Posts Tagged ‘ california ’

The Neighborhood Snippet Series: North Beach

You are where you live. 

San Francisco is a city full of the most diverse and talented individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.  It’s not uncommon to get into a conversation about an app someone developed last night.  San Francisco – with all its wonder and uniqueness – is also a city that defines and stereotypes its residents greatly by where they live.

These stereotypes have led to hilarious Facebook pages such as Marina Girl Says, Marina Guy Says, and Russian Girl Says.  Despite the funny stereotypes of some of the neighborhoods, each neighborhood has its own unique culture and offers something so San Franciscan.

And with that, I like to introduce to you… The Neighborhood Snippet Series starting with North Beach.

North Beach, located north east of the city, is the Little Italy of the city.  Situated between China Town and Fisherman’s Wharf, this little neighborhood is always bustling with tourists and locals alike.  A jaunt down Columbus St. will take you back to Europe.  There are plenty of places to eat but only a few that are suitable.


Despite the endless amount of options available in North Beach, there are only a few places I would go in the neighborhood.  Here are some of my favorites in the area.

1) Tony’s PizzaIMG_0827 – While you’re there, can you save me a seat?

2) Don Pisto’s – Most likely one of my top places in SF

3) Mama’s – Great brunch spot if you have time to wait for an hour

4) Brioche Bakery and Cafe – I have a special place for Brioche.  When I was visiting SF for the first time, it was my go to place for breakfast before I started my day.

Sotto Mare, Park Tavern, Comstock, and The Station are on my list to try still.


One of my favorite areas to roam around in the neighborhood starts at Filbert and Grant and ends around the time you cross Columbus St.  In particular, I’m a fan of Therapy near Green and Grant.


North Beach has a great, low-key scene near Green and Grant.  There are about 4 bars in that area that offers an easy pub crawl.  Venture a little south of Grant, past Columbus, and you’ll be hit with neon GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS sign.  North Beach offers a variety of fun for whatever tickles your fancy or other parts of your body.

Maggie McGarrys, Tope are a few favs and if you see me there, come say hi… but actually don’t because of this, I’m super fearful of strangers.


Ah!  The misleading-ness of North Beach.  Despite its name, there are no beaches in sight unless you want to swim with the sea lions at Pier 39.  So hence, I’ve nicknamed the neighborhood, NoBeach.  As in there are no beaches in North Beach.

Interested in getting other neighborhood snippets?  Subscribe to my blog on the right.

SIDE NOTE:  A super important question crept up as I was writing this post… why do we crawl pubs and hop bars?  Why not pub hop and bar crawl?  Who wants to adopt club roll with me?

What are you doing tonight?  Rolling to a club.

Give it a few years… club roll will catch on.


Severe Weather Alert! A Canadianism vs. Californianism post

I’m always reminded that my SoCal born and raised roommate and I had completely different upbringings every time we have a conversation about our childhood.

Take the most recent conversation for example.  She was sharing a story of a time she got caught trying to sneak off-campus during her junior year in high school with a few friends to grab some food.

Me:  Wait a second, what do you mean you were running away from the security guard?  Can’t you just go grab lunch and come back?

Roommate:  You can’t go off campus unless you have written parental permission or have like a school activity to go to.

Me:  Seriously? That was the best thing about high school… the fact that we could leave and go as we want for lunch and also during the day minus the risk of getting a phone call for missing class…. did you guys have like security scanners and locker searches as well?  You’re from Chino right?  The same town that Ryan in the OC is from?

Roommate:  Hills.  Chino Hills.  It’s different.

weather alertOr another example was in December when San Francisco was dipping in the low 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) and the Bay Area news was warning residents of severe weather alerts.   As we were getting ready for work one morning and I was heading out the door, my roommate looks at me in a panic.

Roommate:  WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIT… I don’t know what to wear.

Me:  I see a pile of wearable clothes on the floor

Roommate:  I don’t know what to wear in this weather.  I’ve never experienced this level of cold unless I was on a mountain. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO WEAR OR DO.  *looks around like she wants to curl up in the fetal position*

Me:  Reeeeeeeeeeeallllly???  Is this really a moment to panic?  *my thoughts:  Seriously?  Seriously!  10 year old me staying out in 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-15 degrees Celsius) for recess is shaking her head at you.*

But by far my favourite conversation about our childhood was when the concept of indoor shoes was brought up.

Me:  My first time ever getting in trouble in school was in gr. 7 when I lied to the teacher about not wearing my indoor shoes outdoors but I did wear my indoor shoes outdoors because my outdoor shoes were so hard to put on and he was checking my soles…

Roommate interrupts:  Backup.  What are indoor shoes?

Me:  Indoor shoes… when late fall hits you have to bring an extra pair of shoes to school to wear indoors.  So you walk to school in your outdoor shoes, then you take then off and store your outdoor shoes in your cubby, and then wear your indoor shoes around so you don’t track snow and mud into the school but my outdoor shoes were so hard to take off and he was…


Me:  … I don’t know why you’re laughing.  But anyhow, so I wore my indoor shoes outdoors and obvi they’re dirty now and he’s checking my soles because obvi I lied… Stop laughing… indoor shoes aren’t that funny…  Really?  Is it really that funny of a concept?  You’re still laughing.

