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2006-03-21 - 5:34 p.m.

Technically March 1st is still winter in America. Their seasons change with the solstices and equinoxes, but it did feel like a glorious Spring day which I spent once again doing a lot of walking around San Francisco. I started at Union Square, which is not unlike Martin Place- a bit of a focal point but there's really not much there. The plan was then to find my way to Twin Peaks (no, not the setting of the early nineties David Lynch series), from where you can see pretty much the whole city. The Muni (those tram-like things I mentioned before) information guy wasn't all that much help, and I ended up going to the Castro again, and making the considerable hike from there rather than waiting for another bus.

The view was breathtaking, and the walk saw me take a layer of clothing off every couple of hundred metres (it had been so cold on some days that I didn't even bother with a short-sleeved layer, so I was still quite hot). Jane has the digital camera and when she's fully settled she's going to put all the pictures up on a web page, but I was pretty happy with the pictures I took.

From Twin Peaks I walked once again, this time to Golden Gate Park, which is possibly bigger but a lot less inspiring than New York's Central Park. Upon entering the park you are offered drugs, either by a cliched young guy who asks if you want any weed, or someone who just motions their head. There are gardens and lakes, and probably a lot of cyclists and joggers (athough I believe they prefer the even more expansive Presidio park) but not a lot to see. Still, it reaches all the way to the Pacific, so I walked along a street parallel to the park until I got to the Ocean Beach. Looking North towards the rising cliffs was cool, and you can walk all the way around the headland, under the Golden Gate bridge to Fisherman's Wharf if you head up that way- something I'm sure I'll do when I return, but the beach itself was nothing spectacular.

It was probably about 5pm when I started heading back, and as entered the BART station to head back to Berkeley, it was the last I saw of San Francisco for this trip. The next 3 days were spent hanging around Berkeley, getting a god feel for the area Jane would be living. That night we ate at Chez Panisse, which is supposed to be the birthplace of Californian Cuisine, and at least in terms of reputation the Bay Area equivalent of Tetsuya's (albeit with a far friendlier price tag)- but it wasn't all that inspiring. I think we're utterly spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants in Sydney.

Thursday I went to the library and checked my email, had Pho for lunch, then walked up to Telegraph Avenue near the Uni, where there is an abundance of cheap food places and a really cool music shop called Amoeba Records, which had extensive collections of Nick Cave among other Australian artists, and even two albums (I think that's all they have) by Architecture in Helsinki. I picked up a Street Press, discovered a few cool things Jane could potentially put on her list of things to see and do when I went home, and then circled a few promising looking rental places and spent a couple of hours walking around Berkeley checking them out from the outside.

Jane was supposed to be having dinner with work people, but she didn't follow up on it, given that there were already drinks planned for Friday night, and I wasn't going to be around much longer. So we went to a Greek Cafe for Moussaka, finger food and Espresso.

Friday I had to check out of the hotel, which wasn't as easy as it may seem, wha with the car being in a multi-storey parking lot, and me having to circle the block a few times trying to get a park in front of the hotel before settling for theloading zone (which is what it's there for, but I was prety sure it would take me longer than 5 minutes). Jane didn't originally organise parking in the furnished apartment, because the rental car was an afterthought, but we were told we could use the apartment's carspace, without extra charge since it was only for 3 days. Only problem is someone had parked in it, so that caused more dramas. The furnished apartment was completely adequate, not somewhere you'd stay for 3 years, but it had everything Jane needed for the first month. Still it took her some time to get used to the idea of living alone in it.

Friday night we went to a Brewery up the road for one of Jane's new work colleagues' birthday. It was quite fortunate they chose Berkeley, since nearly all of them lived in Fremont. Anyway, they were all nice, and fun, and none of them were American. There was Inez, a pretty Spanish girl who got along very well with Jane- unfortunately she's leaving for England in a few weeks. Gabriel, Mexican, late twenties (it was his birthday). Daniel, an Aussie of Asian extraction who had worked in the Sydney office many years earlier but Jane hadn't met him until she got to the US. Ania, a Polish intern who was involved with Daniel. And Kersey, an hilarious Indian forty-something whom Jane had worked with over the phone a lot when she was in Sydney and he was in Mumbai. It was reassuring seeing how well Jane fit in after 3 days in the job. And just like her Sydney work group, I got along great with them at this social gathering as well.

Saturday we slept in way too late, but managed to hurriedly check out 3 rental places before the real estate closed at 2pm. Only one really looked promising, and it was the one that had also looked the most promising from the outside when I was looking around on the Thursday afternoon. Jane actually put in an application and the Real Estate were ready to give it to her when they discovered the owners had rented it out without telling them that weekend. There was another apartment in the same building however, which they held for Jane until she had a chance to look at it, and it is in fact that apartment that she has decided upon.

Saturday evening we went Grocery shopping, and that night, our "Last Supper" if you will, I cooked curry and dhal in the kitchen of the furnished place. The exercise of shopping definitely helped Jane feel more at home, and she was very insistent on me cooking her a curry on our last night together.

Sunday was miserable, rainy and windy. This led to numerous delays at San Francisco airport, however I got off pretty lightly- a half hour delay simply meaning I had less time to wait between flights at LAX. We drove back across the Bay Bridge in high winds and low visibility, and though we skirted the edge of the city, it was too wet to see any of San Francisco as we headed to the airport.

And really, that brings me up to date with my trip. I already talked about the airport, and how it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. Monday effectively didn't exist due to crossing the date line on the way back- I touched down in Sydney 8am Tuesday, and by 3pm the next day I was back at work.

But I'm looking forward to August already.

 

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