Crossing the 75-year-old Monumental Golden Gate Bridge


Part 2 of celebrating the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary —

The weekend after the Hug Line, my friends and I decided to do the daring: we biked across the Golden Gate Bridge.

We started our leisurely relaxing day with a visit to the Farmers Market in the Ferry Building.

So fun and so delicious. I left with my hoard of 3 pounds of cherries and an entire rotisserie chicken. Much pleased with myself.

Once we were well fed but not too well watered, we set off to Fisherman’s Wharf where we picked up our bike rentals.

We pedaled along the shore of the Bay to the entrance of the bridge. It was a tough ride uphill and my thighs were burning from the lactic acid overproduction. It just goes to show how endurance adapted I am. Though in my defense, I later discovered that I had set my bike on the highest gear which made it almost impossible to bike uphill – not the smartest thing to do when dealing with San Francisco’s hills.

Thankfully, once on the bridge, biking was smooth sailing. Other than avoiding the foot traffic. But it well worth it for the beautiful views:

 

 

The downhill to Sausalito was the best!! So fast and so fun with next to no biking, just plenty of breaking.

We made it to Sausalito in just over 2 hours. Enough time to catch a breather and look at the interesting galleries before we had to catch our last ferry home in time to return out bikes.

 

This was pretty awesome piece of art — the license plates of different states moulded into the shape of the state and pieced together to great a map of the United States.

 

We even had some time to explore Fisherman’s Wharf and tuck into a hearty seafood dinner to celebrate our efforts mounting the bridge.

 

Ahhh fun day!

San Francisco Street Art


San Francisco is famous for its street art. Very often, the city or private individuals will commission the art which gives street artist a chance to earn a real living from pursuing their passions.

We were hanging out in the Mission district and decided to check out some art. It was great timing because we managed to catch a graffiti artist in action as he was a painting a mural on a garage door.

Apparently a lot of private individuals will commission artwork in order to cover over the tagging that kids from the neighbourhood paint on their walls and garages.

This discussion raised a very interesting issue about the ownership of private and public. And the spaces more fluid.

For example, the alley way where I took these photos is technically public space. But the garage doors facing the street are private. So some street art is painted on the walls (public) and others are on garage doors (private). So where’s the line?

Another fascinating observation is how the murals are organized. There is actually a curator who plans the murals and decides what artwork goes well and how paints. Who knew street art had such a…ordered, surprisingly hierarchical structure….?

Plus the murals often have politically charged messages that are very profound especially based on the way they are illustrated via bright art. It’s a lot more compelling that political messages in written form.

And the last part of the murals that I like best is the aesthetics. These murals are really beautiful, wonderful pieces of art that artist really spend hours and hours on. And the unsettling, yet precious, part is they will probably disappear overnight or even after a few hours of completion as the next artists (or as “taggers” depending on whom you talk to) continue to wage the graffiti war.

Napa Valley


My first experience in Napa Valley…

The sun was shining; the weather was sweet…

I spent a beautiful day with the family in Napa Valley.

The area is pretty – unfortunately a lot of tourists (like ourselves) make the traffic quite busy.

Also the cops are very careful about patrolling – so don’t drink & drive.

We visited a couple of wineries. Nothing spectacular. I did enjoy a Chardonnay from Jessup Cellars.

Later when we were in cheerful spirits, went to visit a vineyard and winery called Castella di Amorosa North of Napa. The winery is housed in a Tuscan Castle built in the 1990s-2000s with stone and brick taken from old buildings in Italy that had been demolished.

So the castle looks very authentic and has an eerie feeling – like you get when you walk into a relic of a building where you know it’s existed for hundreds of years.

I liked this castle because it was very serene. The vines were outside. There was a draw bridge and an unfilled moat where chickens were pecking around.

It’s nice enough to lounge around the grass and have a picnic.

We also did an underground tour of the fermentation rooms – those oak barrels are gigantic. We also saw some of the containers where the liquid is heated and fermented and later stored.

Very impressive.

Nevertheless, they kept some of the old equipment for show. This is how they used to make wine:

There was even a room with torture equipment – they really wanted this to be authentic. I’m not sure if any of the equipment was used. But it was really frightening.

Next, the best part –  a taste test 🙂

The tour guide gave us a test of the wine before it was aged – tasted really AWFUL. Very bitter and dried my whole mouth – the tannins were out of control. But the wines properly aged and ready to drink were delightful!  Especially their vintage collection. I liked their Cabernet Sauvignon. It had a lot of character. And I don’t know much about wine. So the fact that I could distinguish the taste and the flavours from other offerings probably meant it was good wine!

Overall, it was a tad too touristy (the castle sold merchandise like chocolate, pens and even the book, The Little Prince…). But it was a nice walk through and I would enjoy going back.

 

Welcome to the Bay Area!


I made the leap.

That’s right. I moved up to Northern California. San Jose to be specific.

For all the haters, the means I’m going to be using hella a lot more.

All seriousness aside, I moved up here last Friday because I want to find a job doing marketing/communications with a tech company. So where better than live in Silicon Valley?

When I told my friend Y I moved to Palo Alto, he seemed stunned 1. that I’m not in NZ anymore and 2. I suddenly materialised to live in the same county as him. Good laughs.

Anyway, the advantages of living here are huge.

— It’s better weather (I was deathly ill the first week back to USA from burning heat in Orange County – I much prefer shade and green leaves here).

