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LA to the Bay - June 2013

3 Mar 2013 mattynz asked


Hey all,

Is anyone planning on the above trip from 5th to the 15th June? I'll be in the States for work so thought I'd see a few places and meet some people before I go back! Look forward to hearing from anyone :)


  • Read the responses 92 responses so far
  • 11 May 2013 lbellew said


    Not quite – a week and a bit in Canada first for a good old family shin dig, have aunties, uncles and cousins that I haven’t seen in years flying in from all around the world so will be an excellent warm up for LA to the Bay!
    Nadiah, did you manage to get a ticket for Alcatraz?

  • 12 May 2013 michaelw said


    I got the contiki stuff through the post yesterday and the Contiki hotel for those continuing the trip with Contiki after SF is the Whitcomb Hotel (for 3 nights) which is pretty close to the centre- probably helpful if we are reasonably close.

    Lance- where you off to in Canada? I nearly did the same but couldn’t justify more time off work, I’ve got relations in Alberta & Nova Scotia.

  • 12 May 2013 Dan Bowen said

    Dan Bowen

    Hey guys. Just wanted to introduce myself so I am not at a disadvantage when the tour starts and everyone already knows each other… though considering there should be 50 of us on this trip I’m clearly not the last one here.

    My names Dan, I’m from South-West England and I am on the Wild Western Tour (5th-18th June) travelling solo. I tried to read through all the previous messages but there are a lot so I skipped much. I am staying at the Double-tree Hotel on the 4th of June and get there at around 2:30 so will have to introduce myself to all those already there… which I am assuming at that time will be a lot.

    Gutted that I won’t get to see more of LA with all those there before, but I’m hoping to explore the general area if I have the time/ not too tired on the 4th. Very interested in booking Alcatraz (especially if everyone already going) so a link to the site would be appreciated. At the moment I’m probably thinking about going to Sea World over San Diego Zoo.

    As for the other extras I have no idea. I’m kind of on a budget so even though I’d love to go on the Hot Air Balloon I may have to save my money… having said that, it is my birthday that day so maybe I should splash out.

    I’m going to New York and Washington D.C right after this tour for a week and have pretty much spent all my money on the trip alone… hence why I should really try to not spend like crazy.

    It would be great to talk to a few of you before I leave so please don’t be afraid to say hi. : )

  • 13 May 2013 Nadiah said


    Hi guys!

    My exams are finally out of the way and I can finally start prepping for the trip! Gonna go collect my tour packet tomorrow. Ah the rates at DoubleTree are really rather pricey man. I’m looking at booking my stay on the 4th at Miyako Hotel instead (According to Google Maps it’s a 5 minute walk away from DoubleTree).

    Anyway I’m just wondering if anyone of you will be coming to LA from San Diego! I’m going for the Mumford and Sons concert in Chula Vista on the 3rd. I’m flyin’ solo for this one, so it’ll be great if I can get a travel buddy! Especially since this is my first time in the US, kinda nervous about that.

    I’ve yet to book my tickets for Alcatraz. I have a few buddies who are interested to go for the night tour too and I’m waiting for them to get back to me. I’ll definitely let you guys know once I do!

    And welcome aboard Dan! It’ll be so rad to spend your birthday on a hot air balloon! I think you should deffo go for it. But I’m on a budget too, so I feel ya man. Oh and here’s the link for the alcatraz night tour>

  • 13 May 2013 Dan Bowen said

    Dan Bowen

    Thanks Nadiah… and it is nice to meet you :)

    The Double-tree is fairly expensive you are right, but my travel agent booked the hotel before I really knew how much i was paying. Apparently you could book it through Contiki and share with someone else, but my travel agent said everything at the Double-tree with Contiki is already booked up. I’m staying on my own that night so it is super expensive… but the hotel looks much nicer than every other hotel I have booked so I’m allowing myself this little bit of luxury.

    Don’t worry about being nervous either… this is my first time in the US and my first time travelling alone, and also by some distance the furthest I have every traveled away from home so I am somewhat nervous too.

    You are right… maybe spending my birthday on a hot air balloon would be fun, though I am a little scared of heights so maybe not all that much fun. I guess I’ll make up my mind when I get there. I really wish I had more money to spend, but the trip and all the pre-planning/ shopping has eaten up more money than I really wanted it to. I’ll try not to let my lack of funds make me a boring person… it’s not like I have absolutely no money to spend and it’s not everyday I’m in the US so I’ll try to make the most of it whilst I’m out there.

