Thursday, 26 November 2015

Trek America Tip & Tricks - Part 2



Trek America Grand Canyon

Trek America Las Vegas

For those of you getting fed up with me talking about my American Backpacking trip, don't worry this is the last post.  Taking off were my last Trek America post ended, I'm answering all your questions about life on and after Trek.

On Trek
How did you feel travelling with strangers for a week? Did you get on with everyone?
All my friends find it really weird that I went travelling with people I'd never met before, but it was honestly amazing. I'm quite a bubbly, confident person so I found getting to know everyone quite easy but nobody was isolated and we all gelled perfectly. I don't think there was one awkward moment. At the end of the day everyone is there for the same reasons and its really interesting to get to know other people; we had people from different countries so learning different words for things or sayings was hilarious, as well as different foods/music and culture. It was all part of the experience, but I've now got 12 new friends across the country, and world!

Do you have any free time? What activities are planned?
A little yes. As the Western BLT is quite a short trip by Trek America standards it was less than most tours but we still had freedom. Basically, if your not on the bus, your time is your own. We tended to stick all together, but then there were times we went off alone to explore. The main places you have free time are in Las Vegas and Yosemite. There was a little at the Grand Canyon, but that was down to you to choose which hike you fancied doing. Shawn e-mailed us handy little city guides for San Francisco and Las Vegas and in Grand Canyon and Yosemite he went through all the different things we could do to help us pack in as much as possible. At the end of the day, this isn't a school trip. Your all adults and you can control what you do. As with actives included in your tour, this varies depending on which on you choose. All the tours will tell you exactly what is included.

What is  was your Trek Leader like?
The best way to describe Shawn was a really tall, Californian surfer. He was really laid back and chilled listening to our input. He went over basic ground rules on the first day but like I said, it wasn't like a school trip, it was all common sense. He was totally approachable and ended up becoming just like one of us. 

Did you feel pressurised to do everything on the Trek?
Nope, I didn't feel like I had to do any of the included or optional activities. You might remember from my travel diaries that I was pretty ill towards the second half of the trip which stopped me doing some the longer hikes. It was fine just to sit out and relax while the rest of the group went for a walk. Nobody pushes you to do anything you don't want to as its your holiday after all. At the same time, I would recommend trying to step out of your comfort zone. Doing the hike down into the Grand Canyon was something I was absolute terrified of doing, but I am so glad I attempted it, even if I only managed a small section. I went home feeling like I'd accomplished something.

How does a BLT work? Would you recommend a BLT over a camping tour?
OK, so a BLT is a Budget Lodging Tour. They cost a little more than the camping tours, but in my opinion, are definitely worth it. Rather than having to leave places earlier or get their later because you have had to set up tents, we had the luxury of just checking into Hotels and Motels at night. The Hotels are pretty much in the centre of the action, and were all of a really good standard. When I say really good standard, don't expect The Ritz. But they were all clean and safe, and that's all you need when you are in and out. Doing a BLT was definitely a perk when we encountered storms as we had nice warm rooms, opposed to a water-logged tent. Another difference was that we didn't have a food kitty. Instead of making and cooking our own food, we ate out and grabbed things on the go. This can end up a little bit more expensive, but it does mean you have no washing up and get more time to explore. For me, you can't put a price on a good nights sleep so it's a BLT tour every time. 

What were nights like?
They varied. Most nights we had a big group meal and then either stayed out for drinks, or headed back to our rooms. The only nights that we did something properly organised was at Las Vegas for the party bus and at Yosemite at the camp fire. Don't forget you leave the hotels at 8.30am at the latest and most nights I wasn't in bed until 1.30am. The only wild night out was in Las Vegas, and all the others were pretty chilled, with just some drinks and giggles before getting ready for the next day. Whilst everyone on our tour drank, there was certainly no pressure to.

