California Trip: San Fran & Oakland

Happy Thursday! Looking forward to a wine tasting tonight with some friends. It’s almost the weekend and we’re in a celebratory mood. But first, let’s wrap up my visit to Cali. I’ve summed up our drive south and our drive north, but what about my time IN the bay? Here we go, my dears.

Unfortunately, I don’t have too many pictures of my time in the cities. We were too busy chatting and running around from place to place that I didn’t spend time lining up for decent shots. So here is a brief summary:

Berkeley: My first night there, we went to a chic dinner at Chez Panisse. Highly, highly recommend. The food was so fresh. The whole street, known as the Gourmet Ghetto, is dotted with eateries run by acclaimed chefs, so I think I need to find my way back there again real soon.

Oakland: My friend lives here so I really got to experience some of the highlights this city across the bay has to offer. It is awesome! It’s totally up & coming and not at all touristy. I recommend visiting Oakland if you are traveling to the bay area. While it’s definitely on the up and up, gentrification has its downsides (less diversity, more expensive, etc) and it will be interesting to see how that affects the environment in Oakland. All I can say is right now is a great time to go…

Oakland, CA

especially with all the trees flowering – so pretty! As for what we did, we (seriously) enjoyed chicken & waffles at none other than the Home of Chicken and Waffle, basically an Oakland landmark…

Chicken and Waffles

and it was surprisingly delicious and, not surprisingly, SUPER filling. We also walked around the quaint Jack London Square, grabbed scrumptious macarons at Miette, got foot rubs while drinking tea at the Foot Spa and Tea Bar, strolled the three mile loop around Lake Merritt (twice!)…

Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA

poked into the shops in Rockridge, ate our weight in cheese from the Sacred Wheel cheese shop and feasted at Burma Superstar for a flavorful dinner and Cock-A-Doodle for a hungover brunch. Basically, it’s the best. I loved all the places we checked out and would recommend them to all my friends.

San Francisco: Well, obviously. I love this city so much. We had done a lot of the tourist attractions the other times I visited (visiting Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Lombard Street, drinks in the Marina, shopping in Union Square and driving over the Golden Gate Bridge), so this visit was more focused on hanging out with friends. I did convince Marisa to ride the cablecar with me from Powell to Hyde and that was really fun. It passed a lot of the attractions that SF is famous for. Beyond that, we checked out Golden Gate Park, took in the views from the tower at De Young

San Francisco, CA

ate made-to-order sandwiches and teensy treats (that’s what their bitty desserts were called!) from Andronico’s, laughed and gabbed our way through a Peruvian dinner at Limon in the Mission, followed by drinks at pub-style Elixir and dance-y Beauty Bar. It was GREAT. Again, I’d go back to any of these places and gladly recommend visitors to check them out.

And finally, I don’t know what I’d do without these two…

Lake Merritt, Oakland, CAThese are friends I’m so lucky to have, especially now that we’re all living on the west coast. It was just like old times, but in a new place. Sometimes familiar faces (and a little bit of sunshine) are all you need to pull yourself together and say, “Okay, we can do this.” This is pretty much everything going on in my unsettled life right now. That’s all going to change soon.

I came back to Portland refreshed and relaxed. That’s the point of vacations, right? Thank you, California!

xxx

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Booked: The Bay Area

As I mentioned yesterday, I have booked my first trip outta Portland. I leave a week from today. That was quick, right? I only lasted here for about six weeks before concocting my first escape. …And we’re about to close on a house. …And we need to get a car. …And there is still a lot to coordinate. …And …And!

