San Francisco Night 5

After lunch with Andrea and Steve yesterday, I walked to Golden Gate Park. I was amazed at the beauty and upkeep of this park, along with how many people were using it. There was a huge area of flowers, nice big lawns, and a road closed to cars on the weekend, which is nice for bikers and skaters. I even witnessed an impromptu rollerskate dance party. Here are a couple of pictures from the park:

After leaving the park, I walked through the Haight-Ashbury area. I will have to say I wasn’t too impressed. It all seemed a bit gimmicky to me for some reason. One neat find, however, was the anarchist bookstore. I am sure I could find some lively debate in there if I was up for it one day.

I had gone out every night since I arrived, so I decided to stay in last night. At about 9 I felt a bit hungry, and decided to get a snack at the hotel restaurant. I took a book with me, and wasn’t really looking at the chicken strips I was eating. On the last one, i noticed that it was quite undercooked. I am glad I didn’t get sick today. Also, thankfully they didn’t charge me for the food. Otherwise, there would have been quite an argument.

I had my interview today. It was with a company called PC Guardian. They are in the encryption business. The interview went very well. About 20 minutes after leaving their office, I got a call to set up the second interview for Wednesday. The outlook for this job is very good, and I was really impressed by the description of the company and job. Evidently, about half of my time would be spent doing research, both for current customer issues, and research on personal interests (that I guess would have something to do with my work).

San Francisco Day Four

Yesterday was a day of relaxation. My legs were extremely sore from walking so much on Friday. Added to this was the fact that I couldn’t sleep more than four hours.

At noon I went to an open house for an apartment. I didn’t intend to actually attempt to get the apartment, but rather take a look at it and get an idea of what my money would buy. I joined about a dozen people standing in front of the apartment, but the agent never arrived to show the apartment.

Afterwards, I came back and napped for a bit. After waking up and BSing online for a while, I went up to North Beach for dinner. There are a multitude of Italian places there to get dinner, and not much seems to differentiate them at first sight. I picked one that seemed to be not too busy, and offered to take an outside table. The table, I was to find out, had quite a slant to it, so much so that I had to carefully watch my glass of water. I suppose they felt bad for me having to eat at such a crap table, so they gave me a free glass of wine. I ordered lasagna, and it was excellent.

After burning some time at the City Lights Bookstore, I walked through the financial district to Club Six. This was quite a unique experience. Upstairs, they had traditional South Asian music, with one guy playing the tablas (drums) and another one playing a type of guitar, and later singing and playing an organ-accordian-type instrument.

The music downstairs was what I came for. It was drum and bass with a guy playing the tablas, and a couple of MCs at times. Honestly, the music wasn’t very good (lots of reggae, which I don’t like) until about midnight. The mixing was also not very good. At times it sounded like they just ripped the record off of the turntable and a couple of seconds later switched to the track on the other table. Well, at midnight, Karsh Kale came on. He is a rather famous DJ – I had heard him previously on the Asian Massive CD. He was rather good, with actual drum and bass tracks that had a lot of tablas and South Asian vocals. I listened for a while, but I was ready to go by this point. There didn’t seem to be any good opportunities to meet people, and the floor was quite packed making it hard to dance. I had a good time, but I am not sure I would go back to the club often. I would like to check out the event again sometime though; It is a weekly event.

Today I met up with Biff’s sister Andrea and her friend Steve for lunch. It was nice to see someone I knew for the first time in about a week and a half! Today I think I will actually make it out to Golden Gate park and check out the areas around there. It may be inevitable that I will have to learn the bus system here pretty soon. It seems quite confusing.

San Francisco Day 3

Yesterday was a very long day. I started off walking from the hotel to the Pacific Heights neighborhood. This is a very upper-class neighborhood, with huge mansions, manicured lawns, and expensive cars. This is at the top of a hill, and there is a great view of the Marina district here. From there, I walked to a park with a nice view of the Golden Gate bridge.