I think the best way to illustrate the difference in our childhood is through this wonderfully drawn image I conjured up on paint.

roommate vs. my childhood

My childhood on the left vs. roommate’s childhood… yes I ripped off a “polar bear in Canada” t-shirt but that’s how my childhood felt

Any other East Coasters get in trouble with wearing indoor shoes outside?

Where’s Waldo? A First Timer Recap of Bay to Breakers

This past weekend I celebrated Bay to Breakers with a group of friends.  Bay to Breakers is a marathon, race thing in the city where… actually to be honest I’m not sure what the purpose is.  Regardless, over the years the event has turned into a drunk debacle where people around the city come together, dress up in costumes (although some opted to go nude) and drink from 7am onwards.

My friends and I had planned our costume theme weeks in advance.  We were going to go as a safari with an animal hunter because animal costumes are easy and I really just wanted to dress up like a safari hunter.  But the day before and after a long visit to Target, we couldn’t get our act together to pull off animal costumes.  So while standing on the street corner somewhere in Berkeley, we decided the easiest costume to put together last minute was “Where’s Waldo?” or “Where’s Wally?” for my UK readers.

The event started way early Sunday morning but we decided that 6am was just a little wee to early to start dressing up and drinking.  The Waldo crew decided to meet at 10am instead.  By the time we arrived at Hayes and Lyon, everyone around us was intoxicated and openly drinking on the streets.  There were various other Waldo groups roaming around, lots of Party Rock-inspired outfits, a few smurfs, several blind mice, and numerous cops grabbing open drinks out of party people’s hands.  This reminded me of my college’s homecoming but with costumes, nudity, and san tear gas (erhmmm… my school became unfortunately infamous for street parties).  At one point, my group of friends and I got caught in several rounds of flip cup on Fell St.  My favourite story of the day was when my poor roommate got sandwiched in the crowd and ended up getting too close for comfort with a hairy, nude man… her recap of the story and where her hands at one point unfortunately ended up near made for a good story Sunday night as we tried to recover from the events of the day.

Bay to Breakers-ers enjoying the view of the race from their fire escape.

I’ve had my fair share of weird city events but Bay to Breakers definitely takes the cake.  If you are ever visiting the Bay area when this is going on, I would highly recommend checking it out.  Here’s are some tips from a first-timer:

  • Dress up… normally-dressed individuals stood out like a sore thumb.
  • If you’re visiting the city with your kids, might not be the best idea to bring them if they are of talking age.  I saw some parents walking around with their strollers which was fun but I wouldn’t bring round 5 to 11 year old unless you want to get into an (un)fun conversation about the birds and the bees.
  • Definitely pregame before this or have a little flask with you.  Liquor stores are crazy during this time and why would you want to waste time in line?  #queuehater

Are there any cool city-wide events in your area?  Let me know, I would love to check them out while I’m living in the states.


Do a good deed and follow my blog!  It will make my day 🙂

For You Googlers

I’ve noticed that my blog started picking up quite a number of referrals from Google searches which makes me super happy.  However, taking a closer look at the search words, I feel that when the googler clicks on my link, hoping to find the answer to their search, I leave them with nothing but disappointment because my blog did not provide them with the answer they needed.

So in hopes of being less of a disappointment to you googlers, here are my answers to your frequently searched words.

1) Where is the Full House house?

Somewhere between 1987 to 1995.  Full House is a fictional show.  The house does not exist.  It is not possible for a family of 3 adults and 3 kids where only one of the adult has a real full-time job while the others are a bad comedian and occasional radio host to realistically rent a massive house in San Francisco.

Erm bitter much?  I just wanted to know the address of the house that was used as the exterior.

Sorry.  I have to write my rent check this week and it’s hard not too cry every time I write it. The Full House house neighborhood is located in Alamo Square and the set of houses are the Painted Ladies.

Painted Ladies

If you’re looking for the actual Full House house exterior, you can find that at 1709 Broderick St.

The Painted Ladies are often confused with 1709 Broderick

2) Is Nob Hill safe in an earthquake?

I don’t know.  There was an earthquake a few weeks ago.  I’m alive, nothing fell on me, I didn’t have to grab my earthquake pack so I can only assume it is.  I try not to think about it much or I won’t sleep.

3) Tim Horton’s San Francisco.

Go north of the city, a little past Napa… a little more up, have you passed Oregon?  You’re getting there.  Is it getting colder?  You are on the right track.  A few more miles up, say hi to Seattle… say bye to Seattle.  Look around.  Do you see mountains?  Do you see the ocean?  Is the money coloured?  Congrats, you’re in Vancouver.  A Timmy’s should be around the corner somewhere.

The answer is no, we don’t have Tim Horton’s in San Francisco.

4) How to Make Friends in Your 30s.

I’ll let you know in about 7-10 more years.

