Monday, 23 November 2015

Vida na fazenda (farm life)

In a moment of madness before setting off for the Himalayas, I booked flights to Faro, Portugal, and organised three weeks' unpaid work on an organic farm on the Algarve coast, Portugal. I still have no idea why I decided to do it.. and although it didn't turn out to be a perfect experience, I'm glad I went.

Monte da Cunca is nestled just behind the wild sand dunes on the south western tip of Portugal's coast, near the tiny town of Carrapateira. It's home to Klaus, Dania and the little Joana, a family from Austria and Italy making a life for themselves in the Algarve through organic farming. It's a ramshackle place, with a collection of small stone buildings and caravans tucked away amongst the bamboo, animals running around, and pieces of old farm machinery strewn everywhere, but the longer you spend there the more you understand its beauty and charm.

Cunca as the sun sets - always a beautiful view

I'd organised to work there through WWOOF - that's Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms - a global organisation linking travellers with organic farms who could do with some extra hands to help out, in return for a place to stay and food to eat. WWOOFing involved working six hours per day Monday to Friday on the farm, plus four hours on Saturdays, giving me the rest of the time to explore the area, with delicious food to eat and a dry place to sleep at night.

As soon as I entered the farm, I began my journey of self-discovery. I was shown where I'd be sleeping (an old damp stone barn, with six mattresses, puddles on the floor and probably quite a few rodent roomies) before Klaus pointed out a few bits of the farm - the kitchen, polytunnel, compost toilet and 'chicken paradiso'. I then just wandered around and helped out where I could, which started with me changing a tyre on a completely rotten and falling apart Ford camper van, and finished with me driving a van, pulling a trailer down a muddy winding track as the sun set and the petrol gauge dipped closer and closer to empty! That first afternoon was a pretty good indication of what the rest of my time on the farm would be like - unpredictable.

The 'chicken paradiso', which on numerous occasions I saw cats and dogs lounging around in..
not quite the paradise I'd be happy with as a chicken!

I'd hoped to learn about farming and how being organic works, through hands on experience and chatting to Klaus and Dania. Unfortunately, it didn't really work out that way.. Monte da Cunca as a farm only really provides enough vegetables to sustain its workers and to sometimes sell bumper crops on to local restaurants. The family's main sources of income are the hostel and guesthouse across the road, which provide beautiful accommodation to eco-conscious tourists. That does mean that instead of working in the vegetable garden, feeding the chickens or planting in the polytunnel most of the time, the majority of my working hours were spent cleaning ovens and bathrooms and kitchens, sweeping floor after floor and thinking about the guests. This goes completely against WWOOF Portugal's principles and shouldn't actually be allowed.. so I'm glad people understand that's not how it's not meant to be. But still, that's what happened. I'm now emotionally scarred from scrubbing an oven alone for three hours on my second day.

Planting seedlings (of an unknown plant..) in the polytunnel, whilst slowly melting in the heat

When I got an opportunity to do actual hands-on farm work, I always made the most of it and enjoyed myself. Planting seedlings in the polytunnel was pretty fun, although it's a shame I won't get to see if the plants survive or not.. and when the farm cats tried to help by digging them back up again it got a bit annoying! One day a few of us went to a field nearby to plant baby fig trees, detaching the babies from the wizened old trees and re-planting them along an irrigation tube, whilst enjoying the view across the farmland to the sea. A lot of time was also spent collecting, cutting and organising firewood, which was essential to fuel the stove and cook food for everyone on the farm three times a day. It was definitely good practise for fire lighting, not being able to just cheat and pour fuel all over it..

We - usually about 12 of us - all ate breakfast and lunch together, and usually dinner too, with one or two people each day being put in charge of creating something out of the farm's vegetables, fearing the judgement of Dania, who used to be a chef in Florence before moving out to Cunca to work on the farm with Klaus. It felt pretty special to just be able to grab a few lettuces out of the garden whenever you wanted, and to grab a bucket of sweet potatoes out of the food storage caravan next door, cooking in gigantic pans over the wood fire oven.

