USA travel tips and discussion


petetherock

Senior Member
Oct 9, 2006
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Cafe Lu

634 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, CA, 92704
(714) 839-1608
A cafe serving coffee, tea and smoothies.

This is where Hooters meets Starbucks. :cool:

This is where lingerie-clad, spandex-sporting, high heels-wearing baristas make your coffee, whip up your smoothies and refill your green tea.
These waitresses seem to have an unwritten dress code worked into... more

A cafe serving coffee, tea and smoothies.
This is where Hooters meets Starbucks.
This is where lingerie-clad, spandex-sporting, high heels-wearing baristas make your coffee, whip up your smoothies and refill your green tea.
These waitresses seem to have an unwritten dress code worked into their job description. Bra tops, bustiers, corsets, itsy-bitsy spandex tube tops and bottoms, micro mini skirts and clear stilettos are the norm. At night, the clothes get a little fancier. There's more satin and lace involved. (Deepa Bharath, The Orange County Register)







:)

http://www.yelp.com/biz/cafe-lu-santa-ana



Until you've stepped inside the doors of Cafe Lu, then you have no idea how sexy the words "Vietnamese coffee house" can be. But anyone of their loyal Santa Ana customers can tell you that in addition to decent brew, giant TVs and cigarette smoke, this is the only place where you can get hot refills from even hotter, scantily clad Vietnamese servers. It's like the perfect merger between Starbucks and Hooters...only it actually exists! And what could be better than that?

Well, tomorrow night, the girls of Cafe Lu are hosting a party at Shark Club in Costa Mesa in honor of their new photo calendar. As if Shark Club's ultra decadent barrage of booze,hot music, neon lights and entertainment weren't enough, try adding 20 beautiful Cafe Lu girls to the mix.

Remember that one special Lu waitress you've been slobbering over every day for months? Well, she'll probably be there. And even if you walk away without her number, at least you can check out the calendar and spare yourself the amount of gas it takes to get coffee twice a day.
 

michy

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Jan 24, 2008
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West, SG.
I might be heading to California in Dec. But that would be winter time.
Is Yosemite/ Grand canyon still worth going then?

Any places worth visiting for scenic shots at LV-SFO-LA areas? Dec period.
 

petetherock

Senior Member
Oct 9, 2006
1,659
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Are you comfortable with the cold?
Many places in Yosemite will be closed due to snow, but if you are still game, it is a beautiful place.

Likewise with the canyon, it will still be open, but the North Rim will be covered in snow, and the South Rim may also be snowed under. Check with the NPS USA for the latest conditions.

You should also secure acommodations before you go.

I might be heading to California in Dec. But that would be winter time.
Is Yosemite/ Grand canyon still worth going then?

Any places worth visiting for scenic shots at LV-SFO-LA areas? Dec period.
EDIT: since you double posted, the other questions are already covered elsewhere.
 

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TheStig

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Sep 9, 2009
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Walaow, I cannot believe nobody mentioned Washington.

I used to live in Seattle for 5 years, and WA isn't called "Evergreen State" for no reason. It has beautiful, beautiful views all over. Mount Rainier is AWESOME. The surrounding area also has incredible views. I also went to Port Angeles before (If you guys have seen Twilight, you've definitely heard of this little town), and the views of the mountains around the area is unbelieveable. The lakes are soooooo clear. My friends and I were willing to go on a long drive there to take pics with our super mediocre P&S (Sony T1 and some Casio cameras lol). Washington has so many places with beautiful view. If you're a landscape photographer, you wouldn't wanna miss it. Portland is two hours away with car, and it also has many great views. You can continue driving to San Francisco and then continue to LA. If you don't wanna go through Oregon, then you can drive through Utah on your way to California. West Coast is the best!

Don't go there during winter though. The roads to the mountains are closed. I tried to go to Mt. Rainier in January once. Had to turn back because the roads were closed.
 

petetherock

Senior Member
Oct 9, 2006
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Yes, nice place.

Tax free in Portland, nice beaches at Florida - yes thats in WA.

