San Francisco, Death Valley & Valley of Fire

San Francisco

8th – 12th of January 2014

This was my second time in San Francisco, and I simply love this city. The rolling hills, the beautiful bay area with the Golden Gate Bridge, the stunning scenery and the friendly and open minded people are responsible for the fact that it is easily in my top three favorite cities.

I was lucky enough to be able to crash at a friend’s place located in the Marina District while I was in SF – the perfect location to explore the city.

On my first day I went to visit Alcatraz (US$ 30 / 22,22€; book ahead in high season!). I had already done so in 2010, but when coming to SF, visiting this place is a must. The Rock isn’t just one of the typical sights of the city, with a lot of history behind it, but it also has one of the best views of the city. I could rave forever about how iconic and special this place is (because it is). If you have the chance to go, make sure you don’t only do the audio tour, but also one of the tours offered by the park rangers. They really manage to paint the picture about what life was like while the prison was still operational. Just talking about it makes me want to go again now. 🙂

Another absolute must when in SF is renting a bike for the day (US$ 25-30 / 18,52-22,22 €) and riding it through Crissy Field, over the Golden Gate Bridge and up to the Viewpoint on Hawk Hill. Once there you will have the best view over the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and of course the Golden Gate Bridge itself with SF in the background. I could have sat there for hours just enjoying it.

If you haven’t had enough cycling already – the climb up to the viewpoint can be a bit of a challenge, especially in warm weather – you could then ride to the top of Twin Peaks, another viewpoint with a fantastic panorama from the south of the city.

Of course there is a lot more to explore and do in SF, but if you’re only in the city for a short amount of time, don’t miss out on these awesome activities. As you can probably tell, I absolutely love San Francisco, and I don’t think there are a lot of people in the world who wouldn’t.

Death Valley National Park

13th of February 2014

On my way from South America to South-East Asia I had a two day stopover in Los Angeles. Since I am not a very big fan of the city I decided to rent a car and drive to Las Vegas via Death Valley.

Although I had been to Vegas before, I failed to visit Death Valley at the time – oh priorities. 🙂 The entire area is one of the most inhospitable places I have ever seen, reaching temperatures as high as 57°C in July. Even though I went there in winter time, when temperatures only reach a maximum of 32°C, I was rather happy that I had a rental car with air conditioning.

While driving through Death Valley, you’ll pass sites such as Badwater Basin and The Devil’s Golf Course among others. Make sure you stop, because they are all worth visiting and it will give you some extra time to appreciate the surreal scenery.

The Death Valley is a fantastic road trip on your way from LA to Vegas or vice versa. Or if you can pull yourself away from those Crabs, Blackjack or Roulette tables it might even make a great daytrip.

Valley of Fire State Park

14th of February 2014

Another stunning park just outside of Vegas (45 minute drive) is the Valley of Fire State Park (admission US$10 / 7,41€ per car). I had never even heard of this park until the night before I went, when a friend recommended it to me.

Although the Valley of Fire is nowhere near as big as other parks in the area (eg Death Valley), it is best explored by car – or preferably motorbike if possible – since you can drive up to every site and temperatures can be blistering hot, especially during summertime.

The roads winding through the fiery red rock formations as well as the multi colored sandstone rocks make for a fantastic drive that will render you speechless.

Every now and then you will have the opportunity to visit various sites that can be reached by a short walk; most of them are well worth the effort. If you have enough time as well as equipment, you could also stay a night or two on the Atlatl Rock Campground. I unfortunately didn’t have the chance, but upon having seen it, wish that I did.

If you are staying in Vegas for a couple of days, make sure you don’t miss out on Death Valley or the Valley of Fire State Park. If you start early enough you might even be able to do both things in one day.

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1 Comment

  1. Ama-a-a-a-zing photos!!!


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