The California Travel Diaries | Yosemite

Waking up at 5am usually isn’t a highlight of any day of my week. But when you wake up at 5am to travel to Yosemite, well that certainly is the exception to this rule! Yosemite National Park is based in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, where many across the state vacate to for their Summer holidays. It is an iconic landscape of California and is full of breathtaking views, scenic walks and hikes of a lifetime. When it came to planning my California road trip, I knew that I would be kicking myself if I didn’t go to Yosemite. Quite honestly, I never knew how much it should be on everyone’s bucket lists until I got there.

The Basics – Accommodation
Should you wish to take the great outdoors in your stride, camping at Yosemite books up fast. I’d advise to definitely book a few months in advance! This is something that I did not take into consideration when I left booking accommodation until 8 weeks before my visit. Surprise, surprise… I didn’t manage to book a camping spot within the heart of Yosemite. If you are planning just a day trip like I was, this isn’t that big of an inconvenience. Of course you miss out on some of what the National Park has to offer such as rowing, going to their cinema and bonding with other campers. However you will most likely miss out on a bear rifling through your food (perhaps it’s not the worst thing after all!) It is also worth bearing (pun, sorry!) in mind that Yosemite is so huge that your camping spot can actually be an hour drive away from your next planned hike or activity! Nonetheless, if you are an active or outdoorsy type of person, you could easily spend a week or two in Yosemite, soaking up the sun whilst you climb, canoe in the river and enjoy some good old fashioned fresh air. However as my boyfriend and I were traveling in from Napa Valley, we planned to break up the drive by stopping off along the way for the night. Driving past romantic vineyards and acres of ranches, we arrived in Coarsegold where our next Air b’n’b was. This was located near Raymond and cost a steal of £17 per person for a lovely big double room with an en-suite and free parking! This meant that we were only a two hour drive away from Yosemite rather than the four hour drive it would have been from Napa Valley.

Travel
Plan your travel in advance as there could be a closed route depending on weather and the time of year. I believe that there is also a YARTS bus you can catch from Fresno on Highway 41, this also includes the fee to get into Yosemite.

yosemite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Me at 7am by Bridalveil Falls

Parking
Arriving at Yosemite at 7am, we luckily found parking in Curry Village; leaving early is key readers! Especially to avoid any traffic getting into Yosemite! There is also a toll charge to pay for entering Yosemite; this is valid for 7 days if I remember correctly. Remember to have cash on you for this. Parking itself is free in Yosemite and there are lots of shuttles you can catch within the Valley to take you to your next hiking destination (yes, it really is that huge!) You will have to drive to go to see Bridalveil Falls, but you can see this on your journey in depending which way you enter (see above!) There are also so many other scenic views such as Glacier Point, Mariporsa Grove and Wawona that you can visit.

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Just one of the stunning views I saw on my hike in Yosemite National Park

Day Visit Packing Checklist:

  • Water! Bring water in a Chilly’s bottle or a similar one that has the function to keep cold drinks cold for 12 hours and hot drinks hot for 12 hours too. This is very convenient, better than a plastic bottle and also great for the environment!
  • Suncream (sunscreen)
  • Hat/Cap
  • Activewear
  • A few snacks – beware of the bears! We packed sandwiches, cereal bars and fruit in advance to have for breakfast upon arrival to Yosemite.
  • Comfortable and durable trainers or walking boots (that have been broken in!)
  • A camera! Capture those memories, you won’t be sorry!
  • A basic First Aid Kit. Accidents happen!

What We Climbed:

Happy Isles (Towards Mirror Lake) – Easy
An easy 0.5 mile we warmed up with an easy flat route. This hike leads on towards Mirror Lake – a 2.5 mile walk, however as we were short on time we headed on back to our next hike, Mist Falls.

Mist Falls – Strenuous
I didn’t think that a 3 mile round trip could be strenuous, that was until I realised we would be elevated 1000ft. Why is it called mist? You literally get misted by the waterfall!

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P.S. For those adventurous hikers – This is the first leg of the trail to the very popular Half Dome which you need a permit to climb (also difficult to obtain). On the Half Dome you are suspended on a harness as you climb up a rock in the shape of a dome! Thrill seekers, beware!

Nevada Falls –  Strenuous
The 7 mile round trip includes a sighting of Vernal Falls. I’m smiling on the below left because I was happy thinking we were nearly at Nevada Falls as we could hear the waterfall. Oh and how beautiful it was of course! How wrong I was though.
On the right I am ecstatic because we actually were so close to the waterfall!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mist falls

Nevada Falls from a distance

mist falls 2

Nevada Falls with all the colours of the rainbow!