One of the mansions in the Pacific Heights neighborhood

Alcatraz and the Marina district as seen from Pacific Heights

After taking a break there, I walked east through the Marina district. I came to the Fisherman’s Wharf, ate and In-N-Out Burger, and then make the long trek back to my hotel. The Fisherman’s Wharf seemed rather hokey, which is why I left it so quickly.

I think I walked about 10-12 miles yesterday. I came back to the hotel and took a 2.5-hour nap. Last night, I decided to go to the Rogue Pub in North Beach. The pub is really great – they have dozens of their own beers, almost all award-winning.

I came in, got a burger and a beer, and talked a little with the waitress. After finishing my burger, I moved to the bar for my next beer. At the bar, I met a guy (using fake names here) named Charley. Charley and I talked for a bit, and he explained a lot about the different neighborhoods in San Francisco.

He told me he was meeting his friend at the bar, so I was expecting a woman to walk through the door at any time and say hi to Charley. But, instead, he was actually meeting the waitress, Melissa (again, fake name). She sat down between us and the three of us talked for a while. Then, Xavier came in and joined us. He is a bartender at Rogue’s. They invited me to go to another bar with them, so after a little while, we left.

As we walked towards the next bar, Xavier saw some friends in the street – Zoey and Rhonda. They joined us, and we happened upon three older guys that were rocking out in the back of a pickup truck, playing old rock favorites, just for the hell of it, it appeared. We watched them and cheered them on for a few minutes, and finally found our way to the bar.

There was a great band at that bar, and Xavier was nice enough to buy me a beer. Melissa and I watched the band for a few songs, and then she walked off to go talk to Charley. I watched the band for a couple more songs, then turned around to try to meet back up with everyone. I had a brief moment of horror when I didn’t see anyone that I had come with. I walked outside, rather dejected, to see Melissa and Charley talking. They were ready to call it a night, but we are going to get back together later, maybe Tuesday or Wednesday. I then joined Xavier, Zoey, and Rhonda in the next bar over. There was a very loud punk band playing there, and we yelled to each other to get to know each other a bit. After the band was done, we talked at the bar until last call.

Well, we were having a great time, and weren’t quite ready to call it a night, so Xavier invited all of us back to his place, which was just a few blocks away. We sat there until about 4:30am just shooting the shit. I think I am going to get back together with them as well before going back to MD. I got back to the hotel at about 5am, and slept for about four hours.

Today, I went to an apartment showing, along with about a dozen other people, but the shower never arrived. So now I am probably going to nap for a couple of hours and then head to Golden Gate park to check out the neighborhoods there and also check out “Hippie Hill” as Charley called it. Tonight, I think I am going to go to Club Six for drum and bass with Asian vocals!

San Francisco Night One

Well, as you could probably notice from my lack of posting during the last couple of nights in Miami, nothing exciting happened. I did enjoy myself to an extent, relaxing and reading. But, I suppose it just wasn’t all that interesting since I knew I wasn’t going to be moving to Miami.

But, here I am in San Francisco. I got in to the hotel today at about 4:30pm Pacific time. I am a bit disappointed with the hotel, but oh well. It is somewhere to sleep, and there is Internet, even if I do have to pay $10/day for it.

Soon after arriving, I set out for North Beach. I am staying in what I think is the financial district, so the walk to North Beach was a nice one through downtown and part of Chinatown. San Francisco is a very picturesque city. Here are some pictures from North Beach and atop Lombard Street:

View from Washington Square

San Francisco as seen from atop Lombard Street

During this walk, I felt that I had already fell in love with San Francisco. Of course, I am not ready to commit to move here, but I have a VERY good first impression. Upon coming back to the hotel, I decided to go out to a club tonight. I went to Il Pirata, where it was supposed to be Drum and Bass night. Instead, it was trance and house, but still very good stuff. I met two people tonight, one of whom I might be going to a Giants game with tomorrow, if he remembers to call. The other one I was talking to for a while. She is a mail carrier, originally from Peru. Very interesting to talk to.