What were the long drives like?
It's common sense that if you are travelling round a large area, there will be long drives. Most of the drives were around the 3 hours 30 minutes mark, except from the drive from Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park that was 9 hours 45 minutes! Despite the length, the drives were possibly one of my favourite parts. I loved driving through different areas of America that you would not see, and believe me you see some amazing sights. I remember on the first day when we saw HUGE freight trains and were all amazed, or heading to San Francisco when we saw the wine towers. Shawn advised us to move around the bus to get to know everyone and we all sat somewhere different everyday which meant the bus conversations never got boring. We played the most competitive games of I-Spy you have ever heard of and just had a laugh. We stopped every hour and half to 2 hours and half for a toilet break and to grab some water, and the rest stops were just as unique as the main places.  All the vans have WiFi, but you have a daily quota as a group, and it's shared between everyone. Also, don't forget you won't get signal in the desert. You soon find that any signs offering free WiFi dictated where you eat. Personally, the bus trips were part of of the experience and one I wouldn't change. It's a road trip after all.

Any advice for spending money?
Whatever you budget, stick to it. I took a stupid amount and brought a lot of it home. For a BLT tour I'd probably recommend at least $150 each day so that you don't have to worry about money. Its common sense that some days are going to be more expensive than others. In Yosemite I hardly spent anything, but in LA and Las Vegas, I spent a fair bit. If you want to do any tours pre or post trip, book these in advance as you will probably grab a deal and it won't eat into your spending money. Don't forget to work in snack for drives. To cut down to cost of drinks most of us bought water bottles to re-fill too. 

What did you you pack but find out you didn't need? What didn't you pack but wish you had taken? 
I am a dreadful over packer and definitely realised it on this tour when we had to carry our suitcase up a flight of stairs at the Grand Canyon. Looking back, I wish I didn't pack my hairdryer as most places had one, and at Yosemite, where their isn't one, I just let it naturally dry over night. UK Hair Dryers aren't as strong over in the States as they are here, so there is honestly no point. Other things include excessive clothes as I probably stuck to the same couple of outfits. Clothing wise make sure you bring a hoody and leggings. These fold up to nothing but come in handy if a storm rolls in or you have early morning activities. I loved my packing cubes and found that helped to organise my suitcase so well when it came to moving round place to place nearly every day. Similarly, make sure you take some plasters, as you are always on your feet. I wish I had brought most trainers instead of my sandals. I did like my sandals, but didn't wear them. Instead I stuck to flip flops which did the exact same job anyway! 

What was it like living out of a suitcase and constantly moving around?
Sometimes it was hard work, but I actually really enjoyed it. I don't think I would have survived without my packing cubes from amazon as it meant I knew where everything was and kept my case organised. Instead of having to empty my entire case, I just had one designated cube to search for, which meant re-packing was super quick. I'd also recommend taking 5 minutes every night to tidy your case. Put everything you will need the next evening at the top of your case, because when your exhausted, you just don't want to root through everything. For all your valuables and important documents, make sure you always know where they are at all times. Check them before you leave your room, down in the foyer, and as you get onto the bus. If you loose your passport, your stuck.

What were your highlights?
As cheesy as it sounds, the people. I'm getting a little emotional about it now just thinking about it, but they became my best friends in a couple of minutes. We experienced so much together in such a short space of time, it's hard not to form friendships. As for the places, the Grand Canyon and San Francisco were my ultimate places. I don't think I'll ever get over the Grand Canyon reveal and watching the sunrise, and my love affair with San Francisco won't end soon. Despite being ill, I can't think of a single bad thing and at the airport in Sand Francisco I did cry a little watching planes take off as it hit me this was the end of a life changing journey.

Were there any negatives?
I think because its such a short trip, you haven't got time to adjust. Its just started by the time it ends. Because their is so much packed in, it is honestly like a whirlwind. You do need to be on your A game as to energy levels and health. Me being ill half way through was not ideal but I just had to grin and bear it. Be prepared to come home and be absolutely exhausted. Oh, and be prepared to have the most severe holiday blues you have ever had. Honestly, it took me a good month to stop sulking. Even now, I look at the photos and sigh. 

