Jun 082010
 

I got on a very short term note my travel needs defined. Coming over to San Francisco the week when the WWDC 10 is on is challenging considering travel budgets and time. I ended up flying out of Dublin on Friday last week because there weren’t any flights available on Saturday or Sunday. Thankfully trailfinders.ie had been of great help, the booked me in a decent hotel in a perfect location which still fits my budget requirements. The hotel staff is outstanding. This time I feel really welcomed in US as there no hassle at immigrations and customs, when I arrived at the hotel I got a free room upgrade and so I do have a spacious suite now.

After having wasted a week in London by doing nothing due to a jet-lag I wanted to take most of the time when I am here on a sunny summer weekend. Friday evening I met up with a friend to have dinner in a Vietnamese restaurant Out the Door in the Nordstrom shopping mall.

Saturday I spent all day walking around town: I started at noon time walking towards China Town, before I passed the gate I took a brunch in the Cafe de la Presse. China Town didn’t feel the same anymore after I have been to China and Hong Kong. Interestingly I paid attention to different types of places back then. Last time I was fascinated by all the exotic flair in the Chinese souvenir shops, this time bakeries and authentic seeming food places tracked my attention. Then I walked along Columbus St – an Italian inspired district. When I saw the Coit Tower being so close by I decided to go up there and enjoy the view once more. I took the few steps to go up; I was surprised how crowded the place was. I barely have seen people walking along the street but up there had been quite a queue for the elevator to the viewing platform. The view was amazingly clear, no clouds, blue sky, just the Golden Gate Bridge was hiding in fog. Whenever I am in San Francisco I have the feeling I haven’t seen so many colors in real life for a long time. Everything seems to be so colorful; I wonder what this is caused by. When I left Coit Tower I headed towards to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. I got some fresh – gigantic – fruits at the market, walked through the touristy area and enjoyed watching the sea lions. There was quite a bit of action
when two of them got into a fight. I was completely lost in time and just enjoyed myself without having any time constraints or plans. I passed by the old submarine and the museum mechanique and slowly got back to the hotel. I had a pint of cider in a so-so Irish pub Fiddlers Green, walked back along Columbus St and ended up in The Stinking Rose having a garlic based dinner. For Jim I got a little souvenir over there.

The next day I met up with a friend of mine to go to Napa and Sonoma valley. We started our tasting tour in the same place we had visited earlier this year: Gloria Ferrer Caves & Wineyards. There I tried two sparkeling wines and decided to share them with Jim by getting two bottles for taking home. Unfortunately non of the wineries we had asked does delivery outside US. From there we stopped by another place Domaine Corneros which triggered our attention by mentioning Taittinger which I usually like; especially when I was drinking it with the one and only Claudi. From there we went to Culinary Institute at Greystone where junior chefs get trained before they get released to classy restaurants. The food was quite good, maybe sometimes a bit overly motivated by putting to much flavours into a single dish. The Today’s Temptations (a set of 5 starters) were a good example for that: the humus and the cauliflower soup were perfect, the Chinese styled dumplings and the clams were too much flavored. From there we did a last stop at the V. Sattui Winery where I did a tasting of a few different wines including  Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Madeira and Port. The Cabernets and the dessert wines were pretty good as well as the Chardonnay, the rest was too plain and unspectacular for my liking. There were also lots of European specialties – more than one would ever dream of getting in Dublin. From there we just went back to San Francisco, I took the first time the bart train and was surprised how good San Francisco public transport is.

So basically another two perfect days over here. Just relaxing, calming and enjoying myself. Here some of the photos:

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Jun 082010
 

I recently got a Volcanic Ash Victim by being made to travel by *bus* from Dublin to London. The full complaint is available here. It was the first time that I got ‘jet lagged’ during a trip between Dublin and London at all. I missed all the exciting stuff about being in London city – close to Buckingham Palace, Hyde park and many other attractions – all week I was either working or sleeping. I did a bit of walking around one day but couldn’t enjoy myself at all and got depressed by having had the feeling wasting the opportunity to see a bit more of the exciting sites of London.

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Jun 082010
 

Recently friends came over from Dresden for a weekend. To entertain them a bit we brought them to Bray to walk to Greystones and the next day to the fish market in Howth. The day in Bray was wonderful, I enjoyed the silence, the nature, the absence of insects. The flip side of it was that I got sunburned – worse than ever in the past 10 years. I followed the lobster pattern: red – peel – white. It took more than a week to get back to normal.

Nevertheless, Bray is beautiful. So, when I am back home, the weather is sunny and warm, when there aren’t any duties and Jim and I aren’t too lazy then I want to go there again for a pick-nick – even though it just sounds like it’s never going to happen under these *difficult* circumstances. The walk to Greystones was terrific for about 80% of the distance. As there are many building works going on related to the re-newed Greystones port, the last bit of the walk is odd – along building fences and far away from the sea. It might be a better idea next time to start in Greystones and to walk back to Bray.

Howth on a Sunday is just beautiful, although Jim and I seem to get really lazy – it usually starts with random snacks at the fish market, followed by buying fresh fish at the mongers and ending having oysters and a pint in the Bloody Stream before heading back to Dublin. This time we were just a bit better by walking up to the town, challenged by trying to avoid the sun as I was already glowing pink in the dark – being sunburned sucks!

Anyways, some nice shots attached.

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Jun 082010
 

Jose just brought a friend over and invited Jim and me to come along. We met them up for having lunch together in Yamamori‘s followed by a pint at The Church and a Ghost trip through Dublin. The food and the pint was good, I just wasn’t impressed by the Ghost tour. I think it isn’t worth the money spent – it felt like driving 2 hours in a bus with closed curtains through Dublin, listening to some stories and getting dropped out at two random ‘ghosty’ places which weren’t scary on a sunny Dublin summer day at all. The graveyard was kind of funny because of Jim’s spontaneous reaction: “Not this one, I used to have lunch here all time”. Anyways I enjoyed the company of the three. A few pictures found their way to flickr.

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