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USA: California: Bishop, Coloma, Hearst Castle, Laguna Beach, Lone Pine, Los Angeles, Mammoth Lakes, Mono Lake, Monterey Bay, Palm Springs, Pismo Beach, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Yosemite National Park
Palm Springs, California, USA: Whole in one
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
Over 100 golf courses dot this County. It's common to see an array of dealership of fancy cars adjacent to each other. Don't like a Bentley? No worries, Ferrari is just next door. Welcome to Palm Springs - the playground of the rich and famous. There's a whole lot to do in Palm Springs… take the Aerial Tramway… walk downtown… check the Follies Show… putt around… or simply bask in the sun sipping your favourite drink in one of the many fancy resorts.
We left San Diego after breakfast at about 9 AM. By 12 noon we were at the foothills of Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains to board Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. A must do for every visitor to or passing through Palm Springs. World's largest rotating tram cars (each car can take in 80 passengers). The 10-minute, 2.50 mile trip begins at the Valley Station at an elevation of 2613 feet and transports you to the Mountain Station at an elevation of 8516 feet. During the ascent you will pass through 5 unique life-zones, from the Mexican Desert to an Alpine Wilderness. Along the way you will encounter special plants that are distinct to each zone. The Mountain Station offers various viewing decks, has walking trails that could be as long as 54 miles, restaurants and gift shops. Make sure to carry warm clothing. It's cool up there.
After walking atop for an hour or so, we returned to the base and drove through the happening down town of Palm Springs. 30 minutes away was our next stop - The Living Desert situated in Palm Desert. The Living Desert is a zoo, so to say, but to me it was a wild life adventure through the deserts of the world.
I was at close quarters with desert animals from the American Southwest, Mexico and Africa including the bighorn sheep, Mexican wolves, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, worth hogs and leopards. If an enclosure can give so much pleasure, I wonder how it would be to roam about in Kenya & Tanzania. Since on the subject, you may want to refer to a very nice feature appearing in 'Share Experience' section on this web site. One of the unique features of The Living Desert is the gardens representing the botanical diversity found in the deserts. Comfortable walking paths measuring about 1.5 miles take you around. A trolley is also available for the tour at an extra cost.
Our next stop was a 30-minute drive away to La Quinta Resorts at La Quinta. Before you get confused, the name has nothing to do with the budget hotel chain La Quinta. This resort was established in 1926 and is a member of The Waldorf Astoria Collection. La Quinta town has actually been named after the resort. When the resort was built there was nothing around. Community built up over the years. The resort has been a favourite retreat of Hollywood legends like Garbo, Gable and Capra. Today, the guest include the new generation of celebrities. Step inside the resort and you will know why.
Like they say, when you enter the resort, the valet may not be the first to greet you. Likely, it will be the fragrance of the orange blossoms. A walk through the 45-acre property is an aromatherapy experience in itself! Set amidst the Santa Rosa Mountains, the property has classy hacienda-style casitas, suites and spa villas. To chill out, you have access to a fantastic spa enclosure, 41 pools, 53 hot spas, putting range, tennis courts and yes, 5 championship golf courses designed by Dye, Nicklaus and Norman. Good to know that they aren't very expensive. $200 and up for a room is a good deal.
After treating ourselves well with a light massage and a sumptuous dinner we checked in for the night at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino at Indio about 30-minute drive away. I got an excellent room on the upper floor. I must compliment their chef for putting in our rooms a basket of fruit that was nothing less than an art. All guests are rewarded with complimentary $20 dollars that can be spent on the slot machines. As privileged guests we got an additional $50 reward. Needless to mention, I quickly lost all on the slot (when it's free you tend to be careless!). To be fair to the casino, I must say some of the members in our group did actually came home as winners. Good for them.
The property is a venue for some great music festivals. When I was there, they were preparing for a major music event. They were expecting thousands of visitors from all over the country. Their convention centre spreads out to 25,000 square foot of covered, pillar less facility. And next door is a championship golf course too.
This was the last night of our tour in California. The next morning after breakfast we left for Los Angeles airport which was a 3 hour drive. Add to it a 8 hour wait before check-in; 14 hours of flying; 7 hours of layover at Hong Kong; 6 hours of flying to Mumbai and finally 3 hour of drive to Pune, my home.
All well worth it.
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