Of course I had to go to the Pride Parade. One, it’s one of the biggest festivals around Tampa Bay Area. Two, the Supreme Court rulings happen only once in a…lifetime, most likely. So it was a big deal. Plus I knew my friends would be going to the San Francisco parade so it was nice to know we’d be sharing an experience even if it were across the country.
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!
One of the perks of living in Silicon Valley is the brain power concentrated here. Silicon Valley is filled with some of the most intelligent, world-renowned technology innovators that I have ever heard about (haha, and could ever dream of meeting). I am impressed every day by how talented the folks here are. In fact, it’s an impressive virtuous cycle: the more intelligent people in Silicon Valley, the more talented people are attracted to come here.
The first time I really ventured into Silicon Valley, I visited Intel. And I thought nothing of it.
There is a little museum attached to the main Intel offices that is dedicated to explaining the genesis and development of silicon chips from the time Intel was born to what microprocessors are capable of today.
The more I explored the museum, the more interesting things became.
I learnt about wafers, binary, what the factories that process the silicon look like (who knew the scientists were astronaut-like white outfits?), and even one of the old, old (I mean ancient) models of computers look like.
And it’s true, I don’t know a lot about computers and the hardware side of tech. But the museum was fascinating all the same.
So much so that I realised I’ve already taken 3 different friends, all of whom are foreigners, to this museum so they too can appreciate the beauty that is Silicon Valley. Yes, it is a different type of beauty. We’re not talking about the Mona Lisa or the Coliseum. I’ve seen both and they are beautiful. The beauty in Silicon Valley is about cutting-edge technology and the life-blood that is in front of you and me right now – how else would I be able to blog and you be able to read my entries?
Anyway, the real reason I’m writing this post is not to talk about Intel. It’s to share my thoughts about living in this tech hub. I’ve recently hit a strange sense of gratitude for this curious place in which I have found myself. I can’t quite call this feeling home. It’s not familiar enough, yet? But I’ve certainly a new found…respect for the place. When I first arrived, I felt like Silicon Valley was suburbia. It’s the Orange County of Southern California. And I used to live in Los Angeles, the city, thank you very much. Ha. So moving to the ‘burbs really hit me hard. And it still hasn’t washed away. I drove up to San Francisco 4 days within a 10 day period – that’s a lot considering they are 1 hours trips one way. And I hated it. But I love the city. So what to do? Well…I especially hated getting the $50 parking ticket, to be clear, but that’s another story. However, despite my clouded resentment, I’ve really begun to appreciate where I live. Where else can I find people who are not only at the forefront of anything tech related but also the ones driving that progress. More than that, I work at an office on Great America Parkway – which is also where Yahoo! Citrix and some other big name companies can be found, including a few other ones like Intel and Cisco just around the corner in Santa Clara or Sunnyvale or Milpitas or San Jose – in any of the little cities around, really.
Silicon Valley feels alive. I live in Mountain View also which means I’m surrounded by people (particularly engineers but folks here run the gamut from engineers to marketers to entrepreneurs) who work for big name companies like Google, Apple and Cisco. They’re my neighbours, my fellow farmers market shoppers, even the crazy person at Target who buys rolls and rolls of toilet paper (yeah it happened, and he had a Google t-shirt on, that’s how I know). And the people whom you and I don’t know yet, but they’re the start-up to-be thinkers who will produce the next Facebook. Or they’re just normal people like me, living off the intellectual brainwave passing around here.
If nothing else. Thank goodness, Silicon Valley has better weather than San Francisco.
Who knows, maybe I’ll even start to like it. We’ll see in future posts.
I made the leap.
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.
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!
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.
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 😀
Confession: I completely forgot to write about day 5 of my Bay Area trip.
On the plus side: I remembered after ceviche entry. So here it is after the jump.
