The California Travel Diaries | Monterey to Big Sur

Welcome back to another installment of the California Travel Diaries! A collection of blog posts from my Summer 2018 travels that I hope will help you plan any future trips, as well for me to remember exactly what I did! California is full of so many hidden gems. Golden beaches where the sun shines so bright, you can’t help but smile as you to stop to admire the bold crashing waves. Although some beaches are much too dangerous to swim in, the Pacific Ocean offers stunning views; a treat for drivers who can follow the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), giving a whole new meaning to the term “road trip”. If you’re following this thread you’ll know that at this point my boyfriend and I had just completed our day’s hike in Yosemite. Following this we got some much needed R & R in Fresno, where we experienced our first touch of the Californian heatwave and enjoyed some delicious authentic Mexican food at a family run restaurant called,”Hacienda Tequila”. Feeling rejuvenated after this break, we made the journey to perhaps one of my most anticipated stops on this road trip – Monterey. The PCH begins in San Francisco and if you are planning a trip to California I’d highly recommend that you prioritize this drive on your list. Even if you decide to only follow just a portion of the PCH, like we did, you will definitely not be disappointed.

If the town Monterey doesn’t instantly sound familiar to you, then think again. The town’s aquarium was the inspiration behind the film of Finding Dory and some of Big Little Lies was actually filmed upon location!

The Aquarium was a must see on our list but do note, there aren’t any whales here (as we mistakenly thought). Shows and talks are available with fantastic educational exhibits sharing the amazing research that is conducted here. We had so much fun throughout the day as we as saw the otters play, feeding time for the penguins and mesmerizing jelly fish.

The Basics

Weather: The weather in June was a cool 18 degrees. Monterey is based by the sea meaning you have that fresh sea breeze coming in, so I would definitely recommend a light jacket to hand. That way you can easily layer up when you feel the chill!

Accommodation: It’s true what they say, beauty does come at a price. For us this meant that we decided to book an Airbnb about 30 minutes away from Monterey in a town called Salinas. Unfortunately, our hosts made us feel quite uncomfortable with so many rules (no wheeling the suitcases over the floor, don’t use the shower after 10pm, you can only eat your food in your room, you cannot use the kitchen, leave your shoes under the chair in the kitchen when you enter… it was all very strange). This did however motivate us to really make the most out of our day trip; every cloud has it’s silver lining!

Parking: Fortunately we could park our car by our Airbnb for free. Parking rates for Monterey was about $15 for the day.

See & Do

  • Monterey Aquarium
  • Lovers Point Park
  • Old Fisherman’s Wharf

Eat & Drink

  • Wharf Chocolate Factory
  • Cannery Row Brewing Co
  • Sly McFly’s
  • Paluca Trattoria

Me at Lovers Point Park

We then took a stroll beside the beach, where we once again saw sea-lions sunbathing (love how common this is in Cali!). We took the route towards Lovers Point Park which is both an idyllic family fun area and a romantic location (above). Here there is also a stunning rocky landscaped area; a unique spot where you can watch the sun rise over the ocean. We did decide to climb the rocks, but beware, this requires steady footing! However you do get a fantastic view of Monterey Bay.

We also ventured to Old Fisherman’s Wharf, a small area of restaurants and eateries. I bought a famous frozen chocolate covered banana that was as delicious as it sounds! If you wish to pop in for alcoholic beverage whilst in Monterey, I would recommend either Cannery Row Brewing Co or Sly McFly’s. We paid about $22 for two drinks (including tip). For dinner it was an obvious choice that we would dine at the Big Little Lie’s Restaurant, Paluca Trattoria. Overlooking the fabulous view of the Marina, we each enjoyed a delicious Italian pasta dish.

Monterey Harbor

The next day we visited the picturesque town of Carmel-By-The-Sea, another famous stop along the PCH. Famous for it’s 17 Mile Drive at Pebble Beach with 17 vista points ranging from ocean views to marvellous golf courses. You can drive or cycle around this route, seeing breathtaking nature of vibrant hues like the below. N.B. You have to pay about $10 to enter by car but it’s free to cycle.

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A snap from the 17 Mile Drive

We also visited the town itself, stopping off in the Plaza to sample some Cheese in the aptly named, “The Cheese Shop”. After browsing a few of the stores we then headed to one of the most famous PCH views of Bixby Bridge in Big Sur.

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Big Sur is an area that is described as more of a “State of Mind” than a place. I think that the saying, “A photo speaks a 1000 words” perfectly sums up this panoramic shot of Big Sur.

I could never have pictured how breathtakingly beautiful and unforgettable these 2 days in Monterey to Big Sur could be. If you are ever in two minds of whether travel is something you should do, I can tell you that even over these first 11 days, it was so worth it and we still had another 33 to go…!

