Bay Area Adventures Part I
I occassionally have to remind myself that I am not being graded on how efficient of a tourist I am. My quick trip to California this was week was one such case, but all in all I had a nice taste of San Francisco, and more importantly I got to hang out with my sister and see how she lives.
I flew into SFO Wednesday night, ate some In-N-Out with Erin and Sergey before collapsing into bed. Thursday morning I took a walk to get some coffee, and caught a mid-morning train into San Francisco (only $6 one way!), with a few vague ideas of what I wanted to do. I had of course read my Lonely Planet Encounter Guide and highlighted some things I wanted to do. I started out with lunch at the Ferry Building, a historic building turned yuppie marketplace. At LP's suggestion, I got the recommended sustainable fish taco and a Mexican bottled coke at Mijita, a Mexican place known for using fresh local ingredients. One smallish taco was $5 but it was tasty and surprisingly filling.
Next I wandered up along the piers and decided to climb the Filbert Stairs up to Telegraph Hill, despite the fact that I had unwisely forgotten my inhaler on the East Coast (an inhaler that I got after an asthmatic episode on the side of a mountain in July). The walk was steep but not as bad as I expected, and the view was spectacular from the top of the hill - definitely worth the climb!
After that I wandered back down the hill and on a whim went to see if there were ferry tickets available to go to Alcatraz. There were! Alcatraz ended up being worth the $26 cost of the ferry, especially because of the views of the city and Alcatraz island from the boat. At the Rock itself, I got my NPS passport stamped, and tackled yet another steep walk up to the jail where I did a great audio tour. The tour was a fairly interesting history, peppered liberally with stories of jail breaks and the inmate mutinies. After Alcatraz, I headed back to Cupertino.
Friday morning I walked once again to Peet's Coffee and Tea for my morning coffee and hung out until it was time to go visit Google! Erin picked me up and went went and met my friend Ben, who has been a Googler for four years. We had lunch in one of the man fantastic free food spots and ate on a patio with Google-colored umbrellas while people took free Lindy-dance lessons nearby. Needless to say, Google was awesome. The atmosphere was every bit as college-like and creativity-conducive as I've been led to believe.
After our tour we went to Sunset Magazine where Erin works. I got the tour there too, and at 3pm we headed over to the test kitchen area for a champagne toast celebrating the release of Sunset Magazine's rather substantial cookbook, which was recently featured on NPR and in the New York Times. I'm not sure people in California do any work... from what I saw Friday they eat deliciously healthy food, drink wine, garden, go to fitness classes, etc, etc. Although I suppose those web apps and yoga articles don't materialize out of thin air. Seems like a great place to work though. Later that night I hung out with Ben again and got delicious ramen at a Japanese noodle restaurant, hung around Palo Alto, saw a little bit of Stanford's campus in the dark, and met Ben's fiancee! All in all, I got a good taste of life in the Bay area.