Golden Gate (insert business type here), Googleplex, and creepy drives in fog

Our last day (err, morning) in the northern Bay Area was full of shopping around Union Square. We woke up bright and early to start our day, hoping to kill some time before going to the Golden Gate Bridge, which is hidden by thick layers of fog (as seen from Fisherman’s Wharf the previous day).

Touristing
Powell Street cable car

While in the city, we caught a glimpse of the Powell St cable car. The line to ride this up a very steep street (Powell) is usually at least a 30 minute wait, so we just took photos and tried to live vicariously through everyone on it. Even about multiple visits to San Francisco, I still haven’t mustered up the patience to ride this thing up a few blocks.

Once the clock struck noon, we decided to leave the city and head north to the Golden Gate Bridge. Surely by noon, the fog would be cleared right? Nope! We were greeted by this lovely view of a half-hidden bridge. A little hard to see, but still beautiful!

Golden Gate bridge

Since we needed to be in Pismo Beach by the end of the day, we scooted along quickly from the bridge and headed south towards Chinatown. We were recommended by SF friends to check out the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, which is located just off an alley in the heart of Chinatown. We bee-lined there as soon as we could find parking (which is a nightmare, btw. I would not recommend driving to Chinatown if you can avoid it).

chinatown-lanterns
golden gate fortune cookie factory

Ok, so it looks a little sketchy on the outside… but it is definitely worth stopping by to check out. We didn’t take any photos inside because, for one, there were no windows anywhere in the building so it was pretty dark, and secondly, each photo costs $0.50. Looking back, I really wish I had just paid the hefty (jk) $0.50 fee for the photo. Imagine a really small ~300 sqft space with iron cast machinery lining the walls. There was exactly one person hand-folding each and every fortune cookie as the flat cookie round came out of the press. There was a little box to her left, full of fortunes which were slipped into each cookie before being folded. Crazy! For $3.75, we left with a big bag of fortune cookies. I honestly wish I could’ve left more money for their cookies. Seeing the working conditions was… a little heartbreaking, to say the least.

We then headed to the Golden Gate Bakery, famous for its egg tarts. I love egg tarts!! Growing up, I used to always hope for a plate of egg tarts to snack on at the end of dim sum. The bakery had a “no pictures” policy, so I can’t show you all the other baked goodies available, but trust me, it all looked AH-MAZING!

golen gate bakery

We bought… um… a few (*shifty eyes*) and headed to Ten Ren for bubble tea to enjoy with the egg tarts. It was a nice break before heading back onto the road to Mountain View: home of the Google headquarters!

Google Building 44
Googleplex - honeycomb

The first time I visited the campus (Building 44, to be exact), there was only the cupcake, donut, eclair, and froyo on the lawn. Since that visit, Android has released gingerbread, honeycomb, ice cream sandwich, and jelly bean. Embarrassingly, we spent more time taking photos at the Googleplex than we did at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Once our inner nerdisms had time to calm down, we got back in the car and started heading south on Hwy 1. After a ~4 hour drive in the creepiest fog I’ve ever seen, we ended up in Monterey! Honestly, the fog felt like a scene straight out of Silent Hill. It was thick and covered about 30% of the view as we were driving.

Monterey
Lover's Point
Lover's Point

The reason for our stop off was to see Lover’s Point. It’s supposed to be a breathtaking view over the water from the cliffs, but given the fog situation, it was hard to see past a few meters at best. Even in all the fog, the scenery was beautiful. It was so quiet and serene. We stayed and soaked in the views until the rain started to fall and urged us back onto the road.

Our last stop for the night was Pismo Beach, which was another 3 hour drive south. This was the longest stretch of driving distance covered in a single day on our trip. As the sole driver, I didn’t think it would feel as tiring as it ended up feeling. Ines was awesome and made sure to keep the music coming in the car… even if we had to do it ghetto style, blasting tracks from her iPad since we didn’t have any radio reception and my phone was tied up for navigating the route.

