Sunday, 28 June 2015

Week 27: USA - San Francisco

Image of the week: a steep Nob Hill, where the side streets that come off it are at a 45 degree incline
More images at the end of post

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Where in the world

Still based in Oakland, but this week we ventured across the bay to explore San Francisco.




Thoughts

Why, out of the whole of the USA, did we decide to only visit San Francisco and Los Angeles (next week)? Well, I can certainly answer for SF - a combination of things. 

climbing San Francisco's hills
(disclosure: angle may have been slightly
exaggerated by camera tilting..)
Firstly there's the obvious constraints of time and money, otherwise we would have done many more cities in the States.

But San Francisco has been on my list for a while - a mix of friends having visited, telling me they really liked the vibe, and other friends who have up and left London to make a life out here on the West Coast

The fact it's hailed as "the best restaurant city in America" might have also played a part (see The best things I ate this week below).

It's also a really 'doable' city. It's been built up rather than out, meaning that even though its population is under a million, they're packed in, making it the second-most densely-populated city in the country. 

That means it's a lot smaller than people think, roughly square in shape and only about 7 miles each side, making it easy to get around.

I like the fact it's on the San Andreas Fault line, and regular readers will know how much I'm attracted to a place that threatens to shake the very ground beneath my feet. It's also this tectonic movement that's given the city it's famous topography - no less than 71 hills. Steep ones at that.

(Side: I think it only fitting to watch the newly released San Andreas - a disaster movie about the aftermath of a massive earthquake that hits California - while we're here. Must Google film showings.)

the top of Russian Hill that has a 45 degree incline - great views
San Francisco
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And then there's the weather. Think strong sunshine without being too hot, enough for red noses and cheeks by the end of the day because you didn't realise you needed sunscreen. The evenings are chilly, with the occasional moody fog rolling in for atmosphere. 

San Francisco is actually famous for its fog, which is heaviest in June and July, and can drop the temperature by 10 degrees in just a few minutes. San Franciscans don't leave home without a jumper, any time of year.

Some sort of political protest I think. Note on his chest was written backwards - of course
San Francisco
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It's also a place that's very accepting of people who are a bit different, and there's a lot of charm in that. 

"The world's most gay-friendly city" is now even more friendly since California allowed same-sex marriage in 2013. And even though New York may have surpassed it in diversity, San Francisco is the world's original gay Mecca, with its Castro District still feeling like the center of the gay universe.

I'm a bit gutted we left just the day before San Francisco Pride, actually.

the flags are up in preparation for San Francisco Pride 2015
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The best things I ate this week

Where to eat in San Francisco

Smoked salmon bagels

A breakfast of large proportions. But then, we are in America. This is the lox platter at Hollywood Cafe in Fisherman's Wharf. There's always a bit of a queue here, probably because it's one of the few places in this touristy strip that does food that's both good and reasonably priced. Only open for breakfast and lunch, closed by 13.45

Hollywood Cafe, 530 North Point Street, San Francisco, CA 94133

BBQ smoked meats

This was a great dinner. As much sensationaly smoked meat at 4505 Burgers & BBQ as you can shake the proverbial at. There were six of us, so we ordered the The Presidential for $99 which feeds six and includes all meats, all fixins, and all sides. Such good value for $18 a head. 

Brisket, pulled chicken, pulled pork shoulder, spicy sausage, pork spare ribs, beef ribs, coleslaw, posole (a pre-Columbian stew from Mexico), potato salad, fries with chimichurri, Frankaroni (deep fried macaroni cheese with frankfurter - also pictured), chiccharones (pork crackling) - the very first product they started making. 

Note, there's only outside seating, although most of it is covered - but wrap up. And expect queues around dinner time. Get there early for the brisket, which had 'run out' by the time we got there, but some of it thankfully still appeared on our plate.