A common lunchtime spread, out in the garden

The chickens were fed each day on food scraps from the kitchen. It's quite a sight to behold, watching the chickens, cockerels, guinea fowl and geese racing towards you from all directions as you throw the contents of your bucket onto the ground and hurry to get out of the way of their beaks. One of the geese, Barnaby, only had one leg after being hit by a car last year. I swear his menacing stare will haunt my dreams for years to come; he still managed to intimidate me - once even not letting me get to the compost toilet and making me trek across to the other side of the farm in the pitch black to use the other one - when all he could do was flap his wings and feebly hop in your direction. Barnaby was also best friends with Sigan, a half blind fluffball of a dog who lay around in the farmyard all day, and the pair seemed to never part - when Sigan lay underneath the kitchen table, Barnaby would wait patiently outside the door, watching her.

Overall on the farm there were three dogs, five cats, two geese (with three legs between them), a guinea fowl, and loads of chickens, plus apparently a horse, although I only saw it once, trotting through the farm being led by Klaus. The animals certainly made each day more interesting, always knowing exactly where to sit to be in your way. I also once glanced down after using the compost toilet, only to see Bao Bao enjoying herself sniffing around 4m below me.. not something you want to think about too much.

One of the five farm cats, whose favourite spots to chill included the inside wood fire oven, the chicken paradiso, and the top of the fridge

I once read something that said if you weren't saying "fuck yes" to an opportunity that came your way, you shouldn't do it. I was enjoying myself on the farm, but I wasn't waking up each morning excited to see what my day would be like, and I certainly wasn't learning anything about farming. So I swallowed my pride, disregarded what people might think about me quitting, and came back to one of my favourite places on Earth, my village in Surrey. On the way I also made the most of being in Portugal, visiting Portimao and Faro and fitting in a couple of dives in the Atlantic Ocean.

Getting into the Atlantic ocean, stylish and smooth as ever (#annathefish)

Portimao is really not my kind of place.. the scuba diving, pretty cobbled streets and fish restaurants all very much appeal to me, but the presence of other British holidaymakers in awful short sleeve shirts with sunburnt faces and beer bellies really puts me off. I did two dives with SubNauta, the best and most professional yet cheap dive centre I've ever been to - this was by far the best part of my whole visit to Portugal. Me, Sarah and our instructor Mariana first dived to 6m, very near to the rocky coast to the west of Portimao, with less than ideal visibility and long waves pushing us around. I've never dived in conditions like that before, so when I reached the surface after 30 minutes I was pleased I'd got back into diving happily and still knew what I was doing after an eight year break! After that we went further out to sea, where I dived to 18m with Mariana, down along three rocky shelves, home to octopus, starfish, sea urchins and numerous other fish I wish I knew the name of. Mariana's warning to "watch out for octopus hiding in the rocks" was slightly alarming as we went underwater, but I managed not to put my hands into any holes I wasn't meant to.. and survived the whole experience. The 40 minutes I spent down there went by incredibly fast - each time I checked my tank pressure I felt annoyed at myself for breathing so much, wishing I could stay in this underwater world for longer.

Being in the sea always seems to make me hungry.. awesome pizza after diving in Portimao

Faro, Algarve's capital, was distinctly sleepy and small. When I stayed for one night on my way to Cunca, I had a little wander around in the evening and managed to see all of the sights within an hour, strolling at a relaxed pace with no particular direction in mind. I didn't really need the extra night at the end of my trip, but it was still nice to sit by the marina in a cafe for a couple of hours, drinking ice tea (the best summer holiday drink in the world) and watching the world go by.

One of the main reasons I'd chosen to travel to Portugal was to search for Pingu ice cream. (The weather was also a draw, obviously. 22°C in November is rather nice). Numerous family holidays when I was little were spent in Portugal, eating chicken piri-piri followed by ice cream in Pingu-head-shaped pots. Apparently they still exist, and people even sell (and buy, I assume..) the empty pots on eBay! Marvel at their wonderfulness here. Sadly though, even after searching in Faro, Vila do Bispo, Carrapeteira, Portimao and Faro again, I couldn't find a single one!

Old buildings along the city walls in Faro

I couldn't speak a single word of Portuguese before I left, so that was an extra challenge. I've always hated the arrogance of British people when it comes to languages - how it's okay for us not to bother because everyone else in the world makes an effort for us. Brushing up my French before I leave for the Alps in under two weeks definitely needs to move higher up on my list of priorities.. But actually, I think overall I met more Germans than Portuguese - they seem to all be drawn to Portuguese life and thrive on the sea, sun and sand out there. Hitchhiking from Cunca, Sarah and I were picked up by a super kind and friendly German couple who now run a surf shop at Amado beach, near Carrapateira. They made room in their truck for us and chatted the whole way, detouring through the lush hills of SW Algarve and showing us beautiful hidden villages and landscapes, before driving us into the centre of Portimao, detouring massively from their destination. Acts of kindness like that mean so much, and really do stick with you after your tan has faded and you're back home in blustery Britain.

