. Share your experiences from the City or any of the places listed on the itinerary with us in the comments below as well.

Posted by darrenesl 15:36 Archived in USA Tagged bridges buildings cities coast shopping city san francisco fun santa castle cruz central solvang hearst darrenesl tljohnson tlwforgiven darren_johnson terri_johnson 2015 ca-1 Comments (0)

Vienna, Gateway to Eastern Europe

Arrival leaves us full of expectations.


View Eastern Europe on darrenesl's travel map.

Vienna, the city that for years has been known as the gateway to Eastern Europe, has also been a tourist destination for those travelling the Bavaria route through Europe and also as the Western most stop for those travelling through the East. It was on the itenerary as part of our journey, as a place I had been before, and also a place that many people had shared with Terri, and she wanted to see.
 
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Our trip from Zagreb to Vienna provided us with beautiful scenery through Slovenia and over the mountains before entering the flatlands of Wein. It was the 4th of July when we arrived and there were no fireworks, no bar-b-ques but plenty of hot dogs were available, or perhaps we should say wursts were available.

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After a quick check-in at our hotel, we were off to take a tour to get our bearings. We chose the Red City Bus based on our guidebook by Rick Steves. It is no wonder he can travel as much as he does seeing all the people with his book, app, etc. In their hands while we were in Vienna. The tour took us around the Ringstrasse showing us all the major sights that we would want to visit later, while also taking us outside of the center to show us the large park, the Danube, and international center.

After the tour we walked more of the city center and proceeded to look for a traditional Viennese dinner. We found a place off the beaten path that provided us with that. After starting with appetizers, Terri had the traditional Weiner Schnitzel of Veal while I chose the Ox Cheek dish. Both of us were filled beyond belief.

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Deciding we needed to walk off some calories, we decided to walk the Ringstrasse at night in order to see the buildings all lit up in their glory. With cameras at the ready we began our walk. We passed the University, Parliment, the Hofburg Palace, and several other gorgeous sights. We stumbled upon an outdoor film festival and several World Cup parties. The streets were filled with cafes and bars where fans were cheering on their favorite country.

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As midnight approached, we came upon a fountain that provided our 4th of July fireworks. The colors turned all the shades of a rainbow. We couldn't help but making our way to the fountain and enjoying the mist while taking in the vibrance of the scene.

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As we finished our night walk of the Ringstrasse, we eagerly awaited what Vienna would have to offer next.

Posted by darrenesl 10:36 Archived in Austria Tagged vienna austria wein darrenesl tlwforgiven Comments (0)

Flying the Friendly Skies

Airlines - The Dilemma of Who to Fly With

Earlier in this blog we talked about where we are going on our summer vacation, Washington D.C. and New York City. Living in San Diego, California provides a variety of options for flying to the East Coast. The number of airlines offering fares is limitless and the possibility of traveling from San Diego, Ontario, Orange County, or even Los Angeles keeps the rates fairly competitive. With all the options to choose from, a traveler needs to decide who they want to make the trip with and what flight is best for them to maximize their time.

Back in the 80's and 90's, the "Red Eye" was a popular choice enabling the traveler to sleep as they traveled across country to their destination. This flight options has become less frequent an option for domestic flights and is now usually reserved for the international flights exclusively. I am fine without the "Red Eye" as I never can fall asleep while traveling, I think this comes from my time abroad and needing to stay awake to keep an eye on my possessions.

Unfortunately going West to East results in that three hour loss and makes it a complete day of travel to get to your destination. Having lived in D.C. and traveled their often on business, I usually have two favorites to fly into for price and convenience. Two of the three main airports are outside of town, while the third is right in D.C. but a little limited. If you want a good deal and don't mind a 40 minute drive I highly suggest BWI (Thurgood Marshall Baltimore/Washington International Airport). The airport is much smaller than IAD (Washington Dulles), making security and check-in easier and rental car rates more affordable.

Due to the above facts and the fact that the airline we chose doesn't fly into or out of DCA (Regan National), we went with BWI. Another factor in the decision it that we will be heading north upon arrival towards New York City. The Interstate 95 close location of BWI allows for easy acces both north and south.

As for the airline, American, Delta, and United are the cheapest for the flight, but cheap isn't always the cheapest. When just making an overnight trip these are good choices, but for a family trip or if their will be any length of stay, I have become a fan of Southwest Airlines. I used to hate them, but with the ability to change flights even for a better rate and no bag fees it is definitely cheaper for three people to fly on Southwest than one of the other airlines who will charge at minimum $25.00 per bag. So Southwest was the chosen carrier with one-stop going and non-stop coming home.