  • 13 May 2013 Dan Bowen said

    Dan Bowen

    Hey. Just booked my Alcatraz ticket now… 6:30 Sunday 16th June.

    I don’t have a credit card either but paid with my debit and it seems to have worked fine. I have the ticket any way… I’m hoping this is OK?

  • 13 May 2013 Gemanji said


    Hi Dan :) Nice to meet you, I’m Gemma! Yeaaah, all the hotels are expensive really, hence why I’m booked into a hostel for after the tour and a day before the tour too! Yet to sort out the hotel for the 4th but Juliana and I are working on it – and yes the Contiki share rooms are all gone, but maybe see if any other guys on the tour are looking to share a room, then you could go halves.

    I can’t believe your debit card worked for alcatraz!! Damnit. Oh well, I will just pay Michael for mine when I see him. Glad there are a few of us going to Alcatraz, should be fun! Nadiah I would advise booking it soon as it’s only 4-5 weeks away now and they do book out fast apparently.

    Dan if you can afford it I think the hot air balloon would be ace, but as it is really pricey it might be nicer for you to save your money and pay for a few other activities in it’s place so you’re getting more out of your money. But how you spend is up to you, I’m sure your birthday will be great either way.

    It’s so close now, getting to the serious business of getting documents organised and getting packed!! (I’ve been half packed for a couple of weeks – eager beaver…) :]

  • 13 May 2013 Dan Bowen said

    Dan Bowen

    Hi Gemma… it’s nice to meet you too :)

    Ha Ha… I don’t understand people who pack way in advance but all my friends who are girls are just like you. I generally leave packing til about 9 o’clock the night before.

    Yeah, the hot air balloon looks pretty awesome so I will probably do this… depends how much money I have left. I’m pretty sure I won’t go on the helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon (due to expense and fear of death) so I’ll probably go on the hot air balloon instead. I’m thinking Phoenix may be the least interesting day as well so it would be good to liven things up a bit (especially as it is my birthday).

    If I hadn’t had booked a week in New York after this tour I’d have a lot more money to splash around, but because I have I need to make sure I have enough money left over for when I get to New York… but I’ve spent so much already, and have loads more shopping to do before I leave.

    Getting excited now… and not that long to go either (that said, I probably need the three weeks in order to shop/ prepare for the trip).

    Looking forward to meeting you all and Alcatraz looks like a good buy (cheap too).

  • 14 May 2013 Nikcii said


    Hi Dan,

    Nice to meet you, Im Nicole :)

    We arriving at the DoubleTree around mid afternoon on the 4th as well. And dont worry if you dont see taht afternoon, I think the Wild Western does a couple of tours when you get back to LA at the end of the tour! :)

    The hot air balloon is amazing. I did the LA to the Bay in 2009 and did it and it was definetley a highlight! The early morning sucks (you have to be up by 4am or something) but the view is amazing, especially the sunrise, and its so quiet. Im sure it will be an action packed birthday for you while on tour, whether you end up doing the air ballon or not :)

    Jealous you are going to New York after! How long are you over there for? Im off to Canada after this tour! So will be on a similar budget to yourself :)

    3 more weeks of work left!

  • 14 May 2013 Dan Bowen said

    Dan Bowen

    Hi Nicole… thanks for talking to me :P

    Yeah… I am almost convinced on the Hot Air Balloon ride now… I’ll just have to do a few calculations to make sure I can afford it. I sound like I am really very poor but in reality it’s just that I don’t like spending money (which is kinda funny considering how much this trip has already cost me :S). The early morning doesn’t put me off… it will be a nice way to start my birthday that way.

    After this tour finishes (the 18th June for me) on the 19th I’m flying out to New York and meeting a friend from back home at the airport for 6 nights and then we’re taking a greyhound to Washington D.C for 2 nights afterwards. I’m very much excited… but obviously New York and D.C means I’ll have to be extra conservative with my money to make sure that by the time I get to New York I’m not broke (and New York is a pretty expensive city).

    I’d love to see Canada! I’m kind of annoyed I wont be able to see Niagara falls because it is way too far away from New York city to manage it but there is always next time.

    I see from stalking your profile that you’ve done a lot of travelling… very jealous. This is the first time I have done anything like this.

