First off I selected the best photos of my trip and uploaded them to flickr for everyone to see. Flickr caps the upload bandwidth per month, so I will slowly add the others as I go along. They currently can be found here (sorry not organized or sorted in any way yet).
Next, if you missed anything you can see a day-by-day log of my activities here:
Now that my great California adventure is over I have a few afterthoughts. Overall from what I've seen California is a great place with beautiful weather and lots of awesome ourdoors activities. On the other hand things are pretty pricey and there are a few other reasons why I'd only want to visit and not live there. Overall this is what really stood out:
- There are alot of asians (one out of every three or four people everywhere I went) and hispanics. Just saying
- There are alot of homeless people which bums me out (pun intended).
- Most people definetly have a 'relaxed' attitude, which is a curse and a blessing. While it means most people don't sweat the small stuff, it also means people taking things a bit too slow for my pace (including walking and driving). I prefer the 'go-go' attitude of NYC on this count personally
- There is alot of tech. It was very cool overhearing people's conversations about the famous tech companies where they work at, and seeing the headquarters of some of the biggest tech companies
- There is alot of great food including awesome burritos.
- Everyone is environmentally friendly to the extreme (eg people pick cans out of the trash and toss 'em into recycling bins, there are often parking discounts for hybrid cars, carpool lanes exist to encourage sharing rides, etc.). While this is great it can get a tad prentious.
- Bring money. As mentioned everything is horribly overpriced, and you will spend alot of money if you are every the Californee way, especially if you plan of eating out alot
- Enjoy outdoors activities. Given that the weather allows you to be outside year round and that there is a plethora of outdoor activities, one would be a fool to not see some of the natural beauties california offers. While San Fran (and the other cities) is nice, my favorite parts of the trip were the nature bits by far
- Enjoy San Francisco. Its a great city including the iconic Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, Haight / Ashberry, the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard Street, Coit Tower, and many other great locations.
Overall a great trip with very few if any hickups (possibly the only thing is the airline losing my luggage today). Big thanks to my friend Dave who put me up for the week and drove me places, I hope to return the favor one day.
Yesterday was my last day in California. We got up early and grabbed some McDonalds breakfast before heading to Big Basin Redwoods National Park. The road there was cool, full of scenic views of the Santa Cruz mountains and treacherous paths. When I say that last bit I mean it, as we got towards it the road became a single narrow lane for both directions with cliffs on one side and the curving mountain on the other (which made determining if anyone is coming in the opposite direction impossible at times). Regardless we made it fine, and we rewarded by the best outdoor experience so far.
Not only were there many fewer people at Big Basin that at Muir Woods, but the trees seemed to be much large and there were many paths leading in all sorts of directions. We touched only a fraction of the park as it is enormous.
After taking lots of pictures, we headed back, stopping at Hakone Japanese Gardens on the way. This was a very calming and relaxing area full of traditional Japanese tea houses, ponds w/ waterfalls, bamboo forests, etc. Though not large, it is a very chill place to go and just relax.
We drove back to my friend's place where I finished packing after which we headed out to eat. Finally my friend dropped me off at the BART train station in Fremont and after our goodbyes, I took the train to San Fran International Airport and flew home. (all flights were on time though my luggage has yet to make it).
Make sure to check back for one final post on my thoughts of the trip and the locations I visited as well as a select set of the many pictures I took.
Today we went out to eat at baha fresh for breakfast where I grabbed another gargantuan burrito with chips and salsa / quacamole for breakfast. We drove down to Monterey via US 1 (on which we say alot more scenery including the Santa Cruz mountains) where we got out and walked around. Monterey is on a beautiful bay and the whole city has a very Mediterranean feel to it. It was a beautiful day for it too, the temperature being in the upper 60's / low 70's. We drove to a very scenic area called 17 mile drive where we drove around the coast, periodically getting out of the car to take pictures of the gorgeous landscape. There we also say The Lone Tree, a famous cyprus tree California landmark.
We drove back and ate at a great indian place for dinner where I had an excellent spicy chicken curry.
Tomorrow we will probably do a bit of hiking after which I catch my flight back to Syracuse at 10pm (arrive Monday morning).
Today we decided to goto Muir Woods a little north of San Fran. To get there we had to cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately we weren't able to get out around it but I did take quite a few snapshots from the car. We drove along California's scenic "1" highway and saw the beautiful vistas of central California as we went along. Muir woods was no less spectacular, and I finally got to see and take pictures of the magestic redwoods (saying their huge is an understatement). We decided to spend a little more time in San Fran, particularly Fisherman's wharf, as Dave's other friend who arrived the other day hadn't been there.
