Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tourist in Her Own Town- Second Stop: Crissy Field

I went to meet some Tripping peeps to film our diski dance video (stay tuned) promoting cultural exchange/ the World Cup. Getting to the Presidio from Vallejo was not a pleasant journey due to the normal Bay Bridge traffic so needless to say, I arrived 45 minutes late and not in the best of moods. At this point, I just wanted to get this over with and move on with my day.

My mood immediately one-eighty'ed however once I stepped out of the car. I felt the sun's warmth, the bay's breeze, and soon after caught the breathtaking sights of San Francisco. Hello home! I had only been to the Presidio a couple of times prior to this. Both times were at night and I was lost so the scenery received very little of my attention. It literally is a breath of fresh air in/out of the city.

Right: Butterscotch- our tripod/audience/critic 

After trying to make the best of our filming and choreography "skills" in the midst of families flying kites, couples running, and out-of-towners on bike tours, we called it a wrap. The rest of the group went on with their days, but I couldn't leave, not just yet. Yes, I have seen the Golden Gate Bridge countless times and have probably snapped over a dozen pictures of Alcatraz, but I have this condition: have camera, will photograph. Uber-touristy spots not excluded. (When I lived in Sydney, if I was walking or ferrying by the Opera House, I could not not take a picture. It was like my camera had a mind of its own. Opera House pictures probably take up a gig on my laptop.)

After taking some photos of all the necessary sights, I still didn't want to leave. So what if I had things to do and that I was already 45 minutes behind schedule? It was so beautiful out and I was thoroughly enjoying being a tourist. So I went into the Warm Hut Bookstore and Cafe to have a browse of all the SF souvenirs and memorabilia and grab a little bite and a large iced coffee. I had my own picnic table outside in the sun with my own impeccable view of Alcatraz and the city. I don't even know how long I sat there, but while soaking up the vitamin D I soaked up the plethora of surrounding languages and amused myself with thoughts of hypothetical journeys these tourists were on. Usually I would be envious of such travelers, but hey, today I got to be one of them, even if only for an afternoon. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tourist In Her Own Town- First Stop: AT&T Park

One of the many things on my list as a new San Franciscan has been to go to a Giant game! It's one of those things that I feel needs to be checked off one's list as part of the initiation process or something.

To be clear, I will always be a Padres girl. I will probably eventually be a Giants fan (once I am fully initiated I suppose), but they will never take the friar-shaped spot in my heart.

At last night's game I wore Dodgers colors. I'm still pretty indifferent at this point, but Lindsey gave me the ticket and she's a die-hard Dodgers fan. So I wore blue and white to support her. (Plus I grew up with a Dodgers dad so it wasn't too much of a stretch.)

Things I learned from my first AT&T Park experience:

1. Giants HATE the Dodgers. I couldn't believe how many "Beat LA" and "Dodgers Suck" shirts there were and other such "Beat LA" logos scattered throughout the stadium. With that being said, I was surprised at the turn-out on a Monday night and impressed with how much blue occupied the seats. Padres games are great, but they are never these heated. This made it a slightly different baseball experience.

2. Giants stadium is very pretty. Reminds me of Petco- right on the water, intimate, clean, close to downtown with plenty of great happy hour/ pre-game bars to frequent.

3. Talk about microclimates! There are 50 in the seven-mile city apparently. I think I experienced at least five within the three hours I was sitting in one spot. I'm still slowly learning how to properly layer in the city and I think the Giants stadium deserves its own chapter in the manual.

All-in-all baseball games are always fun and this was no exception. I may not be a die-hard Giants fan quite yet (or ever- I'm still uneasy about the prospect), but I can confidently label myself a big fan of San Francisco. This isn't news, but I find this love reinforced with every new experience. It's a different kind of tourism exploring a city knowing it's your new home.

Monday, June 28, 2010

@WanderLoz Get the Best of Where You Are!

It's Monday. The weekend festivities have drained from my system. I've had a full night's rest and a venti iced coffee. I'm ready to take on a new week.

Besides the ridiculous amount of caffeine in my system, I have the inspiration of others fueling my enthusiasm this morning. Last week and through the weekend I have been living vicariously through all the attendees at the Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) in New York City via Twitter. I have been an avid travel blog follower since returning to the states after a year away. I've found a comfort in reading about others' traveling experiences. It reminds me that the world will always be there for me to explore regardless of age, relationships, circumstance. As long as you have dreams, you have the power to pursue and reach them. The idea of being surrounded by like-minded and travel-driven individuals for an entire weekend in one of the world's most exciting cities kept me glued to my computer screen for the better part of my days last week (as if I'm not already).

