Geekzone: technology news, blogs, forums
Guest
Welcome Guest.
You haven't logged in yet. If you don't have an account you can register now.
View this topic in a long page with up to 500 replies per page Create new topic
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7
186 posts

Master Geek
+1 received by user: 22

Lifetime subscriber

  Reply # 2039329 18-Jun-2018 04:24
Send private message quote this post

eracode: One time we were there we did a road-trip of a week or so - an anti-clockwise circuit - south through San Jose > Yosemite > circumnavigated Lake Tahoe > Sacramento > over to the Napa Valley then back to SF. Calistoga and St Helena in the Napa are really lovely places.

We just totally winged-it for accommodation each day - using booking.com on the fly from the car - but that may not work so well during peak vacation time.

 

 

 

Did something similar when I was there in 1995.

 

I had gone to a user group meeting in Mountain View (centre of Silicon Valley and might even had visited a building that existed on the site where Google now lives!) and had a 'free' day at the end of a busy week visiting various IT companies and local sites. 

 

Hired a car, drove over the Golden Gate Bridge, up to Napa Valley then back via Berkeley and the Oakland Bay Bridge. A long drive with plenty to see and probably the best route as the reverse direction would have meant paying road tolls to travel over the bridges. I don't know if this is still true.

 

Re-visited San Francisco area as part of our Round-the-World holiday in 1998 with my wife. We also visit New Zealand for the first time of this time as part of this trip.   


2642 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 690

Subscriber

  Reply # 2039330 18-Jun-2018 05:07
Send private message quote this post

Another option, if flights are not yet booked, could be to allocate 2-3 days to the coastal drive from SF to LA - then fly out of LA rather than SF.

The coast is quite spectacular and the good thing about doing it North > South is that the car is on the seaward side of the road as you go down.

There’s not a large number of places to stay en route (at least not in middle part of the trip) but there is lovely motel at Ragged Point which is roughly half-way down.

2367 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 1142


  Reply # 2039340 18-Jun-2018 07:24
Send private message quote this post

We booked a cheap hotel (don't recall the name, sorry) a couple of blocks North of Market St via Expedia before we left. That was mistake. Bad Wifi, crappy room, couldn't care less staff, crappy breakfast. (Many hotels include breakfast, which varied from fresh-made waffles and real maple syrup, selection of nice fruit juices, tea, perc coffee, fruit, toast down to a cellophane-wrapped "cinnamon bun" ($1.45 at a convenience store), apple, apple juice (at that SF hotel).

 

You should tip, 10-20% = "barely OK" to "excellent" service. Also be aware that advertised (including chalkboards at restaurants and diners) prices don't include Sales Tax (8% in California IIRC), so restaurants are 20+% more expensive than they appear. Meal servings tend to be large (and "entree" means "main"), and typically include free coffee refills.

 

What we did was a clockwise trip over a week... SF, Sacramento, Yosemite, Death Valley, Las Vegas (2 nights, day trip to Grand Canyon West), and flew out from there (to New York). I could have happily spent a week at both Yosemite and Death Valley. Gas prices were about US$20 to fill the tank, car rental about US$50 per day (Alamo, Dollar are the cheap car rental companies).

 

I just used my Visa card to pay wherever it was accepted, which was most places. Plus I had a few hundred US$ for places that didn't take Visa. Gas stations had Visa pay-at-pump, but my NZ Visa didn't work for that, so I had to pre-pay.

 

 


65 posts

Master Geek
+1 received by user: 5


  Reply # 2039342 18-Jun-2018 07:51
Send private message quote this post

sonyxperiageek:

I've also found hotels to be pretty expensive to stay in per night thre, AirBNB seems to be slightly better. Are there any tips to which places have better value in terms of accommodation?



I’ve just been in San Francisco last week. Really interesting city but be open minded as homelessness, begging and drug abuse on the streets is a very real problem there. I stayed at a hotel in the Tenderloin called Hotel Epik which was by far the best value I could find, however the Tenderloin is sketchy at best during the night.

26628 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 6125

Moderator
Trusted
Biddle Corp
Lifetime subscriber

  Reply # 2039344 18-Jun-2018 07:55
Send private message quote this post

On most of my recent visits I've stayed near the airport as accommodation can be under 1/2 the price of staying in the City. Getting into the city is easy with BART and pretty cost effective if you want to use Uber Pool or Lyft Line.

 

A long weekend there for my next trip was going to be NZ$1800 for 3 nights in the city but I decided to use Hilton points for 3 nights free which gives an excellent return on points!