I noticed a very sharp contrast tonight between Miami and San Francisco. In Miami, you are your clothes. You are your date. You are your abs. In San Francisco, you are your thoughts. You are what you say. You are the music that you like. This difference was immediately evident to me, and immediately relieving. I had the most fun that I have had in a long while tonight. The music, the people, and the atmosphere were perfect. I suppose I will go back to this bar before I leave San Francisco.

I can only hope tomorrow will be as great as today was. My friends, I may very well be moving to San Francisco. It may just be lust, or it may be love at first sight.

I’ve lined up an interview!

Well after submitting quite a few cover letters and resumes, I managed to get an interview in San Francisco on Monday. Good location, good pay, night shift again (but I can handle it, right? :-)) Finally, I will have a reason to wear one of the ties that I brought! Maybe I will wear both of them to impress everyone!

Fifth Night in Miami

Saturday night pretty much finalized that I won’t be moving to Miami. Not a huge disappointment; I’ve got two more cities to go to. Because of this I decided that I would just kind of chill out yesterday instead of doing more exploring. (Stop reading here if you are expecting a bit of excitement.) I chilled out on the porch for a while, took a nap, and then went to the beach later. Well, even though that may be boring, at least I got some nice pictures at the beach:

Today, I went on a rather long trip . . . to get Madden. But at least I have it now. Of course, I took a nap. Then I finally got the really nice dinner I have been wanting: Corona, snapper with plantains, a glass of wine, and a slice of key lime pie. It was expensive, and excellent.

There probably won’t be much more excitement until I get to San Francisco, but maybe I will feel like exploring some more tomorrow or Wednesday. That is the great thing – I have nothing planned and I can do whatever the hell I want. Yay!

Third Night in Miami

Well today started off pretty good. I set out for Little Havana. This is a really neat area. Everywhere you look, there are these lunch counters and cafeterias serving inexpensive Cuban food. Unfortunately, since it took me a while to get going the right way, I was really hungry with about 12 blocks to walk before I got to Little Havana, so I ended up eating at Burger King.

I only got pictures of some monuments, since any other pictures would have been of people, and I didn’t think they would like that too much.

Bay of Pigs Memorial

One interesting area that I really wanted to get a picture of was Domino Park. This is a little courtyard where a bunch of old Cuban guys play dominoes and talk.

After another failed attempt at buying Madden 2006, I came back and took a nap. It was still early, but I was hungry and had nothing to do, so I decided to scope out the club downtown that I wanted to go to later and then get something to eat. I took the bus downtown, and was (in theory) only 4 blocks away from the club, so I started walking there. It was only about 6:30pm, but evidently this is when the ruffians start coming out on Saturday nights. I had one guy trying to tell me he met me several weeks ago. Of course, I didn’t let on that I wasn’t from Miami, and I started to walk away. He proceeded to follow me, about a block behind, for several blocks. I found the club, and if things hadn’t been so shady, I would have walked around looking for a decent restaurant. But, I had two other people try to get my attention (I am sure they had something really important to say); I ignored them and decided to take the Metro Mover to the Bayside Marketplace for dinner. Dinner was good, the service sucked, and tip was automatically included.

I sat around for a little while, watching some live music at the marketplace, and waiting for it to get late. 10pm rolled around so I decided it was late enough to go to the club. I had a hell of a time finding a cabbie that wanted to give me a ride. Of course the “first cab” has dibs on passengers, but when there is no driver near the cab, this can get a little confusing. I hailed a cab, got into an argument with a couple of cabbies (this would be great comedy if caught on tape), and finally found someone that wanted my money. We made it about 10 feet towards the club when the cabbie informed me that the club didn’t even open until midnight. Well, I wasn’t about to sit around for two more hours, so I asked him if he knew of any good bars.