Sunset over the sea at Bordeira beach, near Monte da Cunca

This trip has really made me think about why I adventure and discover and meet people. How much does other people's judgement affect me and drive the things I do? How much am I thinking about what a view will look like on Instagram whilst I'm enjoying it? And how many times have I said "that would make such a great photo!" instead of just enjoying the moment and living life. As we approach a new year and begin to think about resolutions, I think I've finally got one - find more reasons to say "fuck yes!"

If you want to read more about saying "fuck yes", look here and here.

This post was written sitting inside feeling cosy, drinking tea, listening to acoustic songs, looking out the window at the cold and rain.
Sometimes, home is just the best place to be.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

1,000 mile drive - The Pacific Coast Highway

The Pacific Coast Highway is hailed as one of the most scenic drives in the world, and I can definitely vouch for that.

When given the opportunity to spend an extra week in California after our hiking exercise in Yosemite, a group of us leapt at the chance and started planning an awesome road trip. Kevin the car, a seriously uncool big white minivan / family vehicle, took us along Route 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles over eight days, allowing us to explore the coastal towns and views of California. We decided to go quickly down from San Francisco to LA, then slowly back up the scenic route.

Picking Kevin up from the rental place, we realised we looked like a very modern family -
2 moms, 1 dad (the drivers: Me, Abbie and Conor) and two big kids (Becky and Esther)

The fast route down:

After we'd picked up our badass wheels, we drove north across the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin County, with MKTO's Classic blaring out the speakers, bass on full, the sun blazing down and the wind in our hair. Those 2 minutes and 55 seconds felt like the definition of awesomeness, I can't even explain.

We stayed with the Pfeiffers - Ed, Jenn, Luke, Chloe and PJ, family friends of Abbie, who used to live in Marin - who were the most kind and generous people ever! We watched PJ play soccer, went up to Ring Mountain with Chloe to watch the sun set over the bay, were fed an incredible amount of Mexican food, and watched some of Luke's magic tricks. When we returned to Marin at the end of our trip, they kindly let us stay again and even got a keg of beer for us - awesome people.

Gorgeous view over San Francisco Bay from Mount Tam

The next morning, we hiked up Mount Tamalpais for some more incredible views over the bay. The road up the hill was crazily windy, making for great driving practice and many screams of "drive on the right!!" from the passengers. Then, following Route 101, we drove south to San Luis Obispo, halfway to Los Angeles, and stayed in a motel for the night. Stepping into a motel room by the freeway and being hit hard by the smell of bleach does suggest that someone was murdered there the night before.. but we quickly got over it and made the most of the tiny pool, before wandering into town for pizza.

Continuing the drive down to LA, we were still trying to get used to driving in the USA (saying "drive on the right, drive on the right" repeatedly under our breath as we drove). As we joined Highway 1 and neared Santa Monica, the views we'd been waiting for began to emerge - palm trees lining the roads, with pristine white beaches and endless ocean to our right.

We rented bikes and cycled the length of Venice Beach (otherwise known as 'Muscle Beach'), taking in the sights and sounds of the crowded promenade, watching skateboarders trying to look cool whilst falling over, and marvelling at the groups of guys doing calisthenics everywhere. The litre of homemade lemonade I drank was definitely  necessary in the scorching heat of the afternoon.

FIRE TRUCK! at Venice Beach

We then continued south to see my awesome friend Julie (who I met in Uganda four years ago and who I didn't even realise lived in California..!) and her flatmate Jenny, who kindly let us stay in their beautiful West Hollywood apartment whilst we explored LA. They taught us lots about how to be American - most importantly, they taught us that pumpkin ice cream is a thing. A beautifully yummy gorgeous tasty addictive thing. We also learnt that eating burritos and drinking horchata from a roadside stand makes them taste even better (although I think I've now eaten enough burritos to stay away for at least a year), and that it's actually quite difficult to get to the big Hollywood sign and sit on top of it like they do in films!

