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Wild Western - July 2009

30 Dec 2009 NCStateAlum said

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Finally had time to write a little review.

I did the Wild Western which is the full two week tour of the west (the co-tours were Western Highlights which is the first half of the wild western, California highlights which is the second half of the wild western and LA to the Bay which is the same as the Wild Western but ends at San Fran).

Before the tour started I spent a few days on my own at Huntington Beach and took surfing lessons.

The night before the tour started there was a pretour meeting and I met a few people there. Quite a few went out for some drinks, I did not. As you are reading this keep in mind I am actually American and there was only other girl on the tour from the States and she happened to live in LA so... Most of the people were Aussies who made the tour a lot of fun.

Day 1 - Short drive to San Diego. Did a bus tour then had the harbour tour. Afterwards we were dropped off at a mall for lunch. The afternoon was spent at Old Town. Went to Dick's for dinner. I personally thought the food was mediocre but the atmosphere was fun. After dinner most people went to a bar in the gas lamp district. The hotel we stayed at was ok but a bit run down.
Day 2 - San Diego - Sea World in the morning the afternoon was spent as Mission Beach. Dinner was technically on our own but our TM organized one for us a Mexican restaurant. Afterward was spent at a bar.
Day 3 - driving day. The hotel in Scottsdale was really nice and dinner was at a Greek Restaurant which as pretty good.
Day 4 - Sedona - Got up early for the hot air balloon ride which was great and a nice breakfast afterward. In the afternoon was the Jeep Rock tour. Then we started heading towards the Grand Canyon and some people saw the IMAX movie. Myself and a few others did not so we hung out a cafe across the street which had free wifi. Drove to the canyon for some pictures then checked into the cabins. Vouchers were given for the included meals which you redeemed at the cafeteria and it includes A LOT of food. The cabins don't have air con but do have fans.
Day 5 - Grand Canyon - helicopter tour which I enjoyed great views if you get the front seat. Then the rest of the day you could do what you wanted. A newsletter was given out that showed popular trails and special talks with the rangers. The shuttles to get round were free and helpful.
Day 6 - heading to Vegas - drove along Route 66 and made a short stop for pictures. Made to to Vegas in the later afternoon got changed and headed out for the included Italian dinner which I thought was pretty bad then we had the city tour. Made a stop at downtown Vegas to see the Freemont Street experience. Our TM organized a VIP spot for us a ROC. However, I started feeling really sick (maybe it was the bad food) so I ended up going back to the hotel. Which BTW the hotel was awful - air con was spotty, run down, saw 3 men getting arrested in the parking lot. Some people had trouble closing their door and had dirty rooms. Hopefully you will be lucky and not get sick so your time there will be limited. I know at least 8 people from our tour booked rooms somewhere else.
Day 7 - free day in Vegas - I just looked around the hotels, did a little shopping, then saw O at the Bellagio. Afterward met up with the group where our TM organized a limo ride for us and got us into TAO. This would be the night they have the optional variety show. I didn't go since I saw O instead but the people who did seemed to think it was decent.
Day 8 - driving to Yosemite - drove to an outlet mall for shopping. didn't have much time though and felt rushed. We stayed at Chalets at Bass Lake. You are given $10 to get food from the grocery store, there are also two restaurants if you rather eat there. This is when you have four people per a 'room'. That night we have pizza (included) and hung out at the pool.
Day 9 - the day is spent at Yosemite. Most people hike or rented bikes. I did a hike that took about 1 hour then paid for the tram that was close to two hours but took you to many of the major sites so I got great pictures. The afternoon is spent at Bass Lake where you could spend time at the pool, by the lake, or rent jet skis or boats. That night we had a white shirt party at the bar.
Day 10 - got to San Fran around lunch time, drove around on the bus to major spots. Stopped for lunch at fisherman's wharf. Then we checked into the hotel which I thought again was pretty nice. We did the sunset cruise which was cold and rainy. I wish I could have skipped it. Our TM organized a dinner for us at Hard Rock.
Day 11- San Fran - free day - the optional dinner in China town was this night
Day 12 - San Fran - free day - the optional wine tour was this day and takes all day. I think maybe 4 people did it. The bike & roll was this day and was at 1pm. In the morning the TM organized a trip to see a baseball game which I think a lot of people did. I did not since I've seen one before and had a ton of other stuff I wanted to do. That night the included dinner was at the Sausage Factory in the castro district and I liked the food. Afterward some people went out to some of the clubs.
Day 13 - half the day was spent driving then the afternoon was spent at the beach. Santa Barbara was beautiful and peaceful, LOVED. We made a quick stop at one of the missions. Headed to the hotel had the included dinner and just hung out at the bar.
Day 14 - LA - walked around Hollywood Blvd. I did the behind the scenes tour which was kind of lame but I don't think the other optional seeing the stars homes was any better. Also did a little shopping. The afternoon was spent at Venice beach which I hated. It was dirty, loud, and crowded. Then we dropped some people at the airport before heading back to the hotel.

Overall I really enjoyed the tour. Our TM Matt went above and beyond. He organized a lot of extra things for us that he didn't have to. I will say the only real negative for me was the food for the most part was bad. I know the average American eats like crap but seriously LOL...
  • 31 Dec 2009 Stormelundgren said

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  • 23 Mar 2010 Emmy said

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    Thanks this is really helpful!

  • 26 Mar 2010 Hippy said

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    Thanks for the info. I am doing the California Highlights (which is the 2nd half of the WW) in August.

  • 25 Apr 2010 loops said

    loops

    thanks,

    your review was really helpful, i’m doing la to the bay in july.
    just wondered how much you spent??

  • 1 Jul 2010 Ganacampo said

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    This review was very helpful, thank you.

    I would like to know, how much time you spend on the coach, are there many long rides?

  • 1 Sep 2010 Alex said

    Alex

    I have a question about the hotel in Vegas. I heard it was at Harrah’s on the strip? I have stayed there before and really enjoyed my time there. lots of partying and in the middle of everything. did it happen to be that older hotel that contiki used before? Just wondering if you were at Harrah’s since u said a lot of people had a bad experience and changed hotels.

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