4505 Burgers & BBQ, 705 Divisadero (at Grove St.), San Francisco, 94117

top: lox platter from Hollywood Cafe, deep fried Frankaroni, and all the meat at 4505 Burgers & BBQ
bottom: In-N-Out burgers, pastry and tart from b.patisserie, awesome pizza from Ragazza
Where to eat in San Francisco
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Cheap and cheerful failsafe burgers

Most of the people I know who visit America from the UK make a trip to an In-N-Out. Firstly, because they have yet to reach our shores, and secondly, because they make fresh and good quality burgers, with great flavour, that are really very good value. This was my first experience, and I was impressed.

I only learnt about the not-so-secret secret menu after - ask for it Animal style when you place your order and in addition to the standard toppings, you'll get pickles, extra spread, grilled onions, and mustard fried onto each meat patty, for no extra charge.

In-N-Out, Anchorage Shopping Center, 333 Jefferson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Baked goods royalty

Lots of people told me I had to visit b.patisserie, and it's pretty clear why. It's so good we went twice in the few days we were in SF. Expect Parisian and Viennese-style pastries, sandwiches and coffee with an open kitchen and an almost fully female workforce.

They're known for their kouign amann - an uber-buttery and caramelised pastry from Brittany - which I scoffed still warm from the oven with a bit of melted chocolate poured on top. It was pretty busy there on a Sunday afternoon, but I think this may be better than the one I had at Dominique Ansel in New York

b.patisserie, 2821 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115

Unmatched pizza bases

Divisadero Street has a very cool feel about it with loads of great restaurants. Including neighbourhood joint Ragazza serving Neopolitan style thin crust pizza, and a load more. 

Pictured: wild nettles, portobello mushrooms, Olli pancetta, red onion, aged provolone. This was, hands down, the best pizza base I've ever had. Unmatched crispness, almost like it had been deep-fried, but without the grease. Amazing the next day cold too. 

Ragazza, 311 Divisadero St. (Between Page & Oak), San Francisco CA 94117

top: fish & chips in Sausalito, Kaui ice cream from Hawaiian chain Lappert's
bottom: Californian strawberries, fish tacos in Sausalito
Where to eat in Sausalito
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Where to eat in Sausalito

Fish & chips

The houses of Sausalito - the first city you hit when crossing the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco - are occupied by celebrities, the retired well-off, and those Silicon Valley techies that make enough money to secure seats on the intergalactic Virgin spaceship. Which means it's hard to find lunch for less than $30. 

Except for long-standing, family-run fast-food joint Fish & Chips of Sausalito, doling out fried and grilled seafood, burgers and sandwiches. They get really busy, filled with visitors popping over the water to pay a visit to this very pretty city, rather than locals. Fish and chips, fish tacos, a park bench, Californian sunshine. Job's a good'un.

Fish & Chips of Sausalito, 817 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965

Hawaiian ice cream

Lappert's Ice Cream is a Hawaiian cafe chain with its mainland outpost in Sausalito, offering coffee and ice cream in tropical flavors, and considered some of the best in the bay. Try the Kauai Pie flavour - coffee ice cream with coconuts, chocolate fudge and macadamia nuts. Lovely stuff.

Lappert's Ice Cream, 689 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965

Californian fruit

As I mentioned last week, the fruit in California is quite something. As well as eating all of the peaches, I've been scoffing plenty a deep red strawberry too. And when you go into a grocery store, pretty much all the fresh produce is grown within the state - from avocados and melons to asparagus and apples - making it really easy to keep those air miles low. That's the Californian climate for you.

the Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco
Did you know?

Some interesting snippets I learnt from various people and places during our time in San Francisco.

San Francisco facts

1) You can earn up to $70,000 (£47,000) a year walking dogs in San Francisco, there are that many of them. It's a profitibale indsutry, and people make very successful careers out of it.

2) The iconic Golden Gate Bridge was constructed between 1933 and 1937, and was the longest suspension bridge in the world for 40 years. 

Eleven men died making it, falling victim to the 60-70 mph winds the bay sees almost on a daily basis, plummeting to their death in the frigid waters below (they were climbing with no harnesses). 

They then decided to put up a safety net - that net saved 19 lives that would have otherwise seen the same fate.

