A Travellerspoint blog

Yosemite National Park

sunny 17 °C

Today was by far the longest but most awe-inspiring day to date. I travelled to the mighty and majestic Yosemite National Park. Prior to arriving in Yosemite I journeyed through San Joaquin Valley, an area rich in agriculture including fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat and rice. In fact, the state of California is the third largest economy in the world! I soon arrived in Yosemite National Park and went up to Tunnel View, which offered an absolutely stunning vista of El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls and Half-dome. I then descended into the park and got soaked at Bridalveil Falls – I got a bit too close to the falls! I spent a couple of hours hiking through Yosemite – its natural beauty has got to be seen to be believed! While at Yosemite I saw a squirrel (nothing really special anymore because they’re everywhere) and a black bar, which was actually brown! On my way back to San Francisco I stopped at Treasure Island to take a photo of Downtown San Francisco and the Bay Bridge at night – it was idyllic!

Posted by mccardj 15:27 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged yosemite Comments (0)

The golden city – San Francisco!

overcast 16 °C

Today was a jam-packed day of sightseeing in Downtown San Francisco and the surrounding areas. I took a tour around the city, first stop was Lombard Street, famous for being ‘the crookedest’ street in the world – it definitely lived up to its reputation! Next stop was Chinatown where I took a walk down poets’ alley, Grace Cathedral in Nob Hill and the Painted Ladies in Alamo Square, a set of historic multi-coloured Victorian houses. Afterwards was Golden Gate Park. I went up in the observatory to catch a 360 degree panoramic view of San Francisco – beautiful! Soon after I made my way to the Presidio, an extensive public garden which was really beautiful. The government rents out the buildings in the Presidio, for example, George Lucas has a digital centre and there is a Walt Disney Museum within the gardens. The final stop before the iconic Golden Gate Bridge was the Palace of Fine Arts, a colossal Roman influenced structure made for the World Fair – it was absolutely incredible! Next stop was the other reason why I wanted to come to San Francisco – the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d seen it on television, in movies and the newspaper and online, but it was nothing compared to seeing it in person – it was mesmerising! 11 people died building the bridge and its colour is officially known as ‘international orange’ but locally called ‘lead red’.

I travelled across the bridge and into the Mediterranean-styled city of Sausalito. I ate lunch on the waterfront marvelling at the stunning view across the bay of Alcatraz and Downtown San Francisco.

After Sausalito I walked through the tranquil and peaceful Muir Woods, named after the naturalist John Muir, whose environmental campaign helped to establish the American national park system. The woods consist of redwood trees, which require the water from the dense fog surrounding the San Francisco area most times of the year to survive.

I took a short bus to Muir Beach Overlook. I could see the Pacific Ocean, my first ocean all year – it was a glorious view! In the area can be found eucalyptus trees from Australia, which were introduced to soak up water to reduce erosion but have the negative effect of fuelling fire in a bushfire.

Instead of bussing back to San Francisco I caught the ferry. It was a sweet ride back to the mainland just as the sun was setting. For dinner I went to Fisherman’s Wharf and saw the sea lions on display at the waterfront. I packed a lot into my exciting day!

What I like about the city:
• Clean – there were many street cleaners
• Smooth, steep streets – makes the city more fun and easier to explore
• Cable cars – added a historic touch
• Natural beauty – Golden Gate Park, Muir Woods.
• National wonders – Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge
• Friendly people, but many homeless
• Waterfront – I loved the waterfront in San Francisco and Sausalito was gorgeous.

What I didn’t like so much:
• Weather – the weather was the big killer. In the middle of spring, it was only 16C but it felt like 10C with the winds and fog. Apart from that I could LIVE in this city – it was so vibrant, exciting, active and beautiful.

