California Dreaming (Spring Break Road Trip)

Hello beautiful souls!

My last month has been very eventful, so I barely had time to sit down and reflect, but that only means I have more stories to share with you on the blog! I finished my winter term of sophomore year (with all A’s yay), had a crazy and spontaneous spring break I’m going to write about in this post, and started my first co-op a.k.a my first real job ever – which oh boy I’m going to talk about soon, because I love it!

For now, let me tell you about how I ended up exploring the breathtaking California this spring break. What started as a short relaxing holiday turned out to be one of the most incredible adventures in my life so far.

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First of all, California was not in the radar for my spring break. At all.

I was supposed to go again to Costa Rica with Startup Island, but due to my lack of success in recruiting enough people for the trip from my university, I ended up having no plans for my spring break.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, so what could Tori possibly do? Call one of her Romanian best friends who is studying in London, realize that our spring breaks match this year, and plan a whole California road trip over the phone in one night: open the Excel spreadsheet, decide the budget, places we want to see, things we want to do, and the most cost-efficient way to make this possible. Next step? Booking flights (thanks to my fresh marketing skills, we found some really good deals), accommodation (thanks God for AirBnb and friends), and choosing a rental agency from TripAdvisor to give us the car for the road trip (fun fact, usually they charge you more to rent a car if you’re under 25 in the US, but we got lucky – in fact very lucky, just wait for it).

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Los Angeles to San Francisco

To quote Miley, we “hopped off the plane at LAX” on Monday morning, having only our dreams, cardigans, and some money to spare (don’t worry, didn’t last for long though). We went to get the car, and that’s when it hit us. Surrounded by palm trees, away from the terrible East Coast weather, and having a week away from school in front of us, we were in freaking LA! On top of that, the cutest yellow old Volkswagen Beetle was waiting for us. If road tripping on the Pacific Coast Highway in a yellow Volkswagen Beetle is not every girl’s dream, then what could be? Ok, I can find many others (fun fact #2, the guy at the rental agency was Romanian, and he plays a very important role in this whole story).

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After getting our car and making sure I still know how to drive (I wish this was a joke), we decided it was probably a wise idea to buy some food for the road, so I was incredibly thrilled to see that there was a Trader Joe’s around (you can call this fangirling, the supermarket version). We took some time to eat some delicious hummus and salad wraps made by yours truly, changed our clothes and made ourselves looking presentable (yes, everything happened in the car, our portable house for the day, while being – just a little bit – concerned about all the delusional homeless people walking by us – welcome to California!)

Just three hours later than scheduled, we left to San Francisco!

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Good music, vibes, conversations, and the delight on our face when we saw the Pacific Ocean on our left for the first time. After hours of driving, we stopped to watch the sunset on the beach, and, before we knew it, it was dark out. That’s when we realized we should have probably checked how far we were from San Francisco. To our surprise, we still had three and a half hours left.

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Suddenly, it was dark out, we were the only car on the road, we both had no service, the radio was making weird buzzing sounds, and the route was getting more uphill, curvy and difficult than anything I’ve encountered before. Soon, I realized we were pretty screwed, and I’m not one to get scared quickly, therefore seeing a gas station on the way was the best thing that could have happened to us in that moment. We stopped and luckily came across a couple who was driving to the nearest campground, in Big Sur. I asked them if we could follow them, got a big cup of black coffee (guys, first time ever in my life, so you know it’s serious), and resumed our driving. On top of everything, it also started raining, and we could hear frogs croaking from time to time. Name a better scary movie scene.

Once we got to Big Sur, we realized that the wisest decision in the given conditions was to find a place to sleep for that night. Easier said and done, because we had to try three different lodges and beg people to let us sleep on the coach until we finally managed to find an inn where they let us sleep in their so-called emergency room. A truly unique and unexpected experience.

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However, resilience is built through though times like this. We went to sleep, and the next thing we know is it’s 7am and we’re ready to finally get to SF for real.

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Thanks God we chose to sleep there, as the road the next morning was simply breathtaking, and the throwback jams made it even better.

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San Francisco

We got to San Francisco relatively quickly, and the first stop was the Facebook HQ, where an employee was waiting to show us around. I loved seeing all the hardworking people there, the amenities they have, and the way the whole campus was set up.

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After the visit, all we wanted was to get to the hotel. When we finally got there, the lady at the front desk was Romanian, and all I can recall is her looking at us and, after hearing our story, being like “You girls are crazy!” We were such a mess that she wanted to give us food, and later she called us telling that she talked to the manager and they agreed to give us a refund for the lost night. Best. News. Ever.

After all, we were not that lost anymore.

San Francisco was lovely. We took the cute vintage trolley and went to the Pier 39, Lombard Street, California Street, literally climbed the streets (they were incredibly steep), finally ate some good real food in Chinatown, and ended up catching up with an old friend in his apartment. Next morning, we went to the Golden Gate Bridge, and, of course, much later than scheduled, began our drive back to Los Angeles. It was me, my high school friend Sînzi, and my old friend Seby decided to join us too.

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Pacific Coast Highway

The route back was insanely beautiful! It took us probably a total of 12 hours to go all the way from San Francisco to Los Angeles, but we stopped a lot on the way to admire the beautiful landscape and to eat dinner in Malibu.

I will let the photos speak for themselves.

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Los Angeles

Once we woke up in Los Angeles, we didn’t want to leave.

The first thing we did in the morning was to replace the yellow Beetle with a convertible BMW (thanks, Radu), and head to Beverly Hills, literally feeling like rockstars. We ate at In-N-Out (YUMM), walked on the Rodeo Drive (WOW), passed by the Walk of Fame (which looked so dirty we didn’t want to stop), and drove through the Hollywood Hills until we reached the Griffith Observatory.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves again.

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The best part was when Radu, the guy from the rental agency, heard our travel stories. At that point, he looked at us and said “I see you like having fun. Well, I also have a plane, if you’re interested.” And that, my friends, is how we ended up flying in a plane over LA, Hollywood hills, Malibu and the coast. Unforgettable.

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The last day of the trip was solely spent at the beach, most exactly Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach. I also bought a longboard from Arbor, the well-known skate shop, which made me way too happy. You can see it in the photos with me trying to longboard on the Venice Beach Boardwalk.

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All in all, the trip was so much more than I expected. California feels like you are in another world, so different than the hustle lifestyle from the East Coast. Los Angeles has literally everything you can imagine, from beaches to mountains, vintage shops to the most expensive brands in the world, homeless people to filthy rich, and palms. A lot of palms, all of them making you feel like you’re living a dream.

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At the end of the trip, I couldn’t believe I had to fly back to cold Philly, and leave the beautiful Cali sun behind. I was almost sad that I applied to co-op in the East Coast instead of the West Coast. However, since I got back, I am so grateful and happy with the choice I made. I’m so damn enthusiastic to spend the next six months working at Publicis Health Media, developing my digital marketing and advertising skills in a global media company. It’s been already three weeks and I learned so much, met great people, and realized that this is truly the industry I want to be in. I will share more details about this soon!

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Thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoyed the photos.

Wait until you see the videos. They captured the whole adventure in a way words can’t really describe. Excited to share them with you soon.

Love,

Tori

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2 thoughts on “California Dreaming (Spring Break Road Trip)

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