He took me back to south beach, and dropped me off at the absolute chillest place I have ever been to. This place had white curtains everywhere, beds to lay on while you sip your drinks, and a very shallow pool for looks in the middle of the garden area. The only problem was that this place wasn’t exactly the type of place where a dude like me can find a table in the corner and just enjoy a couple of beers. At this point, I decided that the night, and Miami as a whole, was pretty much a lost cause. I walked the 14 blocks back to my hotel, had a couple of Coronas and the free cigar I got earlier in the day out on the porch. After a whole book of matches, I can now say I know how to properly light a cigar.

Mark and I played a little World of Warcraft to round things out, so not all was lost.

Second Night in Miami

Today I did a bit of exploring. I don’t know how long it has been since I rode a public bus . . . but I managed to figure it out today. I walked a few blocks from my hotel in South Beach to the bus stop, and rode across Biscayne Bay to the Bayside Marketplace, which is evidently a big tourist thing. It is just a bunch of stores . . . and the EB Games doesn’t even have Madden 2006 for the PC (neither does the whole city of Miami, it seems), so I don’t see what the big deal is. It does offer some nice views, though:

Biscayne Bay as seen from the Bayside Marketplace.

My guide book suggested that I ride the Metro Mover – a driverless electric train that is elevated above the street level. Metro Mover is free to ride, and seems to be a good way to get around much of the city. First I rode one of the loops in a . . . loop, to get a general feel for downtown. Then, I rode south to the financial district. Miami is a financial connection to the US for much of Latin America, so the financial district is full of tall bank buildings, and it is quite impressive.

The financial district is also home to luxury apartments such as these.

After sitting out a short rain storm, I headed back north. In my quest for Madden, I got off at a stop that was described as having a “mall”. I ended up walking around what seemed to be a Latin market area, with store after store with electronics, clothes, and perfume. When I decided I had had enough, I tried to get back on the Metro Mover, but it was taking forever, so I walked back to the bus station, and rode back to South Beach.

I ate some good sushi for dinner. I still want to go out for a really nice dinner, but I’ve got plenty of time for that.

First Night of Miami

As promised, I bring you “Night 1 in Miami”.

I will skip the boring details of the flight . . . well let’s just say that the Budweiser restaurant may be getting a letter . . .

Upon arriving at my hotel, I smelled marijuana twice in fifteen minutes. Oh well, that doesn’t bother me; It is just an interesting note. After getting my laptop and speakers set up, I decided to go out and check out South Beach. I have never seen more clubs in my life. The only problem is that almost all of them seem to be “Top 40”. I did expect this, however. This is why I consulted my trusty (well, maybe not so trusty) National Geographic Miami guide book.

The guide book suggested a certain club/bar called “Jazid” about 10 blocks north of my hotel, where it is evidently more laid-back and there is live music (you’d think it might be jazz?) every night. I went in, and there was some horrible solo guy with a guitar on stage, but I sat down at the bar anyway. I went with my old standby – a White Russian. The bartender proceeded to put about half a shot of milk in and the rest ice, vodka, and Kahlua. Yeah, that would have been great if my only goal was to get trashed, but I also like to enjoy my drinks. Oh, and she for some reason put a CHERRY in my White Russian. Total cost: $10 + $2 tip. I got a $5 Bass after that and then left. Final score for Jazid: sausage fest.

I decided to make my way back to the hotel at a leisurely pace, with the intention of stopping again if something caught my eye. I found a cool record store where I proceeded to buy a mix drum and bass CD. I also asked the guy at the counter if there were any places that played trance or drum and bass. He guided me towards sixth street where he had heard of some vague reference from his friend of drum and bass. I found no such place, but I did find a flyer on the sidewalk for Paul van Dyk this Saturday in downtown Miami. Maybe all the trance clubs are downtown?

Tomorrow should be interesting. I want to check out the mass transit and get some Cuban food for lunch, and something nice for dinner. Hopefully my guide book won’t let me down again.