There are lots of reasons why I keep coming back to California. Since my first trip to San Francisco in the early 90s with my parents, I have traveled to California nine times – once with my parents, once with friends, and seven times with my other half. As we are currently planning our next trip there, I thought it was time for my five top reasons why I love California.
Coming from someone born and bred in northern Germany, this doesn’t really need further explaining. For those unaware of the German term “Aprilwetter” (April weather), this might be confusing, but where we live, we basically have two weeks of summer, two weeks of winter and eleven months of Aprilwetter, which means the weather changes every couple of days, hours, or even minutes. Cold wind, rain, sunshine, summer temperatures, hail, snow, fog, storm – everything goes.* One day boots and puffy jacket, the next day shorts and flip flops.
I’m a shorts and flip flops girl. I don’t like snow.
Of course California weather isn’t all summer and sunshine, but as long as the warmest layer I need is a hoodie (and maybe, just maybe a windbreaker), everything’s peachy. Even “May Gray” and “June Gloom”. Might need to stick to Southern California, though. As I said, I don’t like snow.
*I might have exaggerated a little...
In California there is a spectacular concentration of iconic places. Places you know from movies and TV, places you have read about in countless books, you have heard about in songs. Sometimes it feels weird to see these places close up and personal, sometimes it’s unreal, sometimes it’s underwhelming. And sometimes it’s just like in the movies.
My photography skills need improving, so some of the most famous places we have been are missing below, such as San Francisco’s Lombard Street, Monterey’s Cannery Row, and the Hollywood sign. Oh well, I’m sure there will be a post or three about our next trip to California in summer…
The variety of landscapes.
California is about the same size as Germany, and still the climate ranges from subtropical to alpine. If you want to, you can have your morning coffee with your feet in the ocean, have lunch in the mountains before you drive through the desert, and be back at the beach after dinner.
Many people in Germany seem to assume that you have to live on a strict diet of McDonald’s and BurgerKing when you travel to the US. The most obvious reason certainly is a combination of never having been there themselves and the basic knowledge that all major fast food chains are American. Put that together with some cultural stereotypes and a good dose of TV-induced half-knowledge, and you have a total dietary nightmare.
I like food, and I have always liked eating out. I enjoy trying food I have never had before – as long as it looks good and smells appetizing, I’ll probably eat it. In California, there is such a huge variety of different cuisines, it literally is not possible to get bored by food.
My personal favorites include Mexican food in general, all things BBQ (including Mongolian BBQ), seafood, steak and good burgers. From hole-in-the-wall places and fast food joints to upscale restaurants, in my experience you can find something for every taste and every budget. We prefer the more easy-going places without dress code, though…
The memories we keep on creating there.
Traveling creates memories. Traveling with your significant other is no exception, and sometimes the memories you create together are of the once-in-a-lifetime kind, like getting married on the beach in one of your all-time favorite vacation spots…
We often make lists of things we would like to see and do on vacation, and end up doing almost none of them because we stumble unto other exciting events by pure chance. Some of the most interesting ones in California so far were the Summer X-Games, the US Open of Surfing, an off-road motorcycle race in and around Lake Elsinore, another off-road race a couple of years later at the Lake Elsinore race track, and surfing lessons at Bolsa Chica State Beach.
And then there are the things that just happen around you, beautiful things you see on the side of the road and fun spur-of-the-moment ideas (no, getting married on the beach was not one of those…)
As this post has turned out to be quite the photo story anyway, here we go again: