Tuesday, 28 October 2014

National Lampoon's Vacation - part 2 of 2

Continuing from part 1 of our USA vacation... we finally arrived in Los Angeles about 1am and finally arrived at our hotel just a bit after 2am. Luckily we don't have a tour starting the next day, just a free and easy day out with my dad's cousin. So we get to sleep in.

Day 8 - The next morning, my dad's cousin and his wife brought us to Hollywood and we did take a sightseeing tour after all, to view the Hollywood sign and homes of celebrities. Very interesting indeed and while I'd love to have all that money, I am grateful that my life is not exposed to the public eye all the time. We did a bit of shopping in the afternoon before having dinner with another of my dad's cousin, whom he has not met for over 40 years!
Hollywood Walk of Fame - the first star I took a picture with, Bruce Lee!
In front of the Chinese Theatre, home to major movie premieres

Be careful as you tend to get harassed by costumed clad people here. At least this statue didn't ask for a tip.
One for the Star Trek fans
There is a weight limit on vehicles going through the roads leading to the Hollywood sign. This is as close as the tour bus could take us.

Have not met for over 40 years!
Day 9 - Up early again for our 3 day tour to Las Vegas and Grand Canyon. We arrived in Vegas just after lunch, managed to get some rest before the night tour of both the new and old Vegas strips. It was indeed an eye opener!
Welcome to the Mojave Desert

The 'other' Statue of Liberty
Inside the grand Venetian Hotel

Volcano show in front of Hotel Mirage
Day 10 - an extremely early morning departure at 5am for the Grand Canyon. We went to the West Rim and the views were gorgeous! No need for further description, see pictures below. On the way back to Vegas, we stopped by the Hoover Dam - which impounds Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in US by volume.
At the bottom the summit
On top of the summit
Hoover Dam
Don't look down!
Day 11 - The journey back to Los Angeles. We stopped by a chocolate factory that had a nice cactus garden and a factory outlet, but we did most of our shopping already. So we used the time to get some lunch. We got back to Los Angeles just before dinner time. Li-Ann arrived later that night to join us for the next few days. It had been about a month since I've seen her, I missed her so much!

Day 12 - We left Los Angeles just after 7am, heading towards San Francisco. Our first stop on the way was Santa Barbara. The palm trees and beach scenery reminds me of music videos of the late 80s. We had lunch in a Solvang, a quaint Danish town. Drove past the Apple and Google offices in Silicon Valley before arriving in San Francisco after dinner.

Re-enacting music videos of the late 80s, all we need now are rollerskates!
Bought some nice Danish pastries here

Day 13 - San Francisco tour, starting off with a stop at Stanford University, some pretty amazing architecture here - giving a Spanish cathedral feel. In San Francisco, we took the cruise to the Golden Gate bridge and around Alcatraz. Finishing off the remainder of the day exploring the city on our own.
Li-Ann getting excited looking at the sea lions
Jailbreak alert!

Palace of Fine Arts
Climbing up the steep 27% gradient on Lombard Street to view the zig zag road
I wouldn't want to ride my bike down that slope!
There was a run event going on that day
Cheesecake Factory!
Day 14 - Another early pre dawn departure, heading to Yosemite National Park. Stopped by a few sights, namely the El Capitan Rock and Tunnel Valley viewpoint. Then it was a winding journey back to Los Angeles. Li-Ann would be flying back to Canada while we caught our red eye flight to Chicago.
Day 15 - Our flight arrived in Chicago at about 6am. We took a cab to our hotel in downtown and traffic was already heavy. We couldn't check in yet so explored most of downtown on foot. It drizzled every now and then, and the wind chill made it feel like 5 degrees C. They didn't call Chicago the windy city for nothing! That night, we walked to Chinatown for dinner. Ironically, we had Vietnamese cuisine instead as the rest of the Chinese restaurants seemed a bit quiet.
Some nice autumn colours!
Chicago Triathlon Way
Cloud Gate Sculpture a.k.a the Bean. This was my main reason for coming to Chicago!
Can you spot us?
Chicago River, where many boat chase movie scenes are shot
Bikes for rent for $7 for a 30 minute journey
Train tracks right above with no road dividers. I hope there are no incidents of cars colliding into these pillars!
Day 16 - Our final day in the USA. Just an relaxing stroll along Lake Michigan and lunch at Lou Malnati's pizzeria for Chicago's famous deep dish pizza. Mum and dad caught the long flight back to Malaysia while I would be returning to London, Canada.

My second reason for coming to Chicago
The feeling after a holiday is always a surreal one. Luckily, I'm not working at the moment so I don't have post holiday withdrawal symptoms. I have a couple more days in London before I leave Canada for good. Here are a couple of pictures of autumn in Springbank Park. Li-Ann will be staying here a few more weeks, hopefully winter doesn't come too soon.

How time flies and our temporary 2 year stay in Canada is coming to an end. Where to next? It would also be a new place to us, but in Australia. More to be revealed in posts to come ;)


CheapRunnerMike said...

Well winter has arrived here in London...boy is it cold! Snowy now too.
I love Chicago! My Chicago Marathon post-race meal was deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's, great choice!
Glad you guys got to see so much of the US and spend some quality time together!

Kevin Siah said...

Pizza is the food for champions! I have it pre race too!