San Francisco - High Up

I feel a bit like Richard Gere in Pretty Woman, but without the good looks, the riches or the sexy female companion. I’m now enclosed in a room on the top (26th) floor of the Holiday Inn on Van Ness Ave., and it’s much nicer than the motel I stayed in last night. The only problem is the altitude; as Gere said ‘[I stay here because] … it’s the best’. I asked for a high room too because of the view - it is fabulous (see this photo). Like his character, though, I’m scared of heights. What a combination.

San Francisco

So the Redbook residency is over, and after a little dance around the Bay Area this morning involving Best Western, Hertz, and BART, I’ve rid myself of my car (minimum hassle, especially considering I dented the bumper), and am sitting in a shabby motel a few blocks off the dodgier end of Market Street in San Francisco. I’m none too impressed - despite the seemingly ubiquitous free wireless - simply because the area doesn’t feel that great. To that end, I’ve booked myself in a (seemingly much nicer, but also more expensive) Holiday Inn from tomorrow. Another hard lesson in ‘you get what you pay for’.

Nevertheless, I went for a wander earlier around town, particularly down to the Financial District, where I took a few pictures of San Francisco’s most famous (and tallest) skyscraper, the Transamerica Pyramid. Currently trying to figure out the good places in town to chill out - I really don’t want do that much touristy stuff, especially since I’ve done a lot before. I hope to spend some time unwinding before heading back to the UK.

My First Earthquake...

… was a little less thrilling than I’d hoped. I felt a ripple pass across the room very rapidly, accompanied by a low rumbling sound and a few creaks. You couldn’t mistake it for anything else, but it was very undramatic. Nothing stopped working, nothing fell down. Not quite the next big one.

Update 2007-03-01 21:51 PST: It appears I was nowhere near the epicentre. The San Francisco Chronicle has covered the quake, which was centered around the city of Lafayette (for which the Wikipedia entry is already updated - astonishing). The USGS also has some technical data on their website. It’s impressive that I could feel it almost 30 miles away across the bay in Mountain View.

Update 2007-03-01 22:06 PST: In my ignorance, I linked to the famous San Andreas Fault above. According to the local news, it was actually the Calaveras Fault that was responsible for the earthquake.

Almost 4 Weeks

Things are still ticking along nicely here in San Jose. Am currently trying to plan what to do in my last week here, which will be a holiday. Probably some time in San Francisco, possibly some time in Vegas (flying there, I’ve given up on the idea of driving through Death Valley without a companion), then back to San Jose for a few days before flying home.

On a mostly unrelated note, went to a cinema the other day which was obviously using digital projectors for the adverts. This is the first time I’ve seen them used in a cinema, and they are without doubt the way forward - no flickers and no crackles. Of course, cinemas still suffer from the sticky-popcorn-noisy-teenager syndrome, but that’s a different problem.

3 Weeks

Well, I’ve been in the Bay Area for nearly 3 weeks, with another 2 still to go on my Redbook project and then 1 week of vacation (which I’m now regretting not making longer - too late - my plane tickets are non-refundable). The Redbook is thoroughly enjoyable and there are some talented and interesting people on the team which makes for a worthwhile experience.

The apartment here is beginning to feel a bit like home - I even found myself referring to it as ‘home’ this afternoon. It’s interesting how easy it is to uproot and move your life elsewhere for a while (keeping data on the network has a surprising amount to do with this). I’d quite happily live in this area permanently. The standard of living is without question higher than in the UK (despite the typically variable US food), and the only thing that’d hold me back would be missing my friends and family in the UK, which I would find hard. I’d also miss the opportunity to go to London so often, which I love too (San Francisco is the closest equivalent here).

I’m travelling around again this weekend (probably to Carmel tomorrow), so hopefully that should be another opportunity to see some new sights.

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