Saturday, November 5, 2011

The rest of San Francisco

As said, I saw and did a lot there.  So here is more blabbing about that:

One of the best places of the entire trip was Japantown (which sounds odd to me, "Little Tokyo" sounds better).  This was rather interesting, at least in contrast, because Chinatown was the worst.  I say contrast because I'm far more used to Los Angeles, where Chinatown is great (lots to do, a lot of culture, great places to eat, cheap everything) while the Little Tokyo is relatively barren and expensive.
Quite the opposite here!  The Japantown was full of great, relatively inexpensive places to eat, full of fresh, traditional foods (and, for the cheap among us, some great little grocery stores with more fresh, hard to find and well priced foods).

The shopping in Japantown was even better, since they had some big general stores (they sold household goods, some accessories, cosmetics, toys, paper goods, etc) for really amazing prices.  It was really a "mfw" situation since I wasn't expecting it to be this awesome at all, one store even had everything for $1.50 or less!  The two stores I recommend are "daiso" and "ichi no" something (I forget the name :/).  Definitely the place to stock up on stuff, I regret not having bought more.

 California always has lead warning content signs, and this is the best one ever.  I lol'd for quite a while after seeing this

 But even hilarious signs about birth defects cannot rival this.  I was in quiet awe.

Both of these were taken inside the mall in Japantown, at a Sanrio/San-X, etc kawaii store.

Unfortunately, I did not find the Baby the Stars Shine Bright boutique (and I did look for it).
However, I did go to Angelic Pretty which was (oddly?) located in the downtown area, not Japantown.  It was lovely in there and while the dresses were expensive, as was expected, the accessories were really cute and many of them were rather reasonably priced.  I was also quite pleased to see quite a selection of more classic dresses and looks, rather than a lot of sweet stuff.  The girls at the store were all decked out but not very friendly, none came to help me :/  Still, I couldn't have afforded anything there anyway, so such is life. 

Chinatown, on the other hand, sucked.  It was the usual dirty/spit ridden which, in itself, does not bother me (I'm used to the Los Angeles one and hey, it's all part of the experience).  But what annoyed the hell out of me was how expensive the damn place was!  I was kind of shocked.  My only explanation for it was that much of it had to have been catering to Europeans that wouldn't have found things as expensive as I did.
Aside from that disappointment, there wasn't much to see.  The shops were basically all repeats, with none of the charm and variation the LA ones have (though I won't lie, they sell the same little trinkets in all the LA ones, they are still better/cheaper). 
The food I had was awful but this was my own fault, I went to a place that was relatively empty save for a few white people so I can't blame anyone but myself on that one.  Suffice it to say, if you ever go and a girl is loudly trying to lure you into a $6 buffet DO NOT FOR THE LIFE OF YOU GO, IT IS AWFUL.

Ethnic enclaves (and their wonder and/or disaster) aside, downtown SF was awesome.  A lot of luxury stores and interesting architecture, akin to Los Angeles.  There was a really nice mall there too with a lot of unique places, and a surprisingly nice Old Navy as well, of all places.

There was a famous building (a gallery) designed by Frank Lloyd Wright called the Xanadu Gallery that I really enjoyed.  It was in a relatively small alley near some luxury stores (Louis Vuitton, Chanel, etc).  It displayed/sold a lot of art, books, textiles, and other home goods from around the world, with some emphasis on Asia.  As said, it was very nice inside and we had a really good and relatively long conversation with the guy who worked there (hot Asian guy who was both a tour guide and a security guard).  He said we stopped and looked over things more than most tourists did, he was great.

 A really beautiful wallet (I think) at a nearby store.  I forget which one.

 The crooked "A" really gives it character :P

Ok, randomness:

 An artistic statement on feminism.

 An artistic statement on WTF creepiness.

 Pride flag in Castro.  It was huge!

Castro itself.  I loved this place (the entire "gay area," inb4 "all of SF is gay"), and use it as full proof that gays make everything great.  It was clean, well kept, diverse, and hilariously sexual all at the same time!  Adult stores everywhere, near lovely little restaurants and stores.  There was a great plant store that I wish I had been able to visit, but it was closed :(

There was a nail salon called "Hand Job."  Seriously.  I wish I had both taken a picture and gone to get my nails did, that's awesome.  Another part of me wishes I had photographed/been photographed with (if possible?) those naked guys that hang out in the main square. 

I loved this :)
On the bay cruise we were on top of the boat on a very cold and windy day.  This seagull decided to fly along, above us.  Of course everyone was terrified that it would poop on our heads but it didn't.  Lovely.

San Francisco trip, recommendations, and the passes that are totally worth it

I went to San Francisco this September, and I absolutely loved it.  I found it to be an interesting combination of Southern California (Los Angeles, San Diego) and Portland, Oregon.  In terms of weather it is typically kind of Northwest (a lot of fog, chilly, weather variations, wet, the lot).  The public transport is similar to that of the Northwest, wherein it exists and it works well, but it still plays second fiddle to those with cars; the exception, I'd say, is that the city seems to make the effort to use their older cars and everything is electrical.  Overall, I absolutely loved the public transportation.

The similarities to Southern CA come from the diversity (which trust me, is rather lacking in Oregon), wealth and variation of the area, both in demographics and in shopping/entertainment.  That and a lot of the little stores and set ups just reminded me of downtown L.A.

In short, I love this place to death and I want to live there now.  SO FUCKING MUCH.

I stayed at a hostel called the Adelaide that also runs another nearby hostel (like a block away) called the Dakota.  For the first week or so it was the Adelaide, which I generally liked. It was generally pretty good, other than some class-less cunts I had the misfortune of having to room with a few days into our stay.  But assholes aside, it was great.

As to activities, I should say that these CityPasses are so absolutely worth, I can't emphasize that enough.  They worked as bus passes (for city buses and rail cars) which was a great value, but overall saved us a ton of money since SF is not a cheap place to be, and many of it's sights (that we got entrance for with the passes) are quite expensive.  The city pass itself is $69 per person, but it is all worth it.  For instance, each admission was priced at about $25-30, so if you go to each one you definitely get a good deal.  I'm glad I had these because honestly, had I actually paid for much of what I saw I would have been a bit upset as everything was very expensive and not necessarily as large as what I was used to.

For instance, The California Academy of the Sciences was absolutely awesome, but I admittedly found parts of it to be a bit of a "quick pass through" as compared to the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, which is my favorite place on earth.  I will say that this museum was "better" in the regard that it had far more life there, and I really like that.  
But don't get me wrong, it was awesome.
Pictures for proof:
 They recreated a barrier reef (from the Philippines, I believe?).  It was gorgeous.

 This walk around structure was an interior rainforest environment that went over the reef (so you could look down and see the fish, while surrounded by plants and butterflies).  Believe me when I say this was magical, so beautiful.  Also believe me when I say it was authentically rainforest-like, because it was hot and muggy as hell in there. There is a bit of a wait since they only let in a certain number of people at any given time but again, gorgeous. 

 For some reason this picture makes me lol

 Walking under all the fish.  Being in there (and seeing how it was laid out) made me think that a wedding there would be nothing short of spectacular.

 In the rainforest structure, looking down at the fish/people, feeling an overwhelming sense of awe, power and humidity.

 The top of the museum was converted into a biodome, making it eco friendly and efficient.  This place wasn't totally excited but very pleasant, you could go up and feel a nice breeze and see the (admittedly plain) little plants they had up there.  I kind of wish they could let people interact with the plants a bit more (though I can understand why they wouldn't) but more than anything I wish there was a bit more botanical variety.  Still lovely though and it totally reminds me of teletubby land.

 The cool T-rex at the entrance.

One of the best things ever, I have never heard of these cuttlefish and my mind=blown.  So beautiful.

Honestly I can't put up all the pictures that were taken but it was a wonderful, wonderful experience.

Also visited the art museums, they were lovely too.  I won't put up many pictures (copyright issues? also lack of space) but they were, on the whole, very worth it too.
Suffice it to say though, this was the best thing I saw, a little picture card from the visitor comment area.  I loved it.

The Aquarium of the Bay (at Pier 39) was also awesome.  A bit small but so lovely!  In terms of interaction with animals they were also far better than the museum.
 The aquarium also had a walk through tube.  This shot reminded me of The Little Mermaid.
 Some very kick-ass jellyfish.  Being in a dark room, watching them float around so gracefully is really relaxing. 
 The view outside the aquarium, at Pier 39 and the rest of SF.

 The seals that have taken up residence at the Pier/harbor.  They are living the life.

A battleship they had.  There was also a submarine (which I went into):

A WWII submarine, which was cooler than I had initially given it credit for.  It made me very slightly seasick but it was cool to see the very cramped living spaces in there.  The only other person in there was  a Russian guy, lol.

Alcatraz island.  There were boats to this but it wasn't part of the package so I didn't go.  But there was a pass for a ferry boat around the bay and we got pretty close to the island, so much so that I regretted not going!  It looked pretty crowded but very cool.

This may be getting too big so I'll make another entry.
As an aside, this is my TripAdvisor profile, if you want to see some of the reviews I left:

NOTE: All of the pictures and video in here and in the subsequent post were taken by me.   All recommendations and reviews are also fully mine, I wasn't paid for anything.

I think I found my holy grail of games: Left4Dead2

I'll open with this: I'm a casual.  I love games, quite a bit, but I don't really have the time to do it and I find it rather tiring to sit for prolonged periods of times. 

But dayum I love this game.  Of course I've played other things but I consistently keep going back to Left4dead2, for a few reasons:
  • I like the gameplay.  Simple as that. 
  • I like killing "zombies".  While it's quite "easy" to do so as compared to killing things like other people in batttlefield games I find it relaxing to run around and kill things that don't always run around and fight back.  They do fight back at times but I still find the experience rather pleasant. 
Note: It should be said that, like 28 Days Later, the infected in the game are not zombies (as in, they are not the walking dead, they are people infected with a rabies like virus).  I'm going to go out on an asspie limb and note that since they're not the same things. 
  • I like the humor in the second game.  It doesn't have the darkness the first did (though it does hint at it at times, and I find it cool; a good example of that is in the New Orleans map when they find the writing on the wall indicating that someone was killing both infected and normal humans).  I do tend to find the dark atmosphere of the first a bit too boring though, so I like the addition of humor into this game. 
  • The need for total cooperation is something I appreciate for some reason, it's a good way to get to know people (seeing as how there are only four slots open) and working together is crucial to get through the game.  It adds that nice human element that other games lack in their chaos. 
Anyway, I play this on steam that automatically updates everything for me and now that they added the Left4Dead maps I think this is so totally worth getting.  


As a note to my little echo chamber, I updated and added pictures to the past posts that had been lacking pictures.  I will try to keep up with the pictures on this blog, I need to get used to working a camera.