Sometimes, I think it is up to us to make the days count.
When I first arrived in Berkeley, I had too much time at hand. I practically had no friends. I only had classes for a few hours each day, 3 days a week. There were not many assignments and no academic paper to read. My ‘commute’ involved a mere 10-minute walk to my (very lovely) house.
This was not something I was used to. I started feeling uneasy, not knowing what to do with all this luxury. I could use it to acquire some new skills, but the irony of life is, the more time you have, the fewer the things you will get done.
So one day I decided I needed to get my lazy ass out of the house. Instead of lying around on the couch, I put on my sporty outfit, my colourful crocs and decided to go for a little hike to the Big C.
The Big C, I had read, was a giant concrete block of the letter ‘C’ built on the Berkeley Hills. It offered a stunning view over the UC Berkeley campus, where I was studying at the time. Definitely a perfect incentive for a rookie hiker. I decided to go during sunset because I wanted to witness the transition from the golden soft lighting of the sun to the dark expanse being studded by the city lights.
The starting point was from the North Gate Hall, Berkeley’s journalism school.
From then on, I just needed to follow some paths that led me to the top of the hill. For example, these stairs that greeted me right in the beginning of the journey.
To the untrained, exploring New York City at night generally entails walking along the famous Streets and Avenues to spot famous landmarks and then ending up at Times Square, stopping on your track and being dazzled by the blinding billboards.
In short, you get swarmed by tourists from all directions.
Luckily, I had my friend @mrkim85 to show me around NYC, and I got to see the city at night through a different perspective. He had the most brilliant plan for the evening: after a round of drinks at a bar in Manhattan, he would take me to dinner at an excellent restaurant in Brooklyn and we could walk back to Manhattan crossing one of the bridges and cycle 30 streets up on one of those Citibikes.
Nothing too touristy and it involved cycling and great food- there was nothing not to love about the plan.
The drinks in Manhattan was great – we went to a trendy rooftop bar on the 6th floor of The Pod 39 Hotel, sandwiched in between the skyscrapers. By the time we got there, it was already busy, full of well-dressed New Yorkers who had just finished their work. I felt embarrassingly out of place with my bright orange top and equally bright pink backpack plus my brown shoes that were close to falling apart.
My dinner at Brooklyn was excellent (I need to look up the exact name of the restaurant). I ordered a pork dish, and the meat was juicy and cooked to perfection (this is how talented I am if I were to become a food blogger. I did not even take a picture of the food). All I can say is this – I came out of the restaurant extremely happy.
Then there was the walk across the East River to get back to Manhattan. My friend suggested that we walked through Williamsburg Bridge, which was the less famous sister of the Brooklyn Bridge. It connects the Williamsburg neighbourhood of Brooklyn with the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Again, less famous means fewer (or no) tourists at all, so it was perfect.
I hated Vegas the moment I got there. After all, we drove all the way from the beautiful Lake Tahoe and Yosemite and was spoilt by all the glory that nature had to offer. In essence, it was a somewhat downhill view from ice capped mountains to an endless desert that was Nevada.
And at the part where it was not a desert, a large area of the city was covered with big, shiny and absolutely tacky buildings: fake Statue of Liberty, fake Eiffel Tower, fake sky and fake everything you could think of.
During my last week in Berkeley, one of my favourite things to do was to wander aimlessly through the streets of North Berkeley.
Although the city is famous for the UC Berkeley campus and hipster street of Telegraph Avenue, my first impression of Berkeley would always be this.
Not to mention how fiery it turned one magical sunset in March.
So it was only appropriate that I said goodbye to the city by taking my time to admire everything about the neighbourhood.
I admit though, that there isn’t much to write about the day. I roamed around for hours, just lost in my thoughts, mostly wondering how did time fly so fast. And taking pictures of flowers. A great part of admiring North Berkeley is the flowers, along with the Victorian houses that come with them.
San Francisco is one of those cities that is very hard for me to define. No matter how many times I visited the place (thanks to my stint in Berkeley, I had the privilege of living 45-minute BART ride away from THE San Francisco), I never felt like I got to know the city well. Perhaps it was my fault that I hardly spent a full day there just to explore – I normally visited San Francisco when I was meeting a friend or if I had to go there for a reporting assignment. But maybe it was the city’s ‘fault’, that it just had so many different things to offer.
In the end, I gave up that internal battle in my head and came to accept that it was just the way things were. Perhaps, San Francisco is just like that intriguing friend of yours who always shows a different side every time you see her. She’s not someone you are meant to figure out and fit into a box. She is just that, San Francisco, with its many facades.
She is as much the Victorian buildings that form the Seven Sisters…
One that was recommended to me by a Bostonian was the lobster roll at Neptune Oyster. I first encountered the name of the place through Yelp, but I was highly suspicious that it could have just been a tourist trap. Seriously, what could be more cheesy and touristy than having lobster in Boston? But when my friend, who was born and raised in Boston, recommended it, I just knew that I had to try it.
And boy, I sure was glad I did.
Normally I would let the picture speak for itself, but I will try to be helpful and give you some heads up and tips in your pursuit for one of the best lobster rolls there is.
On my last trip in NYC, my friend and I decided to be a bit more cultured after practically eating our way through Manhattan and Brooklyn for a few days in a row. We decided to splurge some money and get tickets for Sleep No More, an interactive theatrical experience based on the tragic story of Macbeth by William Shakespeare.
The play is located at the McKittrick Hotel. Don’t be misled by the name though – the McKittrick Hotel is no hotel. It is an old warehouse which has been converted into five-storey sets that mimic the structure of a hotel. It’s got a bedroom, a ballroom, a bar, etc, very much like a hotel, except you can’t stay in there, and trust me, you wouldn’t want to.
I did not do much research before going to the play, apart from reading up on the story of Macbeth. The upside of this was that I went in not knowing what to expect and was pretty blown away by the whole experience by the end of it. The downside of this was that I was not mentally prepared of what was to come. Macbeth storyline isn’t the most cheerful in the first place, and when being put in a contemporary setting, it could get rather creepy.
Plus, you are not allowed to talk throughout the whole thing, which probably explained why I could hear all my thoughts very clearly. So clearly that I decided to share some of them with you which could possibly be useful in case you are still deciding whether to go for it or not.