3) The house of Mrs Doubtfire used in the 1993 film is a regular and occupied house in San Francisco, near Billionaires Row in Pacific Heights

It turned into a shrine when Robin Williams passed away a year ago, with hundreds laying flowers and lighting candles outside the property. His untimely death hit the locals particularly hard, as his home, and where he was found, was in San Francisco.

the Mrs. Doubtfire House, San Francisco
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4) A one block section of Lombard Street on Russian Hill has a famous and quite ridiculous zig-zagging stretch of road at around a 45 degree incline, with eight hairpin turns. It was originally built like that in 1922 to prevent drivers losing control of their cars at the top and crashing. But we have better brakes these days. 

It's now driven down mostly by tourists for the novelty. Residents who live on it of course, hate it. But then no one told them to live there.

Lombard Road at Russian Hill, San Francisco
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5) The "inescapable" federal penitentiary and maximum security star of the 40's and 50's, Alcatraz, can be found on its own little island in San Francisco Bay. Several films have been based on this prison, and infamous inmates included Al Capone, who eventually lost his mind to syphilis.

Out of the 14 separate escape attempts by 36 Alcatraz inmates during its 29 years of operation, no one is known to have successfully made it to the mainland - frigid water, strong currents, and the 1.25 mile swim made sure of that. 

However, three men who managed to break out in 1962 remain unaccounted for, still with rewards on their heads, listed by the FBI as "missing but presumed drowned". Some believe they've been living it up in South America; all three were learning Spanish in prison at the time of their escape.

Another interesting nugget: Alcatraz was the only federal prison in the USA at the time to provide hot showers. The reason? So the inmates couldn't acclimatise to cold water, which might have given them a better chance of surviving the bay's waters, had they escaped.

Alcatraz, San Francisco Bay
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Being a prisoner on the island must have been worse than most. Seeing and hearing normal life continue just over the water, dangled right in front of you, but just out of reach. 

At New Year's Eve the prisoners could hear the laughter from the parties on the piers carried over to the island on the breeze, wafting through the building's windows and cell bars. The torture. 

If you visit the prison, the audio tour (included in the ticket price) mostly consists of first hand accounts from the inmates who called Alcatraz home - really interesting to hear the stories from them directly.

prison cells in Alcatraz, San Francisco



















prison cells in Alcatraz, San Francisco

My insider tips

I didn't realise until it was too late that you can in fact walk or cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge - it's not just for vehicles. It's about 1.7 miles, and the winds can really pick up, but that's part of the fun. I really wish we'd done it - next time.


On the other side of the bridge to San Francisco is the very gorgeous city of Sausalito tucked away in the base of the hills that line the San Francisco Bay, where you could stop to have lunch (see The best places I ate this week above for where).

It's certainly worth popping over and spending at least half a day there.

Sausalito, California

Sausalito, California
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Highlights / Lowlights

Highlight  

Matt's parents and his aunt and uncle joined us for this week in San Francisco, which was lovely :)

other people - hooray!


Lowlight

San Francisco certainly lives up to its other name - the "homeless capital of America". I've never seen as many people living on the street, or as many raging crack heads shouting at police at the top of their lungs or stripping on the side of the road, as I have in this city.

As is so often the case, there are many complex layers to why homelessness is so rife here, and why so many of these people seem to have mental health issues. This blogger has done some pretty good research into it, if you're interested in knowing more.

Once you've been here for a few days, you become immune to the people rifling through rubbish bins to eat the leftovers others have thrown away, and cardboard signs asking for whatever cents can be spared to get some food.

East Bay Bridge, San Francisco
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One guy got to me though. 

We were sitting on a tour bus on the top deck waiting for it to leave from Fisherman's Wharf. Below on the street corner, there was an elderly man with a full beard, who had obviously been homeless for a while. He wasn't begging or holding up a sign, but was deftly making balloon animals and handing them out to passing kids, with a genuine warm smile. He was hoping to catch the eye of the parent to ask if they could spare any change for it, but it rarely happened.

I watched him for a while. Somtimes, a parent would stop to fish out some coins. Other times they'd look at him in disgust and tell their child to give the balloon back. Many saw the child had taken the balloon and just walked off without even acknowledging the man. But he carried on, quietly making these balloon animals on the corner of the street, handing them out with a smile, too proud to beg.