26628 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 6125

Moderator
Trusted
Biddle Corp
Lifetime subscriber

  Reply # 2039347 18-Jun-2018 08:01
One person supports this post
Send private message quote this post

frankv:

 

Gas stations had Visa pay-at-pump, but my NZ Visa didn't work for that, so I had to pre-pay.

 

 

Paying for petrol in the US is nearly always a nightmare. You can't use the terminals at the pump as they typically all require ZIP code verification to match the card for fraud purposes, and a NZ issued card has no billing ZIP code associated with it. 

 

The process nearly always ends up being a very painful one of walking in, explaining what you're doing, often having to hand over something as a security deposit (such as cash) so they will let you use the pump which is often a long and very drawn out process, going back out to fill up, and then going back in to pay for it.

 

It's fine if you're just wanting a fixed amount of gas as you can just pay in advance, but if you're wanting to fill up a rental car to return it's a totally different story.

 

 


65 posts

Master Geek
+1 received by user: 5


  Reply # 2039355 18-Jun-2018 08:17
Send private message quote this post

Oh and for rental cars, I’ve found booking something average (aka cheap) and asking for an upgrade at the counter has worked REALLY well. I’ve got a Mustang (originally booked a Chev Malibu) for the Pacific Coast Highway, and a Challenger (originally booked a Hyundai Elantra) from Vegas to Long Beach much cheaper by being polite and asking at the counter.

2642 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 690

Subscriber

  Reply # 2039360 18-Jun-2018 08:28
One person supports this post
Send private message quote this post

sbiddle:

frankv:


Gas stations had Visa pay-at-pump, but my NZ Visa didn't work for that, so I had to pre-pay.



Paying for petrol in the US is nearly always a nightmare. You can't use the terminals at the pump as they typically all require ZIP code verification to match the card for fraud purposes, and a NZ issued card has no billing ZIP code associated with it. 


The process nearly always ends up being a very painful one of walking in, explaining what you're doing, often having to hand over something as a security deposit (such as cash) so they will let you use the pump which is often a long and very drawn out process, going back out to fill up, and then going back in to pay for it.


It's fine if you're just wanting a fixed amount of gas as you can just pay in advance, but if you're wanting to fill up a rental car to return it's a totally different story.


 



Yep it can be a bit of a pain but it’s not quite that bad once you get used to the system. The part about ZIP code etc is correct and you do have to go into the office before you pump if you want to use a card.

However, if you want to fill the tank and you think it’s going to be, say, $35 - tell the cashier you want to prepay $40 via your credit card. They will put a $40 charge on the card. Then when you’ve filled, if it comes to $35.50, the pump will register this and you will get a $4.50 credit back to your card.

We lived in Northern California for six weeks earlier this year and I did this many times without any problem. It’s an accepted practice there. Bit of a leap of faith the first time though. The good thing is that almost without exception Americans are polite, patient and helpful. Kiwis only need to say a few words before it sticks out like the proverbials that you’re not a local - and then they’ll be happy to help you.

Otherwise pay cash.

838 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 695

Trusted
Spark NZ

  Reply # 2039380 18-Jun-2018 08:44
Send private message quote this post

My girlfriend and I were in San Fran for 3 nights this time last year as part of a whirlwind 15 night tour of the west. We drove up from LA via the coast over the course of two days during Memorial Day weekend, which was breathtaking. At one point, there was a line of massive RV's all parked up next to the ocean for the holiday weekend - bumper to bumper for probably 20 miles or so!

 

In San Fran, we stayed at Lombard Motor Inn which was at the cheaper end of the scale (NZ$605 for 3 nights) but quite comfortable, and they offered free secure car parking which was a must for us. Our rental car stayed parked up while we were in town though - we either walked, bussed, or taxied everywhere.

 

The hop on hop off bus was fantastic - especially the night tour - but as others have eluded to, you need to be prepared for just how cold it can be - we both had to jump off the bus and buy jackets as it was bitterly cold the night we were on the upper (open) deck of the bus. The daytime tour also allows you to see a good chunk of the city and the tour guides we had were excellent.

 

We got tickets for a Giants game at AT&T Park via stubhub.com - the tickets were something stupid like US$6 each and were quite high up behind the batting cage, but the atmosphere was amazing and we had a beautiful view of the bay from up there. We also took in Alcatraz and met a former inmate who was signing books while we were there. We did a 3-4 hour walking food tour hosted by a bohemian local which was very very interesting - she took us to places that we would never have found by ourselves, and we were the only ones on that particular tour so it was like having our own private guide to show us the 'real San Fran'. Although it was a 'food' tour, our guide knew everything about everything and everyone - she certainly seemed to know just about everyone in town by name! I'm not a foodie so wasn't looking forward to it that much, but it far exceeded my expectations. We were introduced to local personalities and got backstage access to a number of interesting places that tourists would normally never hear about.

