San Diego is a little different to all the other big cities in California. There's so much to see here starting with the nice beaches, bays and promenades with lots of surfer cafes. You can also see the South-American impact, for instance in Old Town San Diego which they call the birthplace of California. We strolled around the streets of that area at night feeling like we were having a little fiesta in Mexico:

After breakfast we moved on to Palm Springs which is only about a 2-hour drive from San Diego. Palm Springs is a desert oasis and a real city of recreation. Downtown Palm Springs consists of two big parallel roads - the Palm Canyon and the Indian Canyon Drive - which both offer tons of restaurants, shops, bars and even a casino. It's so hot around here that many housefronts feature water vaporizers. The casino in PS had recently closed its poker room so I had to wait for another session until we were back in LA. But that's ok as after all I'm on vacation, right? We went on to use one of PS's biggest attractions: the aerial tramway to Mount San Jacinto State Park in 4000 feet height.

From here you can have a wonderful view of the desert area around PS and the green oasis that this town really is:

We also seized the opportunity to get away from the desert heat and go for a hike on one of the many state park trails with temperatures in the mid 60ies up here. It just amazes me how you can step from one climate zone into the next within the same federal state. That's California!

Later that day we got on the road again for another 4-hour drive to Santa Barbara. This little beach town at the central coast of California has a very mild climate and to us is one of the nicest places to hang out. Downtown State Street has a great Spanish flair with lots of great cafes ans restaurants while leading you directly to a beautiful beach. We spend our days there hanging out at the beach, renting bikes and exploring the surrounding area.

2 days later we took off for another short drive up to another surfer town called Pismo Beach on the way to San Francisco via highway 101. After shopping at the Premium Outlets over there and spending the night at a motel close to the beach we continued to another one of those great, big cities in California - San Francisco. I'm sure it's not for everyone but SF also has a great unique atmosphere to it and we enjoy so much being there that we accept havingt to pay the insane lodging and parking prices. We had a room right in the heart of SF at Sutter Street and close to Union Square which you can have a nice view over from the local Cheesecake Factory:

Back on our way down the coast we took the historic and scenic route via Pacific Coast Highway 1 along the coastlines of Big Sur. This is something you have to experience yourself, one of the best drives in my life. Mountains to the left, pacific ocean to the right, endless serpentines with a constant beautiful view and vista points on the sides.

It took us at least 10 hours to get back to Santa Barbara, but it was totally worth it. We spent another day in SB before heading back to LA and finally to the end of our road trip in Vegas. I managed to play a couple of poker sessions at different casinos, but that's for my next blog entry - so stay tuned for some poker content in the next installment!