Post-Trek
Would you recommend travelling alone?
I think everyone needs to do it once. If you are anything like me, you will be nervous and scared the first day, and then actually embrace it. The freedom of being able to do anything you want and the excitement of exploring somewhere new is second to none. Being alone I found I was more open to try new things and grab any opportunity. I also met a lot of new people because I had to and didn't have anyone to clutch to.

Would you recommend Trek America?
If you need any sort of proof that Trek America is amazing, you should know that I booked my second trip with them a week after I returned. It would have actually been the next day, but I couldn't decide which tour to do. From the help and advice before you go, to the organisation and trek itself, it made travelling so easy. The Western BLT tour was the trip of a lifetime and has well and truly given me wanderlust. Even after my trip in August, I think I'll be a Trekker for a good couple of years.

Are you still in contact with your fellow Trekkers?
Yes! We all have each other as friends on social media, and I talk to them pretty regularly. While we've all settled back into our regular old lives, I don't think any of us will truly forget the amazing experience we shared. We're even having a reunion in January in Newcastle!

Do you feel like travelling has changed you?
It might have only being a relatively short period of time, but I do think my trip was life changing. I've come home more independent and confident, and a lot less anxious. If I can survive in a new city in a different country without knowing anyone, I can survive going shopping on my own in my own hometown. I think I've got more of a positive attitude, and will jump at every opportunity rather than think I'm not good enough. If you never try you never know.  I also realised I was quite materialistic and thought my happiness depended on what things I had. Of course I am still addicted to shopping, but I like fewer good quality items, rather than masses and masses of things. Living out of a suitcase does that to you I guess. I'm also much more into enjoying the moment and experiencing things and enjoy memories over a good Instagram picture anyway.

So that's all my tips. If you still have questions or want some advice, please feel free to contact me. I'll always be happy to help.

xoxo
J

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Monday, 23 November 2015

Fast & Fuss-free || How I edit my blog photos

Free simple fast blogger photo editing



As a general rule, Autumn and Winter are my favourite seasons. It's full of excitement and festive cheer with a lot of celebrations packed in to a couple of months. But, as a blogger, winter sucks. Whilst you have to be super organised at all times of the year, if you want to take a decent picture, you need to be smart about your timings. Oh and if the weather changes? Your day can be completely wasted. 

Now I am definitely not the world's best at blog photography. When I started out, I used grainy phone photos and didn't even know how to rotate a picture on blogger. Everyone has to start somewhere right?! After asking other bloggers for tips and tricks and having a play around with things myself, I've got my photo editing routine down to a couple of minutes max! And thanks to a rainy Manchester afternoon spent messing around on my computer with an old photo, I can now make bad winter lighting a thing of the past. 

Whilst this guide may be extremely basic for some of you tech-savy extrodinares, for us mere mortals, it may just give you an extra 5(0) minutes in bed on those cold Sunday mornings. 


So, let's start off with the original photo, taken mid day on a particularly dark and dismal weekend morning. Doesn't exactly show off the project in the best light (hehehe) does it?

Free simple fast blogger photo editing


I'll be perfectly honest here. I can't afford fancy dance photo editing software, and to be honest, it would be wasted on me. Nope, I get my photo editing fix for free and we can all say thank you Mr Internet for that. Whatever your need, collages, re-sizing, cropping, the internet has got you covered. The site I mainly use is Pic Monkey, a one-stop shop for all your editing needs. You can so so much on this site, but for today, we are sorting out the horrendous lighting.

After clicking Edit and selecting your chosen photograph, you should then be presented with this screen.

Free simple fast blogger photo editing



On the left side you have a platter of tools you can choose from to enhance your photo. The Basic ones are free, and the Royale ones are for fee-paying members. In order to improve the lightening on your photograph, click on exposure.

Free simple fast blogger photo editing

In the exposure section you have a couple of options to choose from. I only tend to use the Brightness and Contrast options. Have a play with increasing the different levels and finding a combination you like. Once you are happy with the result, click Apply. It's really important not to click apply before your happy with the final combination, as that will save the combination on to your edited photo, so if your not happy you will have to start the entire process again.

