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California Part 3: Monterey & San Francisco

Back in the car we got and headed north on Highway 1. We'd decided to break up the journey between LA and San Fran with an overnight stop in Monterey. The drive along the rugged coastline is simply stunning, I defy anyone to drive that route and not make a stop at some point. We made many stops to soak up the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Our favourite by far was McWay Falls.

The further north we travelled, the colder it got. We're not talking winter freezing cold but there was certainly a chill in the air. Cardigan weather as my mum would have said.

Monterey itself is a seaside holiday destination much the same as the British coastal towns minus the amusements and arcades. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa. There was a roaring fire in the lobby (I suspect it was a fake gas one) and had a very different feel to our preceding hotels. Being cooped up in the car for so long, the son couldn't wait to jump in the outdoor pool. Lol, I don't think it was heated. He lasted 17 seconds.

It was very much a stop over though, we walked into Monterey for food in the evening, every restaurant was packed and we ended up waiting for a table at the Chart House which was really rather good. And so was the local Pino Gris! Went down very well it did.

The following morning we strolled back in to town to check out the olive oil shops. Orange blossom and walnut were my favourites. We didn't mean to eat all their dipping bread but let's just say that we didn't come away hungry.

Everyone said that we should visit Monterey. I'm glad I did it, I loved reading about the fishing heritage but I think I preferred the more laid back San Clemente (see this post). It seemed much less contrived.

Back in the car and a leisurely drive into San Francisco. Our final hotel in California should have been the Sir Fancis Drake, but hubby scarred by his stay at the Waldorf Asoria in New York, said that the dark furnishings and ornate style would give him a headache so please could we find something else. For the record I adored the Waldorf. Reluctantly, I gave in and we stayed at Hotel Nikko which I have to say was a triumph. The roof top (indoor) pool was just the job at the end of a busy day of sightseeing. We also made use of the steam and sauna rooms too.

In fact, I found a new favourite place up there. On the roof terrace where we had breakfast each day.

*Top Tip* ask for a corner suite. Panoramic windows to both sides with fabulous views.

So what did we get up to in San Fran? Well sadly because we had to move the whole holiday back a couple of weeks, we lost our Alcatraz slot and every tour company was booked solid. I felt bad for the kids, they really wanted to go. Instead we took a trip to a Muir Woods National Park to see the giant Redwoods. They were mega! A tick on the old bucket list there.

And of course it took us twice as long to get around the park as everyone else because I have to read every information sign. Even the health and safety ones. It's always good to know what to do if a brown bear attacks.

We picnicked on Muir Beach.

We also went down to Pier 39 and did the whole holiday maker bit watching the sea lions watching us, watching them. They still smell as bad as last time!

And took in a beer or two.

We tried to show the kids the Golden Gate Bridge in all it's glory (twice). Alas that darn sea mist kept rolling in.

We shopped at Union Square. Some of us more successfully than others (me). I bought one sweater!

We ate at a Thai restaurant even though I said I didn't want Thai. Not my food of choice. Obviously it was delicious.

And we took in a baseball game at the AT&T Park which has a stunning outlook over the ocean. **Top tip** don't book seats at the end of a row. You see, baseball is as much about the food as it is the game and people are constantly on the hunt for burgers or pizzas or hot dogs or whatever. We booked our tickets late and so took what was left...at the end of the row. I was up and down like a bloody umbrella at the seaside on a bank holiday Monday. Really enjoyed it but sorry Giants, my heart is still with Red Sox.

We used the Metro system and trolley buses to get around San Fran, so much easier than pulling the car out of the car park. Of course you get it wrong sometimes and end up in the opposite direction i.e. the colourful Castro district. 'Oh' said the husband, 'I think I've just seen a naked man'. Technically not correct, he was wearing a gold diamante willy warmer. Strolling in the sunshine as if it were the most normal thing in the world (sorry, no I didn't get a photo).

Speaking of which, the weather. Chuffin cold at times. If Google is to be believed, the average temperature is 57 degrees (13 degrees celsius). I believe Google. Holidaymakers wore tee-shirts, locals wore ski jackets. I'm not saying I was miserable or anything but I did have to buy a sweater in Uniqlo. And I probably moaned more than I should.

We packed in a lot in the 3 days we were there and before we knew it, it was time to hand back the car, jump on a plane and lie horizontal with a cocktail in my hand for a week. Ah yes, our Caribbean week.

Anyway, before I go, I must tell you about a little gadget that I took away with me. You may remember this post where I reviewed the Clarisonic Mia 2. Well, I was asked by Currentbody to review the PMD (Personal Microdermabrasion Facial Exfoliating Device). I'm not new to microdermabrasion and have regular treatments at a skin care clinic. How can I explain it. Well think of a really thick straw that as it runs over the face, sucks up the skin and sprays tiny crystals which removes the top layer of your skin. An intensive exfoliator.

So I was interested to find out if a home device is as good as a professional one. The PMD has little aluminium oxide exfoliating pads instead of the spray of tiny crystals.

Included in the box is an instruction manual and CD which you should read as it explains what the different coloured disc heads are for and how to use the device. After a couple of false starts, I realised that I wasn't holding the device at the correct angle for the suction to work. Now I do it without even thinking about it. You can feel a slight pull of the skin as it is sucked up and that's it really. The exfoliating disc whizzes around sloughing off the dead skin cells. It's an easy procedure and quite painless.

Professional microdermabrasions have in the past left red tramline-like lines (try saying that after a couple of wines) across my skin. This home device didn't. Which is a good thing as I do use it regularly (2-3 times a week). I'm not going to claim that I have less wrinkles or look younger but what I can say confidently is that after the treatment, my foundation glides on so much better and my skin looks really fresh and feels feels silky soft.

Anyway, I decided to take it on holiday because I'm shocking at neglecting my skin. I'll slap sun cream on all day but do very little other than cleanse and moisturise back in the hotel room. By the end of the holiday, I end up with dull looking skin. Not this time. My skin still looked fresh and I was able to brush on a little bronzer and was good to go every evening. Taking the PMD away with me turned out to be an excellent decision! And it's not a bulky item either so slipped into my toiletry bag quite easily. Oh and I'm ditching the salon microdermabrasions, this little machine is just as good.

Currentbody have produced a short video and Emily explains it so much better than me. And there's 20% off if you quote CB20 at checkout.

Hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine. I'll tell you how we got on in with the daughter in London next time. Let's just say it was a very loooonnnnng day.

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