I noticed he also had some tennis balls in his pocket for juggling, and some other similar parifanalia. Was he once a kids entertainer? How did he know how to make these balloons, and so quickly? What series of unfortunate events lead him to live on the streets? Whilst he was chatting to himself occasionally, he wasn't drunk, and he wasn't high. We had a little whip round and someone popped downstairs to give him a few bucks. 

A couple of hours later when the bus returned, he was still there. I went up to him and asked him how it was going. "Not bad," he said, with kind eyes. "Still working." I handed him another couple of dollars. The smile that broke out on his face and the several thank you's that followed - heart wrencher. 

He tried to give me a balloon. I said it was ok, he could keep it for the next kid.
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Next week

We're off to La-laa Land, also known as Los Angeles.


Postcards

the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
San Francisco hills



Port of San Francisco




the residents of Pier 39, Californian sea lions - San Francisco



City Hall, San Francisco






houses on zig-zagging Lombard Street, San Francisco



Related posts

Week 0: Gone travelling. London - see you in nine months

Week 1: INDIA - Mumbai → Goa
Week 2: INDIA - Bangalore → Mysore → Wayanad
Week 3: INDIA - Kochi → Allepey → Kollam → Madurai
Week 4: INDIA - Pondicherry → Chennai → Mumbai

Week 5: INDIA - Varanasi → Udaipur → Jaipur → Delhi
Week 6: TAIWAN - Taipei
Week 7: CHINA & VIETNAM - Hong Kong → Hanoi
Week 8: VIETNAM - Sapa → Hanoi → Ha Long Bay → Hanoi

Week 9: VIETNAM - Hue → Hoi An
Week 10: VIETNAM - 6 day / 5 night motorbike tour from Hoi An to Da Lat
Week 11: VIETNAM - Da Lat → Nha Trang
Week 12: VIETNAM - HCMC → Mekong Delta → HCMC

Week 13: CAMBODIA - Siem Reap (and Angkor Wat) → Phnom Penh
Week 14: CAMBODIA - Sihanoukville & Koh Rong Samloem Island
Week 15: CAMBODIA - Kep
Week 16: THAILAND - Chiang Mai

Week 17: THAILAND - Songkran Festival in Mae Rim & Chiang Mai
Week 18: THAILAND - Bangkok → Koh Phangan
Week 19: THAILAND - Bangkok
Week 20: MALAYSIA - Penang → Borneo

Week 21: AUSTRALIA - Melbourne
Week 22: NEW ZEALAND - Auckland → Rotorua → Turangi → Whanganui
Week 23: NEW ZEALAND - Wellington → Nelson Lakes → Hanmer Springs → Christchurch
Week 24: NEW ZEALAND - Lake Tekapo → Mount Cook → Queenstown → Milford Sound

Week 25: NEW ZEALAND & USA - Queenstown → Hawaii

Week 26: USA - Hawaii (Big Island) → San Francisco (Oakland)

Monday, 22 June 2015

Week 26: USA - Hawaii (Big Island) → San Francisco (Oakland)

Image of the week: a splendid banyan tree specimen near Rainbow Falls, Big Island - Hawaii
More images at the end of post
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Where in the world

A flight from Hawaii's island of Oahu to Big Island, where we stayed for four nights.


Then a 4.5 hour flight to San Francisco, based in and exploring Oakland (just outside San Fran) in the East Bay. 



Thoughts

I seem to be drawn to lands that threaten to shake the very ground beneath my feet. Iceland, New Zealand, and now Hawaii.

our guide, Luke, from Roberts Hawaii
And if ever a place was going to promise the thrill of the world's most active volcanoes and the spectacular landscapes that go with that, it's Hawaii's Big Island, the largest of the country's archipalegio.

Big Island is, well - big. It's so big that you could fill it with the country's remaining seven main islands and still have a lot of room left over. 

