Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Downtown San Francisco


The Union Square 

We were there for the famous department stores… and the Cheesecake Factory. It was a long wait, the cakes were worth it, services were not.

And then it was the Golden Gate Park. 

We alighted a few stops earlier to leisure by the summer sun, except it was a not so summer Summer. The day temperature hovered around 16C :O
We walked past the University of San Francisco, awesome architecture

And then past the park

And then to the California Academy of Sciences, our intended destination

We are no geeks but ain’t no geeks needed to appreciate this natural history museum.

A Rainforest in the middle of the academy; complete with tropical heat and all :O

Aquarium


Marine creatures

Albino alligator

Green roof

Native plant

And finally, another shot at the super long cable car queue

We were not even going that direction

but then… it was then or never

Good day San Francisco!


Friday, October 28, 2016

Napa Valley and Sonoma Wine Country Tour

A wine testing experience sounds too good not to be explored by us, wine semi-lover. We signed up for a Napa and Sonoma Wine Country tour while we were there in States.
It was a full day trip. Our booking was done just a day earlier; the very efficient tour agency arranged the shuttle to pick-us up early the next morning in front of Chinatown to check-in at their station before hopped onto another coach that brought us out of the island to the wineries.

We went to 3 winery altogether with a stop for lunch at Napa Valley.

A brief stop after we had crossed the golden bridge, to take a few freezing cold shots.

We headed north to Sonoma County first (if our memories didn’t fail us) to an awesome winery. So pretty on a sunny day, with green landscape, pond, cozy private museum and complete with personalized reception area.

The wines we tasted were perfect and they had a pretty great wine list to choose from. We made a mistake of not getting any there thinking that we still have another 2 winery to visit.

We were not invited to go into the vineyard

Blue skies

Plenty of personalized space for visitors to loiter around

Before we left our 1st stop

 
This is our 2nd winery visit, at Napa Valley  

Even prettier landscape with an invite into the vineyard :O

Beautiful sun

Another shot before we leave the 2nd winery

We then stop for lunch at a very well kept and impressive rest stop… forgot what it’s called. Plenty of food selections with enough side attractions to interest you. We walked into a gallery and walked out totally amazed…. beautiful art pieces.

The 3rd winery we went to was a rather small one. I was pretty tired by then already but hubby was still as energetic, he functioned fine. I on the other hand, felt quite lethargic, perhaps I still had yet to adjust to the States clock.  


It’s already late in the afternoon, no shades were needed then : )

An Exploration, A Cruise and Ice-Cream in San Francisco

Credit to hubby who had pre-planned our trip, we stayed at a hotel that's very near to the pier, convenient to catch the Murni and cab to the airport. 

Having already checked out the town the day earlier, we had more or less knew our way around. We made our way back to Exploratorium by foot the next day. 
Beautiful weather in the summer; average at 16C, it was chilly and breezy enough to walk through the city in the day.

Interesting exhibits awaited us.

Hubby took time to check ‘em out thoroughly

Top mirror shot

Front mirror shot

Artwork

There's no way we could check 'em all out in our 2-3 hours there. One would need a whole day to thoroughly appreciate all the exhibits.

We still have a 2nd and 3rd part-er itinerary of the day awaiting. 

On our way out

Next, we had lunch at the harbor while watching a street performance, except it was not on the street. It was on a stage with seats for the audiences. The performers juggled balls, fire and stuff…..

The reason we made our way back to the harbor

To catch the cruise

Windy

Cruised below the famous golden gate

Another shot

Alcatraz Island

On our way back…. 
Caught many seals sunbathing on the rock

And the third itinerary of the day,
Ice-cream at Ghirardelli Square



Summer in the U.S.A

It was a more than a decade trip in planning. I have been trying to tag along hubby to visit the USA on many of his trips but somehow never materialize. It’s either my schedule was full, expecting : ), babysitting : ), too short a notice, or just short….. of cash :p

When the opportunity came again last year; though on short notice, though with no visa yet, though with the dollar exchange rate at all time high….
It was still too good a break to give another pass.

And so began my quest to concur the USA….. muahahaha…

It was end of August then, technically still summer…. But was freezing cold to us, more on that later.

We took Cathay Pacific and transited in Hong Kong with a rather long and odd hours transit time. The travel itself was not bad, comfortable even. Just a bit long as it took us 1 day to travel there and another day to travel back.

We reached the Silicon Valley late in the afternoon and check-in to TownePlace Suites Milpitas. A very comfortable stay next to the Great Mall, and we mean next door type of next. I spent my few days loitering and shopping there while hubby was away. Besides the mall, I also went for morning walks and check-out the silicon valley too.


The 2 and only photos I took in Milpitas.

We also went to the Gilroy Premium Outlet for more shopping… again no photos. Escape us why. Perhaps we’ve passed that phase.

Thankfully we took some when we extended our stay in San Francisco. So, no worries there. This 'ol lady could still blurt out some recollection.

We check-in to a budget hotel called Europa Hotel, located on a 1st floor in the middle of a commercial area, next to a dance club. 
A very interesting stay : ) Lets just stay at that
And also, we like the hotel front office guy; very polite and unpretentious guy.




We did a bit of city sightseeing on the day we reached San Francisco. We checked out how the town looks like and its famous cable car tracks before headed to the Fisherman’s wharf for lunch.

We’ve planned our trip earlier and bought their 7-days city pass with admission to their 4 city attractions.

1st up, we thought we wanted to go to the Exploratorium at Pier 15.

It was a leisurely walk there.

Pose for photo in midst

Love this candid shot….. by the camera timer!

When we reached the Exploratorium, it was 15 mins to closing when we reached… bummer.

So we detoured to Pier 39


To the Aquarium by the Bay.

 A decent aquarium

We enjoyed ourselves much

And …. ending this post with a total random photo taken somewhere along the pier