The next day we were proper embarrassing tourists for a bit, visiting the Chinese Theatre and walk of fame - turns out Marilyn Monroe had ridiculously small feet, judging by her footprints in the concrete - before heading to the farmers market for lunch, where I became pecan pie's newest and biggest fan. In the evening, we decided to turn up the class, and went out for oysters and champagne on Sunset Boulevard, before confirming that the British have a very different (and much better) sense of humour to the Americans at an improv comedy show at Second City. It's where Steve Carell, Tina Fey and Joan Rivers started out, so it was pretty cool to go there.

Marilyn Monroe's prints outside the Chinese Theatre - "Gentlemen prefer blondes"

The slow, beautiful journey back up:

Santa Barbara was exactly what we'd imagined when we were planning our adventure. Palm trees all over the place, beach the whole way along the city, fro yo shops and tattoo parlours lining the streets and the relaxed Californian vibe everywhere. We had our first chilled out do-nothing-and-lie-on-the-beach afternoon, and paid the price by getting embarrassingly sunburnt.. but we'd already embarrassed ourselves to the other beach-goers - turns out rays don't like it when you stand on top of them underwater. We made a fair few high pitched screams in the process of working out what the weird flappy things were in the sand beneath our feet!

Catching the rays on the beach in Santa Barbara
Photo by Becky Mason

It's probably impossible for a Pacific sunset to look bad in Pismo. Looking out over the ocean with the beach and palm trees in your peripheral vision and the sound of waves lapping against the shore can only be made better by beer and wine (and luckily we'd stocked up), so that evening was stunning. We checked out Splash Cafe and ate calamari, fries and clam chowder (mmmmmmmmm) before waddling down to and along the pier. It was sad to see so many homeless people having to set up camp for the night at the end of the pier, but also pretty cool to see so many people fishing in the sea and getting bites so quickly. We ended that night by drinking beer in the jacuzzi whilst singing badly along to cheesy songs on the speakers, loving life.

McWay Falls - just about visible in the middle of the photo. Screw you, four year long Californian drought!

We'd all planned to wake up early to watch the sunrise the next morning, but after turning off the fifth alarm we made an unconscious executive decision to scrap that idea and catch up on sleep, so last night's sunset had to make up for it! Leaving Pismo to join Route 1 again felt pretty exciting, as it was the part of the road trip we'd all been waiting for - Big Sur. 85 miles of stunning coastal scenery, often with mist rolling off the land into the sea and whales galore. We stopped a lot in search of the classic Big Sur view that I'd been dreaming of, but that turned out to be a different place to the first, second, third and fourth place we stopped at the side of the road.. but eventually we found it! The McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park were unbelievably stunning, and we even caught a glimpse of a whale's tail as it splashed back into the ocean after breaching! Dreamy.

We then spent the next few hours of driving all looking out to the sea on the left (including the driver, Conor..) searching for whales, unsuccessfully, although the beautiful views more than made up for it. 17 Mile Drive was our last stop before Monterey. It's a crazily scenic drive through Pebble Beach and Pacific Grove out on the Monterey Peninsula, home to the rich and famous, tons of top golf clubs, many sea lions and stunning views.

One of many stops along Big Sur to marvel at the view
and search for (and call out to - Dory style) whales 

One of the absolute highlights of the trip has got to be wine tasting at Carmel Ridge Winery, Monterey. I was drawn to the 'Tasting Flight' for obvious reasons, so we all knocked back a selection of incredibly nice wines before deciding to share a bottle of Pinot Noir. Being British definitely helps you make friends in the USA.. so after chatting, and many games of blackjack and ring of fire later, and after many free glasses of delicious wine, we noticed that the bar tenders had left a sign outside the door saying "closed for private party". Awesome people. Later on we explored Monterey, finding the best hotdog place I've ever been in (I salute the genius who thought to add jack cheese, avocado and bacon to a hotdog) and playing darts with a random failed actor in a 'British' bar. What a town.

After failing to find a place that would show the rugby for us on TV, we left Monterey and continued up the Pacific Coast Highway to Marin. A quick stop off at Trader Joe's (an awesome supermarket) left us stocked up with all things pumpkin - pie, cake mix, bagels and ice cream - before we arrived back at the Pfeiffers, with us all starting to feel sad about going back home to the UK.

