Tag Archives: tram

USA 2016 – 24 Exploring San Diego on an Old Town Trolley Tours Bus (2016-07-19) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 31 JUL 2018

San Diego is a magnificent city. The history, the weather, the landscape – it is impossible to visit and not come back loving it. It is the second largest city in California, the eighth largest in the United States of America, and boasts a population of over 4,9 million people. The city is know for its mild year-round climate, natural deep-water harbour, multitude of beaches, long association with the United States Navy (the deep water harbour, remember), and these days, its role as somewhat of a healthcare and biotechnology development center.

Oh, and it happens to also host the world’s best Comic-con too.

One of the best ways of getting an overall look at the city, its history and layout is to jump on one of the many distinctive green and orange Old Town Trolley Tours’ hop on hop off busses, which is exactly what Johann and I did for my third day in the city.

The San Diego branch of Old Town Trolley Tours launched in 1989, and its (rather large) fleet of busses continuously operate on a 40 km loop that moves through 10 neighbourhoods with 10 destination stops.

We caught our first bus in the gorgeous Balboa Park, with our tour operator/driver being a an extremely enjoyable and amicable ex-policeman with a lot of great local stories to blend in with all the San Diego information being fed to us as we drove through Little Italy, headed towards the Old Town Market.

After a hop off and a bit of exploration there, we jumped back on a bus, this time heading down to the Embarcadero Marina, then Seaport Village and the Marriott Marquis and Marina. On to the Horton Plaza Park, through the revived Gaslamp Quarter, past the East Convention Center, Petco Park and Hilton Bayfront, and then over the bridge into Coronado.

After a nice refreshing drink and a bit of an exploration of the iconic Hotel del Coronado, we stepped back on a bus and rode it all the way up to our starting point back at Balboa Park.

Honestly, the entire experience was lovely. The entertaining guides were great with their local knowledge and the trip itself turned out to be a great way to see a large swathe of the city which I might not have otherwise had the chance to.

It genuinely is a pretty good way to get introduced to San Diego, and as such is a pretty easy recommendation for anyone visiting the “America’s finest City”.

As for the rest of the day? Well I was going to spend it at the zoo of course!

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(Oh, and if your teenage years were in the 90’s like me, then it is worth knowing that San Diego was also responsible for delivering to us both Tony Hawk and blink-182. An all important factoid if ever there was one!)

Related Link: Old Town Trolley Tours | San Diego | #USA2016

Visiting Wine Estates via the Franschhoek Wine Tram Tour (2016-10-01) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 26 MAR 2017

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you are looking for a great outing for a group of adult friends and you are based in the Cape Town surrounds, then you really should consider the famous Franschhoek Wine Tram experience.

Chantelle and I first did it in 2015, and naturally were quite keen to do it again, so come October last year, Chantelle more than happily helped her mom organise a surprise birthday outing for her dad.

Peter and Gail joined in for the fun, and so come a beautiful Saturday morning, the six of us found ourselves meeting up for quick cup of coffee at Franschhoek’s Sacred Ground eatery (coincidentally where the Wine Tram’s unmistakable ticket office is situated), the perfect start to what would be a long wine tasting filled day!

In essence, the wine tram is a bit of a glorified shuttle service, moving you between one wine estate and the next. There are a few discounts and freebies thrown in, but essentially you are paying them for the transport and opportunity to ride along their distinctive green buses and of course titular tram (modeled after the open-sided Brill Trams of circa 1890).

Nevertheless, this is by far the safest (and most fun) way of exploring so many different wine estates in a day, so well worth the money in my opinion.

(They do also offer a handy service whereby they’ll store your wine purchases aboard their vehicles, allowing you to then later pick it up from the ticket office once your day out and about is done.)

The schedule is rather confusing, so best check in at the ticket office to fully understand how the system works, but essentially there is always bus/tram arriving at each estate every sixty minutes, meaning the minimum amount of time you can spend at a venue is an hour.

Naturally, if you like the venue or perhaps have decided to eat lunch there, then you simply miss your next bus and catch the one following that.

When Chantelle and I first did the run, you could pick from only two lines (blue and red), but that has since changed and there are now five lines to choose between, namely the Blue, Green, Red, Yellow and Purple lines!

