Our particularly well-travelled intern, Tom Surr, has been kind enough to share some of his experiences with us. This is the first part of his account of a USA West Coast road trip.
"Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road." So said Jack Kerouac, a man who knew a thing or two about that most evocative and enthralling of adventures, The Great American Road Trip.
First stop - Los Angeles (or to give it it's full title, "La Ciudad de la Reina de los Angeles", which translates as "The City of the Queen of the Angels"). The supposed glitz and glamour of Hollywood was actually pretty disappointing, although an afternoon's guided tour spent peering into the houses of the rich and famous in Beverly Hills was good fun.
However the only celebrity we actually clapped eyes on was Kelly Osborne, who was loudly honking her horn in a traffic jam behind us on the way back to Hollywood Boulevard. Venice Beach and Santa Monica Pier (the Western start/end point of Route 66) are also well worth a day's visit. After a few days in LA, I hit the road on a Greyhound bus for the day's drive up to San Francisco.
San Francisco is surely one of the most beautiful cities in the US. The perfect antidote to the vast urban jungle of LA, San Francisco is far more welcoming and more accessible for visitors; it's a city with soul and character. No trip there is complete without a walk or a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, particularly when the fog comes rolling in, often obscuring the entire bridge from view! Alcatraz, the San Francisco piers, 'The Crookedest Street in the World' and a ride on the famous tram system are a selection of other must-do activities. Hit the road, Jack After joining up with my road trip group, we set off for Yosemite National Park. An outstandingly picturesque place, popular with hikers, bike riders and rock climbers in particular. I set off with a small group, early in the morning of our free day, to climb up to Yosemite Falls, the 20th highest waterfall in the world at 739m high. Offering great views over half dome and the rest of the valley, this was a great way to spend a day. A soak in the hot tub with a few ice cold drinks back at the lodge that evening was well earned!
Anybody doing a road trip in Western USA will come across In-N-Out Burger. This is something of a West-Coast fast food institution. The inside scoop story here is the number of off-the-menu options available at In 'N' Out burger, knowledge of which is spread solely by word of mouth. Here are two of the best. First is the animal-style fries. These are regular fries with slatherings of cheese, grilled onions and Thousand Island dressing. Second are the bigger-burger options. The In 'N' Out menu only offers single and double patty burgers, but staff will prepare you a triple or even quadruple if you ask for one (and feel brave enough to tackle it!). A policy limiting 4 patty burgers was introduced in 2004 after a customer, having learned of the company's policy to make any sized burger, went in and ordered a 100 patty burger with 100 slices of cheese! Order one of these off-the-menu options (with a nod and wink for added effect) and the staff will know exactly what you mean, even if punters in the queue around you look a bit puzzled.