Alright, after 4 arduous days of travelling on the road (what a tough trip, huff), M and I decide to visit my friend Y in the ‘burbs. Ya know, just to mix it up a bit. Y lives in San Mateo, south of San Francisco. It’s a very nice quaint suburban area (to be honest, I can’t tell the difference between the suburbs so they all look quaint and the SAME to me).
We first arrived on the evening of day 4. We went to get sushi and hookah later. All very nicely contrasted with the hippy, eclectic and itinerant lifestyle we lived through the last few days in SF and Berkeley. Then saw the beach. Which was more just like sea than beach. Why the difference? Because there was no sand, just some nasty rocks and cold, cold water. Plus it was pretty small, nothing like the vast stretches of beautiful sand, beautiful water, beautiful sun, and of course beautiful people as you’d
find in LA. Maybe it’s because we went at night so the beach didn’t even have a chance. But I suspect it would be pretty cold and rocky during the day too.
Ok fast forward 12 hours. After we wake up, it’s decided it’s breakfast time. Y takes us to a delightful little cafe called Alana’s Cafe (click Alana’s for the Yelp link and Cafe for their own website) in Burlingame.
I believe these folks are known for their pancakes. And if they’re not, then they should be. The have some of the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever had. They also have some unique flavours. I got the oatmeal pancakes with lingoberries (swedish berries apparently you can try them at IKEA too, go figure). Very good.They also come with bananas or cinnamon apples. But lingoberries sounded the most fun to me, and they w
ere delicious. They also let you choose the short (2 pancakes) vs. big stack (3 pancakes) have bottomless coffee (none for me but I got a side of scrambled eggs, easy). Fun place with some kooky antique cooking utensils and bakeware. They even sell their pancake mix and lingoberry preserves on a shelf, so you can take the goodness home with ya.
Price range about $$ for brunch, so reasonably priced for the food, service and atmosphere.
Next, Y took us to some interesting stores around Burlingame which were quintessentially suburb. Let’s be honest, there’s no way we would ever find candy stores and chocolate stores with gigantic Easter displays. At least in Los Angeles, I’ve never seen it. If it exists, that is very rare. Most stores are refined chocolateries like Godiva etc. But it made this so much nicer, breath of fresh air. Reminded me of mountain towns like the time I went to Big Bear and Colorado Springs.
‘Nuff said. You can just look at the pretty pictures. They encapsulate everything I’d like to say about them. Plus there are always captions.
Oh, suburbia a gloriously artificial wanderland, right?
We ended the trip with a journey to Palo Alto to check out Stanford. Then back on the I-5 S to Los Angeles.
One whole day spent in San Francisco. Where do we go?
Where the hippies live. Or used to live. Maybe even still live. Although now it is super commercialised and main stream. Not surprisingly what happens to ever counter-culture that gets co-opted.
M and I make our way to Haight-Ashbury. Also known as The Haight, or Haight and Ashbury. For the longest time I had no idea what this was. But everybody talked about it as an area worth seeing. I also didn’t know why they would name it that, until I found out it’s the name of the cross streets! So The Haight is famous for hippie life especially during the late 50s to 60s. In particular, the summer of ’67 was the Summer of Love where hippies for all over North America (LA, Seattle, Chicago, Washington DC, and more), including Canada (Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto) and even Europe came to stage a hippie revolution. It was filled with people, drug (ab)use, free free love and psychedelic music. There was communal living and rebellion against the status quo, the culture and political system of the conforming 50s I suppose.
Whatever their revolution was about seems to have trickled down and left remnants on the buildings and streets of Haight-Ashbury today. The buildings are bright and multi-coloured with rich pinks, blues, purples, and generally any colour you’re highly unlikely to see on a respectable street you can find here.
They have the strangest shops, but in a cool way. There are a bunch of 2nd hand clothing stores. One store was huge and strangely enough organized by the year and style e.g. prom dresses 1980s. Sure enough, the dresses under that category were all dresses from the ’80s. There was a clothing store which looked like a costume store (there were a couple of these around actually) except on closer inspection, it was more of a hooker/stripper store with bright bright neon pants, assorted bikini things and the general go-to for any drag queen I’m sure. It was in other words, FANTASTIC. I’ve never seen these types of items in shops before. It was a refreshing experience to see these items proudly consolidated in one place. And at least I know where to go if I’m ever invited to a crazy ’80s disco party or a marilyn monroe party, etc.
