Maui 2015 – The last full day

My last day on Maui was pretty relaxed. I started by driving to Maalea Harbor again to check out the aquarium and its seafood restaurant1 and was pleasantly surprised.

The aquarium was fun, educational and a nice place to just sit down and relax. I honestly just spent half an hour sitting on a bench and reading, just enjoying myself.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

When it was reasonably lunch-timey I went to check out the restaurant and damn! For an inside-tourist-trap2 the service and price range was actually amazing.

And the food! Delicious!+ Just look at this beauty!WP_20150528_12_35_01_Pro

 

The rest of the day was spent driving around a few places that I’d had recommended for swimming, snorkeling, etc, but I guess traveling alone I should’ve prepared for those things differently. I didn’t regret it though. In the evening I went back to Whaler’s Village, Leilani’s again and decided to splurge for one last time.
It was glorious. I did have a very good waitress and probably was just way to comfortable for my own good, so I got a Mango Flow, got talked into trying the best sword fish tacos I could imagine and finished up with their sorbet trio, strawberry, mango-papaya and dragonfruit. That and the scenery made for a nice final evening of my vacation. Oh, and I also got to help recently arrived Australians to plan their time on Maui, confirming what the waitress told them about it being rather chilly up on Mt. Haleakala. That was fun!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And that pretty much wraps up my vacation. I mean, yes, I checked out of the hotel the next day, had a rather nice breakfast in Lahaina, got rid of my trusty rental jeep and flew back to San Francisco. I also got really lucky because my baggage had arrived with an earlier flight since I had checked in so early. That way I managed to get the last of the free shuttle buses to the hotel. It was after midnight, after all. The nearby McDonalds being closed put a dampener on things because I WAS kinda hungry, but what can you do?

The next day ways spent getting from San Francisco to Frankfurt, from Frankfurt to my parents place and from my parents place to mine. The next week was filled with the mother of all jetlags, and after a while I started blogging and BOOM, here we are, see you next time!

.

Footnotes
  1. no kidding []
  2. zoos, aquariums, amusement parks etc usually have interesting ideas about food prices []

Maui 2015 – Sunrise on Mt. Haleakala

EosRoadtrip 2079

When going to Maui, bring gloves, a sweater, a jacket and a warm hat. You’ll need it. Trust me. Also book a trip up to Mt. Haleakala at sunset, it’s worth it. Also I’m not kidding about the temperatures. You’re roughly 10.000ft above sea level, it will be around freezing and there’s windchill to consider.

If you drive yourself, which I don’t recommend, leave at roughly 1am. Drop off your car, go to the wall on the right side of the visitor center/shelter thing. Gloves. Don’t forget gloves. Wait. Enjoy.
Seriously, though, book a bus tour. It’s a lot safer, we passed an accident on the way back down, you don’t want to be those guys. Also the bus drive I had was rather fun. I almost missed pickup though, because my travel voucher/confirmation said 2:45am and the phone in my hotel room rang at 2 sharp. Can’t remember the last time I got dressed this fast, luckily I had everything laid out. The bus trip (picking up people at various hotels included) up to the national park and the parking lot near the observation place was roughly 2 hours 30. Our bus driver chatted away happily, told stories, dropped us off, drove us back down again, told more stories, stopped at photo opportunities and restroom breaks. And of course for the really nice breakfast that was included. And he chatted A LOT, but it was fun. Even if all of us were dead tired. Apart from that there’s not really much to tell, so I’ll just leave you with the pictures, right?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Naturally I didn’t do that much for the rest of the day. What I did do was have dinner at the Hula Grill in Whaler’s Village. A Mai Tai, flatbread and a ginormous Hula pie. Dying just thinking about the tastiness.

WP_20150527_001 WP_20150527_002 WP_20150527_003

Maui 2015 – Snorkeling and hanging loose

As a substitute for my originally planned whale watching trip on Maui1 I had booked a snorkelling trip supposed to take me to Molokini and Turtle Arches. No turtles, though, since we stayed at Molokini the whole time. Captain’s decision because the weather was a bit choppy that day and we wouldn’t have seen much at the second stop.

