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.