M and I spent the rest of the day casually strolling down the streets in the residential areas. I can’t really call it the “hood”. Because it doesn’t feel like a neighbourhood. As in there is no real communal feeling in the area as if when I walk into an area, these people are friendly neighbours who identify with each other. I mean other than being a hippie. But that doesn’t really count since that’s most of SF.
Some interesting observations: crazy coloured apartment buildings. Love it!
A familiar paradox. A run-down, somewhat old looking building with a BMW car outside. I mean, fine, the car isn’t the newest model. But it’s still kind of funny for me to see certain places that are trying to look kinda of authentic, hippie and whatever and then it has a nice European car outside. Isn’t that the exemplar of the hipster sell out?
And we noticed how expensive and rich everybody in SF is. It’s funny the city thrives on this idea of environmentalism and eco-friendly products, intense liberal politics and an open-mindedness to just about…anything. And yet it all comes at a price tag. It really reminds me of the episode of Southpark, “Smug Alert!“, about people in San Francisco who drive Toyota Priuses. Very funny and pretty accurate I reckon.
This sign was kind of a hahahah…FAIL. There are also some pretty racy ads in SF you’d never see in comparatively conservative LA (and that’s saying something cos LA ain’t so conservative compared to the Midwest, the South and other places in the US).
By the way before you look, WARNING: may offend some people. And the rest of this post may also offend, so um well I already told you, so read at your own peril.
And finally a peaceful stroll in Golden Gate Park. This man is walking his cute dog. The rest of it is all just green and trees so I didn’t bother including more photos. One thing I wish I could’ve taken a photo of is the smell. It smells like some serious grass action is happening there all the time. People even blew plumes of smoke in my face as they walked past. M and I actually were used as bait to bust up some people who were dealing supposedly. Can you believe I got used by the San Francisco police as bait? Lol I find that hard to believe since I’m probably the last person you’d approach. But whatever, it gave us a cool story to tell anyway.
Excuse my brief hiatus. Post-exams, I have much more time to catch up on blogging my SF trip (and the myriad of other posts I’ve neglected…it’s going to be a busy month). I’m sure you’re hanging off your seats waiting for the second installment of day 2 in San Francisco, so without further ado…
After the Ferry building, we joined the St. Patrick’s Day parade on it’s way to the Civic Center. The parade was lined with hundred of people on both sides of the street stretching from the Ferry Building to the Civic Center. And let me tell you, that’s not a short walk. In fact we had to climb some hilly areas and walk 1/4 of the way across town to get there.
The sight which greeted us was…surprisingly respectable. No drunken Irish blokes stumbling around. A few red heads with pale freckled skin sprinkled around the place. And (not) surprisingly no leprechaun. Instead there were a number of well made costumes and vehicles completely decked out. Many performers such as the baton girls above and Irish dance troop (tap dancing, River dance?). Quite an amicable parade. I heard the same company organizes a number each year including the Gay Pride parade and the Love parade in the same place.
Later we got hungry. So we hunted down the restaurant that started it all. Boudin bakery. This bakery, located on the Fisherman’s Wharf, is famous for inventing San Francisco sour dough bread (thanks Anarchangel). Later we visited the headquarters and saw the bakers bake bread from their kitchen, through a glass wall. The operation was very elaborate and there was so much bread I was confounded they were able to sell so much in a day.
Even though the bakery had ridiculously awesome conveyor belts transporting bread from A to B, we didn’t actually eat there. Too packed. So went to a smaller franchise in the middle of SF opened by the same folks. I got a salad and their clam chowder, which incidentally is what they’re the most famous for: sourdough bread bowls and clam chowder.