Posted by mccardj 14:53 Archived in US Virgin Islands Comments (0)

The Rock

sunny 16 °C

Today marked the start of my 2 month US adventure! When I arrived I expected to change into my t-shirt, shorts and thongs but it was so cold and very windy, I had to wear my McGill jumper most of the time. After settling in to my hotel, I left for my first huge attraction – Alcatraz. I took a short ferry across the frigid San Francisco bay and ferocious winds, which surprisingly did not make my sick, and landed on Alcatraz Island. Alcatraz was originally constructed to protect California from attack during the Gold Rush in San Francisco and used to house prisoners during the Civil War. In 1934, the island became a federal prison and held notorious criminals such as Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (‘the Birdman’) and George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly. During its operation 36 prisoners were involved in 14 attempted escapes, however, none officially escaped successfully. Alcatraz was much smaller and not as sinister and cruel as I expected. The guards treated the prisoners humanely, they received healthy, good-quality food and there was a garden which both the prisoners and guards’ families tended. I did completely understand that it was impossible to escape, the enormous currents and freezing water in the bay blocked any chance to escape. The city of San Francisco is only about 2 kilometres from the island which frequently taunted the prisoners of freedom during its operation. I wandered ‘The Rock’ for about 2.5 hours and found it really interesting.

Posted by mccardj 13:09 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged alcatraz Comments (0)

The home of the Red Sox

semi-overcast 8 °C

To finish off an incredible weekend, I visited the Mary Baker Eddy Library and Mapparium, a three-storey tall glass globe of stained glass that is viewed from a 9 metre bridge – it was astonishingly beautiful, but unfortunately I couldn’t take photos. Next stop was Fenway Park, the oldest baseball stadium in the United States and the home of the Boston Red Sox. Although it was a relatively small stadium, seating less than forty thousand, its history, charm and uniqueness was second to none. I have never been to a baseball game but it made me want to!

Upon leaving Fenway Park, I ventured to Copley Square, a public square located close to the Charles River Basin. It is home to the Boston Public Library, a stunning library, and Trinity Church, an equally stunning church. The final stop before home was the waterfront along the Charles River Basin. It was utterly freezing, but totally worth it – a gorgeous place to sit down and take in the beauty and peacefulness of Boston. Sadly, it was now time to say goodbye to Boston, my favourite city so far, except Montreal, of course. I cannot wait to return one summer!

Posted by mccardj 18:02 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged baseball boston red_sox fenway_park globe charles_river_basin Comments (0)

A Cambridge student for a day

sunny 12 °C

To start this lovely Saturday morning, I ate a full buffet breakfast at the hotel, which prepared me for the long and fun day ahead. First stop was Harvard. Harvard University is located in Cambridge, is the oldest university in the United States and, as everyone knows, the most prestigious university in the United States, if not the world. Knowing all of this I was filled with anticipation and excitement while riding on the bus to Harvard. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as impressive as I imagined. The main area, Harvard Yard, was a lawn surrounded by some plain, mundane-looking buildings, something you’d find in any university in the world. The rest of the campus was about the same, however, the church, which had been converted into a hall and theatre, was magnificent.

After leaving Harvard somewhat disappointed, I bussed to Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT. I hadn’t heard of MIT before arriving in Boston, so to my surprise I thought it was much more impressive, grand and beautiful than Harvard. It is situated along the idyllic Charles River Basin and its grounds and buildings were wonderful and gorgeous to walk through and see – I could definitely study there!

Later that afternoon, I returned to downtown Boston to walk along the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a red brick path through downtown Boston that leads to 16 significant historic sites – I felt a bit like Dorothy! The first stop along the trail was the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, a cemetery containing the remains of various notable Bostonians from the colonial era. Next stop was the Old North Church and Faneuil Hall, a marketplace and meeting hall since 1742 – it was really lovely! The last stop on the trail was Boston Common, an immense and breath-taking park and, being more than three centuries old, is the oldest one in the United States. Covering 50 acres, it consists of many scenic and stunning attractions including the Massachusetts State House, Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Frog Pond, which was used as an ice-skating rink, and, my favourite, Lagoon Bridge. I absolutely loved Boston Common!

For dinner I had a sirloin steak and shrimp; it was divine! To end an exciting, but tiring day I put up my feet and watched Aladdin and Matilda with my new friends.

Posted by mccardj 18:00 Archived in US Virgin Islands Tagged university cambridge boston harvard boston_common mit freedom_trail Comments (0)

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