A short drive from San Francisco

Photo taken at Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Work was closed for Presidents Day (16th February) so a road trip was a must. It was all very last minute and to be honest there wasn’t really much of a plan, other than to get a car and drive.

Sorting Transport 

As I am under 25 years and without a credit card I did not have many options when it came to hiring a car. I ended up going with Hertz and got a Toyota Yaris. With full coverage insurance it cost us $136.

Things to note:

  • Hertz accepts debit cards
  • The card you use must belong to the main driver
  • They will take a $200 deposit from your card
  • If you are under 25 there is discount codes available online
  • You will be asked do you want them to refuel your car or will you do it yourself – do it yourself, its cheaper!                                                                          

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 10.13.27 AM

   Route  

  1. Point Reyes National Seashore

   2.  Petaluma (overnight)

   3.   Bodega Bay

 

 

Point Reyes National Seashore

On arrival we found a large cabin that is home to the Point Reyes park rangers and the information centre. It was here we received a map of the area and were recommended the 8 mile (4 there & 4 back) Bear Valley Trail. This is a vey flat trail with a breath-taking view at the end. The walk took 4 hours, walking at a leisurely pace. It was a warm day so we found ourselves gulling through water.

IMG_2574

I was suggest bringing a few snacks for when you reach the edge of the cliff. Sit down and enjoy the view! There is a small but beautiful beach down a rather steep climb. Please note that this is not a recommended climb and I have been told people have been injured during the climb. In saying that, if you would like the adventure I would recommend climbing down onto the beach and enjoying your snacks there.

Point Reyes National Seashore is somewhere I plan to bring all my visitors. A place not known to all travelers but without a doubt worth a visit.

Petaluma

This small town has a lot to offer, from the lovely restaurants to the talented Petaluma Pete who plays his piano on the a street corner. Looking for a quite weekend away or just an evening out of the city I would highly recommend checking out Petaluma.

Accommodation – This was quite a random find and a good one at that. I was checking out google maps and saw it was a town close by. We booked into Motel 6, an absolute steal! $75 for one room, with two queen beds and onsite parking. Remember this was over valentines weekend and a long weekend.

Food – We were very lucky and got a table at Risibisi Restaurant, a busy little Italian restaurant in the center of the town. There was a special Valentines Day set menu which had some lovely dishes. Unfortunately it lacked a choice of good desserts 😦 , which sent us off in search of a supplement, this is where we came across Powell’s Sweet Shoppe. Every wall was covered with a section of sweets/candy to choose from, we were like two kids in Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.

On Sunday morning after a quick Yelp search we found ourselves at Hallie’s Diner. I would advise you get down early as the place fills up fast. We were very lucky to get seated straight away. We both devoured the Cinnamon French Toast, a breakfast I would definitely go back for.

Shopping – Another lucky find was Petaluma Village Premium Outlets. After breakfast on Sunday morning we stopped by for what we had intended to be a ‘quick look around’, three hours later we hit the road again. Some great deals can be found in Nike, Ann Taylor and Levis.

IMG_2641IMG_2644

IMG_2657IMG_2658

Bodega Bay

It around 2pm by the time we arrived at Bodega Bay. We had sat in a good bit of traffic on the way from Petaluma, I put this down to the fact the sun was beaming and everyone wanted to get out in the fresh air. We didn’t mind too much as the views were breathtaking. We drove all the way up a windy quite narrow hill were we parked the car and walked to the cliff side. There wasn’t much of a walk, more like a stroll along the cliff, this suited us fine as our legs were tired from the previous day.

IMG_2676

Bodega Bay is considered a prime spot for whale watching (especially between the last weeks of April & start of May), but we were hopeful we would catch a glimpse. After a half an hour or so of patiently looking out we began to give up hope. We wandered over to a group that had gathered at the point of one of the cliffs, it was there we caught a glimpse of a group of gray whales. Due to the time of year (February) the whales were quite far off the coast.

Overall our trip was a great success. Although we started out without much of a plan, only a car and a place to sleep, we packed a lot it. When living in a city you can easily forget that there is more than concrete buildings and the hustle and bustle of city life. Some of the most spectacular views are only an hour out of San Francisco.

Advertisements

Keeping In Touch

                                     Photo taken at Lands End, San Francisco, California

As a child we go to school and during the summer we spend it with our families, abroad, at summer camps or in various other ways. The point is after the summer we all go back to the classroom, trade war stories and start all over again. The process is quite similar as we go through secondary school and even through university. Although during the transition between primary school, secondary school and university, friends may move away, but personally I found most stayed close by and remained in a similar routine to mine.

Now, as majority of us have graduated, our lives are very different and our schedules are certainly worlds apart. Friends have chosen to continue their education, others have immigrated, others have found themselves with permanent nine to five jobs in their field of study and others have chosen to travel the world!  We take holidays at different times, have different priorities and our day to day lives vary greatly.

When I decided to immigrate my dad asked me what I was most nervous about. I know he was expecting me to say ‘knowing no-one’ or ‘moving away from my family’ or anything along those lines, instead I replied with ‘losing touch with my friends’. He quickly reminded me that one of my best friends lives in Philadelphia and it had been over a year since I had seen her, he then went on to remind me of another friend who had just come back from two years in Australia, both friends I am still in touch with.

Recently the time difference has started to get to me… eight hours is proving to be a nightmare when trying to arrange chats with friends. When I get up, they’re in work, and when I’m finished work they’re in bed. Now my sister has had the bright idea to make things more difficult by moving to Finland for five months… that’s a TEN hour time difference. Last Sunday I had a three-way Skype call with my family, in San Francisco it was morning, Ireland late afternoon and in Finland it was night time. Imagine what it was like when we didn’t have Skype!

