Why Cabs in SF Hate Me… and Everyone Else

There are a lot of reasons why I love San Francisco.  The weather, the proximity to water, West Coast lifestyle, Trader Joe’s, etc. etc.

There are also a few things that I could do without.  This post is going to highlight my discontent with cabs in San Francisco.

Story 1 – Initial Visit to San Francisco and Pre-Move

Two of my coworkers and I hailed down a cab and after we got into the cab, we told him we needed three different drop off locations because we were all headed off to our respective homes/hotels.

From the get go our taxi driver was short fused and snappy.  When he dropped off my coworkers, it was just him and me.

Feeling apprehensive about Mr. Sourpuss over there and also being in a strange city for the first time and me not wanting to end up on Channel 11 or its SF equivalent, I tried engaging in a friendly conversation

How’s your night going?

It was rude of your friends and you to get into my cab and expect me to drive you all to three different places.

Um… I’m sorry?

It was disrespect.  You didn’t respect me.

Um. Oh. I didn’t realized it was an issue.  I apologize for the inconveniencing you… and giving you more business?

My apology went nowhere.  He kept going on and on.  And then went on and on again.  When we finally got to my destination, I scurried my butt out of there as fast as I could and tipped well so he wouldn’t follow me ranting.

Story 2 – Post-Move to SF

This cab ride conversation with the driver consisted of him lecturing me on how to properly hail down a cab because apparently I’ve been doing it wrong all these years in Toronto.  My arms needed to be more extended and my wave needed to have more emphasis and oomph.  This driver would have made a great pageant dad.  He did forgot to mention how I was able to effectively flag his cab down.

Story 3 – Everyday Life in SF

My three coworkers – Lo, Katie, and MR- and I were off to an birthday party so we flagged (correctly this time!) down a cab and taxied it over.  Lo offered to cover the cab so the three of us hopped out and waited for her to settle the bill.  Lo gets out of the cab with a look of disbelief.

What’s wrong Lo?

He asked for more tip.

What?

I gave him a tip and he said “that’s all you’re giving me for 4 people?

And… did you end up giving him more?

…yes…

The word “seriously” was plastered on the rest of my and the other girls’ expression.

Oh… Lo… you didn’t.

So some key takeaways for you San Francisco tourists and upcoming expats:

  • Plan an extra 10 minutes in your schedule to flag down a cab.  Don’t bother calling for a cab unless you like being put on hold for 10 minutes and then having the cab not show up.  Or you could just walk.
  • Tip according to this math equation: Level of Tip = Level of Customer Service.  Don’t let them make you feel bad!
  • Tell them every single destination that you want to go to prior to getting into the cab.
  • Learn how to properly hail a cab.  And, being the educational blog that I am, here is a video on how to hail a taxi.

Do the opposite of what this young lad is doing

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A Day in Charlotte, North Carolina

I arrived in Charlotte Thursday night before the Martin Luther King long weekend to visit my friend Chadd from Queen’s University and my exchange school Universite catholique de Louvain.  Chadd was out of town working until Friday night so I decided to spend the day on Friday getting to know Charlotte.

The day began by walking into downtown Charlotte along Tryon St., which on a map is actually uptown and can cause a lot of confusion among directionally-challenged tourists.

Please turn to your left and take in the beauty that is…

The Bank of America Stadium!

Walk a little further and you’ll hit The Green which Charlotte Tourism describes as…

“Giant books and pages as well as a walkway of magical sounds enliven this literary-themed wonderland of a park. Colorful benches and the fantasy Fish Fountain offer areas to relax.  Dine alfresco or indoors at restaurants along the park. “

…but my pictures pretty much captures all that you’ll see.

It was cute and probably my favourite part of the city although that title wasn’t hard to get.

Next, I had lunch The King’s Kitchen recommended by many Yelpers.

The King’s Kitchen is a not for profit restaurant where proceeds goes back to the community.  The food was fresh and absolutely affordable.  For $9, I got a plate full of southern fried chicken, spinach, butternut squash, and mac and cheese and corn bread and a biscuit to start!  I absolutely recommend checking this place out if you’re ever in the city.

Nom nom nom

After I finished lunch, I continued to walk around town but after a few blocks I realized I had reached the end.

So I decided to walk along the other two major streets – College St. and Church St. but that also didn’t take very long.

Still having 4 hours to kill before Chadd got off work, I hopped on this little bus.

