View Over San Francisco From Twin Peaks

Nerd time in the Bay Area

My Bay Area time was spend with some nice alternative touristic activities. Who builds IKEA furniture and goes for company visits during their travels? Well I do! The Bay Area was always going to be a busy time for visiting friends and family. I had queued up a decent amount of people to go say hi to. Sadly enough, not everyone was around (yet), but there was plenty left to do.

The first stop was visiting Mark in Berkeley (or should I say Prof. Mueller…?). He just moved here from Switzerland about a week before for his new job. Parking in Berkeley is a bitch but I had found a spot 20 minute walk away from Mark’s place where I could apparently park for 5 dollars per day (or so I thought… In the end I ended up paying more than I expected but less than I should have paid. The guy who worked there,  didn’t really understand the rules either when I got back on Monday.). Friday evening we walked around Berkeley campus and went for plenty of good beers and good food and catching up on Switzerland/Berkeley/travelling stories.

On Saturday we headed to San Francisco to wander around Embarcadero market for a nice lunch, Chinatown and the bay ending up with a nice view over the bay. Then we really really needed a beer and the closest by bar was right next to the lovely Palace of Fine Arts (Mark loves that building). Mark then tried to force me in to taking an Uber (like Cedric did in Seattle), but I found a free non-stop shuttle bus back so we took that one (victory!). One more stop at an overpriced bar at the top floor of an hotel. It did have a nice view (and a gigantic Pokemon convention of some sort…). Time to head home and eat dinner and build some IKEA furniture.

Embarcadero Market

Embarcadero Market

Sunday we went for brunch in the hip parts of San Francisco with Fabian and Michele who have been living here for a few years now. So that was some good three direction catching up to do. This time Mark did convince me to take an Uber (there was no other way to get there). The place we wanted to go told us casually that the current waiting time was two hours (TWO HOURS! as in 120 minutes…). Which is apparently not completely unheard of. We went to another place which had a bench outside to wait and a more reasonable one hour waiting time. They screwed up Michele’s order so we got free dessert and bubbly wine (score!). With Fabian and Michele’s car we toured around San Francisco. First to Land’s End at the end of the city where you look over the Pacific ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge and some surprisingly Dutch looking old windmills. After that it was up to Twin Peaks for a view over the city and then down to Castro for some ice cream and watching people (at least three of them were naked, apparently also normal around here. San Francisco is a funny city).

Me, Mark, Michele and Fabian touring SF

Me, Mark, Michele and Fabian touring SF

On Monday it was Mark’s birthday, but he had to work. I did some trip planning from his place and spend some time exploring the beautiful buildings on Berkeley Campus. The semesters were about to start so all the funny Greek alphabet fraternity houses were setting up their hazing games (It was as stereotypical as in a shitty movie). Then Mark showed me his office (including Professor name tag) and his future lab space (currently used for storage). Time to celebrate his birthday with more beer and some (vegetarian) burgers.

Berkeley Campanille

Berkeley Campanille

On Tuesday I had agreed to meet Roy for lunch at his work at Apple. It was fun to hear my car say: “Turn left on to Infite loop and arrive at your destination”. Roy picked me up and we toured the Apple campus a bit. It is huge with loads of interesting buildings and the cafeteria reminded me of the university mensas in Zurich, so crowded (although you couldn’t order oysters in the Zurich mensa). We went to a quieter lunch place which still had loads of awesome food choice. After lunch Roy obviously had to go back to work, but Luckily his wife Edith only had to work in the evening so I could already go to their house and enjoy their garden. Then Edith had to go for work and a bit later Roy came back from his. Roy and I went for dinner at the local Persian restaurant which served good but humongous portions (and I eat a lot).  I would only meet Fabian the next evening so the next morning and afternoon were spend at Roy and Edith’s garden booking my flights for the next wedding I’ll visit in Europe in October and Edith giving me some good advice on making my website better (Thanks!). I left just when Roy came home and Edith gave me a bag of drop (Dutch, black, salty licorice) for my trip. Awesome!

I met Fabian for dinner at his work at Google. GPS: “turn right into Google and arrive at your destination”. Another quick campus tour where you could see the expected beach volleyball courts, dinosaurs, colorful bicycles and slides. Dinner was served again in a very busy cafeteria. The weather was nice so we could have dinner outside. I drove behind Fabian’s car to his place. Even though he was nicely driving slow, I still had to drive as fast as the van could to keep up with him. Mountain View actually has a nice street with small stores and loads of good bars and biergartens where we happily finished the evening while herds of self driving cars were flying by (I’ll redo this trip in a few years in one of those!)

I had one more bay area visit planned. Cedric, who joined me for a week in the Seattle area, was still at Stanford. So that was another good chance to have a look at a famous university. Stanford is very different from Berkeley. Berkeley is quite dense with classic British style university buildings, Stanford is on a spacious grassy campus with very Californian architecture with orange roof tiles, sandstone walls and loads and loads of palm trees. Cedric picked me up and on the way to his office we went up the Hoover tower (named after the president, not the vacuums) for a view over campus. Cedric went back to work while I explored campus: a Rodin sculpture garden, the central Church and most importantly the large grassy fields to watch people. Lunch was with Cedric’s two Dutch office mates. More exploring for me seeing the really cool Papuan sculpture garden and the Hewlett, Packard and Gates buildings (named after the printer and software guys). When Cedric was done with work we went for beers with one of the Dutch guys.

Stanford Campus

Stanford Campus

The next morning I said goodbye to Cedric. I now don’t have any meetups planned until Tessa and Egbert come to Mexico. So that will be 1.5 months without seeing anyone I know. Let’s see how that goes. Of course this post needs the longest list of thank yous for all the places to stay, food, drinks, tours and loads and loads of fun. Thank you Mark, Fabian, Michele, Roy, Edith and Cedric!

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