    How long are you going to be travelling for? All in all I’m away 26 days.

    Any way, it was nice to talk to you. See you in three weeks :)

  • 14 May 2013 Juliana said


    Hi Dan,
    I’m Juliana, nice to meet you. Cool, that I don’t have your problem of making decision to go or not to go for hot-air balloon.. I know for sure that I don’t want to go, I’ve done it once in Rochester (NY state) and really didn’t like this experience… but maybe once in a life it can be done) I would better take pictures of hot-airbaloons, standing on the land  LOL))
    I had a chat with my friend from SF, she told me that Alcatraz is must visit! And esp cool when you take an audio guide with lots of interesting information.. it’s a pity that I’m not staying longer in SF.
    I’ve also been several times to Toronto and Montreal and can give you some tips. I’ve visited Niagara several times from American and Canadian side… and Dan, the road from Ny to Niagara Falls can take 7-8 hours – it’s not worth it… better go next time to Toronto and enjoy the view from Canadian side and it’s only 30-40 mins ride from there.

  • 14 May 2013 michaelw said


    I’m weighing up options of the hot air balloon trip vs helicopter over the grand canyon, I’m more tempted by the chopper but can’t really decide…. one, the other or both…. and Dan my Grandmother took a chopper over the canyon at 70odd and allegedly kept her eyes open so I’m sure you’ll manage, she also advised the chopper isn’t made of wicker, canvas and an old gas burner lol

    The first thing a hot air balloon makes me think of is when one of my colleges asked where the toilet was shortly after taking off on a 4 hour flight … after a pub lunch, which if anything is a lesson in being prepared- but having the luggage packed already that’s just ridiculous! I’d put a fiver on something being needed from the bottom of the suitcase within the next 3 weeks!

  • 14 May 2013 Gemanji said


    I am half packed because I’m going away for two months! Not something I can pack the night before for! I have a sleeping bag and other supplies mainly, no clothes really (that will definitely be more of a last minute decision). I’m a last minute packer but this time I decided to be more organised otherwise I’ll regret it.

    I’m hoping to do both the helicopter and hot air balloon – can’t see me wanting to miss out on either :D Hot air balloon has been on my bucket list for years, and as a geologist I wanna see the grand canyon from all angles ;D

  • 14 May 2013 michaelw said


    Well I suppose thats a pretty fair reason- but if after all that you do forget something think we are all allowed to point and laugh lol don’t forget your rock hammer

  • 14 May 2013 Dan Bowen said

    Dan Bowen

    Hi Juliana and Michael :)

    Yeah, it really depends how much money I have spent up until the Hot Air balloon as to whether or not I go… and I guess depending on who is going. Seeing as it is the third day of the trip I’m hoping I won’t have spent that much… nothing I couldn’t make back in Vegas anyway (I kid of course) though it is tempting just to put all my money on red and see what happens.

    The helicopter ride scares me too much, and not really due to the height issue (I’d probably be persuaded into bungee jumping because at least then you are attached to a rope… shame that isn’t an option). I’m just pretty sure helicopter travel is one of the least safe ways to travel, and that added to the mammoth expense I’d be happier just cycling around the rim or something… note: I’m a wimp :S… but if you’ve got the money and you’re not a complete coward it looks amazing.

    Yeah, 7-8 hours isn’t really worth it from New York just to see a waterfall so I’m not intending to visit Niagara… hopefully one day though. I’m already travelling 4 hours from New York on a bus to see Washington D.C so Niagara falls can wait for another time.

    Wow… two months away is along time… I guess it makes more sense that you’ve already started packing. I bet preparing for that trip is taking up a lot of your time already. Then again, if I were going away for two months I’d maybe leave the day before for packing, as apposed to the night (I’m going away for just under a month). Still, I wish I was as prepared and organised as you.

  • 20 May 2013 Dan Bowen said

    Dan Bowen

    Hey guys. In a (most likely failed) attempt to keep the conversation going, I was just wondering what everyone has planned for their free day in Vegas?

    Honestly, up until recently Vegas was one of the places I was least excited about and just wanted to see out of curiosity more than anything (I never intended to visit here, it just happened to be on this tour which was an added bonus) but after thinking about it for a bit longer and trying to do a little bit of research I am weirdly excited about it…. this all said, I have no idea what I am going to do?

    Therefore I was wondering if any of you are super planned and have done your research and have any ideas of what you are going to, or what you’d like to do when you are here. Have any of you pre-booked any Vegas shows for example?

    The only definite thing on my list is that I need to see the Bellagio Fountains (because I’m a movie buff and would like to live out an “Oceans 11” fantasy) but this only takes 15 minutes and because Vegas is 24/7 and we are only there for a day and a half I’d like to try to make the most of it (on a budget). I think I’d also like to go on the New York-New York Roller Coaster… but again this only takes a few minutes.

    Any way, anything you have planned or have found on your research would be appreciated. Thanks :)

  • 20 May 2013 Nikcii said


    Hey Dan,

    I’d love to see the Bellagio Foutains as well, I just looked it up and its on every 30 minutes between 3pm and 7pm and every 15 minutes from 7pm till midnight so should be plenty of time to catch a show.

    Im looking at going up the stratosphere tower and/or walking through fremont street as things to do on the free day.

    Theres also a massive aquarium in one of the casinos I’d like to check out, cant remeber which one it is though.

    Out of the optionals on tour, definately want to do the limo ride and the variety show im considering :)

  • 20 May 2013 Dan Bowen said

    Dan Bowen

    Hey Nicole :)

    I Google Mapped the Bellagio Fountains and apparently they are a 10 minute walk from the hotel we are staying in so we would be silly to miss it. I think because it is so close I would love to see it some time after dark.

    Just Googled the Stratosphere and it looks pretty incredible, though I think it is some distance to walk from the hotel… I guess there are buses and I heard the taxi’s are pretty cheap anyway so I’ll probably do this too (there’s also apparently a monorail which could be fun). There are rides you can do at the top of the tower ( which look amazing.

    I’d also like to see the Little White Wedding Chapel but because it is some distance away and probably not all that thrilling I may give it a miss… if we had a little longer in Vegas I would visit it for sure. I’d also like to see the hotels made to look like Paris and Venice and apparently our hotel is pretty close to all them so that’ll be fun.

    The limo ride in Vegas is included I think in the price so I will definitely check that out (never been in a limo)… I may also do the variety show depending on whether or not I am bored or already have something else planned… I looked at other shows (like a show called “O” which is supposed to be incredible) but the prices are really steep… I would probably consider it more if I hadn’t just brought two Broadway tickets for when I go to NY after this trip :S. There’s so many incredible nightclubs too so it would be silly not to go to one also.

    There seems to be sooo much to do in Vegas that its all a little overwhelming for a day and a half… but just doing a little bit of Vegas research and I’m that much more excited for this trip… Just two weeks to go : )

  • 20 May 2013 lbellew said


    Hi Dan, and welcome! Sorry for the silence guys, have been following closely but every time I have tried to get a message away I get interrupted or distracted. This holiday can’t come fast enough.

    I think I will do the helicopter ride instead of the hot air balloon, Michael, you have a point – I’d take the precision engineered helicopter over a canvas bag full of hot gas any day ;) By the way, I am visiting Manitoba in Canada.

    Gemma, I am impressed by your organisation! I am definitely a last minute packer, last trip away involved furiously throwing clothes into a bag and speeding to the airport, arriving 10min before departure. Hopefully more organised this time but I have five days to go and still need to buy luggage. And clothes. And pretty much anything else that I am taking.

    Vegas is near the top of my list, definitely keen for a look around the strip, a bit of gambling and a show – O looks amazing and I’ve heard that Love is pretty good too. Aquarium sounds cool too Nicole, and +1 for Freemont Street. This is probably where I will spend the most money, a couple of my friends from Uni are there at the same time (haven’t seen them in a while) so could be a pretty big second night…

  • 20 May 2013 michaelw said


    I note we are in Vegas on Mon/Tues which I presume are the quieter/cheaper (for Contiki) nights of the week based on looking through the show listings- Penn and Teller show looked interesting but they don’t do Mon/Tues! Although I am advised there isn’t really such a thing as a quiet time in Vegas but am guessing its more of a night place rather than a day place? – The atomic bomb museum does interest me in the day if anyone is interested?- it was the desert just outside Vegas where they did all the tests and where area 51 is.

    The volcano thing at the Mirage looks worth seeing and I’ve heard mixed things about the Stratosphere- I suppose its down to your opinion on heights and whether you look down.

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