 

Our first night there we went to "Franciscan Crab Restaurant" on Fisherman's Wharf. It's absolute waterfront with a sort of stadium seating arrangement, so pretty much every table has the best view. It wasn't cheap but the food (and service) was incredible so we thought it was worth every cent. I generally found portion sizes in the USA to be huge so a lot of times the smaller sizes are best.

 

At the end of our time in San Fran, we headed out over the bridge and stopped at Nappa for lunch before taking in a few wineries (my girlfriend's highlight of the trip I think lol). We then visited a myriad of beautiful lakes on our way to Lake Tahoe. The drive into Tahoe is something to behold - the heat of the Nappa and Sacrimento regions gives way to snow covered cabins in the woods as the road snakes it's way uphill to the lake - it really is like watching a movie.

 

We loved San Francisco and will definitely go back in future as I am sure there is still much to see that we couldn't cram in to our 3 nights.


17280 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 4939

Trusted
Lifetime subscriber

  Reply # 2039384 18-Jun-2018 08:49
Send private message quote this post

I second how cold it can be. The wind coming from the Ocean can be thoroughly chilling. Take a couple of extra layers, esp at night. 

 

SF has great food. 

 

Tipping is part of the US Culture, don't resent it, embrace it otherwise you will end up ruining any restaurant experiences you have. 

 

I also agree go to a Ball game, even if you aren't a sports fan, or even a particular baseball fan. The atmosphere isn't to be missed and you can get a real feel for the people there. People watching is almost as interesting. 

 

 


34 posts

Geek
+1 received by user: 9


  Reply # 2039385 18-Jun-2018 08:51
Send private message quote this post

I most warmly recommend these "free" walking tours of SFO: http://www.sfcityguides.org/   I must have been on at least a dozen of them now (every time we stop over there and while SWMBO is off shopping) and every single one was really interesting. I don't even have to worry about my selection: I simply go on whatever is scheduled for the time I have free. Chinatown. Rooftop Gardens of the Financial District. Castro Quarter. 1906 Earthquake & Fire. Etc etc. All brilliant! They were started by some local librarians but the volunteer guides now include others and every one I've followed has been fantastic. I always tip them very well at the end because I think they're better than most commercial guides who I'd otherwise be paying a lot for.

 

 


838 posts

Ultimate Geek
+1 received by user: 695

Trusted
Spark NZ

  Reply # 2039390 18-Jun-2018 08:51
One person supports this post
Send private message quote this post

sbiddle:

 

frankv:

 

Gas stations had Visa pay-at-pump, but my NZ Visa didn't work for that, so I had to pre-pay.

 

 

Paying for petrol in the US is nearly always a nightmare. You can't use the terminals at the pump as they typically all require ZIP code verification to match the card for fraud purposes, and a NZ issued card has no billing ZIP code associated with it. 

 

The process nearly always ends up being a very painful one of walking in, explaining what you're doing, often having to hand over something as a security deposit (such as cash) so they will let you use the pump which is often a long and very drawn out process, going back out to fill up, and then going back in to pay for it.

 

It's fine if you're just wanting a fixed amount of gas as you can just pay in advance, but if you're wanting to fill up a rental car to return it's a totally different story.

 

 

 

 

I didn't find it that bad, although I used cash most of the time. The one time I remember using my card was in Bishop, CA. Like you, I quickly worked out that my card wouldn't work at the pump so I went to see the cashier. He swiped my card which pre-authorised my pump for $100 or whatever, then I just filled up (less than $100) and left. The attendant told me the system would bill me the correct amount, and when I checked my account online, it had. I guess it would be a pain in the ass if you needed to keep receipts etc as you'd have to go back into the store after filling up.


26628 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 6125

Moderator
Trusted
Biddle Corp
Lifetime subscriber

  Reply # 2039395 18-Jun-2018 08:57
Send private message quote this post

doctormaxim: Oh and for rental cars, I’ve found booking something average (aka cheap) and asking for an upgrade at the counter has worked REALLY well. I’ve got a Mustang (originally booked a Chev Malibu) for the Pacific Coast Highway, and a Challenger (originally booked a Hyundai Elantra) from Vegas to Long Beach much cheaper by being polite and asking at the counter.

 

In certain places tipping staff is a great way to get upgrades - the same applies with hotels in Vegas.

 

The catch with cars is ensuring your have appropriate vehicle insurance and liability insurance cover. This can easily triple the cost of a rental car.

