Monday, June 17, 2013

The German Guide to San Francisco

As predicted, I have landed on my feet.

After an only moderately unpredictable flight I landed in my new place in Berkeley and was introduced to the other guests. They asked if I wanted to come to dinner. I did. My only stipulation was that dinner included alcohol. It did.

Lolly is a Canadian girl who likes rock climbing and beer and generally does not require assistance getting up or down from large things. She is funny, friendly, kind, and altogether very Canadian. She was just as overwhelmed by the Berkeley Bowl as I was. Dan is exceedingly German, impressed by German things, likes a good German car, is an engineer (a German engineer) and has a virtually encyclopaedic knowledge of the extensive Bay Area Transit System (not just the BART, but the MUNI, the MANI, and the PEDI to boot) as well as its notable buildings, hiking trails, and why horizontal storage vending machines are superior to the type that store your drink upright. While he is delightful, he is more notably the most extraordinarily helpful person I have ever met. All visiting scholars ought to be assigned one.

The sensory overload brought on by my trip to the grocery store this morning took many hours to abate. Firstly, I set out in the opposite direction in the hopes of locating the T-Mobile store I had noticed the night before, as getting my hands on a mobile phone with Google maps access has become an almost single-minded obsession. Similar to my difficulties with the Roisin Dubh, which for the first several weeks of life in Galway I was unable to locate in daylight, the T-Mobile stores both appear to have moved in the middle of the night, and neglected to put up "We Have Moved" signs (if only I had Google Maps, eh?). Berkeley's many colourful street people do not, it seems, move in daylight and there were many more of them than me, and furthermore their night still appeared to be in full swing. Evidently meth is something of a thing here. They remind me of some of the NUIG kids, only these people are actually poor and have something to complain about, but they're on meth and everything's great so they don't. They all have dogs. One of them had a little tray for change out with a sign that read "Fuck You."

They close the street for a few hours on Sunday for a market, where people in tie-dyed t-shirts and dungarees sell nicknacks, doodads, and a wide variety of things with marijuana leaves drawn on. I was too busy taking a picture of this.

When I returned the lovely Lolly and Dan were planning to go to the beach. While my plans for the day had involved tentatively exploring Berkeley and its immediate environs and getting my hands on a phone number, this seemed much more pleasing, so along I went.

Well! What a day! By an extremely conservative estimate we walked 9.37 miles. I know this for certain because I mapped it. We saw Union Square, the Pacific Ocean...

...the Golden Gate Bridge...

...miles and miles of hiking trails which had wild strawberries growing all along them...

...lots of weird old WW2 stuff, a broad and rocky bay which is chock full of shipwrecks... assortment of cool buildings, traditional trolley cars, fancy rich people houses...

...a Little Free Library with a copy of the Tao of Physics and most of the Lemony Snicket books...

...and this cave.

At the end of it all we were too tired to even look for a damn restaurant. Not because Dan didn't know where we could find a good restaurant: of course he did. Nevertheless, we ate mall food. I'm not even ashamed.


  1. Eh, I thought when you made us promise not to have fun that you were going to avoid fun too! Clearly not!! Well, now I don't feel so bad for breaking my promise....I had LOTS of fun reading this!

  2. also, why is my name tedcaram!!? I'm Tommy!!!

  3. It was way less fun than it would have been with you. In fact I mentioned how much more interesting it would have been if you we're there! Hiking with the nature genius is always better.