Free simple fast blogger photo editing

Although I've not used it on this picture, the other tool I use is in Colors. If you think the colours in the photo are a bit washed out (either from over-exposure, or just naturally), just increase the Saturation to pep them up a bit a make them pop. Similarly, if your photo is a bit too cold, have a play with the Temperature, to get a warmer look.

So let's have a look at the final look.
Free simple fast blogger photo editing


I hope this has helped some of you who are struggling with the winter lighting or can't take photos during the day.

xoxo


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Thursday, 19 November 2015

Trek America Tips & Tricks - Part 1

Trek America Tour







You asked, and I'm answering. This is my Trek America FAQ's post which will hopefully answer all of your questions and help any of you who are thinking about booking or going on. If I have skipped your question or not answered something that you'd like to know, just give me a quick tweet (click one of the contact buttons to the right or left) and I'll be happy to help!

Because this post got rather lengthy, I've split it into two parts.

Why Trek
What made you travel alone?
Honestly? Because nobody else could get the time or work/university. Well that's the main reason. The other reason is because I wanted to do something independent and quite adventurous. A lot of my friends have been on Gap Years or took part in Camp America alone and managed fine. In fact, they had all raved about travelling alone, so I thought I might as well give it a try.

Couldn't you have started with a tenting holding to ease yourself in?
I've never been the camping kind of girl. I absolutely love the outdoors and will walk miles with my dog in the Peak District but I like to come home to a proper mattress, indoor plumbing, electricity whenever/wherever I want and heating/air-con. Call my high maintenance, I really don't mind. I love my modern luxuries. As this is supposed to be a holiday, I didn't see why I should put myself through something I didn't really enjoy. As for travelling round another country, if I'm going to do it, you might as go the whole way. American's speak English too, so it's really just like staying in England, but with the bonus of better weather!

Why did you choose Trek America? Why this trip?
I wanted the independence of travelling alone, but not the hassle of organising my entire trip myself. Trek America meant I could have the best of both worlds and travel alone, but then also as a group with other trekkers. It meant I wasn't completely stuck on my own and had the comfort of somebody being able to help me get the most out of my trip. The Western BLT really appealed to me. I could only get 10 days off work at one time, so that did limit the choice of trips, but as this trip covered so many places I wanted to see, it was like a match made in heaven. Because it was only 7 nights on the official Trek, it also meant that if I didn't enjoy it, it wouldn't be as bad as being on one of the longer Trek America tours.

Booking Trek
Is it easy to book a Trek America trip?
Super easy! I know some people on my tour did it over the phone, but I just did it only. All I did was click on what tour and dates I wanted to do, and complete a quick form. It was similar to placing an order with ASOS! What's great with Trek America though is that the staff genuinely want to make your trip the best possible so will be happy to help and answer any questions.

How much does a Trek America trip cost and what do I have to pay up front?
I'm not going to lie, this isn't cheap. I had to save like mad to be able to afford this trip. The actual tour cost just over £900 which includes all travel and hotels whilst on the tour. My flights were £900ish too. I also stayed a total of 4 extra nights in hotels. With Trek America though you only have to pay a deposit up front, and the rest is due at a later date. I actually paid a little off each month every time I got paid, so I didn't miss the money too much. I will say this though, it is worth every single penny. 

What did you do about flights?
Some people booked their flights themselves, but I just went through Trek America. The reason for this is because I didn't have to pay for my flights completely up front and the cost was just added on to my account, so I could pay it off with my Trek. It also let's you amend your booking if you need to change anything. 


