US California Trip (May 2017) – SFO to Monterey -Day 5 (Swanton Berry Farm, 99bottles and Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa)

Day 5 and it's goodbye San Francisco for now! Time for us to head south towards LA with a few pit stops along the way. πŸ™‚

We made a really early breakfast stop somewhere in SFO (honestly not worth mentioning) and headed straight out of the city. The kids were raring to go because we had a nice road trip pit stop planned at Swanton Berry Farm. The kids had tried lemon and orange picking in Australia last year and loved it! Link here. So how could we not incldue another fruit picking session this time around, given that it was strawberry season!!!!

The drive from SFO to Swanton Berry Farm took us almost 2 hours but wasn't that bad since it was enroute to Santa Cruz which was going to be our lunch stop. We probably would have gotten there faster if we had stuck to the highway route but our GPS told us to turn off the highway just as we were about 10 mins away from the farm. We ended up on the 'mountains', taking a circular/ scenic route before we hit the farm from the other direction. So word of caution, you will be able to see the farm on your left from the highway and will be able to turn in directly from the highway. If you don't see it yet and your GPS tells you to turn into some small road, don't! It was quite a challenge for Joel to maneuvor those narrow steep slopes/ roads in a people mover (yes we rented a 8 seater for maximum passenger comfort and luggage space). Poor Joel!

We got to Swanton Berry Farm at about 11am and we picked up an empty brown box for our pickings. We headed back out the front door and was told that we could either walk to the farm, approximately 800m away or drive over in 2 mins. We chose to drive haha but it was really nearby. The smell of fresh strawberries hit us as we got out of the car! Sweetness in the air!!

We spent almost 45 mins picking our berries and the kids just went crazy haha and couldn't stop. We filled our 2 box trays and had to bring it back to the store to weigh them out and pay for them. Honestly for the same price that we paid, we could have gotten the really sweet, plump ones that the farmers had picked themselves and were selling. But it's all about the experience isn't it?

The kids were also attracted to some chocolate coated strawberries and we were forced to buy some. We consumed them on our walk to the car. They were so divine! I belted the kids in their car seats and ran back to the store to buy a few more for post lunch dessert. Yummy!!

It took us about 30 mins to drive to Santa Cruz and we headed directly to 99bottles for lunch. As the name suggest, if they have 99 different types of beer or perhaps more but it was a treat for the adults and the pub food was pretty decent too. The kids made us order a second portion of the mac and cheese for them. I have to say that everyone was in an awesome mood after such a fun morning and yummy grub and beer. :p


Thank goodness for the good mood too because we had another 2 hour drive left to go before we got to our hotel in Monterey and we also had a laundry stop to make.

So in case you are wondering how we dealt with our laundry for our 17 day trip (without any AirBnB stays) we made laundry stops throughout our trip and space them out so that we would have enough clothes to last us between stops. When I say laundry stops, I don't mean spending 1-2 hours at a laundromat doing coin wash. Honestly, I would prefer a 2 hour nap than a 2 hour laundry run and also there is no way my kids are sitting nicely in a laundromat while we wait for our laundry. So I made sure that the places we stopped at, had what they call Wash and Fold Services where you dropped off your laundry for them to wash and literally fold it and you either collect it or it gets delivered to you in about 24 hours.

We dropped our laundry off at Sudz Cyber Laundry (10 mins drive away from our hotel) and we picked it up the next day at about the same time. Clothes were nicely folded when we collected them. 5 days worth of laundry for 4 people and it cost us about $50. I know it seems like a lot but I figured we were paying for convenience, zero tantrums and clean clothes..well worth it! The place has coin machines too if you prefer that and I think they may even have the option of someone watching your machine for you but we didn't explore that.

It was almost 4pm by then and the kids were in need of their nap (and so were the adults). We checked into the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa which came highly recommended by a friend. And you can totally understand why you are paying a premium at this hotel. It has a really nice harbour/ ocean view, rooms were spacious and they even had decent room service which we enjoyed every night that we we were there. Hot chocolate with whipped Cream every single night! Trust me, it's hard to get decent room service in most hotels in the US, even the big names we are so used to in Asia, only offer very basic service. So this was definitely quite a treat.