On our last day, Sausalito drew us in with its beautiful location on the bay, the boats lining the shore and the cute cafes dotted around. I had one last summery iced coffee and giant cinnamon roll, soaking in the sun and planning in my mind when I'd be able to return to California. Next we headed to Muir Woods, home to gigantic Redwoods and site of filming for Planet of the Apes. Then we did the obligatory visit to the Marin Headlands, looking out over the Golden Gate Bridge, and took many touristy photos.

Yogi Bear through and through.
Photo by Becky Mason
Our drive to the airport consisted of crazy amounts of traffic through San Francisco, balanced out by even crazier amounts of out-of-tune singing to some classic songs, letting out our sadness at having to leave and our happiness at the good times we'd just had. Many selfies were taken out the window whilst crossing the Golden Gate Bridge for the final time, and many strange looks were given to us as we sang in a three lane queue of traffic with the windows open again..

Saying goodbye to Kevin was pretty emotional.. but we somehow managed to get on the plane and come home. Next adventure, please!

Check out my last blog post on our hiking trip to Yosemite National Park, California.

Monday, 12 October 2015

We're going on a bear hunt

Take me back to Yosemite.

So I'd always been a bit of a snob about America.. fat people, greasy food, gigantic cars, etc. But when given the opportunity to hike around Yosemite for two weeks, it wasn't something I was going to miss! 15 of us from Northumbrian UOTC spent eight days hiking in Yosemite National Park, California, with a few days either side to spend exploring San Francisco. So. Much. Fun.

Sea Lions at Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

San Francisco was a pretty cool city. We did the usual touristy thing of visiting Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39, seeing the famous Sea Lions (I could've watched them sleeping and spooning and swimming and fighting for hours.. so cute) and walking along the seafront. I then felt unhealthily full after eating a salad for the first time in my life (I'm so ready for a break from American diners!).

Even after having watched The Princess Diaries and the hill/Mustang/tour bus scene an unhealthy number of times, I hadn't realised how many hills there would be in the city! They did mean we found a lot of awesome viewpoints over the city and the bay whilst exploring the street grid, though. It also turns out San Francisco isn't the best place to play frisbee - something we found out after it had been thrown straight off Pier 41 and into the bay.. 

Pretty successful vegetarian BBQ, I'd say!
Abbie, Me, Esther, Erin

Our hike began at White Wolf campground, pretty much in the middle of the park. We'd planned a massive team barbecue on a fire pit in our camping spot before the hike properly began, but somehow the meat got left on the bus.. so we ended up sharing around the vegetarian food, making do with mushrooms and peppers and even making sweet potato fries on the grill. I also got to practise my new favourite skill of cutting up a watermelon (I practised this a lot in India and feel like I've nailed it now). The food set the tone nicely for the rest of the trip though, with our allocated food adding up to a measly 800kcals per day. The excitement and calorie overload we experienced when the two hiking teams met up for visitor centre burgers on day five made us all feel pretty queasy - I won't be forgetting (or repeating) that experience in a hurry! 

Yosemite's strict park rules meant that our group had to split up into two teams, walking and camping completely separately from each other. Our team's route took us in a big semicircle, averaging about 12 miles per day and often making steep ascents into AMS territory. We started off heading north into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River, spending one night camped next to a shimmering blue-green lagoon at the edge of the gushing river - a perfect spot for a swim and some waterside yoga. We then pushed on upwards and east out of the canyon, working our way to the col behind Volunteer Peak at 10,481ft and down into Matterhorn Canyon, then Virginia Canyon, along steep trails with switchbacks galore, and not many chances to fill our rapidly emptying water bottles. California has been in a state of drought for the past four years, and a drought State of Emergency has now been declared; many riverbeds are bone dry and wildfires commonly sweep fast through the grassland and forest. We did manage to find quite a few perfect wild swimming lakes though, so I got to continue my new found passion and splash around as often as I wanted.

Hiking team photo!
Ryan, Danny, Chris, Abbie, Tom, Becky
Ellis, Matt, Me

We then hiked south, steeply up out of Virginia Canyon to join the famous 2,663 mile long Pacific Crest Trail (go watch/read Wild, if you haven't already!) for around 10 miles into Tuolumne Meadows - a visitor and wilderness centre filled with the fat Americans we'd happily managed to avoid so far. After sharing stories, stocking up on food and catching up with the other group, we then moved out along the John Muir Trail to camp beside the larger of the two Cathedral Lakes, overlooked by Cathedral Peak. This peak is what is known as a nunatak - a peak that stood proud of the glaciers carving out Yosemite's valleys, leaving its top sharp and pointy whilst its lower parts were smoothed and eroded by the ice of the Tioga glaciation, roughly 20,000 years ago.

