My American Experience

Contributor Eimear Duff writes about her amazing trip to the United States.

 

We’ve all had people approach us, saw posters hanging or ads on social media and had flyers handed to us offering us the chance to win a seven night stay in America, China or Australia with flights and accommodation included.  

But we never actually hear about who wins. We never win ourselves. Mostly, we just think it’s fake, or a scam. But don’t give up hope just yet. Because I won once.  

Back in 2016, two months into my first year of college, I received a text: 

“CONGRATULATIONS!! YOU ARE THE LUCKY WINNER OF A TRIP FOR YOU AND TWO FRIENDS TO CALIFORNIA FOR SEVEN NIGHTS! FOLLOW THIS LINK TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE.” 

Naturally, I just ignored the message, thinking it was fake. Two hours later, I received a phone call from a man called Jason. Jason told me he was calling from West Coast Cooler to congratulate me and to follow up with the details of my prize. 

 I still didn’t believe it was real. I called my parents, unsure of what to do. I decided to leave it and not contact them further in fear of it being a scam. Two days later and boarding passes, room booking confirmations, bus passes, luggage tags and itineraries arrived in the post to my house.  

This was real. 

Four months later, my mum, my friend and I were sitting on a British Airways flight, in first class, on our way to San Francisco. When we arrived, we were greeted by a chauffeur holding my name on a board. We loaded our suitcases into the back and away we went. We arrived at our first hotel in San Fran, our first of five hotels throughout the trip.  

 

 

Every hotel was five stars. We didn’t spend a single cent. We stayed one night in San Fran and explored the city. We joined a tour group and got a bus from San Fran to Napa Valley Wine Region. Another five star hotel, again for one night. We got the opportunity to board the Napa Valley Wine Train, where we took part in a wine tasting and enjoyed a seven course meal. Again, all included in my prize.  

 

 

From Napa, we boarded the bus again and travelled to Yosemite National Park. We resided in one of their famous (and very expensive) wood log cabins. We explored the park, showered by the huge waterfall, and even saw a bear. After one night, we travelled on to Lake Tahoe.  

 

 

At last, we stayed somewhere for two nights, and we could relax. We were brought that evening to the Lake and boarded a dinner cruise boat. We were provided with a  three course dinner, an open bar and a band with a dance floor. All while sailing around Lake Tahoe enjoying the beautiful scenery. The following day we visited Virginia City in Nevada to experience the cowboy life and to take part in some gold mining.  

 

 

We then travelled back into California and headed to Monterey. We quickly visited Carmel-by-the-Sea along the way. This was the most beautiful town I have ever seen in my life. Once upon a time Clint Eastwood was the mayor and this town was impeccable. High heels are forbidden, which resulted in my poor mother walking barefoot around the town. It was a sight to behold.  

 

 

From Carmel, we moved on through Pebble Beach Golf Links and on to Monterey. We had the opportunity to feed sea lions and also to visit the set of Big Little Lies. We also had our farewell dinner in Monterey, and headed back to San Fran after two fabulous nights.  

 

 

After returning to San Fran, we headed home to Ireland.  This experience was beyond words. I still cannot fathom the fact that this happened to me. Having received this prize just days after experiencing a huge family tragedy, we felt we were being looked after by our lost loved one.  

I will never ever forget the days we spent in California, and the places we visited. Flights, accommodation, food, excursions, experiences, everything was included and covered by West Coast Cooler.  

The next time you see a flyer hanging in Tesco or Supervalu, enter the competition. You might just win a once in a lifetime trip like me.