— It’s friendlier

— My auto insurance is cheaper by $100 (yeah never occurred to me how crazy LA drivers are, esp. when you’re one of them, but they are some of the most dangerous in USA, I imagine)

— Everything is a 5 minute drive away. No seriously.

— And I live so close to San Francisco and Berkeley.

So here’s a little welcome note from the Dyke March last week during Gay Pride Weekend.

I went to the Dyke March Saturday with friends and we hung out in Dolores Park where we sipped gently on wine while catching up and briefly skimming topics related to the LGBT community.

It was a nice day with so many CRAZY looking people. I love that about San Francisco. Anything goes. And you never look too silly. Even the naked people are OK. Except maybe if I turned up wearing a suit. And even then, people probably wouldn’t look more than twice…

Nice man making bubbles for the crowds. Isn’t that sweet?

Totally NOT surprised to see the New Zealand flag there. Proud moment of being a Kiwi!

San Francisco is filled with free LOVE ❤

Capped off Dyke March with a motorcycle pride. After the parade I realised it made so much sense…Dykes on Bikes. Has a nice ring to it!

Polished off a lovely day with my good friends H, B (& O & A), with dinner at Gracias Madre. Organic Mexican cuisine.

So SF. And so delicious.

…Off to the Mission!

Exactly what hit the spot. And we ordered some crazy concoctions I’ve never tried before!

These are quesadillas made with hand-made tortillas fresh from their kitchen (their texture is really different, thick and soft but not too dense…) with sweet potato filling and cashew cheese on top!

YUMMMM

Next my favourite. Spicy as though so watch out if you can’t handle your chilli!

They’re Gorditas: potato-masa cakes with salsa verde, avocado, cashew cheese and some salad. But don’t be fooled. The vegetables don’t temper the spiciness.

And the Empanadas!

Another crazy fabulous hit.

I loved this. It was so good. Tortilla wrapped plantains with mole sauce. OMG OMG OMG. I have that weak spot for beautifully grilled and caramelised plantains. So you can imagine the food coma I was in after this.

All very reasonably priced (appetizers around $8-10, mains $12-15). The three of us girls ordered 3 appetizers and extra tortillas and cashew cheese to share tapas style. Turned out to be just enough (if not a tad too much) food so I recommend this if you’re starving because their portions are HUGE.

Thank you so much B for introducing me to this resto.

So this long weekend is July 4th. I promise to get up to something interesting.

Sit tight and don’t get too excited as you wait for my next post. Ha.

By the way if anyone has recommendations for things I should do in the Bay Area.

PLEASE send them my way. Would love to explore this place 😀

Spring Break in the Bay Area


So I went to the Bay for spring break. I know that was a few weeks ok. But I’ve had work ok?! Majority of people aren’t lucky enough to sit on their bums all day and write blog posts and upload photos. But wouldn’t that be a fabulous dream job?

Anyway back to the topic at hand. So I went to the Bay Area for spring break and here are my adventures. To be honest, I did a lot. And not all of it was interesting. So in the next few posts, I’m going to note the more eventful incidents and give you a very slimmed down version of the trip, after the jump.

Day 1. The Drive

From Los Angeles to Berkeley (our first stop). The drive took about 6.5 hours. It should really take 5-6 if you’re a blazin’ driver. But with my bladder it took us a few hours more. I went with my amazing roomie M. She’s was amazing at keeping me awake at the wheel. Fast forward past Bakersfield, the beautiful trees and agriculture in Central Valley, scary and tears-inducing CAFOs (those poor cows, the smell makes me want to puke too), and a whole lotta nothing and we get to Berkeley around 5pm.

So what to do now? M and I decide to explore around and get some delicious Indian food to eat. After all, with so many IT folks around, there’s naturally a large Indian immigrant population (seriously, not stereotyping; it’s true). And where Indians go, by default, means Indian food must be good. We stopped outside this beautiful looking building which supposedly housed an Indian restaurant.

It looked so beautiful though. How could it have a dingy Indian fast food joint? Well as soon as I walked inside, my question was immediately answered. The building may be gorgeous but it’s a right mess inside.

Tables are thrown everywhere. Students crammed pack here and there. M and I fought for a table and finally got one. We sat down and waited on wobbly table and chair legs. At least they gave us free hot tea though. Wonderful remedy for such a cold night. And trust me, coming from LA, the chilly climate was a bigger shock than I expected.

The food was ok. I guess for the price and speed it was good. But I seriously remember food was better. Everybody tells me food in the Bay is amazing. And it is. But this meal was disappointing.

Later we explored the area and walked around some of the shops. They have the strangest things. First off, there are zillions of shops selling an assortment of incense, bongs, pipes, rusta, Hindu and Buddhist mechandise. But even weirder beyond that were some of the stores we encountered.

There was a hat store.

Trust me this was a weird thing for me. Especially because I don’t think most people would ever wear these hat. So how do the owners make money to be open all year round?

And my favourite stores? Well there were a ton with the word HERB on every bloody thing. There was a Thai restaurant that introduced itself as “Thai Restaurant: delicious herbs and spices”. Or a Chinese restaurant with herb flavourings. It was crazy as if they were trying to make a point about something. Except this was the whole town doing it. And yes we all know about weed in Berkeley. So answering my question, my favourite store that night was probably walking past this one and having an awesome laugh knowing that yes they probably sell herbs and are great at providing herbs, teas and spices. But they probably also deal with harder to find herbs too. Right?