As far as food goes I had a great Supreme Burrito at the Burrito Palace for breakfast, followed by another great lunch at in-and-out in San Fran, followed by an awesome dinner at a noir sushi restaurant in San Jose.
Tomorrow we will probably go down to Monterey and see the scenery and aquarium they have there. The day after we might do something in the morning before my departure Sunday night. Thats all for now!
ps. also apologize for the brevity of the last few posts as I've been really tired everyday after we've arrived back. I will post a summary entry after my trip is all said and done. Also I've uploaded some photos to my flickr account (who has a really annoying 100mb per month upload limit so it might take a while to get them all up there, until then I'll upload the best ones I have) but am still working on organizing and setting everything up. Will post the link when its all set to go.
Not much to report about yesterday. Pretty much stayed at my friend's place all day cooking our Thanksgiving meal and then ate it. My and Dave's mutual friend and previous school-chum / senior design partner came down from Stanford (where he is working on his Master's degree) for the day, and it was a great pleasure to see and hang out w/ him. We had turkey (of course), beef, sweet potatoes, stuffing, biscuits, and pecan / pumpkin pies for desert (plus I'm probably forgetting a thing or two). We played alot of Wii ;-) as well. (Wii Sports and Fit, Super Mario Galaxy, World of Goo are all great games)
I regret not taking more pictures, I have one or two of the meal but I should have taken some w/ everyone in it. Alas nothing I could do about it, and it was a great day regardless.
So yesterday I decided to stay in the area and see a few things in San Jose since I needed to be back early as we were going over to a friend of my friend's house for a Thanksgiving dinner. I took the lightrail into downtown San Jose, and my first stop was the Tech Museum of Innovation. Though mostly geared to kids, this was pretty fun as there were many interesting hands on exhibits, as well as an IMAX theater (where I saw 'Sea Monsters' a cool / informative movies about Sea Dinasours that lives eons ago), and a limited exhibit about the life and works of (primarily) Da Vinci. That last bit was very cool as it was geared towards adults and contained alot of information, and replicas and original works of Da Vinci. (the guy was insane, I'm happy that I know a bit about computes, he seemed to know alot regarding every field imaginable).
The tech museum in itself took about 1/2 a day, and when I got out I was quite famished. I found a local place called 'Hogie Steakhouse' just walking by and had a mushroom and cheeze hogie and fries which was great. After which I made my was over to San Jose State University where I walked around the beautiful campus briefly (with classic palm trees in front of the buildings). Finally my last activity in downtown San Jose was visiting the San Jose Museum of Art, a relatively small art gallery with a few exhibits, including a few I found particularity interesting regarding the San Francisco beatnick counter culture.
After I got back we went over to one of his friend's house as previously mentioned. The meal was good and everyone was nice. Lastly we picked up Dave's other friend who is also spending the rest of the week here from the airport and retired for the night.
Another quick update before I hit the hay. Today started of with a bagel and coffee before my San Fran commute, after which the first activity of the day consisted of riding one of San Francisco's famous cable cars from Market and Powell towards Hyde and Beach. Though a bit pricey ($5 a ride) these are fun and an essential part of anyone's San Fran trip. I got off at Lombard street, also known as the crookedest street in America, made famous through various movies and shows, and snapped some more pictures. I made my way over to Coit tower and caught the spectacular views of the city from there. I didn't go up the tower, sure I could have gotten a better view if I did, but the trip up Telegraph hill was well worth it regardless.
Originally I was planning on renting a bike from there and biking the Golden Gate Bridge / Golden Gate Natural Recreation area, but decided a visit to Fisherman's wharf instead (know I will be visiting this again with my friend Dave and one of his friends, but thats ok) and saw some of the attractions. These included the famous Pier 39 seals, the mecha museum (very cool if anyone has never heard of it, full of very-old vintage 'arcade' games, some stuff as far back as the turn of the 20th century among other things), and the historical and military ships docked there. I also grabbed some great photographs of Alcatraz island and the Golden Gate Bridge from some great angles. For lunch I grabbed a delicious bread bowl clam-chowder soup which was delicious and filling.
From there I worked my way over to Fort Mason, a lesser known but nice area consisting of some historical sights and nice floura. I didn't spend too long there as it was starting to get late in the day and I had to go back to San Jose to meet my friend and eat dinner. We went out to some French restaurant whose name slips my mind right now, but I wasn't all that impressed with what I got (overpriced and not that tasty, perfect for rich folk but not me ;-) ).
Tomorrow I'll probably return to San Francisco on my own one last time possibly visiting the Exploratorium, the attractions at Golden Gate Park that I missed, and to go on the bike ride I was planning on today. I was also floating the idea of doing a thing or two in San Jose, we'll just have to see what happens.