Gold Rush Transit Trolleys are free and WARM!

So I took the free bus from…

… Where the large circle is to where the arrow points to.

And then from…

… Where the circle is to where the arrow points to…

Then…

I was almost that “bus rider” that falls asleep on the bus and going round and round with it.

… Back to where I started.

I then proceeded to do the same thing with the Red line but I’ll spare you the details and my horrific graphic design skills as it doesn’t get all that exciting and I’m sure you can predict how that went.

I want to say the rest of my weekend in Charlotte was amazing but I wouldn’t know because I convinced Chadd and his friend to road trip it down to Charleston with me.  By convincing, I mean peer pressuring them to priceline a hotel after they’ve had one too many 2AM in the morning.  I should feel bad for coercing them but I really don’t.  Evil?

Another state to cross off my list.  47 left.

My Anti-Climatic Experience With In-N-Out

For the past two months since I’ve lived with my housemate, she’s been raving on and on and on and on about In-N-Out Burger.

In-N-Out Burger is a fast food chain that is popular in Southern California and is what Tim Horton’s is to Canadians, In-N-Out is to SoCals.  Here are some reactions you’ll get if you mention In-N-Out to Californians,

Get it animal style.  It’s the best burger EVER!!!!

It’s like fast food but like really really high quality fast food.  Oh you’ll love it.

So, finally one night we headed over to In-N-Out because she was craving it and I was desperate to try something Californian and prove to myself (and everyone else) that I’m totally a local.  And here is how my meal went, graph-wise:

Note my level of excitement on trying something truly Californian.

My mood after I just ordered my meal and waiting in anticipation.

My meal... om nom nom

After the first bite...Ohhhh...Hmmm...

Marci is waiting for me to gush about the food but then notices my reaction.

It’s, you know, a really Californian thing, people get off the plane and the first thing they have is an In-N-Out Burger

Oh, how I can hear the defensiveness in her voice.

It’s not bad, it’s just…

People love it so much, there’s an iPhone app for it.

There’s an iPhone app for it?  Do you have an iPhone app for it?

She pauses

Yes but it’s because it’s so popular in SoCal that you need it for roadtrips

I smile at her in what I hope was my best encouraging, not judging you smile.

I get it, it’s like Tim Horton’s for us.

Ya but like the food is actually good.

Woah… back up Californian.  I just stared at her with my best evil eye which wasn’t really scary because when a Canadian gives you the evil, we just look like a puppy that’s going to lick you to death.

My housemate musters…

Well, the timbits are okay.

Everyone is entitled to their food opinions and no one is right or wrong when it comes to their food choices but in this case, Marci’s wrong.  In-N-Out wasn’t life changing and Tim Horton’s will forever be the first thing I eat when I get off a plane in Toronto. #sniff

From East to West

I was asked recently why I moved to San Francisco.  I replied,

For work, I was asked to relocate.

I later thought of my answer and realized that it wasn’t the most sufficient of answers.  Work can’t be the only reason why I moved.  If I was asked to relocate to Flin Flon, Manitoba I wouldn’t have said yes so readily and willingly.  There had to be more.

I always always always wanted to work overseas.  Back in 2009, I added “work in London, England” to my bucket list of things to do and I see San Francisco as a great detour to that and a way of gradually stepping into the life of an expat.

In May, I visited SF and fell in love with the city 10x over.  A foodie city right by the water and mix of eclectic and smart individuals.  Sign. Me. Up. Now.

San Francisco provides me with a great opportunity to visit the cities around the West Coast and while I’m all the way over in the Pacific, provides me with the opportunity to explore Asia more.

I love traveling.  I love living overseas and stretching my comfort level and getting myself into situations that I can’t figure out how I got myself into.  Where else would you find it funny when a man shouts at you and chases you and your two friends on a train funny other than traveling overseas in a strange land?  My blog only captures a glimpse of the awkward situations I’ve managed to put myself in since I got here.

I’m still trying to get my life sorted after having gone back to Toronto for the holidays and getting back last week.  I’m off to Charlotte, North Carolina this long weekend to visit a friend but look out for some stories including the First Time I Drove in San Francisco, Why Cabs in SF Hate Me… and Everyone Else, and of course a recap of my trip to Charlotte.

How to Have an Epic Road Trip Day Along the California Coast

On our last hurrah before Leigh Anne flew back to Toronto, we decided to go on a mini road trip.  And here I present to you…

How to Have an Epic Road Trip Day Along The California Coast.

