"the trusted voice of teens who travel"
July 24th, 2012
Let’s face it, I’m an extremely picky eater. When I went on our Trafalgar Family Experience to California, I was a little worried about the food prospects on the road, however, I was pleasantly surprised with all of the available options. Whether it was sitting down to an eight-course meal, or popping in some snacks on a full-day motor coach ride, the food was always plentiful and surprisingly good. For my fellow foodies out there, my California Dreamin’ Experience was one filled with fun and of course, a variety of fantastic food.
Here is a review of the food on our trip and some tips to help make your Trafalgar vacation more enjoyable and palatable:
Breakfast…the most important meal of my Trafalgar day
One of my favorite foodie experiences on my Trafalgar vacation was during some of the fabulous breakfast buffets. I was awed at the amazing selections at the Hyatt and Portola hotels (San Francisco and Monterey respectively). These beautiful buffets contained anything I could ever dream of at a breakfast buffet: omelets, yogurt parfaits, pastries, hot foods, fruits, juices, muffins, bagels, and any other imaginable breakfast treat. I’ve experienced many a lavish cruise ship buffet, but these surpassed even them.
Ok, picture this. Your bus has hit the last rest stop in Nevada and you are preparing for the 9,945-foot upwards trek into Yosemite National Park. While the views are pristine, your appetite surely won’t be after a few hours. So what to do about that in-between-meal stomach growling? My personal favorite treat was the bag of almond cookies that we purchased at Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in San Francisco’s Chinatown. (Yes, you will go there on your California Dreamin’ Family Experiences trip). Those little fat-loaded cookies were exceptionally delectable and lasted the entire trip!
Another favorite bus snack of mine was the ever-popular apple. Although they’re a bit stickier than cookies — our tour guide always graciously provided us with hand wipes — apples are great healers of motion sickness. Winding through the Tioga Pass on our way to Yosemite, a few folks were feeling a little bit queasy. However, noshing on my apple really helped my motion sickness and also served as my “healthy food” for the day. (Yes, I am 17 years old and my mother still has to nag me about eating enough fruits and vegetables!)
Trafalgar does an excellent job of making sure that its guests aren’t sitting on the bus for more than two-and-a-half to three hours at a time; therefore, there are plenty of breaks. A word to the wise: wherever you encounter a rest stop with food offerings, grab a cheap and storable snack. California is one of the most diverse states topographically, thus towns and cities are pretty spaced out physically. That means that food is not always available when you need it. So it is better to be that family with the colossal snack bag (yes, that was us) than the family who keeps complaining about being hungry on the bus.
Most of our on-the-go meals were hits, with a few misses. But even for picky eaters like me, there was always something to satiate my stomach. The key point is to make sure that you don’t set your expectations too high. You’re on the road; you’re not going to get a five-star, five-course feast at every meal, and that’s OK.
Throughout the majority of our vacation, lunch was eaten on the road. Our Tour Director did a superb job at finding excellent places to grab a quick bite. My personal favorite was on our way to Coloma—the old gold-panning town en route to Lake Tahoe. Driving through the Sacramento Valley, we came upon this bustling shopping complex that was home to the California-based Nugget Grocery Store. If you think you’ve seen grocery stores, then think again. This place was the most amazing “mart” I have ever seen! Not only was it super classy, but there was a made-to-order sandwich bar, four salad bar stations, and a smoothie bar. I could have stayed there all day, trying out the different prepared food stations.
Another fun meal on the road was eaten at the Casa de Fruit located in the San Joaquin Valley. We stopped at this unexpected gem en route from Yosemite to the city of Monterey. This rest stop is so unlike anything else we’ve ever been too. It’s a large food complex consists of a carousel, train, playground, wine store, ice cream parlor, fruit and vegetable stands, and a burrito/sandwich station. If your California Dreamin’ guided vacation stops at Casa de Fruit, or anywhere in the San Joaquin Valley for that matter, I wholly recommend buying some almonds. They’re cheaper than in other states and about 15 times better!
Isn’t it great when food can foster fun social situations? Think about it. How many social gatherings do you go to without food? My guess is, not very many. Food on my California Dreamin’ vacation was definitely a time for family bonding, which is the one of the goals of Family Experiences to begin with.
Many times Trafalgar did provide group dinners. A crowd-pleaser was definitely the eight-course Chinese meal at Hunan Homes in San Francisco’s Chinatown. After running around the San Francisco Bay area all day, we were definitely ready to relax and eat heartily. There really was something for everyone. My little brother Ethan, possibly the pickiest eater in the Tri-State area, even enjoyed his meal. I think it had something to do with the fact that Hunan Homes provided such massive amounts of food choices that everyone could be satisfied—or maybe it was because of his new “girlfriend” sitting next to him. Regardless, San Francisco’s Chinatown gets an A+ rating from this foodie.
The last night of our Family Experiences was possibly one of the best. We had spent all afternoon biking along the Monterey coast — which was awesome – and really worked up an appetite. Trafalgar hosted us to a California beach party complete with a barbeque and all the trimmings, followed by some tasty S’mores next to a roaring camp fire.
So I’ve covered basically every type of eating experience available to you on a Trafalgar Family Experience vacation, except those lonely times when you are responsible for meals on your own.
In San Francisco, the ultra-California-esque Bistro Burger, across the street from our Hyatt hotel, really hit the spot after a five-hour plane ride. Offering unique creations of burgers that spanned from avocado burgers to veggie burgers, Bistro Burger was a foodie success for my family, including my nine-year-old brother who is even pickier than me.
Another favorite, the Monterey Crepe Company on restaurant road, was exactly the food satisfaction that I was searching for. We had sweet and savory crepes for lunch…très magnifique if you ask me.
Whether you’re the type who will eat anything under the sun, or the type who will barely eat what is presently on your plate, Trafalgar’s Family Experiences vacations have plenty to offer you food-wise. (And I haven’t even gotten to all of the fun that you’ll have!) You might have to compromise sometimes for less than delectable meals when you’re exploring off-the-beaten path attractions, but in the end, the overall experience you get from your Trafalgar vacation will far outweigh any food grievances you may have.