After the hike we stopped off to rest at the local store where we bought a baguette to share, (we were worried about traveling with too much food without the appropriate bear locks!) We then had a wander around Curry Village and some local camp sites where we saw the canoes and a cinema hall!

Lower Yosemite Falls
To finish off our day we visited Lower Yosemite Falls. An easy flat 0.5 mile route that is very popular with families and young kids.

At the end of this “Pinch me, I’m dreaming” kind of day, we drove to Clovis. A nearby town to Fresno and a great mid point to Yosemite and Sequoia National Kings Park, should you wish to visit. Tip to the wise: Maybe leave a day’s rest in between hiking so your feet have recovered!

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Goodbye 2018 & Hello 2019

 

 

 

Goodbye 2018 & Hello 2019

What a year 2018 was. It truly was a year that had many ups and downs; a year where I learned to appreciate the value of living in the present moment. I took more chances on myself and stepped somewhat outside of my comfort zone. I took a road trip around California and had a Summer of a lifetime with some beautiful L.A. sunsets. I worked in 2 different workplaces and learned many valuable lessons along the way. I’ve gained sister in laws, closer bonds with family members and my long-standing truest friendships have continued to be a strength and light in my life. This time last year, I set myself some resolutions like most do when we say goodbye to those long, tiring and often testing 12 months, in hopes of enriching ourselves in a good old Bridget Jones positive type of way. These resolutions of mine were of course set with good and more realistic intentions than my girl Bridget has done, however like Jonesy, they may have got somewhat lost along the way…ahem… apologies for my eight week hiatus on the blog! Nonetheless if there is one thing i’m taking with me into 2019, it is to relax, to not hold back waiting for that “perfect” moment and to stop worrying quite so much.

One example being that I was waiting to give myself the time to create more engaging content and memorable pieces such as those of my California trip. I started many blog posts with hopes of getting back into the swing of things. Yet upon reflection I can see that the issue was that I was becoming too concenered on everything being “insta-worthy” rather than the joy of writing, sharing and creating, so I decided instead to not to post anything at all and binge watch Gossip Girl until I “had time”. We’re all guilty of this kind of behaviour right? Plus it doesn’t help that GG is highly addictive! So in the spirit of these reflections and with new positive intentions being reset going forward, here are some of my personal top 9 moments I didn’t share as much as I should have in 2018.

Winter Snow in the UK | Despite the disruption and how England stops functioning for a few days, there is something quite magical about snow in the U.K., no matter how little!

Glamour Beauty Festival | Mother’s Day – I had a lovely day out with my mum at the Saatchi Gallery in London. After a tough start to 2018, this was one day we both really needed to remind ourselves to relax

Family Bonds | My Grandmother – As life goes on, our loved ones grow older with us. My grandmother is the strongest fighter I know and every moment together is a moment I treasure. A relationship between Grandchild and Grandparent is truly special

California road trip | Yosemite – Hiking is something I hope to do more of in my 20’s and this day really was a bucket list moment

California Road Trip | Monterey – Because Big Little Lies. Need I say more?

California | Wine Tasting – Sipping wine with my boyfriend in places like this was a pinch me moment

California | Sea lion selfies, being blonder than ever and embracing summer sun freckles

New York | Discovering new places. New York is now one of my favourite cities in the world

Croatia | My Brother’s Wedding – Being a bridesmaid & surrounded by so much love was really an unforgettable day

Whether there is such thing as “New Year, New Me” I’m not quite sure, but that’s not to say that resolutions are a waste of time. I love the really hopeful and motivated mood in January, where ambitions are high and the “I can do anything attitude” is held by most. I really think that we should recognise and celebrate our achievements more often and not worry that this may be misread as egotistical, unrealistic or unachievable. Because it is acceptable and necessary to give ourselves credit on more occasions than simply in the New Year! So, this year I’m making it a priority of mine to keep trying to achieve my goals and really celebrate my achievements, rather than worrying. After all, “worrying is stupid, it’s like walking around with an umbrella waiting for it to rain” something that us British do oh too well!