Step 1:  Create an awesome playlist with all highs and no lows Barney Stinson style.

California Girls – The Beach Boys

California – Wave

San Francisco – Mamas and Papas

California Love – Tupac ft. Dr. Dre

California Girls – Katy Perry

California – Phantom Planet

Save Me San Francisco – Train

Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen

And saving the best for last…

Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus

(I think it’s because I really relate to the first verse “I hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and a cardigan”.  Other expats, don’t lie, you know that I know that you also got that excited and thought she was singing the song about you when you heard it.)

Step 2:  Rent a Zip Car (if you don’t have a real car)

Step 3:   Map out how to get out of the city.

Step 4:  Off you go!

Starting from Geary Blvd which turns into The Great Highway, Leigh Anne and I leisurely made our way down to Santa Cruz.  On our road trip down, I learned a few things which I’m going to share with you along with some “not from cali” tips:

  • San Francisco has really nice beaches and people actually go to them in December and SURF.

Not From Cali Tip:  Don’t gawk at the surfers with a “I can’t believe there’s surfers” expression on your face.

  • “We’ve been on the run/Driving in the sun/Looking out for #1/California here we come/Right back where we started from.”  Singing California by the Phantom Planet while driving down the Californian coast is epic.  It’s even better if you pretend you’re Lauren Conrad the entire drive and I’m sure Leigh Anne was having a Marissa Cooper moment.  I later told my housemate – Marci – about my playlist and our car ride.  Marci smiled and nodded politely but even her laidback, SoCal upbringing couldn’t hide her “Did you?  Did you really? I’m embarrassed to know you” look.

Not From Cali Tip: Having an all California playlist will result in feeling really embarrassed and touristy when your windows are rolled down, music is blasting, and locals are shaking their head in shame. My playlist is awesome and I don’t regret it.  I wished I kept my windows rolled up though.

  • The roads along the coast are curvy.  Leigh Anne may have screeched a few times “STAY ON OUR SIDE OF THE ROAD”

Not From Cali Tip:  Don’t drive off the road.  You will die.  Don’t drive too close to the other lane or you risk being in a head on collision.

 

We pulled over and I forced Leigh Anne to take a picture here and as she was stepping to it, we realized it was a CLIFF!

The California Road Trip Day was by far one of my favourite days in San Francisco.  I had such a great time and it was so relaxing that I’m thinking of doing it every two months or so.  It only took Leigh Anne and I about 2.5 hours to drive down including multiple stops for photo ops.  I would love any recommendations on cities/landmarks that can be visited on a one day road trip from San Francisco.

Taking the view in

Forests, Donkeys, and Wine! Oh My!

Following up on my previous post, on another free day, Leigh Anne (LA) and I went up to Muir Woods and Sonoma through the Extranomical Tours.  We had initially discussed renting a Zip Car and I would drive us up to wine country but going on a tour was a much much wiser idea.  Why?

Reason 1:  The curvy roads up to Muir Woods was scary.

Reason 2: I passed out in the backseat of the tour bus at the end of the day from too much wine.  I’m a very good friend for doing the tour with LA and not letting her drink alone while I played DD.

And, so it begins The Wino Day where  we were picked up in front of the Fairmont Hotel at 8:15 and started our day in Muir Woods.

Muir Woods was incredibly beautiful and colder than I expected (the weather in San Francisco was a sunny low 50… erhm Farenheit for my Canucks who might be mistaken).   My hands were freezing and I wish I brought up a pair of mittens but kept repeating to myself Barney Stinson-style during the hike to “Canadian up and bear the cold”.

I felt a little Hansel and Gretel in the woods.

I’m always a little apprehensive with tours since I hate being dictated by a schedule but we had a good amount of time to walk around.  LA and I had close to 1.5 hours to wander around the woods, take loads of picture, and try not to fall down a cliff.  Each trail had postings to explain the animals that habitat there, if any significant history occurred in the area (e.g. One area held a UN meeting and had an FDR dedication).

At the end of the 1.5 hours, I was pretty happy that there was a time limit – it gave me an excuse to end the hike and go back to the bus and try to warm up snowman like hands.

This reminded me of The Fox and The Hound.

After Muir Woods, we headed over to our first wine tasting at Jacuzzi Family Vineyard.  Yes… somehow this Jacuzzi family is related to the Jacuzzi. The Jacuzzi family got their start through a series of patents and from my fuzzy memory (blame it on the wine), I believe one of the patents was for a hydraulic pump in a bathtub which turned into the Jacuzzi we know today.