I am surprised you did not mention Olympic NP then :)

Great mirror lakes, and even the ferry ride was nice. Forget the fisherman's wharf though and visit the Boeing Facilities, nature and just sit back and relax.

Good place to migrate to too!

Cheers


Walaow, I cannot believe nobody mentioned Washington.

I used to live in Seattle for 5 years, and WA isn't called "Evergreen State" for no reason. It has beautiful, beautiful views all over. Mount Rainier is AWESOME. The surrounding area also has incredible views. I also went to Port Angeles before (If you guys have seen Twilight, you've definitely heard of this little town), and the views of the mountains around the area is unbelieveable. The lakes are soooooo clear. My friends and I were willing to go on a long drive there to take pics with our super mediocre P&S (Sony T1 and some Casio cameras lol). Washington has so many places with beautiful view. If you're a landscape photographer, you wouldn't wanna miss it. Portland is two hours away with car, and it also has many great views. You can continue driving to San Francisco and then continue to LA. If you don't wanna go through Oregon, then you can drive through Utah on your way to California. West Coast is the best!

Don't go there during winter though. The roads to the mountains are closed. I tried to go to Mt. Rainier in January once. Had to turn back because the roads were closed.
 

petetherock

Senior Member
Oct 9, 2006
1,659
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More tips:
http://www.smh.com.au/travel/traveller-tips/diy-in-the-usa-top-tips-on-travelling-in-america-20091029-hmtw.html