What are your intentions for 2019 and what were some of your highlights from 2018? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this, please subscribe and like! You should also read:

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The California Travel Diaries |San Francisco, Day 3

Hey guys! I hope you are all well and have a nice drink to hand to catch up with me on the last day of my visit to San Fran. I visited California over 5 weeks in the summer with my boyfriend beginning in mid June 2018 and we spent three days in San Francisco. If you missed what I got up to you can read all about how we planned our first stop in California, Day 1 and Day 2 here. There is a lot to see in the city and I didn’t get to do everything I hoped to but it definitely met and exceeded my standards of what I hoped it to be! Read on for my day 3 travel diary in San Francisco…

Day 3

On our 3rd and final day we caught an Uber to the Ferry building. We had a brilliant Uber driver who had previously lived there for 20 years, moved back to where he was brought up and had just moved back to the city he fell in love with. I really recommend speaking to locals or people who live in the city. You get to see so much more that you wouldn’t have otherwise! At the Ferry Building there is a wonderful food market along with, as the name suggests, many ferries travelling around California! As this was our last day in SF we had to be selective on where we wanted to go. Although we didn’t catch any ferries (the Grey’s Anatomy fan in me wanted to for Derek Shepherd’s sake!) we got another uber more central into the city where we headed to Union Square. This area really reminded me of London and once again showed just how diverse the city is. If you fancy some shopping you have your upmarket stores, complete with a Bloomingdales and Macy’s as well as your standard high street shops. It would be very easy to spend a few hours in this area alone and if I was in San Francisco for longer I would have definitely spent more time there.

We arrived around brunch time where there was also a Football World Cup game we wanted to watch, so we decided to try the Daily Grill. It is quite a nice bar that has a little bit of fancy to it; a great spot for a bit of brunch! I had a delicious chicken wrap filled with vegetables, quinoa with some aioli, teamed with a pink lemonade to wash it all down. Everything tasted so fresh and delicious, it was just what I needed after working up an appetite that morning! If you’re wondering if the hype is true that San Francisco has good food I can honestly tell you that I wasn’t disappointed by any of our meals here.

After the game finished, we caught the Muni bus to travel to the famous Painted Ladies on Steiner Street! Not only is this street home to these colourful Victorian houses, but Full House and Mrs Doubtfire were all based on this street. This is a sure treat for any movie buff.

The Painted Ladies

It was soon time for us to go pick up our rental car so we headed to Alamo Square Café to enjoy a chai latte whilst we ordered another uber to the rental company site. Once we picked up our car we drove to another one of our “must sees”… Twin Peakes! Here you have a stunning view of the city but as the name suggests, it is windy so bring layers or a hoodie!

Me at Twin Peakes

Our next stop was to do a tour of Wine Country meaning that we would be finally driving over the Golden Gate Bridge. P.S. There is a toll you have to pay to drive across the bridge so be aware of that as there are no longer physical toll booths. Earlier that day, one of our Uber driver’s recommended us to go to Muir Woods to see the redwood trees as this would be on our way to Napa Valley. Unfortunately as we drove up the long, winding, narrow and steep roads we found that you must book parking in advance! There was a warning sign about half way up stating this, but we drove to the top as there was no other way to go and we kinda hoped that we could wing our way in. Wing we could not! You also lose GPS signal up there but it’s somewhere I will definitely make a day trip out of on my (one day) future visit to San Francisco.

Final Thoughts

I loved that San Francisco has equal beach and city life combined with a bit of hiking for good measure. I think when you visit any new place you have expectations which you hope can always be met. Luckily our visit here wasn’t overwhelming and even more importantly it wasn’t underwhelming either. I feel I only scratched the surface with San Francisco and would definitely return to explore the city one day and also head over to Alcatraz! The cool temperature makes it perfect to explore, especially if like us you decide to do a lot of walking and tackle the hills of SF (we averaged around 16,000 steps a day with walking 30,000 on day 2!) If someone wants to offer me and my boyfriend an apartment in San Francisco I will pack my bags in a heartbeat. Plus I still need to ride one of their famous cable cars!

Summary of the places visited and mentioned:

  • Golden Gate Park
  • Lands End
  • Eagle Trail
  • Camera Obsucra
  • Seals Rock
  • Ocean Beach Fire Pits
  • Outer Richmond Area
  • Tommy’s Mexican
  • Simple Pleasures Café
  • Sea Cliff
  • Baker Beach
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Presidio
  • Crissy Fields
  • Walt Disney Family Museum
  • Palace of Fine Arts Theatre
  • Ghiradelli Square
  • SF Brewing Company
  • Fisherman’s Wharf Pier 39
  • The Pub
  • Museé Mechanique
  • In-N-Out
  • Ferry Building
  • Union Square
  • The Daily Grill
  • The Painted Ladies
  • Alamo Square Café
  • Twin Peakes
  • Muir Woods

I hope you enjoyed my posts on San Francisco and that it’s now on your bucket list! If you have visited SF let me know in the comments below any places that you checked out!