Needless to say, after a long day on the move, everyone was wiped out and in need of some good sleep on those plushy double beds before we continue our exploration of Monterey tomorrow….zzzzz

JahBella's Mummy

Next Up – Monterey Bay Aquarium and Lafeyette Bakery Carmel

1) How we survived flying 15 hours with the kids and coped with jetlag

2) US California Trip (May 2017) – San Francisco Day 1 (GoCar & Pier 45)

3) US California Trip (May 2017) – San Francisco Day 2 (Lori’s Diner, Cable Car Tram and Koret Children’s Playground, Hog’s Island Oyster Bar)

4) US California Trip (May 2017) – San Francisco Day 3 (Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market and Children’s Creativity Musuem)

5) US California Trip (May 2017) – San Francisco Day 4 (Mama’s on Washington Square and California Academy of Sciences)

SIN – PER Business Class with kids (Red eye flight)

So as some of you might remember, our last attempt on a red eye flight was last year during our return flight from Tokyo to Singapore. We landed in Singapore at 7am and were honestly worse for wear. Thankfully we were on home ground and could recuperate in our own home and on our own terms but it was certainly not a good day :p

So this time I was really hesitant to even consider the idea of a red eye flight at the start of the trip. What’s worse is the fact that the flight lands at 5am which means the cabin would be prepped for landing by 4am. Lights would be switched on, announcements would be made, seats would have to be upright and yeah you know the drill :/ But given our itinerary constraints which would ideally see us making our 4 hour road trip drive into Margaret River at the start of our trip and preferably reaching MR at 2pm rather than 7pm (during winter). We had to bite the bullet and figure some way through it.

Joel was actually very garang about just figuring it out and making it (the sleep) work. But given that Bella didn’t sleep a wink on the red eye Tokyo flight and Joel was a zombie after. I was not risking it and letting a zombie drive us for 4 hours. My solution? Redeeming business class tickets all round and hoping that this means everyone would be able to fall asleep in a slightly more comfy environment.

Of course the thought of bringing 2 kids into business class at 12 midnight scared the hell out of me. What if they didn’t sleep and caused a ruckus, disturbing every other passenger in the process. But I have to say, fear unfounded. In fact if there was any flight to put kids in business class, a red eye is definitely it. I don’t know about babies and really little kids but a 3 and 5 year old who have a pretty fixed and stable sleep schedule would do just fine.

So how did our flight go?

The kids were strangely peckish at 12midnight so instead of having our meals for breakfast at 3am. We decided to ask for the meals to be served after take off (about 1am) and let them sleep throughout.

Bella dozed off as soon as the plane took off at midnight and totally missed her meal service. She didn’t get up until almost 5am when she sensed the flurry of activities around her. A stark difference from her Tokyo red night so mummy’s efforts to ensure that the adults especially the driver would get sleep too, worked!

Jah, on the other hand seemed determined to enjoy the ‘perks’ of his flight. He stayed up till his meal was served. Thoroughly enjoyed the starter of crossiants and fruits and then was too full for the fish congee main that was served after. He even noticed that real cutlery, China and tablecloth were used. Good spotting Jah! The boy went to sleep straight after and didn’t wake until we landed. πŸ™‚

While our flight (A330) did not offer a full flat bed as it was a regional product. The kids did just fine on the flat recline beds as they were much shorter and it was almost like a flat bed for them.

Joel and I got up very comfortably half an hour before landing to freshen up and we were able to keep the kids sleeping till the last minute which minimised any crankiness at being dragged out of ‘bed’ at 5am.

Oh and if there is 1 tip I have for travelling with young kids on a red would be to bring a toddler carrier if your child still uses one or doesn’t mind being in one. No child is going to willingly walk from a plane through to immigration and then to the luggage belt at 5am. We back carried both kids from the plane all the way to the arrival hall on our toddler sized Tulas and it was a hands free and stress free process all round. πŸ™‚

Now hopefully our return evening flight will be as stress free too 😑

Day 1 –Β Day 1 Rockingham, Busselton Jetty (Margaret River Roadtrip)

Day 2 – Wonky Windmill Farm and Orchard Picking (Margaret River Roadtrip)Β 

Day 3 –Β Margaret River Farmer’s Market and Yallingup Maze (Margaret River Roadtrip)

Day 4 Whale Watching Cruise and Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse (Margaret River Roadtrip)

Day 5 Ngilgi Caves, Canal Rocks and Laurence Wines (Margaret River Roadtrip)

JahBella’s Mummy