As we cooked our dinner of quinoa and clams (I've been known to take tinned octopus on camping trips, so this felt quite normal) on the smooth dome of granite beside Cathedral Lake, we could see wildfires raging in the forest to our north, with smoke billowing up into the sky. It was incredible to see the fires in real life, having read about them and their necessity for preserving the Giant Sequoias - allowing new shoots to thrive without competition in the undergrowth.

Trail buddies 4 lyf.
Photo by Becky Mason

I'm loving bivvying at the moment, sleeping out in the open under the moonlit sky and being able to watch shooting stars until I fall asleep. Abbie became my bivvy buddy in Yosemite, with the pair of us brought together by our laziness towards putting a tent up and our love for the outdoors. We were quite blasé about the threats of bear and mountain lion attacks mentioned by everyone else in the team who felt safe behind a thin layer of tent fabric, until I woke one morning to Abbie's shouts of "oh my god oh my god oh my god!!" mixed with other profanities. I fully expected an angry bear to be standing right in front of us as I struggled to sit up and see out of my cozy cocoon, only to find out a coyote had been sniffing Abbie's face and was now wandering casually around our camp, ignoring us! Uncontrollable laughter from both of us obviously followed.

From Cathedral Lakes we'd headed to Sunrise Lakes, home to the curious coyote, and next we headed south west towards Little Yosemite Valley, via Clouds Rest, a peak promising '360-degree panoramic views, stretching from Hawaii in the west to Nebraska in the east'. We actually discovered 10m visibility through thick cloud and fog.. but it was a magnificent climb nonetheless, with precipitous drops either side reminiscent of Helvellyn's 'Striding Edge' in the Lake District.

Abbie on top of the world!

Our descent to the valley led us past the famous Half Dome, a Yosemite icon and hike-able for a fee, but we settled on continuing downhill and buying postcards of it later instead. We then spent our final few miles walking (and running, when we got fed up of downhill plodding) down steep step after steep step of rocky staircase into Yosemite Valley, saying "happy trails!" and "happy hiking!" to anyone we passed, annoying them with our happiness and enthusiasm as they worked their way up the daunting day of uphill ahead of them.

Yosemite Valley was fun to explore on our final day, with a free shuttle bus to the bottom of El Capitan - we spotted big wall climbers on their way up the steep face, marvelling at their skill but also wondering if they were people we could see or just shadows on the rock.. and I also lived up to my reputation as a postcard whore and tried to make people at home feel jealous of my American adventure, drawing them awful cartoon mountains and bears and telling them all about where we'd been!

With Abbie and Erin at the ball game, having stocked up on Giants stash!

Back in San Francisco, we tried to cram in as much as we could before most people went back to the UK. At Alcatraz, the famously inescapable high security prison on an island in the bay, we learnt the shocking fact that 1 in 32 Americans is either on parole, on probation or locked up in prison (and felt slightly uneasy..). That evening we went to a baseball game at the AT&T stadium between the San Francisco Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks, where I realised that rounders is a far better sport and is much more interesting to watch! The pitchers couldn't pitch in the right place, the batter missed the ball most of the time, and the fielders were so good at catching (using their giant gloves to make it easier) that it was basically impossible for anyone to score any points. But the atmostphere was awesome, with the chants, kiss cam and corn dog sellers making the Giants' 2-0 loss much easier to bear (YES Tom I managed to fit a bear pun in here somewhere!!).

Slacklining in Golden Gate Park
Photo by Becky Mason

Our final day was spent in Golden Gate Park playing with my slackline (bought in the UK on a whim and carried around California, providing awesome fun and some funny looks from passers-by) before heading to Ghiradelli's chocolate factory ice cream parlour. My diary entry from that days reads: "Wen't to Ghiradelli's and had a salted caramel sundae. SO BIG. SO GOOD. SO CARAMELLY. > FOOD COMA (again..)". That definitely sums up the experience.

Basically, the whole trip was absolutely brilliant. Take me back!

Keep a look out for my second blog post about the trip - our 1,000 mile Pacific Coast Highway road trip!