And yes it was good and delicious. I was disappointed I still couldn’t eat bread from my Lenten promise. But you know, gotta leave something to do next time I go back there.
Afterwards, we decided to explore a bit of Fisherman’s Wharf. Very touristy place. It’s still nice but not much happened there except 1. I saw a hippy car decked out in embellishments and crazy accessories,
and 2. there is a man famous for hiding behind branches of trees he has cut off . He carries the branches and hides himself, mostly his face and upper body behind. Then he creeps up to unsuspecting tourists and yells, “BOO!” His job is to give them a fright, people standing watch and give him money. It’s a homeless man making supposedly 70k a year or something ridiculous I heard (I don’t believe it, but I guess tourists are rich). And people love this stuff! They like to watch him scare people. And you never know where he’s hiding so you always have to be on guard!
And there rest of the day…well the photos will tell their own story.
**********And 5 hours later…***********
San Francisco was jammed with plenty of interesting activities from the Farmer’s Market to St Patty’s Day to Fisherman’s Wharf. So I’m going to split up Day 2 otherwise the post would never end and you would get bored reading it despite all the shiny photos. Plus this makes things easier for me too.
So the long day started with a BART ride. BART stands for Bay Area Rapid Transit. And rapid it is. My roommie M and I took it from Stattuc Road Berkeley to San Francisco. Like the dumbass I am with directions, my friend Y told me to take the right train. We got on when it arrived. And then I decided, hey it’s the wrong one. Got off. Then realised it was the right one just as the door shut. And had to wait another 30 mins for the next one to come. Meanwhile Y who was supposed to meet us at 10am to walk over to the parade laughed his head off.
I am WEAKsauce.
But thankfully, we finally made it and when we got off the subway, well, the sight really hit me in the face. And while that imagery doesn’t sound very attractive, Embarcadero, the station where we got off was actually quite pretty. There were street vendors selling knick-knacks like hand-made jewellery and trinkets. A blend of hippies, hipsters and normal people were milling around on a slow Saturday morning heading towards the Ferry Building. We walked towards the Ferry Building in anticipation of the marketplace inside which is famous for many little shops and cafes that had good food. And trust me, I was looking forward to all that good food I’ve been promised by anybody who’s been to the Bay. For some reason everybody thinks SF offers the best cuisine. It’s partially true. Perhaps it’s the European influence and the fact that it’s filled with RICH people?
So we crossed the extremely wide street. And lo and behold, there was a man in the middle of the island playing music with his drum-kit made from rubber and plastic containers. It was quite entertaining to see him innovate with all sorts of different cans and containers to make music. Embodies SF pretty nicely actually.
We make it to the Ferry Building. And the farmers market has already set up. We take a look at the fresh (organic of course) produce and there are some nice fruits and nuts. Altogether I was not too impressed. Y sends me a message saying there is chocolate covered bacon inside. Hmmm interest is piqued. M decided she wants to see off and find said bacon and so we enter the building to find it’s lovely inside. It’s packed with people and vendors along all the corridors. The main one was filled with food vendors who handed out samples to everybody. I tried some things like a piece of cookie, burnt caramel, chocolate. It was all good. Apparently the chocolate shop that sells bacon-covered chocolate stopped making them. But the cheese stop was delicious.
I was not disappointed. Not at all. This was the biggest farmers market I’ve ever seen in North America and contained…just about anything. There were the staples like cheese, fresh produce and meat. But also random things like hot sauce and vegetables I’ve never seen in my life.
Unfortunately, the lines for food were sooo sooo sooo long we decided it wasn’t worth it. So we skipped the food though we did try some delicious cheeses and I played with some of the veges. Fresh indeed, they receive my endorsement. However, also super pricey.
At this point, Y somehow manages to find us at the back of the market and joins us for the early morning stroll. We go back into the building, he buys some seriously delicious cheese, and we chow down on the way to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade that started from the Ferry Building and went all the way to the civic center.
To be continued…
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.
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?