Saturday, May 21, 2011

Hollywood Blvd and Universal Studios

I was going to San Francisco to attend a reunion with some of my high school and grade school classmates. But even before the reunion itself, three of us planned to meet up in Los Angeles. My two friends were flying in from Australia, one from Sydney, the other from Melbourne. Having come from quite a distance we thought we should get the most out of the trip. Fe, from Sydney, arrived a day ahead; Doris and I arrived within a few hours of each other on the following day. We all met at the hotel and, directly after lunch, we hit Hollywood Blvd and checked out its tourist attractions (the 14 or so hours of flying did not matter!). The next day was devoted to Universal Studios!

Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood & Highland Center
The Hollywood Sign
The El Capitan Theater across the street
Kodak Theater
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Chinese Theater
Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum
Universal Citywalk
Universal Studios

Friday, May 20, 2011

Napa Valley and Calistoga

Wanting to make the most of our time in San Francisco, my California-based friend (Thanks, Mitzi!) arranged for a day trip to Napa Valley, a world famous wine area and a popular tourist attraction. Napa Valley is home to more than two hundred wineries.

Domaine Chandon

Robert Mondavi Winery
An interesting observation: there are usually rose bushes planted at the end of a row of grape vines. Why is that? The practice is also seen throughout the wine regions of France and grape-growers use the roses as an early warning system. Roses and grapevines are susceptible to a disease (powdery mildew) caused by fungi . Roses are more sensitive than grapevines; if a grape-grower sees that his roses have powdery mildew, he can then take measures (like spraying sulfur) to prevent the disease from spreading to the grapevines. Roses also warn of other diseases and growing problems before they affect the grapevines. They also serve as a habitat for some beneficial insects that eat other undesirable insects. And besides, roses are beautiful!

In the afternoon we proceeded to drive to Calistoga to see California’s Old Faithful Geyser. We were advised that Old Faithful was erupting every 5 minutes that day. Our timing was just right because shortly after we had entered (there’s an entrance fee), Old Faithful let out a powerful stream of hot water high into the air. And as we were about to leave, it performed for us again!

California's Old Faithful Geyser
Waiting for Old Faithful
There she blows!
Note: they say that the water is 350-degrees F and can go as high as 60 feet into the air. (Source)

Around San Francisco in a limo

recently had my first limo ride - at age 55! Thanks to the reunion with my high school (and even grade school) classmates. Ten of us reunited in San Francisco; some of us had not seen each other since our high school graduation 38 years ago! But time did not seem to matter; we were all chatting away as if we had parted ways just the day before. This group of goldengirls meeting  in SF had come not only from different US states (California, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas) but also from other parts of the globe: Canada, Australia (Sydney and Melbourne), and the Philippines. Some had been to SF before; for others it was the first time. We went to the tourist places but we did it in style! I noticed that people would be looking as we pulled up. I was puzzled by the interest; then it dawned on me – they were looking at the limo! I wondered  - were they expecting some celebrity to alight? Were they disappointed to see a bunch of radiant goldengirls?  LOL!

Bay Bridge and the San Francisco skyline

Postcard Row Steiner St

View from Twin Peaks

Fisherman's Wharf

Pier 39

Lombard St - the crookedest road

Golden Gate Bridge

Grace Cathedral

Thanks, Mitzi, for making the arrangements!