A Travellerspoint blog

How's the Serenity

Berkeley

overcast 14 °C

8th of February

The great thing about being overseas for 5 months is the fact that you can basically spread out where you want to go and when to do it. This was one of those days. The previous week had been on and off with rain and it came to a point where l had to risk getting wet so that l could see some of the neighborhood around where l living.

The place l choose was Berkeley, famous for its eclectic university and its hippie-like stores. Jumping off BART at downtown Berkeley with very little knowledge where everything is wasn't the brightest idea,but l headed east and flukishly stumbled upon the university. I normally study back at UTS, and by no means is it a comparison point for Berkeley, but from what l have seen from UNSW and USYD, Berkeley trumps them both. Basically everywhere you look you can spot green. Be it large eucalypts or grass scattered between the roman style buildings.
Walking around the university grounds l had a real feel for the support, both intellectual and sporting alike that the university aims for. It was a great experience walking around one of the well known American colleges.

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Moving on from the campus l headed through the city with no particular direction and ended up at one of Berkeley’s secondary schools. Unknowingly that was a rookie error as within five minutes of walking through the park beside the school a teenage boy came across and asked me for weed. Not wanting to draw attention to myself l left the park to try and find Telegraph Avenue. But first lunch.

After having a bite to eat l ducked in to a fruit juice store to get something to drink. Whilst waiting for my drink l heard a rap tap tap on the window. Not knowing anyone in Berkeley l decided to take any notice of it. But once again somebody started knocking on the window again. This time l turned around to see what was going on. It was a middle aged man looking directly at me waving me over. Slightly confused, l got up and made my way over to him only to hear him mutter “do you have any weed?” Damn that dreadlock stereotype.

Thinking l was heading in the right the direction towards Telegraph Avenue, l ended up in the Ghetto district. The Ghetto district is renowned for its delicious array of ethnic foods. It is a place l definitely want to visit again for dinner that is for sure.

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Finally after what has been a strange type of day l managed to get to the top of Telegraph Avenue. The street is definitely clothing orientated but with a slight twist. A lot of the stores and boutiques sell vintage like clothing and hemp made accessories. Not being the most enthusiastic shopper l walked the street to see what all the talk was about and then bailed as due to lack of interest.

Wanting to take full advantage of the day l met Allie at the downtown station and went to dinner at Amanda’s , a small scale organic food restaurant. To finish the night off we headed to a nearby cinema to watch Hurt locker, a film that follows the day to day hardships that American soldiers and in particular an American bomb technician have to go through in Iraq.

Posted by palmtree89 15:11 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Why am l training while on holiday?

10th of February

So while l am in the States traveling and running a muck but there has been a goal set that is a little unusual for someone who is traveling.. complete a half marathon (13.1 miles). l'm not new to running but l haven't ever decided to run such a large distance in my life. Fortunately every week a sports store 'Fast Forward' has group runs around Danville with varying distances of four,six and eight miles. Eight miles did sound like more than l could chew for the first time so l decided to give six miles a crack. Fortunately a fair few people did the six mile run otherwise l would have no idea where l was going due to the fact it was dark and we were running through the suburbs.

Most of the time l was pacing myself with a Tunisian man, Moorerod, who kept me on my toes throughout the length of the run. He was very deceptive runner. Later found out that he co owns a fitness centre and has run a few marathons in his life. But this wasn't the most impressive fact. He recently had a knee reconstruction and was just getting back into running, which makes me think how quick he used to be as l could only just keep up with him.

l did manage to complete the run, it would be good if l could describe the parts of Danville that l ran through but it was too dark. l look forward to next weeks run!

Posted by palmtree89 15:08 Archived in USA Comments (0)

SUPERCROSS

sunny

31st of January

AT&T Stadium a normally Baseball based stadium, had been transformed into, for lack of a better word, a dirt pit. lt was supercross weekend baby, and a group of us were speedily making our way to AT&T in the back of Derek's car with beers in hand. Dodging cars left right and centre we finally made it to the "pit", the area where the dirt bike riders and their paraphernalia were stationed. That being said it wasn't what l was expecting, and an overall bore.

After completing the "pit" we headed into AT&T Stadium to watch the races. The organises definitely went all out with fireworks and surround sound, but that was about as interesting as it got. The races were repetitive with the odd stack, but overall l couldn't really get into it.