That means it requires quite a bit of driving to get around it and see the best bits. And if you're not staying in Hawaii for too long and don't fancy being behind the wheel for most of the little time you are there, taking a circle tour is a great idea.

We signed up to the Hawaii Grand Circle Island Tour with Roberts Hawaii, a long but fulfilling day (around 10-12 hours), taking in black sand beaches, volcanoes, jurrasic native fern forests, waterfalls, sea turtles, coffee plantations, geothermal steam vents, the gorgeous coastlines, incredible banyan trees (see main picture above), and more, with plenty of stops to soak up the views and take some snaps - many of which can be found at the end of this post (See Did you know? below for some interesting volcano chat).

native Hawaiian fern forests that have changed little since dinosaurs roamed them
Big Island, Hawaii
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A special note to our driver, Luke, who regaled us with stories of his childhood growing up in the surrounding areas, and made the excellent call of dropping a couple of the often-dull shopping stops in favour of more time with the volcanoes, whilst also making an unscheduled bakery pitstop (see Best things I ate this week below).

Then it was onwards to the west coast of the mainland, and a hilly San Francisco. Or more specifically, Oakland in the East Bay, just outside it (more on Oakland in My insider tips below).

But before we leave Hawaii entirely, below is a picture of the volcanic black sand that can be found on some of its beaches. And doesn't it look splendid.

So, how does it get there? When hot molten lava makes contact with water, it cools rapidly and shatters into fragmented debris of various size, much of it small enough to be considered sand. 

A large lava flow entering an ocean may produce enough of these fragments to build a new black sand beach almost overnight. The famous black sand beaches of Hawaii were created virtually instantaneously by the violent interaction between hot lava and sea water.

And since a black sand beach is made by a lava flow in a one time event, they tend to be rather short lived since sands do not get replenished if currents or storms wash it into deeper water. For this reason, the state has made it illegal to remove black sand from its beaches.

Also, I quite like this picture.

the black volcanic sands of our local beach in Kona on Big Island, Hawaii
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The best things I ate this week

Malasadas in the USA's southernmost bakery

When the Portuguese arrived in Hawaii, they brought with them the malasada - generously-sized balls of dough fried until golden brown on the outside and light and fluffy inside. The locals have held on tight to them long after the Portuguese left, and they're now known as the 'Hawaiian doughnut'. 

Enjoyed at the southernmost bakery in the USA, Punalu`u Bake Shop. They were half price when we arrived at the end of the day, and we might have bought too many. A very welcome not-on-the-itinerary stop on the Hawaii Grand Circle Island Tour with Roberts Hawaii, and a favourite with the locals.

Punalu`u Bake Shop and Visitor Center, Route 11 in Na`alehu (Big Island), Hawai`i 96722

Kronnerburger patty melt in Oakland

These guys started off as a pop-up in San Francisco's Mission District. Pictured is the Kronnerburger patty melt at their bricks and mortar set-up in Oakland

It's basically a fried-off grilled cheese sandwich, with a patty. Combining two of some of the best things in the eating world - nothing short of genius. Served rare as you like, sensationally soft meat, mixed milk cheeses, hot mustard, onion confit, grease all over my hands. See you on the cardiac ward. 

Kronnerburger, 4063 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland - on the corner of 41st Street, a few blocks from the MacArthur BART

Doughnut Dolly in Oakland

Doughnuts are hand-rolled and squirted with your choice of filling - and even a combination of two - to order at Doughnut Dolly at hipster epicentre Temascal Alleys in Oakland

The voluptuous filling flavours change daily and the dough is light and not too sweet. Pictured, Naughty Cream (creme fraiche and vanilla bean) and Dark Chocolate (Naughty Cream base with chocolate). A great little Kickstarter success story.

Doughtnut Dolly Temescal, 482 B 49th Street, Oakland, 94609

top: malasada in Hawaii, Kronnerburger patty melt, Doughnut Dolly treats
bottom: oozing Doughnut Dolly, local peaches, big Brazilian plates at Pedro's
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Californian peaches

Californian peaches, eaten beneath the blue skies and sunshine under which they were grown, are equisite. They're almost as good as Turkish peaches - which are the size of a baby's head and twice as heavy - so that's saying something. 