Although I have always said I didn’t want this site to become too personal, I have quickly come to realize that it might be the easiest way to keep everyone informed. While I still intend to keep information broad enough, I am going to start documenting more of my adventure here. Till next time…

San Francisco I have arrived!

         Photo taken at Bakers Beach, San Francisco, California

As mentioned in a previous post I had been getting ready to relocate to the States… I have now well and truly arrived! This is my first time living away from my friends and family for a prolonged period of time and I am happy to say, ‘so far, so good’.

I arrived on the 30th of September and checked myself into USA Hotels on Polk and Jones. I stayed in a four-bed female dorm. I had booked myself in for just under 2 weeks knowing it would be tough to find accommodation, so this gave me plenty of time. The hostel provided you with bath towels and breakfast (pancakes, bananas, ‘oatmeal’), and wi-fi. This hostel is close to Union Square but also the Tenderloin, it’s safe once you do not go wander a few blocks over (walking away from Unions Sq.).

Day two – I checked out the Irish Immigration Pastoral Centre (IIPC). This is a wonderful facility and I would advise everyone relocating to check it out. The Irish community is very close and I have found everyone is willing to help you out. They run workshops, meet ups, have a list of possibly accommodation options (short-term & long-term) and career options (mostly laboring, hospitality & personal care). Since arriving I have attended their LinkedIn workshop, graduate meet-ups, networking mixer and their November Irish remembrance mass.

Coming over here I was determined to live with different nationalities and immerse myself in American culture, this is easier said than done! I had spent weeks on Craigslist before coming over and continued the hunt when I arrived… I was getting nowhere (literally no responses). Through the IIPC I met Emma*, she had been on the hunt longer than I had and knew her way around. We found an apartment together in Central Richmond. Here a week and I could finally stop living out of my suitcase (& obviously check out of the hostel early)! The apartment came unfurnished but that was easily sorted with an overwhelming trip to Ikea. I now live with 3 Irish girls and could not be happier!

Advice when looking for an apartment :

  1. Craigslist is where it is at – instead of applying to ads place your own ad, say where you want to live, your budget and a little about yourself.
  2. Arrange private viewings if possible, there is less competition this way as you get to spend 1:1 time with the renter.
  3. Go to viewings equipped with a statement of income, a reference and most importantly the DEPOSIT! We had no credit rating so this was important.

We are now fully set up and taking advantage of all San Francisco has to offer. Before I sign off I am going to leave you with some tips I wish someone had shared with me when setting up.

  1. Internet – we decided to go with Comcast as it was already operational in the apartment block. You can pay an additional charge for someone to come set it up, to be honest if its common sense, save the $. So far so good the services has been reliable.
  2. Mattress –  Aladdin Rugs is where it is at. I got a Queen mattress (spring & memory foam) for $225. Albert (the owner) is helpful, honest and such a character.
  3. Mobile Phone – this is something you should set up the day you arrive! Make sure googlemaps is both compatible and reliable on your phone, especially if you are travelling alone. When I first arrived I set up a pay monthly plan with Metro PCS, I quickly changed over to T-Mobile to the $85 per/mo plan. Its expensive but I get 5BG Data, unlimited international calls & texts (to mobiles & landlines).
  4. Google Express – when you sign up you get 4 months free delivery. They have a number of retailers on board (Target, WholeFoods, Costco, etc.). If you order before 1pm you can get that day delivery. My only compliant is that the delivery windows are quite wide but the door to door delivery makes up for it.
  5. Uber & Lyft & Sidecar – too late for public transport or sometimes its just quicker in a cab, check out these apps. When setting up an account get a friends code (or use mine) and it means your first ride is free and they also get a free ride.
    1. Lyft – ciara738507 – personally this is my favorite. If you are a party of 2 or it is just yourself I suggest you use LyftLine, this means you share the cab with people going the same direction as you and your cab turns out to be super cheap!
    2. Uber – ciarae7 – Uberpool is the same as LyftLine but I’ve found it slightly more expensive.
    3. Sidecar -the cheapest of the three, but not as well known. Haven’t used it enough to have much of an opinion.

Those 3 Questions…

63399_10152721320505624_126571664_n

I am moving to North American at the end of the summer for 14 months. This is something I have always said I would do, so when I told my parents I was going they were like ‘yeah ok’ and I knew what they really meant was ‘come back to us when you’ve booked your flights’. I could understand this reaction as we hadn’t actually been home from Chicago 24 hours and also the fact I had been going to America for the last 3 years.

Now, the date has been set, visa has been approved and flights have been booked, it has become a reality! Slowly, I have begun to hear my parents tell people and talk about it as a reality. There are three questions that are repeatedly asked, the sequence varies…

Question 1: Do you have a job set up?

Question 2: Do you have a place to stay?

Question 3: You know people over there, don’t you?

… but it all ends the same, ‘I’m sure you’ll have a great time’, to which I politely smile and thank them.

It is funny to watch everyone’s reaction when the answer to all three questions is no! There is that look on their face that screams ‘ARE YOU CRAZY’.

The truth is I can’t bloody wait. I am the eldest in my family and have never lived away from home on a long term basis (excluding the adventurous summer spent in Chicago, but that is for another day). What appeals to me most about moving is the fact I know no one, no baggage, no expectations, a fresh start!

Don’t get me wrong I will miss my family so much, but as my 7 year old cousin reminded me over the weekend, we now have Whatsapp, FaceTime (not that I actually have an iPhone) and Skype. It is not as if my own form of communication is a letter in the post!