I finally made it down to the San Francisco Bay Area to see the sights and catch up with some of my friends from my Master’s program. So this will be quite a quick one as I only had a rushed weekend to see as much as I could before returning to Seattle for the work week at Microsoft.
I arrived at 11:30 on Friday night, thanks Southwest Airlines for the hour delay, and Barry from Cognician came to pick me up from the Oakland airport. Barry is an old mentor/colleague of mine from the day’s when I was involved with Rethink Education and we used the Cognician platform to serve the Math and Science content. That asside, we were both tired and so we postponed the catchup until the morning.
San Francisco weather is definitely not what I had expected. I had this idea of golden beaches, sunshine year round and fit and tanned people parading the streets. Well the last item was at least correct, but all I relaly saw was cloud and the locals let me into the secret that this is not a surprise! The city itself suffers from a micro-climatic effect where a mist bank often sits right on the hill upon which it resides. The cloud didn’t dampen my spirit and we set out to see the famed Golden Gate bridge.
A gentle walk around the bridge is well worth it and the views of Alcatraz are impressive - it feels surreal standing there and connecting all of these names which I had only known from Hollywood and from tv shows growing up. I could imagine Jeb Correlis BASE jumping from the bridge, and with the torrenting waters below, this must have been a really impressive feat to watch.
Breakfast at a small Mexican spot near the Ferry building market place (I had told Barry that one of my favorite things about America was the Mexican food and so we set out in search of a breakfast burrito - it didn’t disappoint). I met up with Xindi and her friend Angel, who was planning to run her first half marathon at the San Fransisco marathon the next morning. We saw some more of the city, including Lombard Street, Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Chocolate factory. Angel was leading the chocolate push: possibly wanting to load up on those glycogen levels?
Ever since I had tasted the magic of Texas brisket in Austin, I have been on a search to replicate this experience. Unfortunately, the Northeast in the USA SERIOUSLY drops the ball when it comes to good barbeque and inevitably I am disappointed. Nevertheless, we found a small BBQ spot nearby called The Pub. We phoned Nikki to join us, forgetting that she is a vegan, whoops. But by the time the brisket arrived we were famished and I cannot explain how excellent this BBQ was! It was as if I was teleported back to Austin a year ago when I was sitting there with Ali! Dreamy.
While I was in my food coma, we caught up with Xindi and Nikki and discussed where Tomas might be (we were also supposed to meet up with him). Nikki and Xindi are both working at Facebook and Tomas is working at Google. These are just three examples from a cohort of students from the IACS at Harvard who have gone on to land some really impressive positions. It speaks volumes to the value of the training and the network that the IACS provides.
The next morning while Angel was off suffering around the hills of SF for 21.1km, Xinid took Tomas and me to Facebook to see the office space in Palo Alto. I don’t usually get excited about an office campus (or university one for that matter) but Facebook was spectacular. There is an impressive roof park with lovely views out over the bay area! Next stop was Stanford which also impressed us with the palm tree lined entrance road leading up to the main square. Oh my and the tourists… They were everywhere. Did I mention that SF seeems to be half resident, half tourist?
Thanks again to Xindi and Tomas for showing me around and it was grea to catch up with Nikki. I made it back to Oakland to catch my late flight back to Seattle on Saturday night. San Fransisco was definitely one for the books but I am not certain that the next time that I make it out that way is to travel to Yosemite.