My reaction wasn't too far from Kramer's in this peach-eating scene from Seinfeld.

Big plates at Pedro's Brazil Cafe

Tri-tip (beef), carnitas (pork), grilled chicken, rice, grilled onions, tuna salad, coriander-garlic sauce, ricotta, bread, and loads of hot sauce at Pedro's Brazil Cafe. A shack on the corner of a parking lot near University of California, Berkeley, fully decked out with Brazilian flags, music and a patio. A student-favourite stalwart that's been there 15 years, and great in the sunshine.

Pedro's Brazil Cafe, 1960 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

Did you know?

Big Island volcanoes

I learnt a heap of interesting stuff from our great guide, Luke, during the Hawaii Grand Circle Island Tour with Roberts Hawaii.

Hawaii's Big Island is made up of five volcanoes. The one everyone lives on - called Hualalai - erupts, on average, every 200 years. The last eruption was 1801, which makes it about 16 years late. That means a big blow-out is due any time now..

Big Island also has volcano Kilauea, found in the HawaiĘ»i Volcanoes National Park. It's the most active of the five volcanoes that make up the island, and it's arguably the most active volcano on the planet. And here it is below, smoking away in front of me. 

This week it was actually erupting from two locations (where people were allowed to stand, only smoke could be seen), and just last month it was spewing out red hot lava to decent heights. How cool.

watching a (somewhat gentle) eruption from the Kilauea summit, from its Halemaumau crater
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
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Behind me and out of shot is Mauna Loa, the world's largest volcano. It is in fact the tallest mountain in the world, if measured from its true base on the ocean floor, exceeding Mount Everest by a whole 3/4 of a mile. 

A national park that has it all. Go visit!

Tickets on the Hawaii Grand Circle Island tour with Roberts Hawaii are currently at a reduced price of $88.50 (£56) for adults and $72.50 (£46) for children.

Note: Roberts Hawaii kindly hosted this tour as part of a media package. All views remain my own.

PIXAR Studios

PIXAR's studios are in Oakland! And just a ten minute walk from where we were staying. You can't go in them, but you can certainly get a PIXAR-fan shot outside. 

Just to think the creative geniuses in there now are working away on the next Toy Story, the next Wall-E, that won't delight us in cinemas for another five years or so. Cool.

PIXAR studios in Oakland, California
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My insider tips

Safety in Oakland

When our lovely AirBnB host kindly picked us up from the train station on our arrival and began to talk us through her area, she mentioned: "no doubt you've heard about Oakland already.. that it's the armed robbery capital of America".

Oh, is it really. No, we hadn't heard. Looks like that quite useful nugget of insight managed to slip through the net when we were researching where to stay.

We've been here three days now, and whilst parts of Oakland are certainly a little rough around the edges, most of neighbouring San Francisco is also a little rough around the edges (more on that in next week's post). For starters, I've never seen as many people living on the street as I have in San Fran. Or as many people walking around totally off their rockers in broad daylight.

But as with the gritty corners of any big city, you just need to be sensible, and aware. 

Oakland reminds me a lot of Shoreditch back home in the east of London. It once was a place that was pretty shitty. The more affordable housing started to pull in the yuppies that couldn't quite reach the ever-rising rents further in town. 

With them, the area become gentrified and "cool", meaning all the beareded hipsters moved in - you know the ones, taking style tips from kids and the homeless. 

Now, quite like Shoreditch, the trendy places in Oakland like Temascal Alleys (the East Bay's hippest street) sit alongside the less glamorous strips, whose inhabitants still push their worldly posessions around in a shopping trolley.

Highlights / Lowlights

Highlight  

There are a lot of green sea turtles across the planet, but it's only Hawaii's greens that routinely bask on its beaches (females usually only make land to lay eggs in the sand then return to the sea), and no one can really explain this unique behaviour.

green sea turtle basking on Punaluu Beach on Big Island, Hawaii
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On a trip to the black sand Punaluu Beach on the Hawaii Grand Circle Island Tour with Roberts Hawaii, we came across three beautiful beasts relaxing on the warm sands. 