 

 


17280 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 4939

Trusted
Lifetime subscriber

  Reply # 2039399 18-Jun-2018 08:59
One person supports this post
Send private message quote this post

Actually, I forgot about walking tours (though I didn't do one in the SF area, I have done lots, and usually food walking tours as that's my interest). It's a great way to get your bearings and some light history and some delicious/interesting local fare. 

 

I often might do more than one.


26628 posts

Uber Geek
+1 received by user: 6125

Moderator
Trusted
Biddle Corp
Lifetime subscriber

  Reply # 2039400 18-Jun-2018 09:02
Send private message quote this post

eracode:
sbiddle:

 

frankv:

 

 

 

Gas stations had Visa pay-at-pump, but my NZ Visa didn't work for that, so I had to pre-pay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paying for petrol in the US is nearly always a nightmare. You can't use the terminals at the pump as they typically all require ZIP code verification to match the card for fraud purposes, and a NZ issued card has no billing ZIP code associated with it. 

 

 

 

The process nearly always ends up being a very painful one of walking in, explaining what you're doing, often having to hand over something as a security deposit (such as cash) so they will let you use the pump which is often a long and very drawn out process, going back out to fill up, and then going back in to pay for it.

 

 

 

It's fine if you're just wanting a fixed amount of gas as you can just pay in advance, but if you're wanting to fill up a rental car to return it's a totally different story.

 

 

 

 

 



Yep it can be a bit of a pain but it’s not quite that bad once you get used to the system. The part about ZIP code etc is correct and you do have to go into the office before you pump if you want to use a card.

However, if you want to fill the tank and you think it’s going to be, say, $35 - tell the cashier you want to prepay $40 via your credit card. They will put a $40 charge on the card. Then when you’ve filled, if it comes to $35.50, the pump will register this and you will get a $4.50 credit back to your card.

We lived in Northern California for six weeks earlier this year and I did this many times without any problem. It’s an accepted practice there. Bit of a leap of faith the first time though. The good thing is that almost without exception Americans are polite, patient and helpful. Kiwis only need to say a few words before it sticks out like the proverbials that you’re not a local - and then they’ll be happy to help you.

Otherwise pay cash.

 

 

 

Ahh that's interesting. It's not a process I've seen before. I've had my card charged for a preauth for what the guy estimated was a full tank (may have been $40) and then the preauth reversed before charging me the actual amount.

 

I suspect the reality is it's not a process they need to do every day, and it's safe to say some of the people who work in low paid jobs such as a gas station aren't exactly the smartest people around.

 

 


1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7
View this topic in a long page with up to 500 replies per page Create new topic

Twitter »

Follow us to receive Twitter updates when new discussions are posted in our forums:



Follow us to receive Twitter updates when news items and blogs are posted in our frontpage:



Follow us to receive Twitter updates when tech item prices are listed in our price comparison site:





News »

Hawaiki Transpacific cable ready-for-service
Posted 20-Jul-2018 11:29


Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central launches
Posted 10-Jul-2018 10:40


Spark completes first milestone in voice platform upgrade
Posted 10-Jul-2018 09:36


Microsoft ices heated developers
Posted 6-Jul-2018 20:16


PB Technologies charged for its extended warranties and warned for bait advertising
Posted 3-Jul-2018 15:45


Almost 20,000 people claim credits from Spark
Posted 29-Jun-2018 10:40


Cove sells NZ's first insurance policy via chatbot
Posted 25-Jun-2018 10:04


N4L helping TAKA Trust bridge the digital divide for Lower Hutt students
Posted 18-Jun-2018 13:08


Winners Announced for 2018 CIO Awards
Posted 18-Jun-2018 13:03


Logitech Rally sets new standard for USB-connected video conference cameras
Posted 18-Jun-2018 09:27


Russell Stanners steps down as Vodafone NZ CEO
Posted 12-Jun-2018 09:13


Intergen recognised as 2018 Microsoft Country Partner of the Year for New Zealand
Posted 12-Jun-2018 08:00


Finalists Announced For Microsoft NZ Partner Awards
Posted 6-Jun-2018 15:12


Vocus Group and Vodafone announce joint venture to accelerate fibre innovation
Posted 5-Jun-2018 10:52


Kogan.com to launch Kogan Mobile in New Zealand
Posted 4-Jun-2018 14:34



Geekzone Live »

Try automatic live updates from Geekzone directly in your browser, without refreshing the page, with Geekzone Live now.



Are you subscribed to our RSS feed? You can download the latest headlines and summaries from our stories directly to your computer or smartphone by using a feed reader.

Alternatively, you can receive a daily email with Geekzone updates.