I can’t wait for the next post! Pismo Beach was the one place I wanted to stop off in for one reason: sand dunes!!

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What’s in my purse: travel edition

I’m kicking off the recap of the San Francisco to Los Angeles road trip posts with a “What’s in my purse” post after the “What’s in my clutch” post from last month had such positive reactions. Although I’ve only been home for less than 2 hours, I knew I wanted to post about my travel necessities. I’m one of those people who likes to travel with only a carry on-sized luggage (rolling clothes and playing Tetris in a suitcase is not as fun as it is on Gameboy), so I make sure that I pack strategically light. My purse is the other “personal item” allowed as a carry on, so I need to make sure that what I bring in there is going to be useful every day of the trip.

What's in my travel bag

1 // Betsey Johnson satchel (exact): This satchel was my purse of choice for this particular trip. The size of the bag was perfect for carrying all my necessities and the colour couldn’t be more perfect for the sunny days in California. I found this bag at Nordstrom Rack a few weeks back, but it’s also available online at Zappos (although for $20 more than what I had paid).

2 // Pond’s travel size face cream ($2 from Target): This cream is sold in a perfect 1.75oz size that has never given me any trouble through TSA. I always worry about lotions getting thrown out or confiscated at TSA for being oversized, so this one is perfect for any travels. Pond’s makes a few different types of these travel sized creams too. I bought the regular moisturizing face cream, but it also comes in anti-wrinkle and dark spot correction variations. I think the technical limit of cream size is actually 1oz at TSA, but for $2, I’m more willing to let this get confiscated vs my everyday bottle of cream which is 8oz.

3 // Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment with SPF 15 (exact): I once made the mistake of traveling with a lip balm without any SPF and my lips ended up getting burnt really badly and hurt for days on end. Ever since trying a tube of this stuff from last year’s Sephora birthday gift, I have been hooked! Definitely recommend one of these for everyday wear, especially in sunnier weather.

4 // Canon Rebel XS (exact): I can’t go anywhere without my trusty DSLR! I’ve had this camera for almost 5 years now and still love it to death. I brought my EF 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 lens instead of the kit lens, as this is the one I shoot with regularly for the blog. I debated bringing along the 50mm f/1.8 lens as well, but with limited purse real estate, I passed on the extra lens.

5 // Flips Audio headphones (c/o, exact): I was really lucky to get a chance to try out these headphones during my trip! The smart design allows them to be folded compactly, which made carrying them around in my purse along with everything else a breeze. I usually have to stuff headphones into my carry on suitcase because I can’t fold them (and I don’t like ear buds for plane rides because they start to hurt my ears after a while).

What makes these headphones different from other ones in the market is the fact that you can transform them from a personal listening device to speakers for more than one person. This was especially handy for parts of our trip where there was zero radio reception and we didn’t have an aux cable to plug any of our phones or iPods into. These headphones were a huge life saver (gotta have the road tunes on those long 4 hour drives!) and did a great job in the car. Without being able to use the car stereo, the headphones provided an amazing alternative for allowing us to still play music during those strenuously long stretches of driving. To be honest, I was really impressed when we first used the Flips as speakers. On the plane when I used them for my own listening, I thought the sound quality was amazing. I didn’t know what to expect when trying these out as speakers because I thought that the cushioning would dampen the sound, but they didn’t! I would highly recommend these to anyone looking for a pair of compact, over the ear headphones! (There’s a coupon from now until July 16, 2013 for $10 off plus a free rush shipping upgrade: FA0010INT)

6 // You Smell Lemon Verbena Paper Soap (exact): I posted about these last month, but I seriously can’t even count how many bathrooms we encountered during this road trip where there was no soap. What the heck? Having these little sheets handy in the purse were awesome. Bonus: they made the bathroom smell better too. ;)

7 // Stewart/Stand RFID blocking wallet (c/o, exact): You know how technology is super awesome nowadays and you can easily make purchases by tapping your credit/debit card on a point of sales terminal? It’s so easy to complete a transaction without having to swipe a card to transfer the info and sometimes, if the amount is small enough, you don’t even have to sign a receipt to complete the purchase! So the downside to this convenience is that using the same data transfer technology, your personal data (name, credit card number, billing zip, etc) can be stolen without your knowledge. Pretty scary to think that the same technology that makes our purchasing flows so much more easy and convenient can also be used against us as consumers. (You can more about RFID blocking here.)