The vineyard was gorgeous and coming early on a Friday morning in December meant little tourist and tons of wine.  As we were part of the tour, there was no limit to the amount of wine we could try.  An added bonus to the vineyard was that in the same house as the wine tasting there was also an olive oil tasting.  LA and I decided the best way to do this was wine –>  run to the olive oil tasting –> eat bread dipped in olive oil –> run to the wine tasting –> down the wine, back to the olive oil –> eat bread dipped in olive oil –> saunter over to the bus.  #bestideaever

In and around Jacuzzi Family Vineyard

The tour then took us into town and gave us some free time for food.  After lunch we headed over to Cline Cellars where we had our tasting outdoors under a tent!  How very cute and how very Californian.  Unlike Jacuzzi, where LA and I spent most our time indoors, Cline Cellars has so much to see.

The property included phoenix (I’ve never seen one in real life and I’m pretty sure I thought it was a dragon #fail), pigeons, and two cute donkeys.  Pictures of the donkeys and other parts of the day are posted below.

Cline Cellars also had the friendliest staff.  I tweeted a few times about how I was on the tour and Cline Tours staff came round and greeted me by name.  As well, Extranomical gifted me with a free bottle of wine from Cline Cellars for my tweets.  It was a nice surprise!

Overall, LA and I had a great day and the fact that I can’t remember the ride home is evidence of what a fun and relaxing experience it was.

Look out for a new blog post soon on LA and my road trip along the California coast real soon… or better yet, subscribe and get the post in your inbox!

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In the San Francisco Jungle.

My friend, Leigh Anne, recently came to visit me from Toronto so I took a Monday off from work to explore the city with her and do all the fun touristy things that I haven’t done since I moved here.   Exploring San Francisco on a Monday proved to be a wise choice.  There are fewer people roaming the streets resulting in way more opportunity to do photo ops.

Stopped for coffee and breakfast at Village Market in the Inner Richmond neighbourhood on California and 8th.

Despite being here for over two months, I finally made my way over to the Golden Gate Park… only to be greeted with this sign:

I think the last thing I'll want to be doing is throw a rock at it.

It’s funny – If I saw a sign that warned me about bears in Ontario, I wouldn’t have reacted but rather be “just another day in cottage country”.  Pretty much how Marci doesn’t freak out about earthquakes but when I tried to explain to her how Canadian kids spend recess outside in -10 degrees Celsius, she thought we were a cruel and evil nation.

Leigh Anne and I went to the Japanese Tea Garden in the park.  If you ever want to check out the tea garden, they have free admissions Monday, Wednesday, and Friday before 10AM.

Entrance to the Japanese Tea Garden

Path of rocks

Later that day, we checked out San Francisco China Town.

How can you not love the lanterns?!

From China Town, Leigh Anne and I made a detour to Coit Tower to check out the view.  I was apprehensive about going to Coit Tower because most people I spoke to told me to skip it and head over to Twin Peaks instead.   But as it was Leigh Anne’s vacation, her choice took precedent over mine.

Despite the foggy (when is it not foggy!) day in SF, the view up there was spectacular!  Too bad my camera fail to capture how great the view looked [insert sad face here].  If you’re in the North Beach/Fisherman’s Wharf area, it’s not a bad hike to get up to Coit Tower and the houses surrounding it is also really great to check out.

Coit Tower

After Coit Tower, it was finally time for the main event of the day… WATCHING WHALES or as it is appropriately called, Whale Watching with the San Francisco Whale Watching Tours.

Thanks to Groupon, Leigh Anne and I got to go on a whale expedition for the price of 1 person.  On this tour, we went under the Golden Gate Bridge and made our way out of the bay and into the Pacific Ocean.

After running from one end of the boat to the other and then back to my original spot then back to the other side, we spotted some sort of sea mammal.  I thought it was a whale but others claim it was a dolphin.

Whale or Dolphin?

We also went over to where the seals live.  They are cute little creatures but didn’t do much to entertain us other than continue to sleep on their cold rock.

Lazy seals

Having not seen seals outside of Marine Land in Canada, I really couldn’t see why they didn’t want to play catch with me.  I think this requires a #suburbankidupbringing hash tag.

What other parts of San Francisco and the Bay area must I see?

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