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Western Wonders 23rd M
Post: #1
Thanks very much to tour manager Anne and driver Stan for a great tour.
We spent the 24th morning at Hollywood Boulevard on the Walk of Fame, the Chinese Theater and viewed the Hollywood sign from the Dolby Theater. Afterwards, we had a tour of Los Angeles, including a brief stop at the LeBrea tarpits, finishing at The Farmers Market for lunch.
In the afternoon, we toured the Warner Bros Studio, unlike Universal, it is a working studio so no rides. There is the chance to get a photo on the Friends sofa, otherwise it is being shown around a variety of sets and a costume exhibition. I found it interesting,but, it’s not a theme park.
On the Saturday, we drove to San Diego, as it was Memorial Day Weekend, traffic was heavy, but we still had plenty of time for a city tour of San Diego, including going over the bridge to Coronado. The next day, we went downtown at midday, as there was interest in touring the Aircraft Carrier museum next to where the optional cruise departed.After the cruise we went to Old Town before going to the hotel. You could use the trolley from the nearby shopping centre to make your own way downtown or Old Town.
On Memorial Day, we drove to Prescott, Arizona, from San Diego along the border to Phoenix before turning north. A long day, but, plenty to see, including at one point the current metal fence with Mexico.
On the Tuesday, we went to the Grand Canyon, dropping off those taking the helicopter, and spent about 3 hours at Bright Angel and El Tovar. This was my third time at Bright Angel and photos or video can’t beat being at the edge of the Canyon. Those who did the flights were picked up and brought to Bright Angel. After we went to Mather Point for a different view.
We set off for Las Vegas the next day, and traveled Route 66 between Seligman and Kingman. Route 66 crops up a few times in the trip. At Las Vegas, we checked into Harrah’s, one of several long walks to the rooms. To get around The Strip, there is a hop on, hop off bus called The Deuce, which costs $8 a day, or $6 for a one way ticket. Going down, the stop was across the street at The Mirage and on the return stops outside Harrah’s. I saw a comedy magic show in the afternoon, and someone went on a tour to the Hoover Dam, which we passed on the way into Las Vegas.
On the Friday, we drove back into California, via a shopping outlet at Barstow, to Selma, anice hotel, but, the meals had problems here. Breakfast was a cooked one with no choice and the previous evening, eight people ate together and were charged a small amount each as a large party.
On the Saturday, we drove to Yosemite, the first stop was after coming through a long tunnel and seeing Yosemite Valley laid out in front of you, we had a second stop, to photo waterfalls before we made our main stop close to the centre of the Valley. We had about 3 hours to wander around, there is a free shuttle bus around the centre, but, some chose to walk.
We left Yosemite by a different route for Mariposa, the town was a short walk away.
On the Sunday, we drove to San Francisco, stopping for lunch at Sausalito, across the Bay from the City, for lunch. The fog had been reluctant to clear, and came back with a vengeance when we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge.After dropping the luggage, we had a city tour, with the fog still a problem at times. We were taken to Fort Point, just below the Golden Gate Bridge, and were finally able to get our photos of the Bridge and Alcatraz. The hotel has been renovated since I was last there, and is only 5 minutes from Fisherman’s Wharf.
The people on the Western Highlights tour left us at San Francisco, as 13 of us made our way to Monterey, where a few of us visited the Aquarium.
The next day we took the 17 Mile Drive to Carmel, several stops including the Lone Cypress, and passed Pebble Beach where they were preparing for this week’s US Open. We stopped for about 90 minutes in Carmel, which was quiet, but, a lot of expensive shops, before driving on the Big Sur down the coast.To get down the Big Sur,the coach was limited to 40 seats. The fog came and went again, but, we were able to see Hearst Castle in the distance. The hotel in San Luis Obispo was nice and most rooms had balconies. The Apple Farms restaurant across the road was visited by most of the group.
The following day we headed for Long Beach down the coast and stopped for photos at Malibu Beach, before reaching the Queen Mary. It took a little time to check in, and by that time the less expensive restaurants had closed, but, the bar snacks in the Observation Bar were reasonable.
There is so much history on the ship, which can be explored most of the day.
On the free day, a couple went to Disneyland, others explored Long Beach, and one went whale watching.
Four of us went to Catalina Island, by fast boat, we saw dolphins on the way, and were able to photo The Queen Mary, from the water. Catalina used to be the playground of the Hollywood actors and socialites in the 1920s and 1930s.We had a bus tour around the main town,Avalon,which lasted 45 minutes. At the time the Island was popular, it was owned by the Wrigley family, who built several mansions and replaced the existing Casino, with the current one, which we visited in the afternoon. Unlike Las Vegas, this Casino is a large cinema, with a large ballroom above.
On the flight home, we got a great view of the Queen Mary.
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Post: #2
Great review thank you. 

Making me look forward to my trip even more now.

Donna
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Post: #3
Many thanks for this review as I am going this autumn.  The comedy magic show in Vegas sounds intriguing - do you remember the title?
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Post: #4
(12/06/2019, 11:20 PM)wharole Wrote: Many thanks for this review as I am going this autumn.  The comedy magic show in Vegas sounds intriguing - do you remember the title?

The performer was Mac King, I was in the queue for a different show, which was being advertised, but, not back until September, and I talked to someone else in the queue, who had been given a recommendation, so I went ahead and booked it.
It was very good, if he is still there the shows were at 1pm and 3pm,if you are doing the Cirque de Soliel optional excursion, it would have to be the 1pm show. Tickets were around $50,I paid just under,but, I think it was slightly higher for a seat closer to the stage. I had a photo with him after the show, and the humour was general, not too many Americanisms.
Keith
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Post: #5
Can I ask what amount of money you recommend to take to cover buying food each day please as I'm trying to work out a budget.  I've booked on the optional excursions with meals to help.

Thank you

Donna
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Post: #6
(06/07/2019, 09:50 PM)Donna1 Wrote: Can I ask what amount of money you recommend to take to cover buying food each day please as I'm trying to work out a budget.  I've booked on the optional excursions with meals to help.

Thank you

Donna

Hi Donna
I didn’t have a specific budget when I set off. I normally allow up to $100 a day for meals and souvenirs,but, I would expect not to get close to that.If you have the included meals, I think that was in Prescott, Las Vegas and San Francisco, you will already have paid for those.
You can eat as cheaply or expensively as you want. Most restaurant meals I would guess would be $30 or less,
Las Vegas and places like the Hard Rock Cafe may be closer to $50. If we had lunch, it was usually a Subway or a burger,the local In and Out burger was less than $10, and there were other fast food outlets about the same.A few times we bought sandwiches at Walmarts or the equivalent.There are a variety of restaurants on Pier 39 and on the Queen Mary the Observation Bar had a bar snack and drink for around $25-$30. At Harrahs, there were several restaurants, but, there was a food market where you could buy from different types of food and there were tables to eat at.
The hotels in Los Angeles and San Diego had restaurants which weren’t too expensive.
I tended to have breakfast and one other meal, and only a snack or ice cream at lunch.
I also tend to buy a lot of tee shirts hence the $100 limit.
Keith
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Post: #7
Thank you Keith.

It's always helpful to get an opinion from somebody who's done it before.

Donna  Smile
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