Took many more great pictures, but like yesterday, I'm pretty beat so they will have to wait to be uploaded to another time.
Pretty tired from my first day in San Fran so I'll keep this short. I started the day by taking the Caltrain in from San Jose to San Fran. After grabbing a croissant and coffee for breakfast, I walked up to Union Park not too far away from the Caltrain station, after which I continued upwards to the famous Chinatown gate, and entered Chinatown. That in itself was very cool, as there we moments when I realized I was the only non-asian person on the street and all the conversation around me was taking place in Chinese. After taking some pictures of the Chinese architecture and of the large hills of the financial district (right next to Chinatown).
I made my way back to Market St (the main one in San Fran) and took a bus to Height Ashberry. I started at Beanou Vista Park, taking pictures of the city from the large hill there (including a few cool ones of the Golden Gate Bridge enshrouded in fog in the distance), and continued on. I visited and snapped some pictures of the famous landmarks in Height Ashberry, including the Grateful Dead house at 710 Ashberry and Amoeba records. It goes without saying what Chinatown is to the Chinese, Height-Ashberry is to hippies. It really is amazing that as you go more and more deeper into the district, the hippy culture exponentially increases in magnitude, to the point, like in Chinatown, I was the odd one out when I was far in.
Regardless, I continued onto Golden Gate Park which is what wowed me the most. While unfortunately a lot of the exhibits are closed on Mondays for maintenance, I did see alot (though not as much as I would like to, thus possibly warranting another trip), all of which was GORGEOUS. I repeat, gorgeous. From the plethora of flaura and fauna they have (I didn't even go that deep into the Botanical Gardens), to the public sports and other facilities, to hippie hill, to everything else Golden Gate Park is a large (bigger than Central Park in NYC) beautiful recreation area which I recommend anyone allocate at least a day to in its own right to fully enjoy.
I grabbed a quick bite (just fast food, nothing fancy, was way too tired from all the walking) and took the Caltrain back to San Jose where Dave picked me up. Later we went to El-Buro, a mexican restaurant, where I had the Enchelauta Sausha, which was great (and large, took some back with me).
Based on my first day, I very much like San Fran but would not like to live there. While like in NYC, its a walking city, meaning you stay fit, it is also crowded and I like my space :-). Furthermore there are ALOT of homeless (many of them hippies), and while the misfortunes of others is a tragedy, I would not like to have some of those folks in my neighborhood. The city is great and much fun to visit, so I very much recommend visiting it to anyone.
Tomorrow, will head back to the city, take a cable car to Fisherman's wharf (where I won't spend alot of time since I will most likely visit again later in the week), rent a bike, and see / bike the Golden Gate Bridge and the Golden Gate Recreation Area beyond.
Finally, I copied the photos from my camera to my computer, but probably won't select which ones are the best and upload them tonight. Will try tomorrow or whenever the next time I get a chance. Also I didn't find any internets the californee way yet ;-)
Oh how the time flies, noticed its already been a month and a half since my last post and I haven't gotten to any of the items I said I would discuss in my post before last. Regardless, I won't be able to get to anything other than pictures this week as I am on VACATION!!! I type this as I am on the plane from Philadephia to San Fransisco, after which I will take an hour train ride to my friend's place in San Jose (of couse I won't be able to post this until i get there). Regardless, I've brought my camera and created a flickr account and am eagerly looking forward to taking and uploading pictures. I aim to do an upload with a blog post at the end of each day describing my activities during the day, but we'll see how that goes. Roughly speaking my vacation itinerary is as follows:
11/24 - San Francisco, Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, Fisherman's wharf if I have the time (including the wax museum, the dock'd historical and military ships, and other attractions there as well as some nearby including Lambart street, Coit tower, cable cars, etc)
11/25 - Perhaps another visit to Fisherman's Wharf then rent bike, and bike around the Golden Gate Nature Recreation Area and other outdoorsy areas parks where I can see the Redwoods and the other natural wonders California is famous for.
11/26 - Either do a few additional things in San Francisco, such as visiting the Exploratorium, or see some sights in San Jose including the Winchester house, the Tech Museum of Innovation, the Hakone Japanese Gardens, and a few other attractions
11/27 - Thanksgiving with my good friend Dave and Peter who is coming down for the day (Peter is also a good friend from SU, where we worked on our Senior Design Project together, who is currently working on a graduate degree from Stanford)
11/28 -> 11/30 - No formal plans, just hang out w/ Dave and see things that he recommends are worthwhile including lots of outdoorsy activities
I fly back Sunday the 30th / arrive on the 1st. Make sure to check often over the next week for updates!!!