As you have probably figured out already, I like to do a lot of research before a trip. About everything. It helps me feel safe during my trip and it builds up my enthusiasm and excitement before the big day. And even though I had already been to California twice, I still did a lot of research about activities, restaurants, where to stay, driving laws and rules, etc. But even after two trips and a ton of research, I still found a bunch of things that surprised me, and that is amazing!
there are Orchards everywhere
I don’t know why this surprised me. Our grocery stores are filled with fruits and veggies from California, but I never expected to see strawberry fields, olive trees and citrus trees everywhere. I guess I thought they would grow underground or something, I don’t know what I expected, but driving through California, fruit trees are what you see most. For hours at a time, we could see hills and hills of trees filled with hundreds of oranges or valleys full of vineyards. It was beautiful! I even picked oranges and grapefruits straight from the tree. The best part was stopping at little markets along the highway and buying fresh fruit for a couple bucks. I have never tasted better oranges in my life!
California is Huge
Being Canadian, I know America can look small on the map since it’s all one continent with only a few countries, but is absolutely gigantic in real life. I used to laugh at tourists who would come to Canada for a week and expect to see all of it. Anyway, I guess I became one of those tourists because I never expected California to be this big. We spent hours driving from place to place and sometimes even between two locations in the same city. If you are planning a trip to California and only have a handful of days or even a week, you should selected two or three cities and concentrate on those as you will lose so much time on transportation, you will barely get to see anything.
San Francisco was the most expensive city
I always expect LA to be more expensive as it is the biggest city, but San Francisco is actually a lot more expensive. We had to pay 40$ of overnight parking in San Francisco while we were able to find free parking everywhere in LA except Universal Studios which was 25$ for the whole day and at the beach which was 6$ for a whole day. I also found that food was less expensive in LA. Of course, we never went to 5 stars restaurants.
There are broken tires everywhere on the highways
Is that an American thing or just the West Coast? Because, everywhere we went, there were broken tires on the sides of the road. I have never seen that anywhere in Canada and I found that quite stressful. Do you all just throw out you tires on the highway or are these all from people who got a flat while driving? Isn’t it bad for the environment? If anyone has an answer about this, please explain it to me, as I do not get it!
The weather can change drastically
First surprising thing about the weather, it was beautiful, sunny and warm the whole time we were in San Francisco. No fog, no rain, no wind, just wonderful sunshine! Second surprising thing, everywhere else was foggy for at least part of the day. We would wake up in the morning to the sunshine and suddenly a few hours later it would be completely grey everywhere we looked and it would get super cold. Sometimes it went away after a couple hours or it would stick for the rest of the day or it would turn into rain. Also, the weather changed depending on if we were by the ocean or in the valley on the other side of the mountains. We would be driving and just see the fog coming. Apparently this is very common for California, I had just never experienced it or heard about it before.
you are always going up or down
It doesn’t matter where you are, or where you are going in California, it is never flat. You are either going up or down, and probably turning all around. There are mountains and valleys and cliffs and more mountains. And even on the highway or the freeway you will be going up and down as well.
There is a lot of traffic
The traffic in California is all day, everyday. In the middle of the night or at 2 pm or 5 in the morning, it makes no difference. I suggest you bring good music and maybe a book or newspaper as no matter where you are going you will be stuck in it. If you are from Florida, I would say you can compare it to I-4 right after the Magic Kingdom fireworks.
All of it is beautiful
Who cares about the traffic really because everywhere you look in California is beautiful. Every turn you take, you just want to stop and take a picture. You would expect parts of it to be ugly, just like every place as an eyesore, but if there is one in California it is well hidden.
I am sure I would still be surprised by a bunch of things if I were to go back, as I still have lots of things to discover in that part of the world. But three trips will have to do for now as I have my eyes set on different destinations!
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