Saturday, 22 November 2008


Back in Zürich. From sunshine in California to snow here. Just a little bit of a shock, as you can imagine.

Jet lag has not been as bad as I was expecting - I think it was worse going than coming for me, which is the opposite to Number Guy.

I wish I could put some amazing photos here, but my camera was out of action....

So how was the trip? I would give it 8/10. I had a great time overall, but it didn't start out that way.

First impression after flying for 12 hours from Amsterdam to San Francisco? Grilled meat. Yep, you read that correctly. The airport has a continual meaty smell. Thus far, my stereotypical views of the US were confirmed. (yeh, I know, I was only in the country 5 minutes....).

After collecting our 'small' rental car, we drove north over the Golden Gate Bridge towards Sanoma County. I was all ready to be stunned by the Golden Gate...but I was....underwhelmed. It may have the edge on colour, but
The Forth Road Bridge which joins Fife to South Queensferry (near Edinburgh) far outstrips it. Oh well, onwards north through California. Again, nothing but disappointment. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn't it. Scrubby countryside peppered with ugly housing and industrial areas.

By this time I had been awake for well over 24 hours, so I guess I wasn't best placed to be positive about what I saw. Add to this the crappiest road signage I have ever seen, I was completely failing to see what is so great about California.

Eventually we reached our hotel in
Windsor and collapsed into bed about 8.30pm. A (very short) twelve hours later we emerged into the dining room for the worst breakfast I have ever seen.
Biscuits and Gravy. Lordy, what IS that about? Apparently it is a traditional Southern dish. Why didn't they just keep it there.....?

To sum up, just in case you didn't notice, at this point I am jet lagged and completely unimpressed by the experience thus far. However, some small portion of my brain is working, and I remind myself that just because something is different doesn't automatically make it bad (except Biscuits and Gravy. That is Just Plain Bad.) If I wanted it to be like Switzerland or Scotland, I should have stayed where I was.

Having given myself this foot up the backside we venture out to see just what California has to offer.


  1. dineI feel, a little, as if I must defend my beloved United States...

    Golden Gate Bridge: what's amazing about it is that it was built in 1937 and was for many years the longest suspension bridge in the world. It is still the 8th longest suspension bridge anywhere. It was a major feat of engineering for its day, even if it has since been surpassed by other bridges.

    Road & Signs: unless you drove north on Highway 100, the road you took was likely just like any other highway anywhere in the world. And the signs are what you are used too. I hate driving in Europe, partially because I haven't a clue what the signs are trying to tell me. It's a relief to drive in the US.

    Biscuits and Gravy: I have one word for you -- haggis. (Shudder.)

    Glad you seem to be indicating the trip was better once you got some sleep!

  2. Glad you're back safe and sound, I didn't even realise you'd gone yet! x K

  3. Road signage -definitely different enough to make me appreciate the subtleties of the UK system. No countdown markers to let you know a junction is coming up. No 'dotted line' on the carriageway to make the junction obvious - easy to get swept off unexpectedly yet miss it totally when you actually want to get off. Not all of the overhead gantries are lit, which makes seeing some of the signage really hard at night. 'Turn outs - what I call a lay-by - have a sign saying that they are coming up, but the turn-out itself is often completely un-marked. Sure, a lot of it depends on what you are used to, but I could see room for improvement!

    I had some great times in the US, and am looking forward to my next trip. BUT - I have hear many Americans praise their country blindly to the sky. I have heard it said how awful UK infrastructure is compared to the US, which is definitely not the case in my opinion. The US and the UK both have marvelous things about then and things that need improving ( I could go on ad nauseum about UK faults).

    Yes - my trip was 80% fantastic, which I will talk about in later posts, but I am going to be honest about what I thought wasn't so good, too.

  4. Glad to hear you are back! A pity you weren't impressed by San Fran Airport, although it is a bit like a bust station, but then so are all Amercian Airports, its just cos they fly everywhere!.
    Best view of Golden Gate Bridge is coming back the way,looking over the Golden Gate to San Fran!
    I visited the US both times in the Spring Summer, and loved it. First impressions not always good, but ME, I definitely left my heart in SF!

  5. Ahh, methinks it was just too much of a shock, and that tainted your whole experience. I'm not the first to jump in with praise for the US, but we lived in Sonoma County for years and years, and must just say that if you didn't like it, you didn't really see it.

    Years ago, we returned from Germany to San Francisco via a direct flight. The contrast was dramatic. In Germany the airport guards wore fatigues, carried sub-machine guns, and were accompanied by huge German Shepherds. In San Francisco, the guards wore khaki trousers, short-sleeved t-shirts, and were accompanied by little beagle dogs.

    It's a different world, truly.

    Windsor, though ... I could pass on Windsor.