Sunday, November 25, 2007

San Francisco

Thursday was Thanksgiving. We don't celebrate it at all in South Africa, but over here in the US some say it is celebrated more than Christmas. The day after, yesterday, was Black Friday. It's one of the biggest shopping days in the US and marks the unofficial start of the Christmas season.

So we got both days off work. It's a little awkward having just a three day week to start with and to be frank it's actually annoying too. Three days doesn't get you anywhere and already we have a four day weekend. Almost everyone that celebrates Thanksgiving had plans to go out of town and meet up with family and those that stayed didn't do anything really (there are obviously several non-Americans working at NVIDIA). And since everything, absolutely everything, was closed (which is not the case in South Africa even on Christmas) there was little to do.

Come Friday, however, I zooted on up to San Francisco. It's about a 60-90 minute train so it's well within reach. I did a mostly unplanned trip yesterday just to get accustomed to the city as I will be returning several times. I tell you, the city is big. Big like any other major American city. There's enough stores to satisfy most shopping appetites. I walked into the first electronics store I saw, although it was a little disappointing. Then I took my time at Macys where they have separate buildings for men and women it's so large! Westfield Shopping Center, where they had a five story Bloomingdales as well as many major brand stores. After a few hours my feet starting aching so I went back.

Today I returned with a plan. I looked up info on the major shopping areas and some sights. I also went in with my camera so I have some pretty pictures. The first one is above is the Macys mens building -- yes, it is huge! And it's only the mens building, the females building is even bigger. Macys is part of Union Square (photo below), which is the main shopping square in San Francisco. Tiffany's is the not-so-huge building on the left, but it is full of amazing jewellery. Then there are all those other places -- Gucis, Armani, Levis, you name it.

It doesn't come out as well in the picture (as always), but if you look at this next one you'll see the rather steep road which is right in the middle of the city. It's a rathe runusual feature for such a major city but it is only right in the center. Go a couple avenues either way and there is no hill.

Chinatown! There are so many Chinese living in the US that they give them their own personal space. They had one of these in New York as well -- I think they're in most major cities. This one is a decent size actually. It's full of Chinese stores selling very traditional Chinese stuff. It's mostly Chinese shopping there so one looks a little out of place if you're not Chinese like me. It's interesting seeing what they sell though. Most of the stuff is really cheap -- I have a photo of a special of 5 t-shirts for $10.99!

Alcatraz is an island that at one stage served as a military prison. It has lots of history (read here) and is now an historic site and a major tourist attraction. They have ferries taking visitors to the island. I didn't actually go to the island, although I might at some point, but below is a photo of it from the coast.

I would hope that most readers will have heard of the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, I saw it today from a bit of a distance as you can see below. I will be sure to get much closer, if not on the bridge itself. It's the eighth longest bridge in the world and was the longest when it was completed in 1937. Pretty impressive!

And to finish off, a couple of night shots of part of the San Francisco skyline. I've always loved seeing cities of this size in the dark with all the lights.

I've posted all the photos I've taken so far (including the ones in this blog) over here:

I will be adding to that collection as time goes by so be sure to check it every so often if you're interested.

Tomorrow is the last day of this insane four day weekend. I'll stick to Santa Clara, unless anything else comes up. Try suss out the some new shopping areas here as well as get some small things done.


  1. It would be interesting to know, from your experience: How does the natural beauty and general aesthetic quality of California compare to a place like, say, Cape Town?

  2. From what I have seen so far, it is probably the closest of all the places I've visited to Cape Town wrt natural beauty. However, Cape Town still wins hands down. I am obviously biased towards Cape Town since I've lived there my entire life and I should really see California in the summer to see its true beauty. There's just something about Cape Town that you won't get anywhere else. And I can't describe it in words.

  3. Beautiful sights..... I had celebrated my last birthday in San Francisco and booked a traveling package for my family through Thrifty. Its a wonderful store with online coupons.