Stewart/Stand has come up with woven stainless steel fabric that will protect your personal data from being stolen. I was really lucky with timing to get a chance to take their red wallet clutch on vacation with me. Not only is the design of the wallet itself beautiful, but the functionality behind it helped me to travel with ease, not having to worry about my personal info getting stolen. I was personally able to hold 8 cards in the wallet (there are 6 card slots, but I was afraid to stretch the leather too much) and it is designed to be very thin, which was a perfect match for my space-conscious concerns.

As someone who loves seeing technology make our day-to-day lives easier, I think it’s also important to be aware of how these new technologies can be abused and what we can do as conscious consumers to protect ourselves. The last thing I’d want to have to deal with on vacation is having my credit card number stolen!

Whew! There you have it… the somewhat nerdy contents of my girly Betsey Johnson purse (not pictured: Ethernet cable which I kept in the zippered inside pocket because you never know when WiFi won’t be available)! Now I’m curious to know what you carry in your purse when traveling. Did I miss anything that you just can’t leave for vacation without?

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California, Californiaaaaa, here we come!

This title is sort of inaccurate now as I’m technically already in California, but hey! It’s super sunny here and we’ve been eating non-stop since we landed, and it’s been a little hard to stay awake to type out this post after long days of getting stuck in rush hour traffic and walking from one end of touristy places to the other.

SFtoLAmap

One of my closest friends and I decided to road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles about a week ago. It was a super last minute decision to do this trip, which meant scrambling to plan driving routes and hotels within the span of 2 nights. Not going to lie… our LA accommodations were still in the air until yesterday and we’re leaving the Bay Area tonight. haha oops! I’m super stoked to share all our adventures here!!

Pier 39 California

Because I’m really great at packing 2 hours before my flight, I forgot to bring the card reader for my camera, so real photos will have to wait! Until then, snippets of the trip are being posted on my Instagram!

If you have any recommendations for things to check out along the way to LA, let me know! Our plans are still so up in the air that detours are likely going to happen. :)

p.s. Happy belated birthday, Canada! Sad to have missed out on fireworks this year… at least there will be some in 2 days in the US!

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Coachella 2013: We are ready, we are ready for the floor

This past weekend was SO. MUCH. FUN!!! Ever since going to Coachella last year (Part 1 and Part 2 recaps), my friends and I are now trying to make this an annual meetup event. It’s really nice to have a weekend to look forward seeing these guys… we used to hang out with each other almost daily back when we lived in the same city. Now that we are spread across the coasts, it’s nice to have one weekend of every year when we know we’re going to see each other.

InstaCam_2013-04-21_11-09-39-PM_jpg
The first day of shows was absolutely incredible! We got there a bit earlier to see Stars and Metric– two of our favourite (Canadian!!) bands from back in the day when we first met and all bonded over music together. We stayed at the main stage to watch Passion Pit (a later love that started in 2009), and ended the night early after the Beach House set.

Halfway through the first day, I felt a ton of grass between my toes in the right shoe and looked down to see that my shoes were falling apart! Awesome. Really, really awesome. Somehow the soles ended up melting, hardening in chunks, and then falling off… I guess this means I’m back on the hunt for a new pair of oxfords!

