The Californian With Trafalgar is a fantastic trip which includes tours of amazing cities, beautiful scenery, interesting locations and fun activities.
The tour begins in San Diego. Upon our arrival we were taken to our hotel, which had been converted from a 1920s-era bank building. The lobby was breathtaking with its beautiful marble, columns, painted and ornate ceilings. The Bank Vault is downstairs and has been kept in its original working condition. They have added a large conference table in the center of the vault which is used for meetings.
The hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the city’s famed Gaslamp Distric with over 200 restaurants, bars, nightclubs and lounges, boutiques, art galleries, and shops. Also nearby is Balboa Park: the nation’s largest urban cultural park, which is home to 15 major museums, renowned performing arts venues, beautiful gardens and the San Diego Zoo.
The Tour Director met us in the lobby and gave us information about the meeting that night and informed us about the times and locations to meet for breakfast and to catch the bus. That evening when we met, we were given a name tag which was not ours to help us meet other people by trying to find the person whose name was on the tag we were given. This was a great way to help everyone introduce themselves and meet lots of new people. We had people from South Africa, Australia, Ireland, the UK and the USA.
The next day we began with a tour of the city and its wonderful sites. This was followed by an optional tour and cruise in the bay which was fantastic. We were then given free time to explore the sights and sounds of the city.
We left San Diego and went to San Jaun Capistrano which is the home of the oldest Spanish mission. We also visited the ruins of the Great Stone Church, the Iconic Bell Tower and the peaceful Sacred Garden. On to Santa Monica, where we had lunch at a very neat place and got to see the Santa Monica Beach, which was beautiful. Next we went to the Getty Museum which has a world renowned collection of classical and modern art. We had a chance to stroll the grounds while admiring beautiful paintings and sculptures, along with the magnificent gardens and incredible views. At the top of the building we were treated to a breathtaking view of the whole city of Los Angeles and surrounding areas.
In Los Angeles we went to see Grauman’s Chinese Theater which opened in 1927 and has been home to hundreds of premieres and three Academy Award ceremonies. We had a private tour of the Dolby Theater, which is home to the current Oscars. Outside we could see the Hollywood sign and got to see many of the stars on the walk of fame which was great. We went to Beverly Hills and got to see the world-famous Rodeo Drive with its many luxurious designer shops and elegant restaurants. We had lunch at the historic LA Farmers Market, which has a colorful collection of restaurants and shops.
This is a great place to explore and indulge your taste buds.
The next day we drove up the coast to Santa Barbara, where we had time to relax, take in the beautiful views and enjoy a wonderful lunch. Continuing north along Pacific Coast Highway we arrived at the beautiful seaside village of Cambria. Here we were going to visit an organic cheese maker and learn about the local specialty process of cheesemaking using sheep’s milk and tour the unique Rinconada Dairy. Unfortunately due to the wild fires surrounding the road we were unable visit and tour the dairy. Instead we were given the opportunity to go see the elephant seals, which was a very neat experience. That evening we had a delicious meal at the Cambria Pines Lodge. It was outstanding.
In the morning we departed for “La Cuesta Encantada” The Enchanted Hill where William Randolph Hearst built his 165 room castle. We took a tour of the magnificent castle, the beautiful gardens and elegant pools. After a drive through the lush vineyards of California Central Coast we arrived at the quaint village of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Next along our scenic route we drove past the iconic Lone Cypress Tree and Pebble Beach Golf Links on our way to Monterey. Monterey is home to Canary Road made famous by native California author John Steinbeck, and the lively, picturesque Fisherman’s Wharf.
Heading across the fertile San Joaquin Valley we stopped at a local fruitstand to sample some of the tasty produce. After which we ascended the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on our way to Yosemite National Park. As we toured the park we saw many wonderful picturesque sites. The wild landscape of Yosemite National Park was both breathtaking and beautiful. Descending from the mountains we headed north to Sonoma to visit a family owned winery. After a tour of the winery and a tasting of local wines, we enjoyed a barbecue lunch that was delicious. Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge heading into San Francisco we decided to take the optional guided tour of Chinatown which included a Chinese banquet dinner that evening. We also enjoyed a ride on a cable car, which was a lot of fun.
Our final day was filled with sightseeing in San Francisco including a visit to Fisherman’s Wharf with it’s amazing restaurants and scenic views, Lombard Street with its famous hairpin turns and 40° incline and a variety of other interesting places. The optional tour offered us a chance to take in the beauty of the area and reflect on our amazing adventures as we walked the 1.7 miles across the Golden Gate Bridge. That evening we enjoyed a festive farewell dinner and a chance to recount our favorite memories from the trip and to say goodbye to our new found friends. This is truly a great tour packed with interesting places to see and fun things to do.