San Francisco

The last time I visited San Francisco was 12 years ago. Needless to say, I was well overdue for a trip to the bay area.

As an adult, I've had the luxury of working for a company that spans the U.S. and have taken advantage of working out of offices in different cities. In part, I love being able to connect with other architects and seeing the work that is happening in our offices, but it also makes weekend trips flexible... when looking for the cheapest flights. After working a full Thursday, I took the rest of the week off to enjoy 3 full days in the city by the bay.

It should be a surprise to no one when I say that I fell in love with the little duplexes that make up the outskirts of the city. Each block and each home has slight stylistic changes and overall are very different than Seattle housing, or most other major cities for that matter. I was going to mention that it's really easy to get around, but then I had trauma-induced flashbacks of being stuck in their metro system, and also of trying to bike up the massive hill by Mission Dolores Park so I'll just go ahead and retract that statement. I will say though that in general, there are a lot of different ways to get around the city. We used ride-share, bike-share, and scooter-share systems, as well as rode the bus, took the metro, and the BART in addition to a lot of walking. Trying to see as much as possible, we were constantly on the move from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Oh, and what's a trip to California without seeing the beach??

Bottel√≥n | Tartine Manufactury | Gracias Madre | Tacolicious | Media Noche | Plow | a Mano | Homage | The Mill | Judahlicious | Cafe Reveille 
Blue Bottle Coffee | Ritual Coffee Roasters | Juice Shop | The Slanted Door | Stable Cafe
SFMOMA | Conservatory of Flowers | De Young Museum | Palace of Fine Arts | Cathedral of Saint Mary | Golden Gate Park | Golden Gate Bridge (duh)

Rose Colored Glasses

Walking through any city for the first time feels special. There's a both a heightened sense of awareness of your surroundings, and a constant desire to find something familiar that make you extremely impressionable. Personally, I find the fleeting moments the most interesting. A couple arguing about which train to take home, a man riding his bike with a fur coat trailing in the wind, or a bra with a sponge in it attached to a light pole. These irreproducible occurrences tell much more about a location than the bit's that don't move, and to me, there is beauty in that interaction. 

Other times, when a space has no context, it forces you to provide one for it. Do you situate yourself in it, exploring every nook and cranny? Or do you imagine someone else in it, doing exactly what you'd expect them to be doing? What did the designer have in mind when they laid out the space? Did they do a good job? Or did they miss the mark? Walking around a city is much more than the physical streets, and buildings, and parks, and trash cans; it's all of those things plus thinking about who put them there.

What happens when you get into a car that drives on the other side of the road than you're used to? Why is it unnerving? How about sitting on the second level of a bus where the only thing visually separating you from the world moving at 45 miles an hour around you is a piece of glass? A new technique to view the city allows for a literal new perspective. 

Perspective is a funny thing because it can change so easily.

A Long Manila Layover

I never pictured myself going to the Philipines. Not for any specific reason, it was just one of those places that I never developed a desire to see. Well, a week before our trip to Australia I realized that the layover that I thought was just a couple of hours turned out to be a full day, plus those couple of hours. The international date line messed with me, but I took it as a challenge. 

In our relatively short time in Manila, we only managed to make our way to Intramuros; a historic walled city built in the 16th century as a defense for government in battle. Now it's buildings act as a college campus, and the walls, churches, and other historic barricades act as a tourist destination. Unsurprisingly, the Philipines in early summer is hot, muggy, and mostly un-airconditioned.

While I can't say that I'll be heading back anytime soon, the experience was welcomed. We got to take in a little bit of history and a way of living that is new to me. We played frogger with cars because road signs and lights are apparently just suggestions to drivers and got a taste of urban life in the most densely populated city in the world.

Brisbane: An Interview with Rachel

As the third leg of our trip, Brisbane proved to be a bit of fresh air after our time in Melbourne. In order to get refreshed on what all we did there, I decided to interview my sister and travel companion, Rachel.

Off the top of your head, what was the most memorable thing about Brisbane? 
Well, the koalas obviously, and the whole experience of being able to interact them like we did. Also, when we walked to breakfast that one morning we got drenched.

I apologize for that, but it was a good breakfast, right? 
It was a good breakfast! But we were drenched.

Other than the koalas at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, what did you enjoy? 
I guess it was the atmosphere, the fact that everyone was so friendly; you know that. Oh, and the little wifi bloggers nook. That was cute. I felt like it had a really good aroma...

I feel like that wasn't the right word.

Okay, what about Brisbane the city - is there anything else that stood out to you?
Every single guy was wearing a blue shirt.

Oh yeah, I forgot that! 
Every single one in blue. And it was business central. People were really dressed up. Maybe it was the time of the week we were there, Monday and Tuesday, but people were moving.

In my next blog post I'm going to go over our time in Manila, what's something I should mention?
I didn't like Manila, but that's because I was really out of my comfort zone. It was a whole different culture from the way people interact on the street, to the insane traffic; it was all kind of insane. It made me really grateful for everything that we have and all of the modernization.
You almost got your ice cream stolen from you!

By a child! Right out of my hand.
And someone tried to snatch my wallet. It was interesting that the mall was the same as the ones we have at home.

I go on a tangent about the Westfield Group because I can't help myself.

Okay, last question: what are the best and worth things about traveling with me? 
The worst thing is that you walk so Goddamn fast because you want to do so many things. Like, so fast. But, in contrast, it's awesome that you wanted to see so much because if  I was with anyone else we wouldn't have seen that much, or experienced so much cool food. Because I'm not into as coffee or food as much, I wouldn't have stepped outside my comfort zone.

Day Guide:
Ate at: Riverside Kitchen || Ginger & Green || Hello Please || Claude & Corbet
Drank at: Nodo Coffee 

Melbourne: Dillon Recommended

Leaning carefully against the frame of the sliding glass door for stability, I try and take advantage of views that the 33rd floor of a tower provides. Overlooking Flagstaff Gardens and the Queen Elizabeth Market there's a constant stream of people and cars that parade in and out of the city. There's no better reminder of being in a new city than to wake up and look out over it.... or to spend your last night in it, on the floor, devouring a pizza from UberEats; too tired from traveling to go back out for dinner.

Our last day in Melbourne took us to the suburbs of Fitzroy for flaky pastries and coffee poured through gold. The pour-over filter was gold. The coffee was very good. Dillon recommended.

It also took us to jail. Sorry, gaol. The Old Melbourne Gaol, a penitentiary and watchhouse was built in 1845 and has been out of service since the 1920s. In 1972 the jail reopened as a museum, which is weird. Each of the rooms that used to house inmates now houses informational boards about early Australian criminals and of course as someone who now works in a studio that occasional designs detention facilities I couldn't resist taking a peek. Overall, not Dillon recommended.

Going around and taking pictures of buildings? Definitely, Dillon recommended.

The afternoon took us to St. Kilda, which was Rachel recommended. This beachfront town was a fairly short ride from the center of the city and bustling with activity. There was a promenade along the water that lead to an old theme park, the main road with stalls selling artisan goods, and shops and restauraunts.

Day Guide:
Ate at: Lune || Queen Elizabeth Market || Trippy Taco St. Kilda
Drank at: Industry Beans Fitzroy
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