I won’t bore you with mundane details of the rest of the shows, so here are some photos from the rest of the weekend:

coachella2013
1 // LEM N. MAN blueberry lemonade — best beverage of life when in scorching hot 90F sun & heat
2 // Standing in awkward circles and chatting between sets
3 // Pretending to be teenage girls and making “stars” with our fingers… I dunno. don’t ask.
4 // Meeting up with other friends who flew in from Toronto! Their flag came in handy for trying to find each other in the crowds
5 // The amazingly gorgeous Emily Haines of Metric working the crowd
6 // Following the Yellow Path back to the shuttles at the end of every night

So that was my weekend of insanity. I’m pretty excited to settle back in to a regular sleeping routine and not having to scrape off layers of dust/dirt from my legs after a night out in the desert! Definitely going to miss these friends as I probably won’t be seeing them all again until Christmas or New Year’s eve.

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Until we meet again, Coachella. ♥

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Los Angeles weekend away part 2

I’m going to preface this post with how much I love my Windows Phone. I got the Lumia 920 last year and debated long and hard between the Lumia and an iPhone. It’s true that the WP platform has less apps than iPhone (sigh…still no Instagram), but the one thing I couldn’t say no to is the amazing camera. I find myself carrying around only my phone instead of both my phone and DSLR nowadays. All the photos that were taken in these LA recap posts were taken with my Lumia and I am so impressed!! Not having to tote around a DSLR on vacation definitely makes traveling light easier.

So the second half of the weekend in Los Angeles was spent at the Getty museum, checking out the amazing furniture and other finds at Nick Metropolis, running into Seattlites at Venice beach, and, of course, eating delicious food that’s special to LA. The first stop was the Getty Museum, which in itself is a work of art:

The J. Paul Getty Museum
The J. Paul Getty Museum

Yeah. This castle-looking building is a museum! Can’t not mention he cactus garden and a huuuuge floral garden walkway. If we had more time in LA, I’m sure it would’ve taken a weekend in itself to explore all the nooks and crannies of this museum!

Next stop: Pink’s hot dogs

Pink's hot dogs

I’m not a huge fan of hot dogs, but I’ll give it to Pink’s for converting me to temporarily think that hotdogs > burgers. Pink’s is known for their chili dogs, but as usual, I got distracted by the witty names of menu items and went for something with a punnier name. On the left is the chili dog, and I ended up getting the “Lord of the Rings” dog, which was onion rings topped with barbeque sauce. haha come on…. the name is pretty good, no? *cricket, cricket*

Nick Metropolis

Another really neat place we made a stop off at was to see the collection of furniture and other collectibles at Nick Metropolis. I swear I’ve seen Nick’s shop featured on some TLC show within the last 5 or so years. The selection of goods range from old school Hollywood signs to 1920s flapper-styled mannequins to 1940s military trunks (still with the original owner’s uniform, photos, and letters. Nick himself was really friendly and showed us the really unique gems currently in his shop (the military trunk being one of them).

Nick Metropolis - Blue

We also had the pleasure of meeting Blue, the sweetest, most affectionate Chihuahua I have ever met. Blue is one of the workers at Metropolis’ dog and she is such a cutie. She usually sits near the front entrance of the shop and will occasionally be allowed to run round the shop. She loves people and wants to play all the time. Such a big difference between Blue and other yappy Chihuahuas I’ve met in the past. (Go figure the most interesting thing in the shop for me is a new animal friend ;) lol)

Last stop: Venice Beach! Gosh, looking at this photo makes me wish there was a more accessible beach in Seattle where I could kick my shoes off and sit in the sun for hours on end!

santamonica
Eddy Lee art

While walking the Venice Beach strip, we stumbled upon the artwork of Eddy Lee. Believe it or not, he’s originally from Seattle (!!) and recently moved to sunny California. The work above is part of his Versus series, where each piece s a modern twist on a popular classic. It’s pretty incredible to see such beautiful work being displayed at beach side. I left with a print of the “Vs Michelangelo” piece, which is currently sitting on my work table waiting to be framed and mounted.

The weekend away in LA was filled with a lot of art and inspiration! After staying stationary in Seattle for almost half a year (with the trip back home to Toronto for the Christmas holidays), it’s nice to step away and see how different the world is outside of the Seattle boundaries.

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