Sunday, 29 August 2010

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

We're in Saaaaan Fraaaaancisco! Well, not quite, we're in San Jose, but it's in the bay area, and it's bigger than SF itself. We've been here a few days now so we've done loads but I'll try not to write too much.

On Tuesday I was feeling rubbish with a cold so we didn't even leave the house until the afternoon. Margaret was at work so Tom took us to visit Stanford University to have a look around. It's a beautiful place and the lady in the post-grad admissions office was very friendly. I think we alarmed one youngish researcher when we stopped him in the corridor and quizzed him about his work and what it's like researching at Stanford. He was mostly telling Nik the details about what he's researching so Nik nodded politely while having absolutely no idea what was going on. I think I will look into applying to do a PhD there, even if our experience was tainted by a parking ticket :(

On Wednesday we borrowed bikes and took them on the train up to the city. We cycled along the edge of the bay until we reached the Golden Gate Bridge, which wasn't as big as I'd thought (I had it in my head for some reason that it was 6 miles long) but was still very nice. We cycled over it, stopping every few metres to take photos and admire Alcatraz. Taking the ferry back across the bay I was feeling queasy again but I still managed to see Alcatraz quite close up. It's a bit creepy, especially as Nik hums the theme tune to 'The Rock' every time he sees it. By the time we got across the bay we were very hungry so we had the clam chowder in sourdough bread that Nik goes on about so much and it was indeed very good! I'm not as fed up of Nik as these two sentences make me seem... We wandered round the touristy pier areas for a bit, saw the sea lions and headed home again. I wasn't very keen on the view of San Francisco from the bridge - it's all on hills and looks very crowded - but it's very nice once you're inside.

We explored the coast and some interesting little villages on Thursday. Margaret had taken time off work so she and Tom took us around and showed us things. We even paddled in the Pacific (at my insistence), but not for very long because it was cold! We bought some amazing bread with artichoke baked into the centre, and later we went to a goat farm and got some goat cheese with sundried tomatoes. It was meant to be part of dinner but not much of it survived the journey home!

We didn't get much chance on Tuesday to go into the different neighbourhoods of San Francisco so on Friday we went for a drive around some of the residential bits, including some ridiculously steep streets! We had breakfast in the gay village and I was quite surprised at how explicit the window displays in the sex shops were. We had bagels for breakfast, and the cleaner in the shop was a little over-enthusiastic; if someone was in the toilet and had locked the door he would unlock it from the outside to go in. He did this to Nik first, and we stopped him once we'd realised what he was doing, but then he tried to do the same thing when Margaret was in there. The houses in the area were really beautiful, all different enough to be interesting while looking like they were meant to go together. We went to Chinatown for a bit and Nik got distracted by a very ornate piano in a shop and played it for a while, but we didn't buy it as it was $200,000. We also drove down the twistiest street in the world or something like that.

Yesterday we went to a mission town and looked at the beautiful church and its buildings, as well as the 'jail' which seemed to be more like a shed. Then we went wine tasting! Although of course I'm too young to drink here so I didn't have any wine at all. Nope. Well, maybe a little bit. My intelligent comments of 'Mmm, it tastes of... red wine...' impressed everyone there. We did try some interesting ones, including a Syrah which was very nice, and some good Champagne. We were going to buy some but we weren't very sure that it would survive the flights home.

In the evening we watched 'The Rock' to get the theme tune out of Nik's head, which didn't work. It was made much cooler by the fact we'd seen the island so recently. Today, after spending the morning at a farmers' market trying some wonderful fruits (pluot, anyone?) we watched 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo', a very disturbing and moving film. This afternoon my cousin Virginia and her 4-year-old daughter Lissie arrived so Nik has been having a lovely time playing with Lissie and pretending to be a unicorn, and winning her admiration for his ability to throw an orange very high into the air.

Tomorrow morning we leave :-(, we should be back in Cambridge by Tuesday afternoon, and then, in case anyone had forgotten, it's my 20th birthday on Wednesday!

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday Amy! I had a card all ready to give you before you left but forgot!!

    Hope your journey home was bearable.

    Luv Margaret