California! My home state! I have spent more time in the San Francisco Bay Area than anywhere else in the world. I grew up here from the ages of 2 until I left for college when I was 18. I have so many fond memories from the days gone by. As with most people, I was so excited to show Danielle not only the tourist sights, but also where I grew up.
Of course I had to show her Stanford University, the Monterey Peninsula, the Palo Alto nightlife and best of all; The Dutch Goose. For those reading this, if you haven't been there, The Dutch Goose ia a 'peanut shells on the floor' bar that serves the best burgers in the world. It looks like a run down bar with carved initials in all the tables, but don't judge a book by its cover. It's clientelle includes some of the richest and most powerful business people in the world. It is located smack in the middle of one of the ten richest zip codes in the nation. We met up there with my aunt and Uncle for a bite to eat and a beer. We had a good time, but unfortunately, Danielle hates hamburgers.
We actually accomplished quite a lot in California for the limited amount of time we were there. What she failed to mention in detail was that after our trip to the 'Chocolate Square,' we met up with a bunch of my friends from college and went across the Bay Bridge to watch the glorious Oregon Ducks take on Cal Berkeley. Granted it wasn't a blowout, it was none-the-less another win for the Ducks on their way to the National Championship.
And for the record:
Need I go on?
So fast-forward one month. It’s mid-November and smack dab between my mid-terms and finals. My lull in schoolwork combined with the ability to easily move around my internship hours meant time to travel again! This time, we thought it’d be a great change of pace if I were to go out west.And so I did.
Jacek’s parents have a great condo in SanFran and they happened to be away traveling themselves for most of the month. Also, I had never visited the city before. Altogether, a perfect combination.
Needless to say, I have a very extensive travel bucket list… Obviously, visiting Alcatraz Island is right on top! Jacek made sure to get us a pair of tickets a few weeks in advance because it is notorious for selling out. Good thing that boy is a thinker! Because, low and behold, when we arrived that morning, the entire day had already been booked up.
He grabbed his standard morning tea while I sipped on hot chocolate and killed a few minutes waiting to board the large boat. It was quite a chilly morning but as the sun popped out, it eventually warmed up.
The views from the boat were fantastic: on one side was downtown San Francisco (where I could see the steep streets, the trolley cars and loads of people wandering the city) and on the other was the island which was also gorgeous in the autumn sun. With tons of greenery, birds and cliffs – I thought it was such a shame to turn it into a prison. We had borrowed Jacek’s dad’s super fancy schmancy camera and were taking amazing landscape shots of the entire area. I’m just glad that thing didn’t end up going overboard, because (in my family, we’d say) that would be a cramp.
We wandered around the island for an hour or so, and then headed back to the city for the absolute highlight of the day: the Ghirardelli Square along the bay!! Of course, Jacek wasn’t nearly as thrilled as I was about the visit, but he was a great sport nonetheless - he even got me some dark chocolate (my favorite!) even though it wasn’t even close to being Valentine’s Day. I still have that box from the chocolate hanging on my closet wall.
After that, our respective city-pride kicked in and I’m pretty sure we had a big debate about which city had more songs written about it (he being from San Francisco and me being from New York). Obviously, there is no contest and New York is the winner! However, someone didn’t seem to agree. Yah.. yah.. there are all these songs about ‘the bay’ but the NY ones are just way better. :)
Oh, and later on we went to a Duck game. But don’t tell my fellow Beaver fans!