Tag: us vacation
Cultural philanthropy is one of those rare virtues which has value long after the death of its purveyor. It not only educates and edifies tomorrow’s generation, but fuels a virtuous cycle of generosity to society. One such example is the J. Paul Getty Museum which is part of the Getty Center in LA, California.
Named after Jean Paul Getty, a rich industrialist who was once the richest man in America, the Getty Museum draws some 1.3 million visitors a year. Amazingly, entry to the museum is free, although one has to pay for parking. Most of its collection came from Getty’s own estate, and include artworks, manuscripts, photographs, sculptures, decorative art items and antiquities from largely European civilisations. Of special mention are its impressive holdings of European paintings from the 14th to 19th Century featuring big names like Vincent van Gogh, Rembrandt, Degas, Renoir and others.
Our trip to the Getty started with a monorail ride from the carpark. Yes, the compound is so huge that a private rail system was needed!
Bordering Mexico, San Diego is one of the southernmost cities in California and the second largest in the State. On what must be one of the wettest day in Southern California – where it purportedly “never rains” according to Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood – we went on a trip to the world famous San Diego SeaWorld.
Occupying a sprawling 200 acres, the marine-based attraction supposedly sets the standard for similar aquatic destinations around the world like Hong Kong’s Ocean Park and our own Underwater World. It features many daily shows, thrilling rides and marine animal encounters. To date, most than 80 million have visited this world class attraction.
How was our experience there? Well, the shows were pretty nifty but we wondered where the crowds were since the place was quite desolate.
Located at tinseltown Hollywood itself, Universal Studios is one of the must-visit attractions on any visitor’s itinerary. This world famous attraction comprise both a real working film and TV studio as well as a theme park. Split over two different levels and set on a hillside, Universal Studios is considered by many to be the quintessential LA experience, although trying to catch the stars themselves probably requires a fair amount of luck. All of its rides, shows and thematic experiences are closely linked to either movies or television programmes.
Enough talk. Let’s roll the cameras!
What makes Disneyland theme parks so memorable? To find out, my family and I visited both Disneyland Park and its neighbouring Disney’s California Adventure Park at Anaheim, California.
Inaugurated more than 50 years ago in 1955, Disneyland at LA was the world’s second most visited theme park in 2007, attracting close to 15 million visitors (the first was Walt Disney World at Orlando). More than half a billion guests have paid homage to this icon of childhood wonder, and they included VVIPs like presidents, kings and queens.
Occupying a sprawling 55 acre, the newer California Adventure (opened in 2001) was opened to pay tribute to the Golden State of California. It provides a mini snapshot of the Sunshine State – from the golden gate bridge of San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf, Hollywood, to Santa Monica Pier and others.
Anybody who has been to Las Vegas will get a taste of what a real-life fantasy world feels like. The cornerstone of the economy in the state of Nevada, Las Vegas is all about glitz, glamour and gaming, and is billed as “The Entertainment Capital of the World”. Also known as the “Sin City”, Las Vegas is a hedonistic paradise offering anything and everything that money can buy – food, fun, fashion, and even females (or males, for those who are so inclined). Built entirely from scratch out of a barren desert in Nevada, the city is a veritable Disneyland for adults, while not forgetting the kids.
Here’s a tour of what we did exploring the city. Caution – lots of photos ahead!
One of the things which struck me deeply about the United States is the sheer size of the country. Roads can stretch for miles and miles uninterrupted, and the surrounding environment can change dramatically from coastal landscapes, green farmlands, coniferous forests to barren semi-arid deserts. The historic Route 66 – a long winding highway linking the Eastern and Western states of the US – offers such an experience amongst other highways.
Naturally, we were captivated by the beauty of what we experienced which unfortunately cannot be reproduced here in its entirety. Nevertheless, I shall endeavour!
Hitting the road is a common activity for us when travelling from San Francisco in the North all the way to San Diego in the South.
Unlike other more typical Singaporeans, shopping isn’t really in the blood of my family. We much prefer to spend our time exploring the great outdoors, visiting museums and attractions, or indulging in a good meal. However, as a significnt part of our US tour package includes various shopping stops – an ever popular request amongst Singaporean groups – we had the chance to dive into some festive Christmas shopping in the West.
How was the experience of shopping like in the US? Well, here are some snapshots to give you a glimpse of what we did.
The US is full of warehouse discount shops like Target here, which are big factory-sized affairs offering free parking, everyday low prices, and money-back guarantees (no questions asked).
So goes that age-old favourite by Tony Bennett. Who wouldn’t, after encountering this beautiful coastal city in Northern California. The spirit of the season makes it all the more magical for us during our recent holiday in this city of 4.2 million (about the same as Singapore), which boasts some of the most instantly recognisable landmarks of American culture. I believe that our ubiquitous Swensen’s Restaurant in Singapore was inspired very much by the spirit of San Francisco.
My family and I have just returned from an “epic” two week holiday in the West Coast of the United States. Our trip took us across three states – golden California, silver Nevada and picturesque Arizona – and a journey across cities and counties like San Francisco, Gilroy, Fresno, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, and Los Angeles. We travelled across thousands of miles of vast land – from scenic Pacific coastal drives to barren desert land – and had a taste of how post-crisis Christmas was like in the world’s largest economy.
The verdict? The United States is truly awesome and brims with opportunities. I must add though that some of the tourist spots are more hyped up than they truly are. We’ll definitely make plans to return here, perhaps touring the national parks next.
To kick off my series of posts (and I promise to inject some “marketing lessons” in my latter ones if time and energy permits), let me first bring you on our whirlwind photographic journey.