The list of estates to visit is large, though realistically you can probably only fit in between four and five on a day (and these of course are dictated by the line that you choose). The list of estates available on the various routes include: Mont Rochelle, Le Lude, La Bri, La Bourgogne, Holden Manz, La Couronne, Rickety Bridge, Grande Provence, Maison, Eikehof, Leopard’s Leap, Charmonix, Dieu Donne, Boschendal, Vrede en Lust, Noble Hill, Babylonstoren, Plaisir de Merle, Allee Bleue and Solms-Delta.

Our particular outing on the day included wine tastings at Rickety Bridge, La Bourgogne, and Grande Provence, with lunch at La Petite Dauphine. (I’ve got plenty of pictures from all of these, which I’ll get around to posting up here sometime as well).

As you might then suspect, the day was a complete success. Everyone finished up considerably ‘happier’ than what they started, the wine all excellent, the scenery was of course beautiful (this is the picturesque Franschhoek valley after all), and a couple of bottles of wine even made their way home with us.

So anyway, with the photos taken from the actual stops themselves still sitting in my burgeoning “Still to Post” folder on my laptop, these are the pictures taken on the day that don’t quite have a natural home:

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Definitely an experience well worth doing, particularly if you are seriously into your wine. That said, even if you are not, this is a brilliantly fun day out!

Related Link: Franschhoek Wine Tram | Facebook | Twitter

Things to See in South Africa: Franschhoek Wine Tram Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 27 JUN 2015

Franschhoek is undoubtedly the crown jewel when it comes to South African wine regions, based entirely on just the sheer number of successful and historic wine estates packed into this fertile valley. One of the best ways of seeing and tasting all this splendour is by hopping on the Franschhoek Wine Tram, a tourist operation that transports guest between the various wine estates on a hop on/hop off basis.

IMG_20150510_102352 franschhoek wine tram

From their website: “Passengers aboard the hop-on hop-off tour will experience a unique and leisurely way to see the Franschhoek Valley as they journey through rolling vineyards in an open-side tram and open-air tram-bus stopping in at some of South Africa’s oldest and most distinguished wine estates.

A combination of tram and tram-bus transports passengers around a loop of stops allowing them to hop-off at each stop and experience the activities on offer, be it wine tasting, a cellar tour, lunch or simply a stroll through the vineyards and when they are ready, hop-on to continue the tour.

The tour takes passengers right into the heart of the Franschhoek Valley, with a narration focusing on the history of Franschhoek and wine cultivation in the valley, complimentary wine tastings and unparalleled views of the valley and vineyards.”

IMG_20150509_125135 franschhoek wine tram bus

The Wine Tram operates a number of busses and a single tram (the busses are all modelled to resemble the tram, itself modelled after the open-sided Brill Trams of circa 1890), and essentially runs two lines – the Blue Line which visits the following estates: Mont Rochelle, La Couronne, Holden Manz, La Bourgogne, La Bri, Rickety Bridge and Grande Provence, and the Red Line which visits the following estates: Maison, Eikehof, Leopard’s Leap, Dieu Donne, Chamonix, Rickety Bridge and Grande Provence.

IMG_20150510_102907 franschhoek wine tram

With no need to drive yourself around, this is the best way to be carted about, take in the magnificent scenery and surrounds of all these historic wine estates – and of course taste, drink and buy as much wine as your head and wallet can handle!

All the busses and tram have storage facilities whereby they will transport any wine purchases back to the ticket office for you, meaning that you never have to lug anything around with you, a big advantage as you can well imagine.

Most of the estates visited have some sort of special deal for guests using the Wine Tram, be it free tastings, discounted wine purchases, or free wine pairing sessions.

IMG_20150510_104819 chantelle lotter tasting wine at rickety bridge wine estate in franschhoek

A day out and about on the wine tram is definitely not something to be missed, particularly if you love fine wine!

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(All of these photos were grabbed from our recent trip to Franschhoek in case you were wondering.)

IMG_20150510_115411 craig lotter tasting wine at the grande provence wine estate in franschhoek

Related Link: Franschhoek Wine Tram | Rickey Bridge | Grande Provence | La Couronne