Posted by palmtree89 14:06 Archived in USA Tagged events Comments (0)

l thought sharks swam

28th of January

After scoring two free tickets to the San Jose Sharks vs Chicago Black hawks ( thanks Mark) NHL game, Allie and l drove to San Jose's HP Pavilion to watch the game. During my stay in Canada three years ago, l did watch quite a few hockey games but that was the WHL, a lower league of hockey. So l was extremely keen to see the 'big boys' play the game and compare the skills and speed to the lower league and actually be involved in the ongoing hockey atmosphere in the stadium.

The Pavilion didn't disappoint. Allie and l grabbed a few snacks and beers of course for the game and quickly found our seats, as l didn't want to miss a second of the game. The seats we were given had an amazing view of the game (back right corner) and we had a wall behind us so there would be no one complaining about us standing up.

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During the first period of the game the top ranked Sharks played very flat and lacked any defensive aggressiveness and were down 3 nil by the end of the period. But as the game continued on the sharks lifted their game and skated their way back in to the game by upping the ante and getting in face off their opponents nearly resulting in a few fights, but nothing ever eventuated...damn.

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By the end of the 3rd period the scores were locked and the ever present shark fans were riding their team to win. Five, four , three, two, one ... overtime. Scores remained locked at the ended the third and threw the fast paced game into overtime. But this was short lived as 30 seconds into overtime the Chicago blackhawks slotted a goal past the keeper into the top right hand corner of the net. And as soon as that red light flashed above the sharks goal keepers net signaling the goal, sharks fans left right and centre bailed out of the stadium faster than you can say "kangawallafox".

Although it was not the result Allie and l wanted, the overall atmosphere that the crowds brought after every hit up and goal was incredible and made the game worth while. lt will be very interesting to see how the Sharks far in the playoffs.

Posted by palmtree89 14:54 Archived in USA Tagged events Comments (0)

Day 3:- Rocks, sea lions and clam chowder

semi-overcast

  • l would just like to note that l have been in America for three days and l still haven't had breakfast.

Unlike the two previous days, the rain started to depart and for the first time since l arrived in San Fran l actually managed a glimpse of the sun. Not taking any risks, Allie and l cruised through the "friendly" Tenderloin District and on towards Embarcedaro Avenue.

Today was definitely going to be the touristy day out of my first three days in San Francisco. First stop the Ferry building. Historically the Ferry building was the first point of entry onto San Francisco's shores for workers and gold miners alike http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/history2.php. Nowadays after a few touch ups both inside and out the building now hosts a multitude of very different and interesting food stores and cafes, not to forget a Farmers Markets on Saturday.

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After departing from the Ferry Building, we headed west along Embarcedero towards the popular Fisherman's Wharf. Despite the sun, it was still quite cold so we walked hastily until we finally arrived at Pier 39. Being a major tourist destination it was very commercialised but still managed to keep some of it's charm. Walking past and glimpsing in the odd souvenir store, we finally made it the part of pier 39 that l really wanted to see, the marina where normally hundreds of sea lions camp out. But today there were only a handful. Either way it was an incredible sight to see wild sea lions so close to civilisation.

Now l was starving and Allie had the perfect place in mind, Boudin. Boudin wasn't just a regular bakery. lt has been said that the San Franciscan air mixing with the yeast and creates a unique tangy taste. Earlier that day Allie had told me that they make an awesome New England clam chowder, but what she had forgotten to tell me was that the pour the chowder into a massive sourdough bread roll...amazing! It was the perfect lunch to warm me up on the brisk winter day.

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A three day stay in San Francisco would not be complete without going to Alcatraz aka The Rock. So Allie and l met up with a few of her friends and took the ferry over. While on the ferry we were given a brief history of the transition the Alcatraz island has gone through. Originally it served as a lighthouse for ships navigating there way into San Francisco Bay after night fall, then because San Francisco Bay was seen as an easy target for invasion during the war it was fortified and turned into a military base. When fees to upkeep the Rock became to high, Alcatraz became the most renowned high security prison in the world holding such criminals as Al Capone and Robert " the birdman" Stroud. But after years of holding some of America's most violent criminals it too became to expensive to run and was left to become a National Park site and a heavily visited tourist destination.

Getting off the ferry, l experienced an eerie feel what previous prisoners may have felt looking up at the fortified prison where it was impossible to escape. To make matters worse there were areas where prisoners could actually see the bustling San Francisco and often hear the city folk as an extra tease.

Walking through the self guided prison it was easy to see how mentally restraining it would have been on both the prisoners and the guards over the years. It was fascinating to hear prisoner recollections during time spent there and the sometimes ludicrous escape attempts. Overall Alcatraz was an experience to remember.

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Posted by palmtree89 14:42 Comments (0)

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