Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Travel to San Francisco (Part 10)

After 10 days in United States, across 3 states and many exciting cities. The one that i love to stay on is San Francisco. The weather is nice and the food is good. What else you expect more for a city like this?

According to the locals, everything in San Francisco is more expensive than other cities in California ranging from properties to dining. Example An apartment in Los Angeles cost you USD 300,000 but it can cost you USD 600,000 in San Francisco. So you have a rough ideas where to live in California if you intend to go there.

But why it is so expensive in San Francisco? The reason is from The California Gold Rush brought a flood of treasure seekers. With their sourdough bread in tow, prospectors accumulated in San Francisco raising the population from 1,000 in 1848 to 25,000 by December 1849. The promise of fabulous riches was so strong that crews on arriving vessels deserted and rushed off to the gold fields, leaving behind a forest of masts in San Francisco harbor.

San Francisco is a popular international tourist destination renowned for its steep rolling hills, an eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture, and famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf, the cable cars, Coit Tower, and Chinatown. The city is also known for its diverse, cosmopolitan population, including large and long-established Asian American and LGBT communities. While the climate includes chilly summer fog, the winters are mild.

Do you think Victorian is nice? I like the mix of Victorian and modern architecture

Look this is how the cars move down from the hill...

Please look at the far end of the photo. That is the famous Alcatraz Island. Not sure Michael Scofield can Prison Break or not? Hahahahahahhahahahha...

A closer look at the Alcatraz Island.

Alcatraz Island or mostly people known it as The Rock is a smaller island located in the middle of San Francisco Bay in California, United States. It served as a lighthouse, then a military fortification, then a military prison followed by a federal prison until 1963. The Alcatraz has the most natural defend as a prison. The island is covered by the Pacific Ocean sea with temperature less than 20degrees and sharks swimming around the area day and night. But yet 3 inmates from Alcatraz has ruined the good name of Alcatraz.

On the morning of June 12, 1962, guards at Alcatraz Prison discovered that inmates Frank Lee Morris, John William Anglin, and Clarence Anglin were missing from their cells. The inmates had fashioned dummy faces in their bunks and escaped the island prison using a makeshift raft constructed of rubber raincoats. Today, no report on the above inmates whether they are still alive or dead after their Prison Break.

The Landmark of San Francisco is The Golden Gate Bridge had the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1937 and has become an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco and the United States. Since its completion, the span length has been surpassed by eight other bridges. It still has the second longest suspension bridge main span in the United States, after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City.

Another sight seeing place and dining place you must not miss in San Francisco - The Fisherman's Wharf. It is best known for being the location of Pier 39, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, the Cannery Shopping Center, Ghirardelli Square, a Ripley's Believe it or Not museum, the Musée Mécanique, the Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf, Forbes Island and restaurants and stands that serve fresh seafood, most notably dungeness crab and clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl.

The clam chowder is so YUMMY that we had it twice during our stay in San Francisco. you can tell how it tastes from Pauline reaction. ZHENG!!!!

San Francisco also known as one of the epicenters of liberal activism, with Democrats, Greens, and progressives dominating city politics. Indeed, San Francisco has not given the Republican candidate for president greater than 20 percent of the vote since 1988. The gay rights contributions and leadership the city has shown since the 1970s has resulted in the powerful presence gays and lesbians have in civic life. A popular destination for gay tourists, it hosts San Francisco Pride, the world's best-known gay pride parade and festival.

finally, the most attractive part for women at down town San Francisco is Union Square - the shopping district. the best place to kill time and see ya San Francisco.
My 12 days stay in United States cost me to buy 2 additional luggage and to round up it is my best ever trip so far in my life.

National Historical Landmark, The Hearst Castle (Part 9)

On the way to San Francisco, we are passing another United States Landmark - The Hearst Castle. The history of Hearst Castle is way too long for me to remember each and every details. Luckily we have wikipedia to help if you want to know more about Hearst Castle history please read the following or skip to the photos.

Hearst Castle is the palatial estate built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951). It is located near San Simeon, California, on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Donated by the Hearst Corporation to the state of California in 1957, it is now a State Historical Monument and a National Historic Landmark, open for public tours.

Hearst Castle was built on a 40,000 acre (160 km²) ranch that William Randolph Hearst's father, George Hearst, originally purchased in 1865. The younger Hearst grew fond of this site over many childhood family camping trips. He inherited the ranch, which had grown to 250,000 acres (1000 km²), from his mother, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, upon her death in 1919. Construction began that same year and continued through 1947, when he stopped living at the estate due to ill health. San Francisco architect Julia Morgan designed most of the buildings. Hearst was an inveterate tinkerer, and would tear down structures and rebuild them at a whim, so the estate was never completed in his lifetime.

The estate is a pastiche of historic architectural styles that Hearst admired in his travels around Europe. For example, the main house is modeled after a 16th century Spanish cathedral, while the outdoor swimming pool features an ancient Roman temple front transported wholesale from Europe and reconstructed at the site. Hearst furnished the estate with truckloads of art, antiques, and even whole ceilings that he acquired in their entirety from Europe and Egypt.

Hearst Castle was like a small self-contained city, with 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield, and the world's largest private zoo. Zebras and other exotic animals still roam the grounds. Morgan, an accomplished civil engineer, devised a gravity-based water delivery system from a nearby mountain. One highlight of the estate is the Neptune Pool, which features an expansive vista of the mountains, ocean and the main house.