Pre-Trek
You stayed extra days before and after the Trek. What hotels did you stay in? Did everyone stay after? 
I stayed in the Gateway hotels recommended by Trek America which were pretty decent. They are good location for the airport and exploring and, again, have the added perk of not having to pay up front. I would suggest booking at least one night in the hotel before and after the trek as they start early in the morning, and after the Trek you won't want to say goodbye straight away. On my tour there were a couple of us who started in LA a couple of days before, but the majority came the day before. There were definitely more people staying on in San Francisco. Again, the vast majority were in Gateway hotels but there were others in ones they'd booked themselves. It wasn't a problem as we all still met up. I think if you are only staying or two days, make use of the Gateway hotels, but if you want a couple extra nights in the start/end location, you might be best looking for a hotel in the centre of the action.

What did it feel like being in strange cities on your own? Did you feel safe?
I was the first to arrive in LA at the Gateway hotel and I'll happily admit that when I checked in to the hotel and sat in my room, it hit me how alone I actually was. I did have a bit of a panic but a shower knocked some sense into me and I realised how lucky I was. I tended to travel by taxis to main areas and then walk around as I didn't fancy getting lost. I also made sure I had things plan so I didn't waste time and didn't feel isolated. As for feeling safe, I didn't go to any "bad" areas and didn't really stay out late at night on my own, but in the hotels I felt absolutely fine.

Did you speak to anyone on your Trek before you left?
Yes, quite a bit actually. Trek America have this thing called Trek Live, and we all started talking on there. A Facebook group was then made and it was later moved to WhatsApp. There were a handful of people who I hadn't spoke to, and they got on amazing with the group, there was no cliques or anything. It was really nice though to know a few faces and names, and have someone to ask questions to. Sharing our excitement pre-trek was part of the build up and we even spoke when we were all in the airport!


Next week I'm answering your On Trek questions and Post-Trek Questions, so if you have any, it's not too late to ask them!

xoxo
J

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Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Estee Lauder Little Black Primer

Estee Lauder Little Black Primer


Estee Lauder Little Black Primer Wand
It's the little things that give you confidence. I could have completely bare skin, but as long as I have mascara and lipstick, I'm good to go. Way back in May I invested in the Estee Lauder Little Black Primer in Duty Free. It makes sense really when you think about it. When I want my foundation to last all day, I'll reach for a primer, when I want my eye shadow to stay in place, I'll reach for a primer, so why not a primer for my mascara? 

Unlike traditional lash primers, The Little Black Primer, is, funnily enough, black, meaning you don't have to worry about covering it all to avoid random white flecks. Estee Lauder designed it to conquer three things:

  1. Tint - to colour and life natural lashes so they stay jet black over a long period of time.
  2. Amplify - to act as a super-primer and provide the perfect base for volume, lift and length.
  3. Set - to make smudging and flaking a thing of the past.

Estee Lauder Little Black Primer before and after results





Estee Lauder Little Black Primer before and after results



Estee Lauder Little Black Primer before and after results
Like everything, exactly how well the primer works depends on your natural lashes. I'm pretty lucky in that my lashes are long and jet black to start with. Even so, I would be tempted to wear the primer alone for a natural, subtle look. This would be perfect for anyone with light coloured eyelashes, just to give a base for your mascara, so the colour is amplified.

Unlike mascara, the formula is pretty subtle and for a while, I actually questioned if any had been applied at all. Until I looked at the before and after pictures. Alone, it's not clumpy and in fact helps you separate your lashes giving the appearance of a full lash line. In the photos above I've not curled my lashes. The shape of the wand means your lashes are lifted while the primer lengthens them. If you have ever been scared of using a curler or find it a bit of a faff, this is for you. Oh, and because it is a primer, that curl lasts all day and night. 

All this is well and good, but the sole reason why I got this is to rid myself of flaking and smudging. For some reason mascara seems to flake off my lashes after a couple of hours, leaving a nice collection of black flakes on the top of my cheek bone by mid-day. Well, after a week of testing, through the most wintery gusts and downpours I may add, I can report that this beauty lives up to its claims. Gone are the days of cleaning up my mascara on my lunch break in the ladies, I can now walk down the road and not fear that the slightest gust will send my mascara into a flurry. 