I had discovered yelp.com, a site about all things American reviewed by Americans.
And I began to realise, there was a lot more to a DIY holiday in the US of A.
A) Airports. I was scheduled to fly into Dulles International Airport via San Francisco and what Yelpers had to say about Washington DC's international airport did not bode well for my trip.
Dulles is universally hated and avoided for being "industrial", "difficult to get around", "cold and impersonal" and last but not least for its "Nazi TSA officers".
TSA stands for Transportation Security Administration, otherwise known as customs officers in Australia.
If I had done my homework, I would have planned to arrive at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, a small, easy to navigate airport known for its friendly TSA staff and located on the Metro line.
"It's cheap, safe and quick... and can probably get you to your hotel," advises Yelper Martin B.
Dulles in comparison is a 60 minute, $US70 ($A76)) taxi ride away.
As it turned out, my arrival was not the complete nightmare I had expected.
This was because my contact with TSAs in Dulles was non-existent. My first stop in America was San Francisco, which has one of the best international airports in the country or as a Yelper says, "SFO is comfy, easy to get in and out of and relaxing".
It is all that and more. In SFO, the TSA staff were positively oozing friendliness and charm.
The Director of Customer Services had spotted me standing in the wrong line (I was the only person without luggage), pulled me out with a smile, brought me to a small table by the side and voila! in five seconds, gave me a boarding pass and sent me on my way.
Everyone at SFO was this nice.
Wherever you land first in the US, that's where you clear Customs. It doesn't matter how bad the TSA in Dulles is. If you land in San Francisco, you clear immigration there. At Dulles, all you need to do is collect your bags.
If it makes very little difference in airfare and travel time, it is worth picking the right airport.
B) Public transport rules in New York City and Washington DC.
Considering DC's cheap Metro ($US1.35 ($A1.45) - - off peak gets you almost everywhere), taking a cab is bordering on insanity.
More so when you consider the ridiculous extra charges - more than one passenger, luggage, extra large luggage, driver rendering "personal assistance" (if they so much as touch your bag) and so on.
In New York, there's a range of cheap subway fares but probably best value is a one-day fun pass for $US8.25 ($A8.95) that you can use all day.
Cabs are less prohibitive here but watch out for peak hour traffic.
Astonishingly, not a single cabbie took a longer route to hike up the fare, which is more than I can say for Sydney taxi drivers.
Public transport systems in both cities are easy to use.
New York's numerous train lines may seem daunting at first but it takes no more than a day or two to familiarise yourself with it.
C) One thing you don't have to worry about - friendliness and safety.
Friends who were in New York 10 to 20 years ago relate horror stories of a crime-ridden, grimy, dangerous city.
And who hasn't heard about the rudeness of New Yorkers?
Well, I'm not sure what happened between then and now. It was possibly a combination of Rudy Giuliani cleaning up the city and September 11.
But something's changed and for the better.
I had packed all my NYC caution in my luggage along with my clothes. As it turns out, I needn't have bothered.
The friendliness of the people blew me away. Just about anywhere, I could stop and ask for directions.
From the Wall St executive in a rush to his next million-dollar deal to the Upper East Side socialite walking her poodle in Central Park, they will all take a moment to direct you to Tiffany or wherever it is you're trying to get to.
At Times Square, where I stood outside the station peering at my map, a man handing out Pizza Hut coupons approached me to ask if I needed help. I felt guilty for eyeing him suspiciously.
In the more leisurely paced Washington DC, what they'll do is whip out their Blackberries and iPhones and try to aid you with an online map.
As for safety, I felt as safe in the US as I do right here in Australia.
Look at the way New York women carry their personal belongings.
In al fresco sidewalk cafes uptown and downtown, they place their bags on chairs and on the floor facing the street. Whatever crime problems the city has, snatch-and-run theft is clearly not one of them.
D) Before booking your accommodation, it's a good idea to check out TripAdvisor, which is a Godsend when it comes to avoiding hotel nightmares.
The site is reviewed by ordinary travellers just like yourself and it methodically lists the percentage of people who recommend a particular establishment. This is then broken down into five ratings, telling you exactly how many people found it "excellent", "very good" etc.
You can also learn how many reviews a certain traveller has done. Beware of hotels with raving reviews written mostly by one-time TripAdvisor users. They are often not genuine travellers but the hotel's management trying to boost their rating.
The site comes in handy especially for New York because two people staying in the same hotel can have vastly different experiences, depending on the room they end up in.
A week before you leave, confirm your reservation again via email. Low- to mid-range NYC accommodations overbook, and if they give away your room, that's just too bad. Unfortunately, this is where New York friendliness fails.
If you're headed to DC, don't worry about the final confirmation. I did it and everyone thought I was crazy and/or paranoid.
TripAdvisor will find you the cheapest online rate and save you a bundle. I stayed at the Holiday Inn, a 20-minute walk from the White House, for $US120 ($A130) a night.
Alternatively, try a hotel in Virginia. The Pentagon and surrounds are only a couple of train stops away from DC and rates there drop considerably. I spent a couple of nights at the Americana Hotel with a rack rate of $US90 ($A98).
As for saving money in a Manhattan hotel, that's pretty much impossible. Food and public transport in the Big Apple is cheap (much cheaper than Sydney) but accommodation, forget it. Short of staying in New Jersey, there's no way around it.
You can try a B&B which costs less than a hotel. But do so at a risk. Most rooms registered as B&Bs do not have to give a refund if you cancel.
Either make a good friend who has a spare couch or start saving now.
IF YOU GO:
www.yelp.com, www.tripadvisor.com, http://www.bedandbreakfast.com/
 

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petetherock

Senior Member
Oct 9, 2006
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In the old days things were simple, most economy seats allow you to check in 2 bags, with a total not exceeding 32kg per bag.

Now with the cost cutting measures, SIA for example has reduced this to 2 bags each not more than 23kg.

American companies are even worse, and may have surcharges per bag, so when you purchase the tickets, check the terms and conditions and whether these charges are included in the airfare.
 

championboxer

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Nov 25, 2002
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Hi there... i browsed upon this and was seeking advice for my upcoming trip to the States...

I will be there in Denver this July for work and i would have 2 weekends to roam around. (a 3.5 days duration and another 2 days duration)

I like to take the opportunity to shoot some nice sceneries (mountains/lakes/rocks) hence I am toying around the idea of:
(a) from denver, driving to Rocky Mountain (question is what else to do at Denver. Ifs its only a day trip, would i be wasting my time in Denver and should just fly somewhere else?)
(b) fly to Las vegas and visit the Grand Canyon (how long do you think i will need to drive around the Canyon)
(c) from Denver, drive to Colorado?
(d) any other places you think i should venture?

thanks so much!
 

petetherock

Senior Member
Oct 9, 2006
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A day trip to the Rockies is the easiest, and doable. But check the weather, as it can be unpredictable.