If you enjoyed this post you should read:

The California Travel Diaries: Welcome to San Francisco

The California Travel Diaries: San Francisco, Day 1

The California Travel Diares: San Francisco, Day 2

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The California Travel Diares |San Francisco, Day 2

Hey everyone! Welcome back to Natalia Talks About where I am focusing on the first stop on my Californian road trip… San Francisco! You can read all about the basics like where I stayed, what we did for transport and what I got up to on Day 1 in SF here. For those of you who are keeping up with my travel series, continue reading for the next instalment of my SF visit.

Day 2

I always thought that Wisteria Lane was my ultimate dream neighbourhood to live in (you know minus the drama, the plane crashes, the affairs and scandals that Desperate Housewives had to offer) until I discovered Sea Cliff. This is a quiet and wonderful neighbourhood located by Baker Beach and is known for it’s houses being pretty damn big. It felt like we walking through a storybook and even better than Wisteria Lane, you can actually live there.

Just a typical house in the Sea Cliff neighbourhood

Baker Beach is the backdrop to a neighbour’s backyard

On Baker Beach you are greeted by the hazy view of the Golden Gate Bridge accompanied by the idyllic scene of many a family throwing a frisbee with their pet dogs on the beach, lovers tenderly enjoying each other’s company and recently graduated students hanging out with their buddies on just another day of the week. Being swept up in the romanticism of the moment we took off our shoes and decided to walk barefoot in the sand, walking hand in hand towards the Golden Gate Bridge. The handholding lasted all of about 30 seconds when we realised just how far the bridge was (darn perspective) and that walking barefoot isn’t as easy as it may seem in the movies… Finally after a few slips and trips, we arrived at the long awaited landmark.

The early morning grey clouds passed giving way to bright blue skies and a cool breeze, typical of a regular San Francisco day swept through the sky. If only the promise of a clear sky was the case in England all year round! This made for perfect conditions to capture photos of my boyfriend and I crossing the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately this meant windswept hair resulting in a messy bun that couldn’t quite pass for the easy and classy undone style of Meghan Markle (my go to hairstyle whilst in SF!)… Oh well, it is a small price to pay on the bridge! Oh and on that note it’s free to walk or cycle over!

After crossing the bridge we walked back along to the Presidio, passing Crissy Fields and absorbed this picture perfect part of the city. We also passed the Walt Disney family museum which looked like a lot of fun if you have a few hours to spare in the area or are travelling with kids. We decided to check out the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre; another noticeable landmark that crops up in the city. Here there is a strong European influence within the architecture which you can see in the very first photo of this post! As you walk through the gardens and admire the lagoon and the structural beauty of the theatre, you wouldn’t be a fool to think that you are in Italy. SF really is so diverse! The theatre is also located by the Marina Yacht Harbor and is surrounded by even more stunning properties. The houses in San Francisco really are a dream. You could honestly spend an afternoon just leisurely strolling around here and I’m sure that there are plenty of hidden gems in this area that I’m keen to explore one day.

We knew that we couldn’t leave San Francisco until we visited Ghiradelli Square, named after the famous Italian chocolatier Dominico Ghiradelli, whose love for chocolate has now become famous across California. The square is full of little stores and bars like The San Francisico Brewing Company that has the ultimate American vibe and of course the square holds a Ghiradelli chocolate store and café! It was only right to sample (gorge) one of these world famous desserts- if not in America then when can you?

A creation of dreams- A chocolate brownie waffle with ice cream

Next on the list was visiting Fisherman’s Wharf Pier 39. Forget what people say about it being too touristy. This is the perfect amount of touristy as you can have such a fun day out along this pier and it’s perfect for any Brit who wants to experience an American seaside town feel! There are so many shops selling wonderful things from an array of hot sauces, Bubba Gump shrimp, all kinds of candy that I never even knew existed and various bars to utilise happy hour in (check out The Pub by Ghiradelli Square and Fisherman’s Grotto by Pier 39). There is even an old school arcade called Museé Mechanique where you can play your favourite games and take old school photos in a black and white photo booth; I would highly recommend the arcade to anyone visiting San Francisco.

For dinner we tried our very first In-N-Out burger using the secret menu. We ordered our burgers and fries in an animal style, and now I understand what all the hype is about! Why oh why this chain hasn’t come to the UK I do not know. By the evening the weather dropped significantly and although I had a light jacket I had to buy myself a hoodie to keep warm. If you are planning on staying out by the ocean remember to take extra layers or have a few dollars spare to buy a standard California sweater!

I hope you enjoyed reading about Day 2 in San Francisco and subscribe to stay tuned for the next travel diary!

