The night before the trek I had stayed at the pre-departure hotel in a shared room. My roommate had a late flight so she checked into the room till the evening. We got acquainted that night and were both really excited about the trek in the morning. We both woke up quite early and got some breakfast in lobby, which wasn’t included but it was an “all you could eat buffet breakfast” so we took advantage of it! Once we had eaten as much as humanly possible, we went back to the room to re pack our cases. Once we were ready to start our adventure, we went downstairs to the lobby to meet our tour leader and the rest of the group!


Our tour started at 7:30am! I’m not a morning person…that was difficult! Our Tour Leader was called Emily who was from Pennslyvannia, she was really lovely and very knowledgeable! She was very well organised and had lots of fun facts about each location we visited. She would make an excellent teacher! Our group was very mixed. We had one couple from Ireland, 3 friends from Germany, and the rest of us were solo travellers. I had some fellow Brits on the tour as well as someone from Holland and another girl from Germany who had been living in the US for a year as an Au Pair. One of the English girls, Alex, also has a YouTube channel “Alex’s Fiction Addiction”. Check her out! We spent about an hour in the lobby doing some paperwork. We then went round in circle and got to know everyone’s names. We also told each other what we were looking forward to most of the trip. Shockingly quite alot of us were looking forward to Vegas…including me! Even though I have been there twice already, it never gets old! I was also looking forward to Texas and my birthday which landed on trek…which was why I booked in the first place! Once the meeting was over we got all our stuff in the Trek van we were on our way!


We had a quick tour round LA first before heading to San Diego. First stop was Rodeo Drive where we had a wonder round to look at all the high end shops. My entire Trek spending money could go towards one bag…I went against those urges! Next, we drove down to Hollywood Boulevard. Obviously, if you read my last blog I had already been here for 4 days before but I wasn’t really bothered. We only had about 40 minutes (which is all we really needed) to get some photos of the stars on the Walk of Fame, go to the Chinese Theatre and have a selfie with the Hollywood sign at the platform on the mall. We were back in the van and on our way to San Diego with a cheeky stop at my favourite California fast food chain IN’N’OUT! It’s so good! Bring In’n’Out to England!

San Diego wasn’t a long drive, I think it’s about 2 hours. We passed the time really well getting to know everyone and talking to Emily about what it’s like being a tour leader. We went to Old Town San Diego first, which is an old Historic state park with alot of Mexican culture. There was lots of restaurants, art, culture and history to be explored. We had a good wander round for a few hours and finished with an ice cream…the first of many! It’s shockingly very hot in California!

We checked into the USA Hostels in San Diego later that afternoon. It’s was located in the centre of town in tall townhouses. There are no lifts to get into this hostel. This was probably the worst time to have a suitcase! There are 3 steep flights of stairs to get to the reception. No joke! However, the hostel itself was lovely. Brightly decorated and lots of plants everywhere. The Mexican theme was going strong! We had two mixed dorms between us. We had a few hours to chill and then we were off out again to get some food at this Fish Restaurant called “The Fish Shop”, very original! I had only been away from the UK for less than a week and I was craving fish’n’chips already. A true Northerner. My family would be proud. Don’t worry I was trying American cuisine a lot on the tour and this was just a one off! To finish our first day together Emily took us to the beach where we had s’mores around a campfire. We were all wrapped up round the campfire and continuing to get to know each other. A great first day all round!


In the morning, we were up and making our own breakfast. The best part about hostel is they put on a great spread for breakfast…and its FREE! There’s fruit, cereal, bagels, toast and you can make your own American pancakes! Once we had our fill of breakfast we had to decide on today’s activity. Today was a free day. We could either go to the San Diego Beach or San Diego Zoo. Considering I was just at Venice Beach the day before I opted for the Zoo. Plus I was dying to see a Panda! So four of us went to the Zoo and we had a great time! I saw the Panda I was dying to see and learnt some interesting facts about the Zoo itself. San Diego Zoo is the number 1 Zoo in the World on Trip Advisor. I didn’t know that one! It’s also more like a retirement home for older animals, which is why all the animals look tired. The animals are really well looked after by the staff. The elephants even get pedicures everyday! They have this really interesting buddy system where they pair up a wild animal with a domestic dog from birth. They become best friends and share thier time together in the same enclosure! So if you see a Labrador in a cage with a leopard, don’t worry! It’s not a lie dinner show! It’s something about the wild animal taking on characteristics of the domestic animal, which makes them calmer around people. Super interesting! Shockingly, one of my favourite animals of the day were the hippos. They have this tank were you can see them swimming under the water. Also, I really enjoyed the Meerkats. My friends sometimes say I have characteristics of a Meerkat by the way they suddenly look up and check the area to predators. That’s what I look like when I’m looking for dinner or clocking onto a conversation! haha! 

After a good few hours wandering round the Zoo, Emily came to pick us up. We went back to the hostel to chill out for a few hours. I went for a bit of a wander to get something to eat and do a bit of shopping. Later, I met the rest of the group at the hostel as we were all going to watch a movie together. For a bit of an all American experience….a Drive Thru Cinema! I’ve never been to one of these before so I was really excited. Plus, I am a massive movie geek! We got some warm clothing on and brought our sleeping bags. It’s pretty difficult for 13 people to watch a movie in a van. So we laid some mats on the ground and watched “How to be Single” together. Not the best movie but our options were limited! Still a great experience! What a great first few days!



If you want to see more on my adventures with TrekAmerica on the Southern BLT, please check out my San Diego vlog below:


Natasha Atlas
Natasha Atlas

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