Tourist Town

San Francisco is a hugely popular tourist town.  Every day the tourist hordes can be found milling along the top of the bay and getting in the way of the hardened locals like me.  🙂

This Post-Thanksgiving weekend however has been bliss.  No tourists!  No people come to that either… as many people head out to visit family.

So without the tourists – what better time than to be a tourist yourself?  That’s what we did by hiring a Go Car for the afternoon.

Go-Car – “the Story telling car” – is really a 3-wheeled trike/moped that directs you around the city and tells you interesting nuggets of information as you go.

Today I learnt that:

  • OJ Simpson went to Galileo High School which is right behind my house (and where the kids from there regularly smoke weed in my doorway!)
  • Alcatraz is THE most visited landmark in the US
  • Lombard Street isn’t the most crookedest street in SF – this one in Potrero Hill is.

A good fun way to see the city – though petrol fumes and getting beeped at by SUV’s does take it’s toll after a few hours!

 

 

 

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I Heart NYC?

A relaxing weekend in New York City? Uh-oh, think again.

NYC must be THE most frenetic and full-on city I’ve ever visited.  It’s non-stop.  I thought Hong Kong was bad for people-soup.  I thought London was one long traffic-jam.  I thought Parisian’s were the rudest people on the planet.  Uh oh.  Nothing compares to NYC and Zoo-Yorkers.

The city certainly has energy and from my brief stay in Midtown Manhattan I can not claim to ‘know’ the place; but the appalling traffic and the rudeness of the people seriously make me consider If I want to get to know it any better.

On the plus side I got to take an elevator to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building to experience wonderful views of the city-that-never-sleeps at night.

Near the tourist-filled Ground Zero I saw the small Occupy Wall Street movement ‘occupying’ Zuccotti Park in their fights against corporate greed and the 1%.  Ironically enough I believe one of New Yorks capitalist sons, John D. Rockefeller may well agree with the principals behind OWS:

What Do I Miss?

So, what do I actually miss from the UK?

  • Football!!! – It’s almost worth moving back to the UK for…
  • M&S!  Major gap in the market for lunch options in downtown SF.
  • Waitrose.  Yeah, we got Whole Foods… I guess I can live without Waitrose.
  • Prawn Crackers.  They just don’t exist here.  Pot-stickers go part way to compromise though.
  • Direct Debit.  Manually paying your bills every month gets tedious.
  • My friends.  Of course!
What don’t I miss from the UK?
  • Chavs and Scrotes.  Yeah we have red-necks but they’re not as prevalent here in SF as those are in the UK.
  • Cold, dark, damp weather.  Blue-skies all the way here dude!

Zippin’ Around

California is without a doubt, car-country.  It’s feasible to say that public transport doesn’t actually exist.  Yes, there are some rather disgusting buses running around the city, a one-line and very slow train between SF and SJ

Sio, without a car how do I survive here?  Fortunately there is a cool invention called Zipcars.

You can rent a Zipcar by the hour or by the day which is perfect for whizzing around the city or for short weekend breaks.  As an added bonus they come with their own parking spot too, so no hassles dropping it off.

Perhaps my favourite feature is you can have a different car every journey… here’s couple of my favourites zipcars – A Mini Convertible called `Manilow` and an Audi A3 called ‘Abbey Road’:

 

Hello Sailor!

In October every year the US Navy comes to town in what is known as Fleet Week.

For three days the skies are filled with sonic booms, aircraft whizzing overhead in group maneuvers and Sailors staggering the streets looking rather sea-lorn…

Capturing planes-moving-faster-than-sound on camera isn’t as easy as one might think. Here’s the best I could do on video at my Flickr Fleet Week Set 

In the last few days I’ve had the pleasure of seeing:

  • The Royal Canadian Airforce Snowbirds drawing hearts in the sky
  • An FA-18 Strike Hornet perforating my ear drums and performing insane vertical climbs (to a Top Gun soundtrack of course)
  • A B2 Stealth Bomber  – direct from Area 51 and better on video too.  (Yeah, my nickname `Shaky` is evident on that vid).
  • A 747 skimming over Alcatraz
  • The Blue Angels flying under and over the Golden Gate Bridge
Of course, being the USA there had to be Ad-breaks in there too…
I’ve never lived in a war-torn country or city-under-siege and I hope this will be as close as I ever come!

Cowboys and Geezers

Once upon a time Cowboys would pull out gleaming metallic revolvers on each other… now they pull out gleaming metallic camera’s on each other…

At the north-end of Napa valley is a Geyser known as Old Faithful. Named so for it’s regularity in bursting forth hot, sulphuric water from deep down within the earth every 40 minutes or so.

Perhaps most interestingly this geyser acts as an early warning system for earthquakes.

When the frequency is reduced to 50-60 minutes with many smaller bursts inbetween it signifies an earthquake is due.

On my visit there were many small bursts and it took longer than 40 minutes for the big one… Gulp!

Fog

It looks lovely from the outside.  Not so pretty from the inside.  San Francisco is unfortunately a city that spends most of it’s time nestled in fog.

In fact, this August I’ve managed to go days without seeing that great yellow ball of heat in the sky.

I guess there is some consolation though… as one friend said to me:  “If SF was sunny then everyone would want to live here!” – wise words.

This photo is just the tip of the Fog-berg – check out Silvia Oviedo’s view of the foggy city: http://instagr.am/p/LulIP/

Dates

9/7/11.  9th July right?  Yes it would be anywhere else in the world but not here in the US of A.  For some unimaginable reason the US switch the Month and Day round.

Trying to work with US date formats is like learning a new language. I’d love to know how this zany trend started.  I bet it was down to an admin error on Ellis Island or something similar.

Yes. saying 9/11 sounds `cool` but please Americans – please use the same date format as the rest of the world.  You just look silly putting the numbers the wrong way round!

 

Measurements

“Would you like that as 12, 16 or 20 ounce sir?” – I was asked in reference to my cup of tea.

There are two comments I have to make about this:

Firstly – it is TEA. Do I want 20 oz of Tea? I looked up 20 Oz. It is 591ml. Nearly 600 Millilitres. Nearly a bottle of wine size container of Tea. Jeez, if I had that I’d be visiting the `Restroom` (a new American word I’ve learnt) all day long! (and the tea would probably taste of the output too)

Secondly – these measurements mean absolutely nothing to me. It would have made more sense if the waitress had asked:

“Would you like that as Size BLEURGH, Size GAHGAHGAH or Size MMFDKSDD?”

How the USA gets away with a retarded measurement system different to the rest of the world I have no idea. Ounces to measure liquid just do not make any sense at all.

It doesn’t stop there… ‘Pounds’. Nope, not GBP as currency but pounds as in lbs. Now instead of being 85kg I am 185 lbs (I think). Instead of lifting X kg, now I have to guess what it would be in lbs. What does the rest of the world use? Kilo’s of course.

Fahrenheit… actually I don’t mind Fahrenheit. It’s not as weird as the other measurements. True, it takes a bit of getting used to but it kind of makes sense. I know what `in the 80s` or `in the 90s` feels like. Unfortunately in San Francisco it’s most `in the 50s or 60s`.