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Tag Archives: San Francisco
Now that I’ve caught you up with my most recent travels, I can start planning for future ones!
Today’s place of interest: VEGAS!
When my mom moved to San Francisco last year, I took it upon myself to declare an end-of-the-school-year tradition with my boyfriend: a trip to California.
This passed weekend Derek and I were sitting on the beach draped in sweaters and towels (it was windy) and talking about the upcoming trip when it dawned on us: Vegas is a nine-hour drive away from SF. Better yet, it’s an hour and a half flight away. And then I remembered seeing 100$ plane tickets from Fort Lauderdale to Vegas about three months prior, and then Derek told me that you can find hotels there on the strip for less than a 100$ a night, and then he went on to tell me that his uncle can get free show tickets …
WE’RE GOING TO VEGAS! (well, hopefully)
So, I began to do some snooping around the web.
I started out where everyone looking for traveling deals should: Groupon.
I found a deal for a hotel on The Strip, a room for two at the Riviera Hotel And Casino for 17$ a night. Let me repeat that: 17$ a night. Now that is unreal. Of course, it’s not the Bellagio, but for someone who’s on a very tight budget, that’s a heck of steal. More money to be spent on gambling, eating, drinking, watching shows (what else do you do in Vegas again?)
Of course, I wouldn’t just hit the “Buy” button without looking up some reviews. If there’s anyone I fully trust in this world … it’s the creators of Yelp.
According to Yelp’s reviews, the Riviera Hotel is rated at about 2.5 stars. Skimming the complaints about broken toilets, slow service, no towel replacements and the angry “I will never stay in this hell hole ever again!” I couldn’t help but think to myself “Well, what did you expect from a 17$ a night hotel?”
Then again, others dub it 4 to 5 stars and say the loved it. I’m sure they prefer heavier pockets over cleaner sheets.
So far the flights I have found range from 190$ to 250$ one-way from Florida to Vegas. I experiment with various airports: Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and on various days of the week (I think Tuesdays are best). But, don’t give up. Whenever you find a lower price, keep looking — there’s always hidden deals out there. Spirit airlines, although it’s reputation isn’t the highest, is known for having the cheapest flights. But watch out for their extra fees.
I’ll update this in the next couple weeks … let’s see if I can make this real-life Hangover-trip happen.
Although most of the trip was simply based on one question:
Where should we eat?
We did stray from our hungered thoughts long enough to hit most of the highlighted tourist spots in the city. On day one, we took the BART into the city and went straight to China Town. Five sweatered-up girls walked aimlessly down Market Street, when the nicest thing happened. A bus driver gave us a free ride that lasted about five blocks, then dropped us off with precise directions on how to get to the orange chicken — I mean, Chinatown. (I’m not kidding. Everything was based on food.)
“Go straight up Grant Avenue,” he said.
Straight up was right. After climbing up an impossibly steep hill, or two, we arrived here:
From here, we strolled down to Little Italy, which is actually quite little. We then stumbled upon (which is why I love being in a city so much) the steps leading up to Coit Tower. Unfortunately for us, Coit Tower was closed for renovations so we weren’t able to catch the 360-view of the city and bay from its top. Nevertheless, it was good enough for a #selfie.
This brings us to day two: an amazing (as usual) lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf and a sweet hello to the Bay.
From there, we checked into our hotel, Parc 55 Wyndham, where we’d crash after our night out with no time constraints or the risk of sleeping on a bench in the Golden Gate Park holding us back. (details of this night are reserved for a future post).
After that, we hopped on a trolley, but not before a homeless man schemed me into giving him a dollar. (He told me he would give me back four quarters if I gave him $1 … then he gave me back one quarter and walked away. I wouldn’t mind, you know, helping him out. But then he proceeded to do the same thing to the next ten families in the trolley line in front of me. Hustling at its finest.)
This trolley took us from Union Square all the way down to the Marina district, a few miles away from our hotel. It was OK though, because that’s where we stumbled upon …
On day 3, we went to Napa. Like celebrities, we each held a vineyard pass around our necks (courtesy of my sweet mother who, after a few too many tastings, bought herself a membership to Sterling Vineyards). We spun our glasses, tasted the wine, drank more wine and paired it with cheese. Keeping up with the high Napa Valley celeb status, we tasted the wine that was to be served at the Oscars that very night. Yeah – we fancy.
Day 4: The day I lost my rain coat. I don’t want to talk about it. It now belongs to the obscure “lost and found,” where all good things are lost but never found, when left behind on the train. It’s probably a dark, wet, dungeon-like place, wherever it may be.
So I had to use my scarf as a rain jacket when we made it to the Golden Gate bridge, who still looked painfully beautiful and postcard-like underneath the stupid rain.
… which brings us to day 5, when we ditched the land for ocean. We took a ferry over to Alcatraz and took a guided tour through the jail itself. I felt somewhat at place behind the cold, yet welcoming stone cells. Ha, kidding. It was a great historical tour – a quite interactive one at that. I can’t imagine how insanely creepy the night tour must be … but it’s definitely on my bucket list. I recommend the day tour for all, and the night one for the brave and horror-movie-obsessed, like me.
Thankfully they let us off the rock, despite more than a couple red flags coming up on our background checks (kidding, again), and we set off to Sausalito, a peaceful island across the bay lined with shops, small restaurants and houses with beautiful views.
Oh day 6, how I wish you never came. Our last day to enjoy California came way too soon. On this day we ditched the bay for the open ocean – the Pacific. We drove south on the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Cruz, a perfect California beach town, where we all found our own Barbie dream houses while simultaneously finding our dream surfer boyfriends. One day, I will own a house with that view.
P.S. I’m a local.
What do all vacations have in common? They’re never long enough.
The days end too soon, and a week is far too short. Regardless, my four friends and I managed to eat our way through the city. I’m dividing these posts into categories: welcome to the food edition.
Hunan Home’s Restaurant in Chinatown
Gelato in Little Italy
Crab cake sandwich at Pier 39: Pier Market Seafood Restaurant and Market
Wine tasting in Napa Valley at Sterling Vineyard. That’s a meal, right?
Thai food in the Haight
And of course, amazing Brazilian food in Santa Cruz