Well, that was a whirlwind of a weekend! No sooner did our feet touch California cement and we were on the move, covering San Francisco and points south, peaking with a raucous celebration of my sister's birthday. As I recover and hack into my sleeve thanks to a post-trip cold, here are a few sights captured during our fun tour of my homeland.
The weather was idyllic, sunny with a light breeze off SF Bay. We spotted a single lonely cloud hovering over Alcatraz nestled in brilliant blue. There were lots of opportunities to take in local sights as we walked for five hours covering all points of the compass. A wonderful morning in Golden Gate Park offered some of the best sights, like the bust immortal Cervantes. His singular admirers Don Quixote and Sancho Panza appear to be captured from life, so charming is their likeness.
The Japanese Tea Garden was definitely the highlight of our time in the park. Each section is cunningly isolated, creating the illusion that the world has fallen away and you have entered a zen paradise. That might sound like an overstatement, but with so many international tourists milling around and chatting loudly it is nothing short of miraculous.
No visit to the city is complete without Amoeba Music. For any lover of music and film this is a veritable mecca, but be warned that going in without a plan is like going to the desert without water, totally inadvisable unless you want to disappear forever.
Victorian houses are everywhere you turn, each somehow looking nothing like any of the others, architecture's answer to cookie-cutter suburbs.
Cafe International was my favorite place to start the day when I lived in the city. It is owned by the sweetest, most down-to-earth lady you will ever meet. She was there first thing in the morning when I grabbed a cup down the street from our hotel and gave her customary greeting, "Hi, how are you?" It was so much like the last time I came there over a decade ago that I suspected that I had entered a time machine.
The gorgeous mural that gives Cafe International its name.
American short hairs are the cutest, cuddliest cats you've never seen. They are rare as partisanship. This sweetheart likes to sleep on pillows -preferably when you've warmed it with your head!
My sister lives in a lovely Los Altos neighborhood. This bungalow across the street is something straight out of film noir.
Finally, the birthday zone! Nola is a Stanford University hotspot, attracting hordes of grads and Google employees with its funky Louisiana vibe and Outsider decor. The blackened catfish was delightful.