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The California Travel Diaries: Sonoma and Napa

The California Travel Diaries: Yosemite

The California Travel Diaries: Welcome to San Francisco

A Not So Blue Monday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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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The Magic Statement

Autumn is the season of change and new beginnings and boy can I attest to that! For some this may mean starting University, reevaluating New Years Resolutions or for me beginning a new job. Upon my return from a Summer in the sun to a not so green grassed England, (thanks to the heatwave), I was still figuring out which direction I wanted to take my life in next… Would it be more travel? A focus on working on my career (no pun intended)? Save money to move out? The answer ideally would be all of the above, but which first??? With an overwhelming decision to make, I reflected on what I had already achieved in the last five years since I first enrolled in University.

One thing that I feel I’ve really worked on over the last few years is specifically making time for myself to do what I want… but figuring out what that may be can be daunting at times. Case and point my earlier dilemma! I wanted to share with you something I call ” The Magic Statement” which has helped me so much over the last few years to begin solving such problems.

Between the ages of 16-18 years old, I was always very busy. I was Deputy Head Girl at school and seemed to stay behind nearly every day after my classes for one activity or another. My weekends would also be jam packed as I tried to balance my social life around concentrating on my studies and I also entered the world of dating… I didn’t have much time for my new (now long term) boyfriend. Luckily he was understanding and I’m so grateful he stuck around for me! I was constantly preoccupied and somewhat obsessed with people pleasing, for fear of admitting that “I am doing too much of the things I don’t really want to be doing, but I think I should be doing” and in admitting this would make me sound spoiled, ungrateful, let people down or worse, not fulfilling my potential and facing “disappointment” from those around me. I feel like this type of thinking is responsible for causing us to supposedly “not knowing” what we want to do. When in reality, we do know but we think that we can’t or shouldn’t try what we do want until we are pushed up into a corner or facing a mid life crisis… and guess what, everyone except yourself ends up winning in this scenario!

“If I had all the time in the world what would I do ?” The Magic Statement

Now don’t get me wrong, at this time I was mostly doing things I enjoyed, but the amount I took on was so tiring and I felt I missed out on some of the other things I loved.

I remember having a very honest conversation with one of my best friends, who knows me inside out, to whom I don’t ever have to justify, or feel guilty if we don’t see each other for long periods of time. I love genuine friendships like this. I confided in her how overwhelmed I was by the amount of activities and social groups I was involved in, on top of studying for my exams and more quality time with my boyfriend who I only saw for a few hours once a week. I felt overwhelmed and I lost touch with myself somewhat as I didn’t really know what my hobbies were anymore. I put so much pressure on myself and ultimately had become a people pleaser (with the only person not so pleased bring me!), feeling so overwhelmed all before even turning 18! How on earth would I cope when I one day got a job and had even more pressing responsibilities.

At the time, my friend turned to me and simply said, “If you had all the time in the world and could do anything that you wanted, what would you do?” I felt a bit emotional at this, because for a moment I didn’t know what my answer was. I felt sad as the first thing I thought, was that I just wanted a break- and that’s certainly not a hobby! Necessary perhaps but not a hobby. I sat in silence for a while as my friend waited patiently for me to answer. After some time I answered that I would want to read more, I would want to write creatively because as a child I used to enjoy this so much! I also wanted to run again- I was good at it as a kid, and it refreshed my mind. That conversation really stuck with me and if you asked me now what are some of my hobbies, you can guess what they are!

It’s strange looking back on this now as not only do I deal with stress better but I am able to say no to tasks or activities that overwhelm me or just don’t interest me. Of course the workplace may require you doing some of these things now and again within reason. However being able to identify these areas and speak up will actually lead you to the career that you’re suited to.

I have had an echo of this conversation many times with myself, my close friends and family since – reframing it slightly to fit my situation, “If I could go anywhere where would I go?”, “If I could have any job what job would I want?”, “If I could try anything I wanted, what would I try?”. It has allowed me to eliminate the barriers that I have put up for myself, to be more goal orientated, to find some direction and believe that all these things can be possible… at least one day and one dream at a time.

My advice to you would be, whatever it is you’re contemplating or whatever the situation is that is causing you to feel lost, confide in friends and as you grow as a person throughout the many stages of your life, don’t hold yourself back and finish the magic statement,

“If I could do anything, I would…” and dedicate the time and effort necessary to achieve it. Honestly your life is so worth this! Slowly you may find you’re making progress without you even realising it.

How can you use the Magic Statement in your life? Let me know I would love to hear from you!

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Lessons I Learned In My First Real Job

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Lessons I Learned In My First Real Job

When I graduated from University in the Summer of 2016, I set my sights on a career in HR. A challenge unknowing to me, that it would be difficult to even get into. I thought that as a graduate, employers would be snapping up to train my able and eager self. Yeah, that definitely wasn’t the case.

I have never experienced so much competition and if I’m perfectly honest, doubt, in my capabilities as I did during this first year. I was always told that I was likeable and did well in interviews, but someone who already had a year or two experience beat me to it. It was a catch 22 situation; how would I get any experience if no one was willing to give me a shot? Was I good enough to be hired? How could I stand out? It felt as if that the only thing my (expensive) degree was good for, were roles where I would have to sell my soul for a pittance. Nonetheless, determined to get some apparently valuable administration experience, I took on a couple temporary administration based roles. I say “apparently” as it seems that’s the one thing in an office that everyone wants to get away from, but unfortunately pushes onto the junior roles. One role I had as an “office administrator” where administration seemed to a be loose job description as I was utilised in every domain; from marketing, finances, reception work, PA work, post and to my delight HR (finally!) Overall, it was very worth it and it gave me a tiny step in the right direction that I needed, as well as showing me some areas that I did not want to work in!

Shortly after this in June 2017, I finally landed my first job as a HR Administrator. Hurray! Although this wasn’t until a year since I had graduated from University, someone finally gave me the chance I needed to prove myself. Now fast forward to the present day, it’s a been a year since I have been working in HR and I have learned some pretty interesting things a long the way, which I’m going to share with you lovely readers.

1. Check your CV

The number one thing that I must stress is that when you apply for a job, proof check, spell check and fact check your CV. The irony rings true when a candidate states that they have an eye for detail but there are numerous typos in their CV. Word to the wise this definitely will cost you an interview.

2. Working in HR you have to be good at multitasking

It is a regular occurrence that all of a sudden everything becomes an urgent task. Learning how to prioritise and how to meet deadlines is a skill that I have consistently been improving since I began my role. I’ve learnt to work well under pressure and be realistic of my expectations.

3. Data entry doesn’t have to be boring

Someone once said to me “Why do you want to work in HR? It’s just boring spreadsheets.” Yes, I do use excel on a daily basis, but you’re dealing with real life changes. Those numbers are people’s wages or are representatives to changes in laws. There is also something so satisfying in making all those numbers add up when checking payroll figures or running reports. If someone told me I would say that I enjoyed processing data when I was 16, I would have laughed!

4. You get the opportunity to implement change and have real responsibility

There are so many opportunities to show you using your initiative, to be able to grow, learn from past mistakes or improving already instilled processes. This is something that I craved when I came from my purely administrative and retail background. It is very rewarding to see your ideas being taken on board.

5. Understanding the organisation culture

Working in HR has made me learn about the organisation I work for in such an indepth way. I have had the opportunity to understand the structure, be on the ball with upcoming staff moves, see how the business model will be incorporated, understand how areas such as staff training is valuable to an individual’s career to name a few. HR gives you a unique insight to manage performance and development; areas which really speak to the psychologist in me!

6. Learning new programs

I’ve learned how to use new software and the processes involved from recruitment to retirement.

7. It’s challenging (in a good way!)

Working in an international organisation means that it never gets boring. I’ve learned about international laws and how pay differs in different countries. You pick up new cultures, behaviours and may even have the opportunity to travel. However having staff abroad is a big challenge, but it’s a great learning curve to cultivate relationships with stuff overseas. Moreover the operational experience is very valuable and will be a good basis should I decide to get CIPD qualified.

8. International recruitment

On that note international recruitment is a completely different ball game. Using agencies is a bonus, as it can be difficult when recruiting across Africa, Asia and the Pacific area; good job I’m always up for a challenge! If you’re solely interested in recruiting people to match their skills into the right jobs, it’s such a massive sector that there will always be work.

9. Everyday is different

I love variety! As much as routine helps your day go smoothly, I enjoy things being shaken up a bit, as long as there is a bit of planning involved in there…I’m only somewhat spontaneous!

10. It is people focused

Now to what most people assume HR is all about- forming relationships with people. In HR you are constantly dealing with others, either directly or indirectly, making decisions which will impact them. However you also need to be thick skinned to deal with people, as there are less pleasant duties include disciplinaries and redundancies.

Nonetheless throughout my first year in HR, I’ve learned that time goes so quick and the people you work with and for can really make it. If you too are in your early career, my top 10 bonus pieces of advice are:

  1. Be nice, it costs nothing and can take you far
  2. Be ready to learn
  3. Listen
  4. Be easy to teach
  5. Be grateful
  6. Be yourself
  7. Enjoy what you do
  8. Absorb information like a sponge
  9. Ask questions, it’s a great way to learn!
  10. Take away as much as you can from the experience, so that you can build upon your skills in your next role

What did you learn in your first job? Let me know!