Tuesday 29th, the second leg of the trip began. As I said my good friend dropped me to the airport that evening and I went to California. My best mate was transferred there with his job about 18 months ago. He picked my up at San Jose airport which is close to where her lives. It was late in the day, at 10pm PST when I got there so it was home for a chat and sleep. The next day, Wednesday was a chillout day. I just lazed about the house and relaxed. It was typically un-californian weather wise and more akin to Ireland. Went to the movies that night. Saw "There Will be Blood". Strange movie, but Daniel Day Lewis is fantastic in it. I can see why he won ant Golden Globe and is a leading Oscar candidate. After that we went to a wine bar.
My mate's wife works in it so we called in to help her close up etc. Certain parts of California, especailly around San Jose shut down really early. It was about 10pm when we shut up shop and went for some wings in a Bar/Diner to end the evening of.
Thursday I got up early and got the train into San Francisco for the day. It wasn't a great day weather wise. I did some touristy things there. I walked the mile or so from the CalTrain station up to Market St. Got the cable car, Powell-Hyde line over Nob Hill to Fishermans Wharf area. Even though I'd been to San Fran before this was my first time on the Cable Car. It's a nice ride, even in the mist and rain, and I recommend everyone do it at leastonce when in town.
It's a good way to se the streets and hills and some of the views are great. Once I got of the car I went to Ghirardelli Square to check out the chocolate factory tour but it was closed for renovations (Bummer). I took a walk along the beach to see if I could get a few pics of the Golden gate bridge but it was shrouded in mist and barely recongisable through it. Then I went up fishermans Wharf. Had a bite to eat and rambled. I didn't go to Alcatraz because I was there last year when I was in town.
Next stop was the Coit Tower, which offers great views over the city and bay. The weather was poor and while I really enjoyed the views from the tower I could help think how much more spectular they would be on a fine day. At the base of the tower, inside the building the walls are completely covered in Murals by different artists.
It was carryied out by the Public Works or Art Project during the early 1930s. After a while at Coit Tower I decided to go to the Cable Car museum. This is a little different than other museums in that it's a fully functional museum. It's where all the cable cars in the city are run from and it's interesting to see how it works. I spent some time there lookign at photos from the 1906 earthquake and great fire, and also taking a break from the now persistant rain. It's free entry but you can make donations if you wish. After that I wandered down to Union square in the pissing rain. I didnt hang about and I amde my way back to the train and home. I was shattered beacuse I was walking all day and soaked but it was a good day.
Friday, the weather was a little better, actually a lot better.
The California I'd expected. I got the loan of one of my mate's cars and decided to check out Stanford University. It's got a good reputation world wide so I drove down there to have a look at the campus. It's and old farm that was given over become the University, a fact I learnt while there, and has some really cool old building at the heart of it surrounded by more modern ones. I wandered into the middle of a Barack Obama election rally. I was impressed with the college. It made me think about going back to school if I could go there. I after checking out the campus I went to the Standford Mall. I pced up the obiligritary See's Candies for the office on my return. That night a few of us went out for dinner in the Historic downtown of Campbell
Mural at Coit Tower
I've been there a few times now and I've still to fidn out what's so historic about it. I should probably google it.
Saturday was an earlier start. My mate an I got up a 5am to go to the pub to watch Ireland v Italy Rugby game. It was starting at 6am California time. It's crazy the amount of people that do be up at that time in california out jogging etc. It was a crap game but Ireland won. We left he bar about 9am which really confused me becasue I kept thinking it was about 6pm as it's usually about that when I leave a bar after watching a game. There is something confusing about going into a bar when it's dark and coming out when it's bright. It's usually the other way around. We went home picked up my mates wofe and got on the road again to go to Muir Woods.
It basically a national monument, but is infact a huge redwood forest. Muir woods is located in a Canyon on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais about 20 or so minutes north of San Fran The trees here are huge and they are protected. It was a nasty wet day so most of the forest trails were closed. I was impressed by the Redwoods. Everyone I had talked to about them had been saying how amazing a sight they are and they are right. Some of these trees ar over 250ft tall. It's only when you stand next to one that you really appreciate their scale. I'm 6ft 1" and I'm a dot standing in front of one. We stayed for about an hour and then went back into San Francisco.
My mate drove right to the Base of the Golden Gate bring where I got some good pics and nearly got arrested and fined for trespassing.
Arches at Stanford.
I went arround a fence to get a better pic and next thing this bridge patrol cop was yelling at me to get back and not to take the pic and gave me a whole lecture on why I should be arrested and fined etc. I just played the dumb Irish tourist and it worked. He let me off. To be honest I didn't see the signs. I was very apolgetic to him and all that. He was nice enough about it and if he wanted to he probably could have done me. They are very protective of their national treasures. There is a old fort buidling at the base of the bridge. It used to be used to defend the entrance of the day. You can wander around it for free too not that it will take to long. We then with to a fantastic restuarant on Union Street for a early dinner. (See separate review) Some ot the best food I've ever tasted.
If you ever make it to San Fran you got to check out Betelnut on Union St. It's Asian fusion cuisine but ooh so tasty.
Sunday was the Superbowl, the showcase game in the American Football season. I'm not an avid NFL fanatic but as a sports junkie I watch it when I can so I've a good understanding of the game. We were going to a Superbowl party in some guy's house. He was a friend of my mate's work buddy. I'd never bene to a Superbowl party before but had heard sotries about them. What a spread! Food everywhere in his house and about 5 TVs. A huge 50" plasma for the main room where we were. He had made the best chicken wings I've ever tasted. Homemade sauce. I was picking at them for about 4 hours. The atmosphere in the house was great and the game wasn't a bad game, it went right to the wire.
The guy who's house it was is a huge Giants fan so he was thrilled to bits with the outcome. But I wa sa neutral so it added ot the game for me. But half the house were shouting for the giants and the rest for the Patriots. It was a lot of fun. I think some of the americans there were impressed with my knowledge of the game. My mate is not a football fan at all so I think they may have thought that I wouldn't knwo anything about the game. My mate and his work buddy got tanked so I was on driving duty. It was a great day and I so want to go to a Superbowl party again next year.
Monday was a beautiful day. I decided I was going to Carmel, or Carmel-By-The-Sea to give it it's correct name, for the day. Client Eastwood used to be mayor of Carmel. I got the loan on my firends car and with the aid of TomTom (Sat Nav) made my way there.
What a beautiful, pictureseque town. Tree lined streets in a town right on the sea with a beautiful beach. Property costs a fortune there but it is such a cool place to live. I wandered the streets, its full a galleries, and had some lunch. I wanted to do 17 mile drive, which is a drive along the coast. However it was closed to tourist traffic that day because it goes right by Pebble Beach
golf resort and AT&T Pro Am was on there the following Thursday so they had it closed in preparation for that. I stopped of in the outlet malls in Gilroy
on the way home and picked up some t-shirts.
Gilroy is probably the garlic capital of the world. They have a garlic festival there every year and as you drive by you can smell it. Any garlic produce you can think of they sell in Gilroy even garlic ice cream :)
Tuesday was my last day in Cali so I took it easy. Went browsign the shops etc. Then that night we went bowling. My mate plays league and it was league night so I tagged along to see what it was like there compared to here. I play here and we used to bowl together. (I near said we used to play together but that could be taken totally out of context.. lol) It was a fun night and a good laugh. Home to pack and onward to Chicago the next morning.