The United States are not just megalomaniac cities and concrete jungles, which we know from various films… There are also many beautiful national parks, deserts, small cozy villages and much more.
It may seem that America has become our place to be – in two years; we visited it for three times. However, this time was a bit different, we went on a 16-day American road trip: from San Francisco through Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Therefore, if you are one of those who enjoy being behind the wheel and drive on long, straight roads, then our itinerary through western part of North America will be perfect for you.
From national parks and beautiful nature back to »civilization«, into the vast cities of the West. First things first, after the Grand Canyon tour, we drove to Williams, a small town known for the legendary Route 66 – a road that connects the whole America, from Chicago to Los Angeles, with a length of almost 4000 km! However, the new motorway sections are wiping out history, leaving only a few more parts of the original road, which, however, is becoming more and more popular this days. Williams is just one of the cities that has been able to use all of its history very well. Rock’n’roll, old American classic cars, beer and greasy grilled dishes… all these are the things that attract more and more tourists. Just a dozen miles away, in Seligman, we were lucky that »Fun Run« was on the same day of our visit – an event where, hundreds of legendary American cars drive down the Route 66 each year. Just the wet dreams for everyone who love sounds of the engines and smell of the petrol!
After we spent two nights in Las Vegas, we continued our roadtrip across the United States. First we made, one quick turn. We drove to Hoover Dam, a 200-meter high dam that stands on the border between the two states, Nevada and Arizona. For over 100 years, this huge technological creation has attracted thousands, and recently more than a million visitors per year! There are relatively many parking spaces near the dam, but you will have to deduct $ 10 per day for one of those spots. You can save yourself some money and drive up the hill about 100 meters further, where you can park your car for free.
We rented a car for the first time in our travel career. We booked it in advance through the website billiger-mietwagen.de. Special thanks goes to Google translate for the translation from German language, because in other word we very likely would not have a clue what kind of car would we get and even less what insurance is included and many other things. However, let us leave the details for some other time.
We made the first kilometers on the Highway 1, a winding road from San Francisco to Los Angeles right by the sea and offers wonderful views of the cliffs and beaches. We made a detour to Santa Cruz and continue our trip to Bakersfield, where we made our first stop – the city is great spot for driving to Las Vegas through Death Valley.
It is better to sit 15 hours on a plane than 8 hours at work, behind your worktable… do you agree? Well, let us first provide you one quick and useful information for everyone who will soon be heading to the city of North California. From airport in San Francisco, you can take a BART train. For a ticket, you will deduct around $ 10 and after 30 minutes, you will find yourself in the city center. Simple!
Regardless of the first impression, public transport is quite bad, so prepare yourself for a few kilometers climbing in the hills. Almost all streets in San Francisco are hellish, long and almost vertical slopes. Of course, you can overcome those hills with few minutes driving with an attractive cable car, but you will pay $ 7 for a one-way ticket, which is not that cheap.
Every kid who enjoys playing basketball, dreams of becoming one of the greatest players of all time. Everyone wants to be like Jordan, Bryant or LeBron, but only a handful succeeded in stepping on the court of the famous halls and playing in the elite NBA league with the greatest stars of the basketball world. Unfortunately, we did not have this chance and happiness, but we can relive our children’s dreams by watching live matches. Better that than nothing 😛
We watched our first NBA game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where home team Nets played with their neighbors from Boston, with legendary Celtics. A modern, only a few year-old arena, which can accommodate over 18.000 spectators, was filled to the last seat. One of the important information before watching the NBA spectacle is definitely that it is forbidden to bring any camera or DSLR to the arenas, but those rules won’t stop Saša, so she, with a great deal of ingenuity, despite the strict rules brought all of our photo equipment inside. Believe us, without all of these photos, this post would be very boring.
Although Cuba in not exactly the destination for gourmet enthusiasts, who are impressed by the exceptionally high class culinary and Michelin stars. However, chefs on Cuba, despite the country’s closure, provide the most interesting dishes from the accessible ingredients and with a touch of innovation. Combinations of foods may not really be what we are used to, but believe us; you will lick your fingers after each meal.
Well, if we exclude resorts in Varadero, then you can forget the dishes from other parts of the world while you traveling around the Cuba. So do not waste your precious time looking for Asian specialties, modern French cuisine or fine Italian pasta. Otherwise, if we are sincere… why would you eat frogs’ legs, pasta with truffles when you can enjoy the freshly caught seafood, lobsters, beef, that literally melt in your mouth and sweet fruits with coconut, papaya and pineapple at the forefront? The offer is endless, so get out of your comfort zone and try all of those real traditional Cuban specialties. You will not be sorry!
We saved best for last, it was so good, that we stayed two extra days, but about this later 🙂 22 kilometers of beautiful sandy beach, which stretches across the entire length of the peninsula on the north side of the county, is the main reason for visiting Varadero or so-called city of colored bracelets. Forget about unique artistic jewelry, those are plastic bracelets worn by all-inclusive guest from various hotels and resorts.
The city is created for tourists, bunch of huge hotels, stalls with souvenirs on every step and roads full of taxis. The prices here are significantly higher than on the rest of the island, which is reflected not only in restaurants and bars but also on stalls. You have to go deep in your pockets if you want to indulge yourself in one of those hotels. You will have to spend more than 100 € per night, which is of course a lot more than you would paid for a night in casa.
Well, here it is, our beloved and faithful companion, rain. With each passing mile from Trinidad to Santa Clara was getting more darker and in the end the rain finally caught us when we were walking to our casa. And no, it wasn’t just a quick shower, but it rained for almost 2 whole days, so our plans literally fall in water.
Nevertheless, we manage to see the statue of Che Guevara, his mausoleum was closed due to rain or moisture until next sunny day. Cuban logic 🙂 You all probably know this person, if not from elsewhere, you definitely saw him on a shirt worn by one of your classmates in high school. Che is still worshiped as a god in Cuba; in honor of him, they named streets, build statues, post jumbo posters along the highway with his portrait and his famous slogan Hasta la Victoria siempre! The story about him is complex, so we will not talk about it… but you can always check some history textbooks if you are interested in those stories.