San Francisco

It’s already been five weeks since I was in San Francisco for the first time! I was just musing and found that I haven’t really told anyone in detail what I did in SFO. Now I am wondering why is it so! May be nobody seemed really interested in knowing. Nonetheless, I will put it in writing before the memories just fade away.
Let me see..On the 30th of Jan, I was shown the Golden Gate Bridge and the Napa Valley by my friend.

May be this is not the view of Golden Gate Bridge that people take pictures of. At least I haven’t seen it like this. For me the bridge brought back memories of that adorable tv series – Full House – the title song had everyone in the car driving over the Golden Gate Bridge.
Never thought that one day I myself would be on that bridge!
Then we went towards the Napa Valley to take the wine tour at any winery. But we didn’t know one which provided and therefore while I drank my first tea (Chai Latte) in the US of A at Starbucks, my friend made some calls to his friends to find out. After making several calls, we finally headed towards one of them – the Mumm Napa – the makers of sparkling wine (oh of course, people know the term “Champagne” more than they know sparkling wine, except for the fact that Champagne is the name for the sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France(Details here)! But Mumm Napa has partnership with Mumm Champagne of France. So probably they have the right to use the term Champagne for their sparkling wines.)

We could not get the tour as we were late for even the last one, so we just sat down to have a tasting of wine. The host was quite engaging and he talked about the wine along with telling us that he had been several times to India.
So we headed back after that and I stepped in my first Walmart in USA – the most essential reason for which was to get myself a local phone (it’s pretty cheap – for about $30 I could get a phone with 100 minutes of talk time – thanks to a US-returned friend who gave me this information while I was in India itself.International roaming can be pretty expensive.This is a much better option – of course if you are on a budget.)
For the 31st of Jan (Sunday), my friend left it upto me to do some research and then decide on what I wanted to see. So that’s how we went to see the Golden Gate Park after having a tour of the Stanford University campus and taking a view from the top of the Hoover Tower at the campus. Stanford has a lovely campus and makes you feel like going back to study! It was a bright and therefore a lot of people had come outdoors. The place looked alive but I guess it would be literally buzzing on the weekdays!

After that we went to the Golden Gate park but after reaching, we had to circle around it for about half an hour before we could find a parking.

We went to the California Academy of Sciences first and thought of seeing the Japanese Tea Garden or the Botanical Garden, if there was time left after that. As we went in, we got to know that we had to take the passes to book our place if we wanted to see the planetarium. After securing that, we went towards the rainforest area. It was lovely with a variety of plants,reptiles (read snakes) and amphibians (read frogs). I also saw an Anaconda! But the most amazing were the butterflies of bright colors and hues! There were also a few birds twittering about the place.

After that we went to the aquarium which had everything from the hugest to the smallest ones found in the bay of SFO area and around.
It was good but I guess it’s as difficult for you as it’s for me to memorise the names of the creatures you see. But here are two pictures which can give you a feel of what I am talking about.

See the difference in sizes of the two species? A very small sample of bio-diversity .

Oh yes, before seeing all this we went to fuel ourselves at the cafetaria. Now I can’t recall clearly what we had but I guess it was a cheese quesadilla and a chinese steamed bun (interesting thing).

Alright, coming back on track – by the time we finished all this, it was our turn to be in the planetarium. So we went and joined the queue without having any idea on what we should be expecting. Now I have seen planetariums in India twice before. But once we went in this one, I was really awed to see the size and structure of the place. The steps were very steep and I felt kind of dizzy going up towards the seats (in fact even after being seated, I felt like having a seatbelt to stop that feeling of falling!) Once everyone was in, the host gave a brief introduction and thereafter we were taken on our space journey by Whoopy Goldeberg !(ok ok, she was not there physically, but her voice was our guide. Alright it was her recorded voice. But that doesn’t make it any less good.)

And by the time we came back on earth, it was time for the museum to close..but there are so many more things to see there. One should go in there as early as it opens but I am not sure if even that would be sufficient or not.
Also there are a lot of other things in the Golden Gate Park which we could not explore as they have the same timings as this museum.
So we had no other option but to return and there was one more thing I saw for the first time in my life.
The beautiful Magnolias! I think this post should be ended now. There is another day of my visit of that area which I have to write about but that would be a next post. Until next..take care!

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