Invitations to Hearst Castle were highly coveted during its heyday in the 1920s and '30s. The Hollywood and political elite often visited, usually flying into the estate's airfield or taking a private Hearst-owned train car from Los Angeles. Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, the Marx Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Joan Crawford, Calvin Coolidge, William P. Clark, and Winston Churchill were among Hearst's A-list guests. While guests were expected to attend the formal dinners each evening, they were normally left to their own devices during the day while Hearst directed his business affairs. Since "the Ranch" had so many facilities, guests were rarely at a loss for things to do. The estate's theater usually screened films from Hearst's own movie studio, Cosmopolitan Productions. Hearst Castle became so famous that it was caricatured in the 1941 Orson Welles film Citizen Kane as Charles Foster Kane's "Xanadu". The estate is portrayed as a gloomy and ridiculously self-indulgent barony.

Hearst Castle from far. (approximately 10km away)

On top of the Enchanted Hill, The Hearst Castle over seeing the Pacific Ocean. (indeed very good feng sui Mansion)

I stand on a higher position to get a better angle to catch the entire swimming pool right outside of the main entrance of the Hearst Castle. OMG how i wish i owned one of this at my house.

After the outdoor shooting, we went inside the Hearst Castle, all the rooms are spacious and each and every of the room has its own and unique theme created by Julia Morgan as requested by Mr Hearst. A kind of strange feeling when i step inside the house like you are back to the past. Every piece of furnitures and arts and the renovations are so well maintain and reserved.

One of the painting hanging on the wall at the guest's living room. Very huge.

The dining table. Impressive!!!

After taking more than 1.5 hours walking and browsing within the Hearst Castle, we thought we have come to the end but the Guide told us it is only half of the Hearst Castle. OMG... this is bloody huge man...

Well, which is the unforgettable statutes or arts that left in mind.. This is the one that really ink in my heart after the entire trip. The Indoor Swimming Pool in Hearst Castle. All marble used to built the swimming was fully imported from Italy and between the marble there are GOLD on the floor as well as the wall. The easier way to recognise GOLD is when u look down to the pool any object is yellowish and blinking that is GOLD. In fact, the indoor swimming pool is very well designed as you could see 2 different views - The Hill view or the Ocean view.
If really can swim inside there SOOOOOOOG AR!!!

To know more about Hearst Castle. Click here.

Solvang, The Danish Village (Part 8)

After the excitement in Las Vegas, i better cool down myself (no more bet... no more bet keep on rewind to my ears). Next, our coach is heading back to California and our next destination is San Francisco. Along the freeway, we will stopover at Solvang, The Danish Village in California. This small town has only 5000++ population and founded by Danish travellers in the early 1900.

Solvang means "Sunny Field" in Danish. The city is home to some bakeries, restaurants, and merchants offering a taste of Denmark in California. The architecture of many of the buildings follows traditional German style. There is a copy of the famous Little Mermaid statue from Copenhagen, as well as one featuring the bust of famed Danish fable writer Hans Christian Andersen.

What is the nice pick in this little town? Ice Cream, Sausage, Chocolate, and of course BEER. Last but not least, the Danish's souvenir.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sin City, Las Vegas (Part 7)

Las Vegas is the most populous city in the state of Nevada (i think it is also very popular around the world as Sin City), an internationally renowned entertainment city for gambling, shopping, and nightlife. Although it is located in the middle of the dessert but Las Vegas still one of the destination that travellers should not miss when visit the United States.

After the Grand Canyon tour our coach drove us to the Sin City, approaching evening. Sun has rest and the lights are up in every street on Las Vegas. Especially the Casinos are all covered by neon lights as beautiful as it can be seen in the day mode. When our coach pass by the Las Vegas Strip where most of the famous hotel casinos located at, I just stun and my throat... WOW, WOW and WOW.

All the hotel casinos are full of slot machine sound and it is beautiful and unique, each and every of them carry its own theme, to name a few hotel casinos that you shouldn't miss when your stay in Las Vegass The Venetian, Caesars Palace, MGM Grand, Monte Carlo, New York New York, Bellagio, Stratosphere and Palazzo. PS this is only limited to the above i went, there are still more than 20 nice hotel casinos that i've never been.

Las Vegas is a city that never sleeps. At night, the city is covered by huge crowd on the street as well as inside the hotel casinos. These crowds are from United States as well as tourists. Believe it or not, in Las Vegas you just name what you want to do at night, Las Vegas offers all variety of activities for family to professional. Check it out HERE.

Look at the ceiling of this Hotel Casinos, the paiting is just IMPRESSIVE. @ Bellagio. People still checking in at midnight. Every weekend most of the famous Hotel Casinos are fully booked, so if you dont want to miss your schedule plan a head.

This is what i say different theme in every Hotel Casinos. Experience yourself, money guaranteed.

To see more Las Vegas photos pls go to my facebook.

Afterall, i voted MGM Grand as my lukciest casino while my stay in Las Vegas. Try your luck!!!

A few tips for you who is heading to Las Vegas.

Firstly, bring enough cash or make sure your credit card has sufficient credit. Secondly, explore the Sin City (you can have a thrill ride in the morning, enjoy a full spa with luxury facilities, dine in a fine restaurant for dinner, enjoy the clubs is one option if you are not interested on gambling and last but not least try little luck on the slot machine or table.)

The name Sin City has been given to Las Vegas is because the unrestricted availability of alcoholic beverages and adult entertainment.