Although at £20, it's a bit of a luxury, for the effect it gives my lashes, I think it's more than worth it. 

What primers do you currently use?
xoxo
J

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Sunday, 15 November 2015

Just add water || The Make Up Eraser

The original make up remover review




I feel like a bad beauty blogger for admitting this but, I hate taking off my makeup. I'll come home from a long day at work, wanting to jump into bed, and the last thing on my mind are 20 step skincare routines that get in the way of me and Netflix. I tend to stick to a 2-in-1 Miceallar Water to get rid of the daily grime, but even then I can be tempted with the odd face wipe. Whilst I was over in the States a couple of months ago I picked up the Make Up Eraser in Sephora after seeing it pop up on instagram and youtube quite a bit. Promising to remove your make-up with just water (and that includes waterproof mascara!), this little cloth could be the answer to my prayers. Time to see what the fuss is all about ...

Contained in  a bright pink, rubber shaped package, the Make Up Eraser is essentially a large pink face cloth. Rather than a relatively rough Muslin cloth, it's super soft and actually reminds me of one of those soft-touch fleecy throws. No chance of it upsetting sensitive skin then. After popping the Eraser in the washing machine, your ready to go and remove your make-up fuss free. Simply drench a portion of the MakeUp Eraser in warm water and rub off your make-up in a circular motion. If you fancy giving your skin an added exfoliation, or have stubborn waterproof makeup on, flip the cloth to the side that has the tag on it. When you're reading to wash your cloth, simply place it in the washing machine, and it should be fine for at least 1000 washes. Oh and FYI, it's dryer friendly too.

So does it work? Absolutely, undoubtably, yes. I'm not sure how as it's super gentle, but it removes my daily items a treat. It's as easy as using a face wipe, but without any nasty chemicals. With all things there are a couple of downsides. The pink colour means that some products may stain the cloth  but, if you buy directly from here, they do a black version. I've also found that I struggle removing Benefit's They're Real mascara and eyeliner, but I've not found anything that makes that budge apart from their own remover.  So all in all, I'll continue to use my MakeUp Eraser and will probably re-purchase it when the time comes. It won't take the place of my normal cleansing routine but, as a quick way to remove my make-up it's the best alternative to face wipes.

How do you remove your make up?
xoxo
J

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Thursday, 12 November 2015

San Francisco, California

Saturday 19th September 2015 - Monday 21st September 2015

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

Day 7 of the Trek America Western BLT tour and it was the last and final day with 12 strangers who had become good friends. We travelled 3 hours from Yosemite National Park , further north in California for our final stop in San Francisco. 

We had the added bonus that Shawn, our tour guide, went to university in San Francisco and still owned a flat there, so knew it like the back of his hand. We had lunch just outside San Fran, in Oakland, then made our way across the bridge. 

You know those rare moments when you arrive somewhere, and from the very first moment you see it, you know you will fall in love? That happened to me with Keele University; I visited on an Open Day, and no matter what anyone else said, my heart was always going to lead me there. The same applies to San Francisco. The day was unusually warm and clear for that time of year, and we were welcomed into the city by hundreds of white sails in the bay. Then, as if by magic, the Golden Gate Bridge magically appeared from behind the hills. 

Haight Ashbury

Haight Ashbury

Haight Ashbury


Shawn wanted us to make one final stop before dropping us off at the gateway hotel and saying our goodbyes for the very last time. The best way to describe Haight Ashbury is the Camden of San Francisco. Made up of a mishmash of hipsters and those dancing to the beat of their own drum, it had an eclectic laid-back vibe that only California seems to manage. After grabbing a drink at Haight Street Market and being quizzed about Manchester music by the cashier, I had a quick people-watching session. The fashion alone would be enough for me to make the move, so many styles on one street and yet all fitted together perfectly. I felt at home.