EosRoadtrip 1622

The trip was booked via/organized by the Pacific Whale Foundation in Maalea Harbour and I have only good things to say about them. They were focused on safety and relaxation, gave us fruit and other stuff for breakfast, plenty of water, even a lunch and drink was included. The part that impressed me most and which made me tip generously: a choice diving masks with various diopters for the nearsighted. Like me. No additional surcharge. And they offered wetsuit tops to rent out for an additional tenner, which was totally acceptable. And is a good idea to avoid getting sunburned or cold from staying in the not that warm pacific for more than an hour. While the more experienced snorkelers dove off the various options of the boat, the captain himself offered a short lesson, introduction to snorkelling, covering tips and tricks, how to effectively use the equipment, how to be safe so that everyone would be able enjoy the swim with minimum hassle. Just brilliant.

PxRoadtrip 173

And that’s pretty much all that is to say. We enjoyed snorkelling, diving, swimming, paddling, looking at fishes we could even see from above the surface. Here’s a digest of pics from the half-day cruise!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

That of course only covered half the day. The other half I enjoyed exploring Whaler’s Village in Lahaina, within walking distance from my hotel. I took pictures of birds, went to the whalers’ museum and had a burger at Leilani’s. Yum!

 

 

 

Footnotes
  1. pro-tip: no humpbacks after mid-may, no whale watching trips on maui []

Maui 2015 – Road to Hana

I guess after leaving the continental states, the roadtrip title format won’t work anymore. And yet on my first day after arriving on Maui I did what? The famed Road to Hana trip. Staying at Kaanapali Beach I had to cross the island first, or I probably would’ve had to take two days for this thing.

Word of advice for everyone planning this trip: Leave early. Really early. Also don’t do it on Memorial day or any other holiday. It (probably) was more crowded than normal, and not being able to stop at some of the beautiful places, because the turnouts are already crammed with cars, will put a dampener on your mood. Still, driving almost all around Maui is a fun thing to do, and rather pretty. Especially the part after Hana, where the road gets adventure-y in some parts, and maybe not all that advisable with a non 4×4 car, depending on the weather. Even when it’s full of tourists, there’s plenty of places to stop, do a brief hike or check out a waterfall, beach or park like the Garden of Eden Arboretum where you might even find something you’ve seen in Jurassic Park.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Oh. And when on Maui, rent a Jeep. Because sometimes the road can be…adventurous.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

You might also be persuaded to turn off at Brudda Hutt’s in Hana, for a traditional plate lunch cooked in a food truck. If you want cheap food, and lots, and have a robust stomach, go for it. If not, well it’s not something I would go out of my way to eat. At least I didn’t feel bad about eating an expensive steak at the hotel while watching the sun set that evening.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So that was kinda nice….

Roadtrip 2015 – No whales. Again.

After my disastrous experiences with trying to see whales up north I’d booked a whale watching boat trip for one of the days in San Francisco. The trip was pretty nice.

We passed under the Golden Gate Bridge twice1 and coming back the weather was pretty good.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I saw plenty of birds, seals, sealions, even a few dolphins briefly.

Not.

A.

Single.

Whale.

To be fair, just before we got back into the bay, someone (even several people) allegedly saw a whale spout. We hung around a bit, someone saw it again, but I didn’t even see that.

So there’s that. The crew was nice and knowledgeable, though, explained a lot of stuff about the animals we saw and all that. But after a few hours I was seriously tempted to throw the captain overboard. Every now and then he’d go on the PA and shout “LET’S FIND A WHALE” followed by some other motivational bullcrap, always in the same, forced eager tone. Given my whale-related frustration on the trip that got old preeeetty quick.