If you can get a package to LV and fly to the Grand Canyon, it is a great trip, although it is costly. Definitely worth a visit. A very awesome place. Try and stay a night and see the sunrise. Unforgettable.

Hi there... i browsed upon this and was seeking advice for my upcoming trip to the States...

I will be there in Denver this July for work and i would have 2 weekends to roam around. (a 3.5 days duration and another 2 days duration)

I like to take the opportunity to shoot some nice sceneries (mountains/lakes/rocks) hence I am toying around the idea of:
(a) from denver, driving to Rocky Mountain (question is what else to do at Denver. Ifs its only a day trip, would i be wasting my time in Denver and should just fly somewhere else?)
(b) fly to Las vegas and visit the Grand Canyon (how long do you think i will need to drive around the Canyon)
(c) from Denver, drive to Colorado?
(d) any other places you think i should venture?

thanks so much!
 

Inimatad

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Nov 27, 2003
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tom.poonpipi.com
I am looking for any info abt driving a rented car from Canada to US and the necessary customs procedure.
I am going to Calgary in Alberta. Canada in mid June and will be driving to Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier National Park and Spokane and wonder if there are anything I should look out for.
This is not my first driving holiday in the US and the entire holiday will last a month. I gather that the weather at Yellowstone in the 3rd and 4th week of June is wet.
I am going to bring 3 lenses and my 5D2.
 

BBTM

Senior Member
Nov 23, 2004
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BB West
My sis just told me that get luaggage bag with TSA lock. If getting those normal bag with own lock, they will break it open if they want to check. I chk the website on TSA, really does have those information. Need to hunt for 1 decent bag liao.
 

petetherock

Senior Member
Oct 9, 2006
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Use your normal bag and get a TSA lock - bear in mind those idiots at the customs sometimes break your lock anyway!
 

petetherock

Senior Member
Oct 9, 2006
1,659
4
38
Use your normal bag and get a TSA lock - bear in mind those idiots at the customs sometimes break your lock anyway!
 

BBTM

Senior Member
Nov 23, 2004
2,248
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BB West
Use your normal bag and get a TSA lock - bear in mind those idiots at the customs sometimes break your lock anyway!
if I put my tripod inside my luggage bag n gone upon reaching, can claim? Cause my tripod are those good ones n also, my camera bag quite big, scare they wouldn't allow hand carry my tripod too. Wait they thought I want to hijack the plane.
 

petetherock

Senior Member
Oct 9, 2006
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The USA TSA authorities are not the most friendly, so I travel light and I don't bring anything I can't lose.

Cheers.

BTW tripods are not expensive there.
 

qwerty628

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Jan 3, 2010
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The tsa officers I encountered there weren't that bad. Most were professional and friendly enough, with the exception of one bugger at JFK who gave this I don't give a f look to everyone that passed through him.
 

icube

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i'm going to travel in california later this month and putting a day to yosemite... any tips or advices or things to watch out for? will be renting a vehicle while i'm there... thanks
 

petetherock

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Oct 9, 2006
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i'm going to travel in california later this month and putting a day to yosemite... any tips or advices or things to watch out for? will be renting a vehicle while i'm there... thanks
You better check that the roads are open. The National Parks websites will have some info. Avoid Tioga Pass at this time of the year.
 

khaiseng

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Jan 30, 2008
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1. u probably will need snow chains in the car during winter.

2. depending on where you are staying, a day may not be enough, driving from San francisco alone is more than 4 hours and to LA is about 6hrs (if i don't remember wrongly). u will need some time to explore the trails and hiking up to some of the water falls..

3. stop by the fruit stands along the road for strawberries, my wife and i bought 4 punnet and we regret not getting more