CategoriesTravel

Travelling down the West Coast of the US

West Coast US
A look at some of the sights you might see on the West Coast.

You’ve finally decided to do it: see all of the great cities and beautiful landscapes along the West Coast of the US. You’ll travel by auto from rainy Seattle, Washington, the birthplace of grunge, to hot and sunny San Diego in southern California. You could take Interstate 5 all the way down; that’s the fastest route. However, the best way to see the west coast is to take Highway 101 and Highway 1 along the coast. Leave time for sightseeing, plan plenty of side trips, and avoid scheduling your holiday during the winter if you plan to camp or hike in Washington and Oregon.

The adventure starts as soon as you touch down at the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport.

Washington
Washington has the city of Seattle, forests and mountains. Start by spending time in the city. You’ll find delicious locally brewed beer and good food in the pubs. Be sure to catch a gig; Seattle is known for its live music scene, and for good reason. The Space Needle is fun, if touristy, and the Pike Place Market in the city centre may be the longest-operating farmer’s market in the US.

West Coast Portland Weird
Find out why “Keep Portland Weird” is a popular West Coast catchphrase.

The Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains are to the east, and they are absolutely stunning. The best way to experience Washington’s coast is to take Highway 101, which begins in Olympia, south of Seattle, toward the north. It may seem like backtracking, but it is well worth the small amount of extra time it takes. Highway 101 loops around the Olympic peninsula and through a series of stunning forest parks and small towns. Take it all the way to Oregon.

Oregon
Like Washington, Oregon is mountainous and forested. And a highlight of any visit to the West Coast. It has a single large city, Portland, which is well worth the trip away from the coast. Portland is a centre for laid-back urbanists, and it has a sophisticated and relaxed culture. Be sure to visit the city centre, the old town and the Pearl District. After exploring Portland, go back to enjoying the Pacific Coast along Highway 101. If you love camping and hiking, then don’t miss Oregon’s enormous national forests. The 101 will take you straight through the Redwoods National Park, where you can see some of the most majestic trees in the world.

West Coast US
It’s good to be a seal in La Jolla, Calif..

California
Northern California has the state’s wine growing regions and the city of San Francisco. The Napa and Sonoma Valleys are just to the north of San Francisco, and the tours and tastings are unmissable for wine lovers. San Francisco is famous for its huge and lively Chinatown, for its food and for its fun, liberal, Bohemian culture. Yosemite National Park is to the west of San Francisco and is worth a visit, if you have time.

Transfer to Highway 1 south of San Francisco so that you won’t miss Big Sur and the rest of the magnificent California coastline on the way down to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, explore Santa Monica and the Hollywood Hills by car. Go on a studio tour, shop the designer boutiques in Beverly Hills or explore the city’s many ethnic neighbourhoods.

Finally, drive the rest of the way down the West Coast to San Diego, on the Mexican border. Visit the famous San Diego Zoo. Enjoy the fantastic Mexican-style food, and don’t forget to spend some time on the beach.

It’s advisable to arrange services such as Avis car rental in the US prior to travelling. Having a car will give you the freedom to choose to stay in a city, in a scenic and out-of-the-way town or in the wilderness. You’ll be able to plan your routes according to the weather, and you’ll have an opportunity to get off the beaten track.

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CategoriesTravel

Thoughts on Asiana Airlines Crash

Asiana Airlines crash
Fresh off an Asiana Airlines 777 in Incheon.

News of the Asiana Airlines crash landing at San Francisco International Airport surprised me. I flew two flights on an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 like the one that crashed, along with a 767 and various smaller Asiana aircraft.

During the flights, the professionalism of Asiana Airlines employees impressed me. Given my experience on the airlines, here are a few thoughts I had about the Asiana Airlines crash.

The Cabin Crew is a Real Story
So far, only three people have died as a result of the Asiana Airlines crash. But I haven’t seen a good luck at how the flight attendants of Flight 214 played a role. They had to manage at least three large passenger groups, all of whom spoke different first languages (Korean, Chinese and English). It seems the flight attendants dealt with this challenge with calm professionalism that likely saved lives – yet we’re not hearing about it. I’m all for figuring out what went wrong on this flight. It’s a great way to learn. But it’s also important to recognize what worked, even under the worst of circumstances. There’s something the industry can learn.

Don’t Hate on Baggage Grabbers
I’ve noticed more than a few disdainful Internet comments about the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 passengers who grabbed their luggage on the way out. Each comes down to this assumption: "I would’ve done better and followed the rules."

The Travel Class cabin of an Asiana 777
The Travel Class cabin of an Asiana 777

Maybe. Maybe not. I’m not willing to throw stones at anyone about grabbing their luggage during the evacuation. It’s a tense situation that no one ever expects – so I can see how logic failed. I can even picture myself, stretching to latch onto some sense of normality in a surreal situation, would reach for my bag as a way to restore some sense of reality. So unless you’ve been in a crash and acted like a textbook case of "what to do," reserve your judgment. And I hope you never need to find out how you’d fare.

I’d still fly Asiana Airlines Tomorrow
I’m confident in Asiana Airlines. And this crash landing makes me even more confident in the Boeing 777. The aircraft held together far better than any eyewitness expected it to. And it stayed intact and resisted burning long enough for the passengers and crew to escape. Also consider that the Boeing 777 operated for nearly 20 years without a fatality.

I hope that investigators and airlines take some of the hard-earned information from this crash -- and use it to make air travel even safer than it already is.

And sometimes, there is just a chain of errors that brings a plane down. If this were a matter of culture and training as some have suggested, crashes would be confined to certain cultures. But they’re not, and that speaks loud and clear.

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