But here, have a digest of the animals I did see. I liked that part, a lot of birds you usually don’t see and all that.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And that was it. Since Maui2 was out of season my3 chances of seeing a whale on this vacation where crushed. Again. But the day wasn’t over yet. In fact it got really awesome. I went back to the hotel to relax a bit. And, basically, wait. Reading. WP_20150523_001While that is always nice, it wasn’t the point. The point was, today wasn’t only my last full day in San Francisco, it was also the day I was scheduled to meet up with the lovely, awesome and delightful4 Amira Makansi. If you don’t know her, she’s co-creator of the SEEDS book series, which you should check out.

Anyway, she took it upon herself to meet up with me, despite fighting off the remainder of what sounded like a pretty nasty cold and picked me up to have dinner in Japantown.

It.fried and smoked eggs, dumplings

fried and smoked eggs, dumplings

Was.

Ramen.

Ramen.

So.

WP_20150523_19_48_46_Pro

green tea crème brulée

Good.

And I’m not only talking about the food.

I really enjoyed spending time with Amira and hope to get to do that again. On either continent.

Bye, see you on Maui!

Footnotes
  1. obviously []
  2. I’ll take you there in a few days []
  3. realistic []
  4. you should hear her laugh. ;-) []

Roadtrip 2015 – Olli goes to jail

Most of this day was very unspectacularly and unsuccessfully spent trying to use a combination of sightseeing buses to get to Golden Gate Park. I somehow missed the bus in that direction and instead spent an hour or so here:EosRoadtrip 1135Not pictured: A million homeless people1 behind me.

After that (and some food) I just went back to the hotel and killed some time until I had to go to the ferry terminal to go to…ALCATRAZ!EosRoadtrip 1144jpgI’d booked an evening tour way in advance, and it was a pretty good thing to do. The tours are usually sold out weeks in advance, but I didn’t have to concern myself with that. It’s a fun and interesting trip down not so distant history, and the guides showing us around the area were fun and knowledgeable. The selfguided audio tour through the prison facilities themselves are amazing. Not only because they had a lot of background sounds like people shouting, rioting, clattering dishes, but the narrators were actually former inmates and wardens. Some of the things they tell makes you shiver involuntarily.

Anyway, here’s the pictures of the boat trip, wandering around the island and looking at cells AND coming back in darkness. Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

And of course, yes. I took a #cellfie2WP_20150522_18_48_57_Pro

 

 

Footnotes
  1. I doubt they were camping out for fun []
  2. spelling intended. Guide told us to do it! []

Roadtrip 2015 – Golden Gate

Today was mostly a day of exploring parts of San Francisco, I guess. But first things first: I had to return the rental car and make my way back down to the wharf, which, given the nature of San Francisco was quite exhausting. But I did see a few interesting things on the way which I’ll share with you. Those steep hills, the cathedreal in the middle of it…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After that I walked around a bit and took a few more pictures of ships and boats, an island and a sign. And afunny sign next to a motel.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next up was the mandatory crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge and a bit of a disappointing walk through Sausalito1, but I was able to sit around and read there, so that was nice.

I finished the day with trying to take pictures of the setting sun which didn’t turn out to bad, so all in all I’d say the day was a success!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Footnotes
  1. why do people like this place so much? []

Roadtrip 2015 – Meeting up in San Francisco

After three days of constantly being shunned by cats and not being danced for by the bird, Cairn finally had to let me go. It was time to see new places and people, and give the cats a break from hiding. I waited a bit to avoid the worst of the traffic and stopped twice on my way from Sacramento to San Francisco. Once at my probably last chance to get Chick-Fil-A on this road trip.1

The second stop was right before going down past Vallejo, but nothing spectacular happened there. The weather was so-so, no animals, the view was mediocre so I did the next thing on my schedule. I crossed the Bay Bridge and entered San Francisco.

