Being in San Francisco

2011-11-06 04:47
I spent the last two weeks together with Thilo in San Francisco - and neighboring areas. I had asked beforehand for recommendations on where to go and what to do, had purchased a "Rough Guide to California" as well as a "Lonely Planet guide for San Francisco". In addition I shared my arrival and departure times with a few people I know here. As to be expected our schedule quickly grew until it exploded, so we ended up doing greedy optimisation stuffing things in and putting them out again while we went along. Result of all that: An amazing two weeks that went by way to fast and the conclusion that we do need to return and bring way more time next time around.

A huge thanks for the warm welcome, for shared local knowledge on where to go, invitations for lunch or dinner, as well as fun hours at the Castro during Halloween. Special thanks to Datameer who when asked for accommodations recommendations kindly offered to host us - it makes such a big difference to get the chance to stay in a local neighborhood and avoid hotels altogether. All in all it's amazing to fly across an ocean, cross multiple time zones and arrive in a city that almost feels like being home.

Following a brief overview of what our final schedule turned out to be - happy to share pictures we took privately. After getting our car on Sunday, we went over to Berkeley to see their impressive campus - and got to see part of the Berkeley occupy movement.

Day one was reserved for sports

After biking the bridge we went down to Sausalito. Got some delicious food at fish - a restaurant serving all sorts of healthy and tasty fish dishes. After that we went out on a canoe from Sea Trek Kayaking, taking a closer look at the house boat community and a brief tour over to the Sausalito ferry port. When back at the shore we cycled to Sausalito and took the ferry to SFO.

Day 2 was booked for Highway #1 to Santa Cruz

We headed down scenic Highway#1, past the cliffs at Half Moon Bay. Went out for a hike in Butano park to hug some Redwood trees and take pictures of a fairy-tale like forest. Then headed over to Pigeon Point Lighthouse - even if you are not into staying at hostels you should stop there: this place is great for a nice view of the ocean and the lighthouse itself. Finally we went down to beautiful Santa Cruz.

Day 3 Muir woods

Not much to be said here: It's always impressive to walk underneath huge Redwood trees and go hiking in the mountains around to get a better view.

Weekend for Yosemite

Took the route via Highway 140 - the drive itself was interesting already as it took us to quite a different country side than what we had seen until then. Got through Mariposa in the end over to Midpines. We stayed at friendly Bug Rustic Mountain - classified as Hostel, features a spa with sauna and whirlpool. We were lucky enough to arrive on Friday before Halloween to get to see the screening of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" - including a printed transcript with tag lines to be shouted at the screen for those who do not know these already.

On Saturday we went hiking in amazing Yosemite park. Only then I realized how close different landscapes can be: It took us only half a day by car to go from coast and ocean over to high mountains. We chose to hike to the upper Yosemite fall - returning after 7m of rather steep trails on a sunny but fortunately quite clear day we were absolutely tired.

Day 7 Halloween

We spent Halloween morning over in St. Helena and went to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. Hard to believe, but several tasty types of Californian wine do exist - at least that's what Thilo confirmed when in St. Helena.

Evening was booked for dressing up and going to the Castro, though presumably more calm than in past years the area is still a must-go for Halloween if you are into watching people walking around in impressing costumes.

Day 8 for Alcatras

Not much to be added here - don't miss if you visit SFO.

Day 9 for China town

After several busy days we only went to China town that day and tried to recover for the rest of the afternoon - and went out for Dia de los Muertos in the evening.

Day 10 for watching whales

Happy I took sea-sickness pre-cautions on that one. It was a bit of a rough ride with the catamaran. But in the end we got to see whales close to Farallon Islands. The naturalist did a great job explaining not only the life of the whales but also provided some background on the islands.

Day 11 for Point Reyes and North Beach

In the morning we followed the recommendation to get to see North Beach - if you like Friedrichshain/ Kreuzberg in Berlin or Dresden Neustadt - do not miss North Beach in San Francisco.

The afternoon was reserved for driving over to Point Reyes Lighthouse. Though we did not spot any whales in the water, the landscape already was amazing by itself.