After a while we got back into the van for the last time and headed to Mission where our gateway hotel was. There was a little bit of drama at the hotel, and not just because of saying goodbye to 12 people you'd spent 24 hours with for an entire week. For some reason the hotel got our bookings all mixed up, with some of us staying in one hotel, and others in the sister hotel across the street, and then some staying one night and others two. It was all a bit chaotic and very stressful after a long day travelling, but both Shawn and Chad, the other groups guide, stayed to help us get it sorted. And it did get sorted in the end.


San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco
San Francisco
San Francisco


I planned to have a day and half extra to explore the city before heading home. I booked onto the Gray Line San Francisco City Tour which covered all the main sites in one go. This tour was possibly one of the best things I did as I got to se so much in such a short space of time. From Land's End and Golden Gate Park to the Painted Ladies and Lombard Street; the more I saw of the city the more I fell in love. San Francisco has such a unique atmosphere. Yes theres your typical concrete city building, but the cute wooden clad houses and constant hills give it a quirky, original vibe. One place I would recommended everyone went to is Christmas Tree Point at Twin Peaks. The panoramic views of the city and bay are simply breathtaking, and if you haven't fallen in love with it already, you will now.

Pier 39Pier 39

Pier 39

Pier 39

Pier 39


Once my tour ended I decided to grab a spot of lunch at the famous Pier 39, opting for some local fish cakes, because when in Rome right?!? After I'd finished devouring the local delicacies I followed the sound, and found the amazing sea lions. For reasons unknown, sea lions have been found on Pier 39 since the 90's and are now a major tourist attraction. Just look how photogenic they are! I could have spent all day watching them, sunbathing, stretching and swimming in the sea; they were lapping up the attention. 

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Alcatraz


In the evening I'd pre-booked onto the night time Alcatraz Tour. Obviously Alcatraz is an island so you have to get one of the boats to actually start the tour. Because I chose to do the much recommended night time tour, I got to see the sunset behind the Golden Gate bridge, a sight which should never be taken for granted. Once there, I picked up my audio set and began walking around the famous prison. It is crazy to think I've been in cells where America's most dangerous criminals were kept, and that feeling is only heightened by doing the night time tour. Stepping outside you only realise you get a sense of how it must have felt like being on the island when it was in operation.; its almost painful how close you are to the bustling city.  

After I'd completed the tour I hopped on the last boat back, watching the twinkling lights of the city become slowly closer. I was absolutely heartbroken to think that I'd be going home the next day.

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours

San Francisco Whale Tours


My flight back to London Heathrow wasn't until later the next day and I was determined to make the most of the little time I had. After researching things to do in San Francisco I quickly booked on to the San Francisco Whale Tour as luckily they had a trip just before I was due to fly out. If you have the time, I would 100% recommend going. 

I was really lucky as my trip happened to fall in Humpback whale migration season and it wasn't long after travelling underneath the Gold Gate bridge that I got to see my first whale. We saw so many whales during the trip it was unbelievable, but as you can see from the photo's, it was pretty hard to get a good photo. I have new respect for wildlife photographs; things have disappeared quicker than you can get your camera to focus. On top of whales we saw a ridiculously huge Sun Fish, so many Gebe's, Albatrosses, Shearwaters and Pelicans. 

On the way back to shore we went past the old lighthouse and got to see some Pacific Harbour Seals resting on the rocks; they camouflage so well into them! I felt incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to see all this in my last few hours in the city. Returning back, I looked at the city line for the last time, taking in Alcatraz and the Gold Gate Bridge, and promising myself I would live in the city for at least a year at one point in my life. 

I suppose you can say I left my heart in San Francisco. After a quick meal with 3 of my friends from Trek America I went back to my hotel to grab my case and jumped in a taxi to the Airport. It was the end of this fairytale trip and time to head back home and back to reality. 

I really hope you've enjoyed reading about my travels. I've really caught the bug now, so much so that I'm going on another Trek America tour, this time on the East coast for two weeks in August 2016. 

I'm planning a Q&A about travelling alone and Trek America. If there any questions you have please leave them below in the comments, on my instagram or twitter. 

xoxo
J



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