There are so many amazing blogs out there that I find myself spending more time reading them and less time working on my own (hence no entries this month). I figure these people are actually exploring the world. They're out there doing incredible things. I'm stagnant. I'm just trying to find a job so I can (1) pay off my debts from last year's adventures and (2) save for the next trip. That's not exciting.

It has occurred to me recently that okay, I may not be hiking Machu Picchu or tripping across Southeast Asia, but I am experiencing a new chapter, one that I am sure to learn from, in a city that many people dream to visit. In addition, I have been places and therefore have my own words of wisdom I'd like to think.

I had already been thinking about how I need to document my thoughts and experiences more in order to be better prepared to do so when I do make that round the world trip. This point was reinforced by Christine Gilbert of AlmostFearless in her interview by RunawayJane (see her answer to no.3). Another blog worth mentioning and a particular post that moved me this morning is by OverYonderlust. Words written by these fellow travelers keep me grounded and life in perspective and for this I am grateful. Lastly, it was TravelholicA's tweet (see title) that affirmed my recent thoughts and set this post in motion...

As this is already getting a bit lengthy, I will conclude this entry with what I had originally intended on writing about: San Francisco. This is the beautiful city I am now exploring and this past weekend happened to be PRIDE, one of the many festivals that make this city so vibrant, colorful, and alive. It is something I am passionate about and something that made me proud to be here and nowhere else in the world. I am lucky to be in a city that is open and accepting to all walks of life; a city that offers something to any and all cultures; a city so technologically driven and exciting to be a part of today.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Still Slightly Upside-Down and Backwards

It's really depressing when it suddenly dawns on me that I'm no longer a Sydneysider. Don't worry, I'm not crazy. I am fully aware that I don't live in Sydney anymore, but every once in a while I'll realize the Aussie in me is not as present as the day before.

To elaborate, today I realized that I no longer "speak in questions" as my American friend once pointed out when he came to visit me in Sydney. I've lost the heightened inflection at the end of my sentences that was once so natural to me. It's like losing your sexy sick voice- you always expected it to go back to normal, and you may not notice when it does, but when you do, you can't help but miss it. I'm not even really sure how it sounds anymore; I can't even fake it. :(

I still find myself walking on the left side of busy sidewalks. I find it amusing because it used to drive me crazy when tourists would walk on the right side in Sydney and not recognize and adapt to the Australian way of pedestrian etiquette. Now, instead of moving over to the right side, I keep to the left. I think it's a sad attempt to stay connected to my life down under. (I do move to the right on escalators- don't want to upset people at the bart station.)
I am happy to say that even though I find it difficult to stick to the right side of sidewalks, I am once again a confident driver in the states and always stick to the right side of the road (it did take a brief and somewhat frightening period of second-guessing).

Although it is difficult to keep up a working vocabulary of Australian lingo, there are some words I refuse to give up, despite the confusion it may cause with my friends here. Usually I can get by with things like "brekky" (breakfast) or "sunnies" (sunglasses) due to their obvious derivatives and the fact that my friends aren't stupid. I love "arvo" (afternoon) and I can't get it out of my head so I'll use it regularly (most of my friends know it now and some of them even use it!). "Cheers" and "heaps" will always be a part of my regular jargon and occasionally I'll reply "that's alright" instead of "you're welcome". I still find myself answering questions starting with "yeah..." (For instance if someone asks how my day's going- "yeah, it's been good, thanks.") I still have to double check if I'm using "entree" properly (here= main course; oz= starter). I get weird looks when I order a glass of "cab sauv" (vs. "cab"). It's strange that one year away can trump 23 years at home when it comes to how I walk and talk. Although such exchanges may cause confusion, I enjoy it because it allows me to explain a part of Australia and thus a part of me.

Despite the faded Aussie in me, "Lozza" is still there. She will never leave. That is the beauty of travel- the act itself is inherently temporary, but the impressions it leaves are permanent. I'll wrap this up with one of my favourite quotes (that's the other thing, I have to constantly check my spelling- I'm just going to leave that for effect): "The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one's own country as a foreign land." - G.K. Chesterton