Day 12 - final walk through SFO

We took some time to walk along Hayes street, through the Golden Gate park up to Cliff House and went back with a Muni bus to the city - just too long to walk right back.

Thanks again to Stefan, St.Ack, Jon, JD, Ted, Ellen, Doug, Anne, Johan, Doris, Jens, Lance, Felix, Markus and everyone else who helped make this trip as awesome as it really was. Sorry to everyone who I did not manage to meet or get in touch - hopefully we can fix that next time I'm here - or next time you are in Berlin.

One Ring to rule them all

2011-10-28 19:23
One Ring to find them

One Ring to bring them all

and in the darkness bind them:

Dear lazy web: Travel recommendations

2011-10-21 21:21
Finally getting to spend some days of vacation in the bay area soon - so I thought I might try to leverage the lazy web on recommendations on what not to miss while there. So far on our list:

  • Rent a canoo in Sausalito
  • Take a tour to Alcatras
  • Get to drive down along the coast towards Half Moon Bay
  • Spend one or two days strolling through the city to take photos
  • Do one of these touristic bike trips across the Golden Gate bridge
  • Spend a day or two to get hiking in one of the red wood tree forests
  • Got a recommendation to drive up to Lake Tahoe for two days
  • Get to see Napa valley
  • Spend a day on whale watching

So that already makes up for ten days - however if you spot anything important and beautiful missing, please let me know. If you have any recommendation on where to spend Halloween - please also get in touch. If you are up to meeting for a cup of coffee or dinner and talk about Mahout, HBase, Hadoop and friends - we certainly can fit that into the schedule somewhere.

Teddy in Amsterdam

2011-02-20 20:16

On his trip from SFO back to Europe teddy spent a few days in Amsterdam. He brought back the following pictures of bikes, cheese and the canals:

Going to Amsterdam usually is pretty darn dangerous: I tend to return with some toys added to my collection of puzzles. Somehow I tend to be drawn to the shop called Gamekeeper selling them even when I do not remember the exact address or even just the street name:

Teddy in Brussels

2011-02-14 20:16

Not much time here, except for a brief view of the atomium from our bed&breakfast place in Brussels and a few very beautiful churches:

Teddy in San Francisco

2011-02-10 20:13

Before attending O'Reilly Strata there were a few days left to adjust to the different time zone, meet up with friends and generally spend some days in the Greater San Francisco area. As was to be expected, those were way to few days. The weekend was a bit rainy, still packed with visiting China town right after the plane had landed and spending some time at ... Finally was taken out to Bucks - the restaurant among software engineers generally known for being the place where VC deals are being made.

Sunday was reserved for visiting some red wood trees - it's so great driving just a few minutes out of the city and arriving in an area that looks like being set up for a fairy tale movie. With all the mist and with sun coming out here and there the area looked even more bewitched.

On Monday sun finally arrived in the bay - as a result a ferry trip to Sausolito seemed like the optimal thing to do. Unfortunately not enough time to rent a bike an to the "ride the bridge" tour - or get a kajak to go out into the bay. Maybe next time though.

After returning back home, Teddy showed me some pieces of chocolate someone in the US made him adicted to - now it's not just the tasty swiss one but also the Berkley one I have to find a shop for in Berlin ;)

White Christmas

2010-12-25 16:44
Christmas brought "a little surprise" to Germany last night:

The result this morning: a few cm (as in about 20) of snow - that is a white christmas everyone had been looking forward to. Just one question: Where to put all that snow when digging out my car? ;)

Thanks to snow clearing services streets are all white but well drivable. Other than that lots of time for enjoying the white weather. I'll probably use the time off to to go out with a sledge tomorrow.

Teddy in Antwerp

2010-12-12 21:30
When at Devoxx Teddy went to the city taking a few pictures of the Grote Markt, the Haven as well as the main train station.

Frau Holle, Frau Holle

2010-12-05 18:32
Winter arrived in Germany - below a few pictures I took last Thursday morning:

Seems like this season winter is trying real hard to prove that I am wrong saying that there is no real winter in Berlin with just about a week snow on the streets ;) Guess its time to get the tires with spikes back on my bike.

Teddy in Amsterdam Schiphol

2010-12-02 21:11
Caught Teddy just before the plane took off: