Travel ... Julan's forever passion
Clanging Cable Car, San Francisco
My first trip to the U.S. was specially exciting. My heart was pumping hard when I was about to land in the Evergreen State that is covered with lots of beautiful, green, sky-reaching trees. I flew in Seattle, took a short trip up to Victoria, Canada, visited San Francisco and San Jose, had a blast in Las Vegas, and ended my trip in Los Angeles. I got to see most of the West Coast and experienced very different climates.
Victoria in British Columbia, a beautiful island strongly recommended by a Canadian friend, was really worth the trip - hours driving to Vancouver and an hour ferry ride.
San Francisco, said one of the most beautiful cities in the world, offers so many sensations to tourists that I felt left breathless. It is the only city about which I read many articles before the trip.
Upon my arrival in the city, I immediately headed for the Golden Gate Bridge, landmark of the city and made famous in many number of novels and movies. Overlooked from Marin Headlands, the heavy fog around the Bridge that never flew away seemed to have added more charming to the Bridge and San Francisco, together forming a mirage greeted into my eyes.
After lunch in the China Town, I began my exploration of S. Francisco by taking one of the lassic, noisy, clanging cable cars. This is perhaps the best way to get to know the city - trundle at the speed of 15 kms per hour up and down many of the forty hills,. You can get off and enjoy a walk around shops and little restaurants, take another ride and get off again in Lombard, the famous and most winding street in the world, lined with flowering plants.
One place not to miss is Fisherman's wharf, the old port with many Piers, among which Pier 39 is well known. Old ships have been transformed into museums to celebrate the glorious adventures of the sailing ships in the South Seas. But they are overshadowed by the plethora of shops, take-aways, fair booths, nightclubs and pubs. In the middle of the bay, rises the island of Alcatraz, once a much feared impregnable prison. This is San Francisco, "it is a golden prison and the keys have been thrown away"...
Lake Tahoe and Yosemite are really cool places for vacation in Northern California. I was quite impressed by the natural beauty. Tahoe City is a neat place right at the Nevada state border. You can enjoy the lake cruise (or skiing on the mountains in winter), camping in the forest, hiking, riding or running along the big lake. In South Lake Tahoe, there are countless nice restaurants of all kinds of cuisine from many countries; pubs and shops will draw you out for a good time. You can even walk to the Nevada side to gamble in the Caesars Tahoe or in other casinos to have more fun.
Yosemite National Park is cooler than Tahoe in the summer. Camping in Yosemite can be very memorable. You can swim in Mirror Lake, watch birds and other wildlife. Climbers will enjoy a spectacular view and well-earned rest after achieving their goal. It is also a nice skiing place in winter. Even in summer, you can also cool yourself in the snow on the mountains. The four waterfalls are famous. In summer time, when the falls have smaller flow, you can enjoy yourself under the cool waterfall flowing from the still snow-covered mountain.
Julan's fantastic trips to N. America
Carmel is a cute town near Monterey. I was told my face lit up when I saw the picture-like white sandy beach and blue sea, and I couldn't wait to take off shoes and walk barefoot on the beach. Taking a walk along the neat streets and passing various interesting shops are also enjoyable in a sunny afternoon.
Las Vegas is encircled by hot wave and desert. It is a crazy city that never sleeps. I had some great nights out there. The shows are quite beautiful and worth seeing. The light show "Fremount Street Experience", "Imagine" in the famous Luxor, and "Splash" in the Riviera are all interesting. I had such a fun time dancing in the discotheques such as "Ra" in Luxor, "Utopia", and "Motown".
The most impressive thing in Las Vegas for me is to watch the nicest music fountain in front of the Bellagio Hotel. I stayed by it for so long, watching the mysterious fountain that changes with the romantic music; I did not want to leave. In the daytime, you can visit Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, or drive into the Mountain Charleston, where you can have some impressive views of the mountains in Nevada.
If you want to remember Las Vegas forever, go up to the top level (108th story) of the Stratosphere and take the "Big Shot" ride (scream team). Remember to do it in the evening. You will never forget it!
Los Angeles is fun. I was really amused in Disneyland and Universal Studio. The rides in Disneyland that I loved the most are "Indiana Jones" and "Rocket Rods". I also enjoyed the "Jurassic Park" in Universal Studio.
The beaches, with the houses of different styles, in Los Angels County and Orange County, are really beautiful.
"The most romantic city in the world is Paris". Want to have a full view of Paris? Go up on the Tower Eiffel. Overlooking the entire city, you will remember the beautiful Seine River. Visiting the celebrated street - Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame, Musee du Louvre, Basilique du Sacre-coeur, and Versailles are the musts.
Brussels is a place that has much old-fashioned architectures and good chocolates with reasonable price. Speaking French is always a plus for touring Brussels, making it easier for you to find your destinations.
The Nederlands is a mysterious land. Beautiful flowers and characteristic buildings are the symbols of Amsterdam. Visit it! This place won't let you down...
Austria is a rather clean place with very impressive scene in its countryside - Green meadowy land embellished with neat trees, red-roofed white houses here and there, and blue lakes with small colorful boats floating on... every now and then, live music will fly into your ears...
To tour Venice, a good place to start is Piazza San Marco, the square in the center of Venice. You can explore the city by boat or by foot. Those by foot will specially enjoy wending their way over bridges and seeing the colorful Venetian houses, hidden courtyards, and small harbors and shops, which sell everything from leatherwear to antiques.
Florence, famous for its unique handicraft products, is also a city of art. Around Square Signoria, there are lots of museums, galleries, churches and temples to visit.
You will be amazed when you find so many world famous oil painting masterpieces at one place.
One thing I find the most enjoyable and romantic in Florence is to take a walk along an ancient stone paved narrow street in a sunny afternoon, browsing some small nice shops, and then sit at a table outside a bar, savoring the fine Italian wine, when some beautiful music of violin might start beside you...
At the end of the tour, be sure to go up to Square of Michelangelo, the highest place in Florence, to enjoy the whole view of Florence.
Julan's Mythical Exploration of Europe
There are more than 400 Chinese restaurants in Paris, mostly in District 13, the Chinese District. With many wealthy people dwelling in, District 16 is the most beautiful in downtown Paris. La Defense, the modern business area of Paris, is quite modern, different from downtown Paris. I was told that about one-fifth of the people in France work in Paris.