PxRoadtrip 103

Sadly it was still a little hazy, so the view from Twin Peaks, which was not exactly optimal. Driving up through those steep streets was VERY interesting though. Thank photoshop for clearing up the haze and thank automatic cars. I’ve driven stick all my life, but that …

EosRoadtrip 942 EosRoadtrip 952After that I headed down to Fisherman’s Wharf to check into my hotel. Took me only two rounds around the block to find the entrance to the $50-a-night-parking garage. I was rather happy that I’d only need it for one night. Next up, after freshening up at the hotel was a new exciting meet-up.
Justin, who I used to play Eve Onlin with, had immediately started preparing when he heard I’d be coming to California and forced his brother to join him on a 6 or 7 hour drive from Lake Arrowhead just to meet up with me. And get back home the next day because they had to be at a wedding. You should totally check out his stuff, he’s an amazing artist. And a really cool guy.
We met up in the hotel lobby and he admitted that it felt sort of like a first date. Well, yeah, it can be interesting meeting people in person for the first time. We got over that fairly quick, had a stroll along the Embarcadero, checking out the piers, the sealions until we got back to Pier 39 to eat at Bubba Gump’s. I’d totally recommend that. Depending on where you are (I assume) you’ll always get tourist trap prices, but the quality, service and atmosphere are worth it. Just check out the slideshow, you’ll see what I mean. Well, part of it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Coronarita was excellent and so was the food. And the company of course. After we finished stuffing our faces and got our souvenirs stowed away at our hotel rooms we ended the day in a nearby pub with a few beers.

And thus endeth my first daye in ye olde San Francisco. Or something like that.

 

Footnotes
  1. It was okay for chicken based fast food. Would not go out of my way to have it again. []

Roadtrip 2015 – Goldrush

As if showing me part of the most gorgeous scenery in the western U.S. wasn’t enough, awesome Cairn treated me to something else on my second full day visiting her. Which was as well since the cats still weren’t to pleased by my existence.

But first she showed me around old Sacramento so I could see old buildings, the Wells Fargo Museum and the Pony Express statue! Look here:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

After that (and a well-deserved breakfast at Eggie’s we hit the road towards Coloma, the place of the original gold findings in California and the start of the gold rush. We even arrived there after taking only one wrong turn into the barren wildernis that is California. At the national park we hiked about a bit, joked with the park ranger, took pictures, bought a plastic pan and tried our luck on the banks of the draught-ridden and therefor not-so-mighty American river.

And guess what:EosRoadtrip 935

 

Gold!

Well…a little. And we lost it again. But we had fun, and that’s what matters. So here’s a bunch of pretty and informative pictures, including signs that scared me. And made me hope to actually see some of the animals mentioned on them. No such (bad) luck, though. Still, good times were had by all. Thanks again, Cairn!

After that we headed home, found another funny vanity plate and had dinner at that Mexican place, where I had watermelon agua fresca which is probably the best drink ever ever ever ever and I really need to make some here and find a container to bring it to work.

EosRoadtrip 936

Roadtrip 2015 – Yosemite

While Cairn’s cat continued to shun meEosRoadtrip 755 I got a big dose of hospitality today. After starting the day with a berry big breakfast at the Black Bear Diner, my awesome hosts drove me all the way to Yosemite National Park to take pictures of rocks and waterfalls and squirrels and stuff. We had tons of fun on this road trip within the roadtrip even if the weather wasn’t ideal at times. Vanity Plates and bumper stickers provided some entertainment as well, but the main attraction was the quite beautiful scenery of the national park itself. And some of the fattest squirrels I’ve ever seen, darting around between the visitors protecting their sandwiches from them at the visitor center. I didn’t take a picture of those, though. No fatshaming squirrels.1

As you’ll see in the slideshow below, Yosemite is worth a look even when it isn’t bright blue sky all around, so here’s what we saw gallivanting about the park itself!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After seeing all that we drove back Sacramento-wards, only stopping to pick up our well-deserved dinner at this place:

EosRoadtrip 898“Wait, what?” the non-US ones of you will say. Wiener Schnitzel? In the States? As fast food, by the looks of it?

Nope. It’s a hot dog chain.

“So what?” the Americans not “in-the-know” will say.

Let me explain.

THIS is a Wiener Schnitzel.

click me

 

Footnotes
  1. also my camera was in the car at the time []