5) Typical Charleston Things

Sweet tea, plantation, Magnolia, Southern boys with southern accents, Folly Beach, Coast, Seafood… I’m not really much of a Charleston expert but my fellow blogger, The Unlikely Expat is from Charleston.  I’m sure he would be happy to answer any questions.

6) Losing facebook friends motivational.

Um… I’m not sure.  We can be facebook friends.  I’ll write a motivational quote on your wall everyday.  Deal?

7) Living in Carmel by the Sea.

OMG TAKE ME WITH YOU.  Adopt me, hire me, marry me?  I don’t care.  Let me move there with you.

8) I need to come up with a name for a hotel on a tea plantation.

The Great Tea House

Tea R Us

Little TEAse

Grand Ol Tea

Sweet Tea Hotel

Teacup Inn

9) Muir woods and wine country tour

I really enjoyed this one from Extranomical.  You can read more about the tour here.

Well that was my good deed for the day.  Back to my Hunger Games countdown.  Keep on googling, yahooing, binging, or whatever tickles your fancy.

A California Bucket List

Inspired by Katie on her 2012 Bucket List – Things to do before I am 30, I’ve put together my own bucket list of everything that I want to do in California while I’m living in this gorgeous state.

  1. Go to Disneyland.
  2. Spend a weekend in Napa and enjoy the good wine and good food.
  3. Learn to sail.
  4. Visit the Walt Disney museum in San Francisco.
  5. Join a wine club.
  6. Take a cooking class.
  7. Road trip it down from San Francisco to San Diego.
  8. Visit Laguna Beach and Newport Harbor… I need to create a clever hashtag that describes being a teenager/coming of age in the ’00s.
  9. Try surfing in SoCal.
  10. See San Francisco very own band Train perform in the Bay Area.
  11. Weasel my way into being a movie/television extra somewhere Hollywood, CA.
  12. Scuba Dive in the Pacific!
  13. Grape stomping in San Francisco.  I thought I was trying to be funny when I put this on my list but then a quick Google search showed that the Bay Area host several grape stomping festivals.

What would you have on your California bucket list?


    15.  Visit Marcel the monkey from Friends at the San Diego zoo!

    16.  Camp in Yosemite Park

    17.  Visit Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino.

    18.  Giant Sequoia National Monument

    19.  Go to Death Valley

    20.  Visit Lake Tahoe in the Summer

    21.  Follow the mission trail on El Camino Real

    22.  Watch the swallows come back to San Juan Capistrano

    23. See Kongo when you get to San Diego!

How to [Not] Make Friends – San Franciscan Style

I recently started taking an Introduction to Digital Photography class at the San Francisco Art Institute.  The course is part of their continuing education program and attracts a mixture of individuals with varying degrees of experience in photography.  My purpose of taking the class was two-folds:

  1. Learn how to use the manual settings on my camera
  2. Go beyond the walls of my office and make some new (and hopefully local) friends

But of course things don’t always come that easy.

On my first day of class, I sat next to this man probably in his mid-30s.  As part of our ice-breaker activity, we had to interview the person next to us and then present them to our class.  The man next to me was my partner and I believe his name was… hmmm let’s call him Cliff.

I found out a few things from our interview.  Cliff is not an amateur photographer.  He is taking the course to learn how to use photoshop and print his own photos.  He has a scary, intense looking DSLR.  Wanting to steer our conversation away from the obvious topic of photography and our class, I asked him

So… what do you do?

I’m a deportation officer.

I’m sorry… a what?

A deportation officer.

Sirens!  Red flags!  Defense wall shoots up immediately.

Oh wow!  Your job must be insane eh?

Frak.  Did I just say eh?  Your Canadian is showing.  WTF is wrong with you?  Why are you panicking?  You have a visa, he can’t deport you.

Hahaha.  Ya, I’ve seen a lot of crazy things happen on the job.  People hiding in closets, lying, running the minute they see us.

Note to Future Me:  Don’t hide in a closet three years from now when your visa expires and Cliff comes to hunt you down.  

It was Cliff’s turn to interview me.

So where are you from?  What do you do?

I just moved here from Toronto but like I’m legit.  I have a visa and everything.  I guess you would be a good person to be friends with.  You can help me cheat the system if I ever lose my visa.  Hahaha.

My brain is sending strong signals to tell my mouth to zip it.  I babble on desperately for another minute.  Cliff looks at me strangely.

Um… yea… hope you’re enjoying San Francisco so far.

We’ve had four classes and Cliff hasn’t spoken to me since the first night.  I think I came on a wee bit too strong.

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Big Sur, Carmel, Monterey, you SUR are beautiful!

Here are some photos from my weekend in Carmel, CA.  I also wrote a blog post on the debaucheries of the weekend.  You can check that out here.

Kelp on Monastery Beach, Carmel, CA

Pulling over near our cottage

Exploring the town of Carmel-by-the-Sea

Julie Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, CA

Point Lobos, Carmel, CA

Point Lobos, CA

Waves vs. Kiley & Marci.  Kiley and Marci won by a smidge.

Point Lobos, Carmel, CA

Brunching in Monterey, CA

Big Sur, CA