Natalia x

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The California Travel Diaries | Welcome to San Francisco

Hello all! Is it really already August? I suppose it is! Despite good intentions I did not post any blogs at all in July… Although the Californian sun rays inspired me so much so that I could have burst out of my (imaginary) seams. Nonetheless being constantly on the go meant that time and tiredness was not on my side. This resulted in many of my blog ideas remaining as “drafts”. To get back on track to where I left off, let’s have a quick catch up on what’s been happening in the world…

WELL, for all of the British out there we were on the edge of our seats watching Wimbledon and do I even have to mention the Football World Cup… We so nearly brought IT home. Love Island took over our TV screens throughout those early Summer evenings and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again arrived to our cinemas at a convenient time to bridge that heart shaped hole in our lives. Quite rightly, this is now the soundtrack to Summer 2018. In the midst of all of this, there was also my trip to California and New York – hence the lack of blogging! Despite this momentary tumbleweed of silence on Nataliatalksabout, I am full of stories, tips, reviews and a nice golden tan to share with you (had to be said- we all know it’s going to be wearing off soon enough). Therefore I have decided to begin a new series on my blog called “The California Travel Diaries” where I can finally dedicate the time to talk about my trip.

As I began writing this first post to my California Travel Diaries series I realised just how much there was to tell you. And if you have been to America you know just how much there is to talk about. If you are planning any trips to California, hopefully this series will help you out with an itinerary or at the very least convince you why you should visit the state one day. Getting a taste for travel was very important to me this Summer and whether you love to travel or dream about travellin, this series will definitely be for you.

“I left my heart in San Francisco” Tony Bennett

Everyone knows how much planning there is to any trip let alone for a six week trip! For this post I will be focusing on how I planned the start of our travels which set the tone for the rest of the road trip.

The Basics

I was traveling with my boyfriend and we decided to try and beat jet lag as well as save some pennies by flying from London Gatwick to New York JFK Airport first. We stayed in NY for a couple of nights first before heading back to JFK to fly to San Francisco. Although it was a bit annoying taking so many airport trips close together, this in fact helped me beat jet lag!

Officially beginning our Summer adventure in Northern California in Fog City, the City by the Bay, SF, Frisco or plainly The City (if you’re from the area), we spent 3 days in San Francisco. For the budget traveller like myself, I would definitely say that this is a good amount of time to explore SF and get a feel for the city whilst leaving you with wanting more!

San Francisco has the reputation of being a beautiful, windy and tech central city thanks to the numerous companies based in Silicon Valley – hiya Facebook. The latter particularly being clear even upon arrival to the airport. Okay you may think an airport isn’t worth a mention, but once you are travelling you really appreciate a good airport! It was so modern, easy to navigate and their restrooms looked like a 5* hotel. If you have a long haul flight over to the States you will be thanking me later that you had the chance to freshen up there.

In my post Life Update: I’m Going Travelling! I told you that I was going on a Californian road trip, which means lots and lots of driving. Although this was so much fun, finding an affordable car rental company was an effort. We knew that SF has a good public transport system (unlike the rest of Cali), so planned not to pick up our rental car until our next stop. As it was going to be essential to drive for the next 5 weeks throughout the rest of California we were happy to delay the driving for a while. This wasn’t a problem as there is plenty of free wifi available in most cafés and restaurants, so you can order an Uber here and there when necessary.

Unfortunately you may have heard (quite rightly) that San Francisco is quite an expensive place to travel around and I would imagine, to live in. Nonetheless do not let this put you off on having San Francisico on your bucket list! It’s such a beautiful city with a refreshing energy. Let’s just say that I now know why Tony Bennett sang “I left my heart in San Francisco”. You can also listen to ‘San Francisco’ by Courier for a more ‘modern’ rendition.

As always, choosing accommodation can be relatively daunting especially when visiting a completely new city, state or let alone a new country. I stayed in the Outer Richmond district in SF; a really nice, colourful, safe and quiet part of town to explore by foot or by car. It is approx. a 30 min Uber ride away from the airport (I guess an “Uber” distance has become a new metric for millenials). When we met locals some asked why we decided to stay in this area. If I’m honest it was the cheapest and nicest Airbnb that we could find on our budget, but by no means were we disappointed. My boyfriend and I paid about £85 per night for two people with the extra fees e.g. cleaning and booking included. Between us this was the same price as a hostel in the centre of SF, but it meant that we could have our own private bedroom, more space and our own bathroom. Plus we didn’t mind travelling into the centre as we saw it as an opportunity to absorb even more of the city!

I think that covers the basics for San Francisco which leads me perfectly to our day by day itinerary. Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment of the California Travel Diaries or you can subscribe to my blog to receive emails for (once again!) regular blog updates.

Thanks for reading!

Natalia x

If you liked this post you should check out:

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