The above factors are what led us to make the choices we did for where and who to fly with. In our next post we will share our itinerary a bit more and what we doing for accommodations. We look forward to your comments, suggestions, and anything else you wish to share with us.

Posted by darrenesl 11:24 Archived in USA Tagged planes vacation san new_york_city washington_dc tsa escondido darrenesl tljohnson tlwforgiven darren_johnson terri_johnson bwi bag_fees dca iad southwest_airlines dhs Comments (0)

A Journy to Utah

Enjoying America's National Treasures ~ The National Parks

Summertime means a time for bbq's, the beach, camping, and of course the good old American vacation. With the economy still in the dumps and many people opting to go with the "Staycation," a term and event that has somehow become the norm in our vocabularies for the past five years, it is important to remember that we have one of the best resources in the world at our doorsteps. So, let's begin to move beyond the staycation, and bring back the vacation, even if it isn't on the grand and lavish scale that Robin Leach used to talk about, rather let's start small, go ahead and take advantage of America's National Parks.

Having been to most of the National Parks throughout the Western United States as a youngster, helped provide me with a practical lesson in the geograpy of our nation. This year we decided to take a mini-simmer vacation and visit Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park in Utah. Being only a eight hour drive from San Diego, it provides the atmosphere of a different state, while affording the luxury of avoiding the cumbersome and inconvenient airport, for a short trip.

Stay tuned and I will try to chronicle the trip here, complete with thoughts, photos and hopefully a recommendation or two.

Posted by darrenesl 00:14 Archived in USA Tagged park canyon vacation ca utah national zion bryce escondido darrenesl tljohnson tlwforgiven darren_johnson terri_johnson Comments (0)

White in the Rockies

A day in Vail and beyond

all seasons in one day 4 °C
View San Diego to Denver, April 2011 on darrenesl's travel map.

As Spring arrives in the Rockies and the temperatures warm up, activity in the mountains starts to wind down and people begin to look at the beginning of a new season. We took this opportunity at the end of ski season to venture up the mountains to Vail.

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Heading up into the mountains just out side of Denver we began to pass the traditional landmarks including Buffalo Bills grave, the herds of American Buffalo, and of course the rotating house made famous in a James Bond movie.

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From there we continued climbing and the mountain rivers and lakes began to appear along the Interstate along with the rugged cliffs and rocks with the ever present falling rock that still needed to be cleaned up. Nearing Loveland Pass, flurries began to swarm around the car and we were welcomed to the mountains with a chilling breeze.

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The pass was closed due to a storm and of course we wanted to go through the Eisenhower Tunnel anyway. Still boasting the title of the longest mountain tunnel in the U.S., Eisenhower also lies along the Continental Divide for the states. Renovated so that taller trucks can now proceed through it, the tunnel still has its traditional appearance that it always has.

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An overnight storm had provided a fresh blanket of powder and as we wound up the mountain side we came upon a rest stop where the building was completely under snow. The fresh powder was just as I remembered as a child – light and dry. Blankets of white covered the land and made for a beautiful site. We took time out to throw a few snowballs and I of course climbed into the snow and sank to my waist. The chilling wind had subsided and it made for pleasant temperatures as we played.
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Finally, we proceeded to Vail where the village as always was inviting and lacking nothing. Between the shops providing everything from trinkets and souvenirs, to fur coats and $350 blue-jeans, restaurants and pubs invited the visitors in as well. Even with the ski season ending on Easter Sunday, plenty of skiers were still enjoying the bountiful white wonder.
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Remembering the Gondola to the top of the mountain, we inquired as to if it was still an option. Yes, it is, for $26 one can ride to the top for a meal or just photo opportunities, however wait until 2 p.m. And there is no charge. We decided to wait and had nice lunch at a nearby park, from there it was back to the shops for more stimulation to the economy.

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At 2 p.m. We boarded the Gondola for a ten minute ride to the top of Vail and what a beautiful site it was. The village below and the valley could be seen for miles. At the top, several excellent photo opportunities were available and the ride back down provided insight from a local ski instructor.
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All-in-all an excellent day topped off with bite to eat at Jose O'Sheas in Lakewood. A restaurant that my family had frequented back in the 80's.

Posted by darrenesl 08:19 Archived in USA Tagged landscapes mountains lakes trees snow skiing colorado shopping denver escondido_seventh_day_adventist april_2011 darrenesl tljohnson tlwforgiven darren_johnson terri_johnson vail Comments (0)

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