I know. The truth is, we have a lot to do as we continue settling in. So why am I taking this trip already, in the middle of all the chaos? Well, there are several reasons. Here is my rationalization:

  1. Marisa has the week off and we are adventurous little partners in crime, so I pretty much have to take advantage of this glorious opportunity to explore with her. Another good friend just moved there too. (I’m looking at you, David.)
  2. This whole stale corporate apartment thing, crummy rental car situation, and lack of stuff (which I have complained about numerous times) is… well… I need a break. It’s like the perfect storm of misery.
  3. Speaking of rain, I might sink into a deep(er) depression from this weather if I don’t find some sunshine. Portland winters really are the pits. While very similar to our Dutch winter last year, I’m struggling a lot more with the frequent rain and overcast skies. Why, you ask? Two reasons. Reason 1: See point #2 above. Reason 2: The city isn’t as walkable/charming as Amsterdam and I don’t feel like getting in the car every time I want to go out. That’s just the urban warrior in me, I guess.
  4. In my opinion, Portland is missing elements of urban culture. At least, in the way that I’m used to. To me, that means museums, shopping, entertainment, dining, and all connected by decent public transportation. The only factor that stands out to me up to this point is the restaurant scene. That scene is thumpin’ and I’ve been impressed with the foodie culture here. But, for health & wealth reasons, we’re trying to limit that to weekends only. Living on the edge, huh?
  5. Speaking of things to do on weekends, what I’m realizing is that Portland’s a decent place to live where you are still close to the great outdoors. If you take a look on tripadvisor.com, the #1 thing to do “in Portland” is visit the Columbia River Gorge – which isn’t in Portland. Of course, I want to get out there, but not now (see point #3). It’s not exactly hiking weather. Even if it was, I don’t have my hiking stuff. Right now, it’s ski season. But I don’t have my ski stuff (see point #2). Inconvenient.
  6. Bonus: Jaro was/is in full support. He’s pretty much the best.

I realize that sounds like a lot of complaints about Portland. I’m sure many of you are thinking, make the best of it or spend this time getting to know your own city. I will. After this trip. And truly, things will be different by this time next year. They’ll be better. I’ll (hopefully) have found school or work that prevents boredom motivates me. We’ll be settled down, have the equipment and stability and knowledge and resources to enjoy this time of year in the Pacific Northwest.

Back to the Bay I go. The nice thing about visiting friends is that I don’t have much planning to do. Accommodations and transportation – dunzo. We have no set plans; just going to see where the breeze takes us. Looking forward to exploring San Francisco, Oakland, possibly taking day trips to Big Sur and Napa, with a fresh perspective, a full heart of gratitude and an open mind.

How do you justify travel? Do you ever rationalize trips for yourself even if you don’t necessarily have to? Are you impulsive about it, like me? I have to admit, sometimes I can be quick to the draw about booking travel (especially given my liberties last year) and then afterward, I’m like, oops, should I have done that? The answer in this case is absolutely. Sometimes, I just need to spell it out to remember why.

xxx

P.S. In celebration of Fat Tuesday, we’re going to meet up with our Run Club tonight. …And go out for beers after. Living on the edge, ya’ll. 

Monday Travel Memory: California

I’m going back to Cali, Cali, Cali.

That’s right dudes! My first “trip” out west is heading down the coast to visit my bud, Marisa, in the bay area next week. She’s the darling that braved two weeks in Eastern Europe with me. Hopefully, I get to see some other wonderful friends living down there too.

The last time I was down there was back in 2010, which seems like ages ago. Marisa has been living out there for years and we awesomely (stupidly?) decided to road trip out west from Chicago to San Francisco to haul both her car and adorable dog out there. I should write about that adventure sometime…

Anyway, I love the bay. I love Muir Beach (even though it was freezing in July, what the heck), that foggy view of the Golden Gate, strolling down the waterfront in Sausalito, grabbing drinks (and late night burritos) in the Mission, and of course, ice cream from Bi-Rite. All my pictures are on my computer… which I don’t have yet… and won’t for another 40 days or so… so trust me. I’ve been there. And I love it.

More on my upcoming trip soon. Sorry I didn’t write much last week. I was having a rough one and just wasn’t up for it.

xxx