And just a ten minute walk from our AirBnB in Kona (you can find out more details about where we stayed in last week's post under My insider tips), there was another black sand beach, great for snorkelling. In its rocky shallows, present every day almost without fail, there were at least a couple swimming.

spot me on the left of the image, and if you look closely at the very centre amongst the black rocks, you'll see a little head poking out of the water and a shell with a transmitter attached to it - my snorkelling buddy for the day
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You're not allowed to touch them, and you're meant to keep at least 10 feet away. I'll tell you now, I was a lot closer than that. Gorgeous animals, and a real privilage to swim alongside them in the wild.

Lowlight

Homer in his muumuu

If you're a fan of The Simpsons (and let's face it, who isn't), you'll be familiar with the episode King-Size Homer from season 7 (when it was still great)where the lovable family man intentionally stuffs himself silly in order to reach morbidly obese proportions, in order to be declared disabled and have a work-from-home station set up in his living room.


Due to his newfound folds, he can no longer fit into his own clothes, or the clothes of any other man within normal load-bearing proportions. 

The only thing that fits him is a Hawaiian muumuu, a womans dress that hangs from the shoulders and whose shapelessness hides a wealth of sins beneath.

Matt is a great fan of The Simpsons and with King-Size Homer being his favourite ever episode, the urge to purchase a muumuu whilst being in Hawaii was just too great for him to ignore. 

He wore it every evening for the whole week (I'm thankful it was within the confines of our accomodation) and refused to take it off, despite my pleas. He looked like he was in drag. Ergo, this week's lowlight.

No, I'm not sharing a picture of him in it (of course he took several and sent them to his friends). But here's one of Homer in that episode to trigger your memory.

Next week

More San Francisco!

Postcards

a Texas long-horn. Or when a cow has a run in with a set of elephant tusks, Hawaii


Big Island's black volcanic rock coastlines

Hawaii flora
Rainbow Falls, Big Island - Hawaii
miles and miles of fields of lava from the 1801 eruption of  Hualalai
palm tree forests, Big Island - Hawaii
University of California Berkeley campus





Saturday afternoon high school American football practice, Berkerley








Related posts

Week 0: Gone travelling. London - see you in nine months

Week 1: INDIA - Mumbai → Goa
Week 2: INDIA - Bangalore → Mysore → Wayanad
Week 3: INDIA - Kochi → Allepey → Kollam → Madurai
Week 4: INDIA - Pondicherry → Chennai → Mumbai

Week 5: INDIA - Varanasi → Udaipur → Jaipur → Delhi
Week 6: TAIWAN - Taipei
Week 7: CHINA & VIETNAM - Hong Kong → Hanoi
Week 8: VIETNAM - Sapa → Hanoi → Ha Long Bay → Hanoi

Week 9: VIETNAM - Hue → Hoi An
Week 10: VIETNAM - 6 day / 5 night motorbike tour from Hoi An to Da Lat
Week 11: VIETNAM - Da Lat → Nha Trang
Week 12: VIETNAM - HCMC → Mekong Delta → HCMC

Week 13: CAMBODIA - Siem Reap (and Angkor Wat) → Phnom Penh
Week 14: CAMBODIA - Sihanoukville & Koh Rong Samloem Island
Week 15: CAMBODIA - Kep
Week 16: THAILAND - Chiang Mai

Week 17: THAILAND - Songkran Festival in Mae Rim & Chiang Mai
Week 18: THAILAND - Bangkok → Koh Phangan
Week 19: THAILAND - Bangkok
Week 20: MALAYSIA - Penang → Borneo

Week 21: AUSTRALIA - Melbourne
Week 22: NEW ZEALAND - Auckland → Rotorua → Turangi → Whanganui
Week 23: NEW ZEALAND - Wellington → Nelson Lakes → Hanmer Springs → Christchurch
Week 24: NEW ZEALAND - Lake Tekapo → Mount Cook → Queenstown → Milford Sound

Week 25: NEW ZEALAND & USA - Queenstown → Hawaii

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