Monday, October 27, 2008

Thursday October 2nd - Saturday October 4th

Californian Encounter

Finally I get to have some vaction this year - and go to California, something I have wanted to do for a long time!

First of all, some information about the blogging I will do during my 3½ week stay here.

* I am writing in English, so my dear pirate friends can understand something.

* Updates will be once per day - at the most. I need to download my phone pictures to my laptop (blogging them directly is too expensive!) and that will happen once per day. If I can upload them to the blog depends on if I have an internet connection at my hotel or not.

OK - here we go!

Thursday October 2nd

After 22 hours I finally arrived in San Francisco (travelled Gothenburg-Frankfurt-Chicago-SF). Nothing really exited happened during the trip, but it was mostly long - and boring.

Spent the night walking to Union Square and back. Ate some food at a Jazz resturant (why not?! :))

Friday October 3rd
The word of the day; walking!

Feel like that was all I did today. Walking uphill, walking downhill, uphill, down... You get the drill.

So what did I see? More than I expected for one day.

I started with the most important; James Bond sightings! (I know -but, hey! It's me!): The City Hall. Here Bond and the very weak character Stacey Sutton got locked in an elevator, while Zorin tries to burn down the building.

After this I went to Lombard street. First uphill from the backside. Extremly steep! Then to the "crookedest street"; the serpentine road downhill. Wierd trafic planners - my guess is that they had to much to drink that day.

The continued walking got me to the harbour and Fisherman's Wharf. What can you say - it's a harbour. We have that at home as well... But still fun to see. No Bushman though. Disappointing.

Realized that it wasn't that late - so I took a beer in a pub (local brand, don't remember the name, but it was actually good) then walked up to Coit Tower, looked at the view and went down again.

Started walking towards the inner city again and through Chinatown. This was fun to walk in. Much more China-oriented than London or New York. Maybe not so surprising, but something extra anyway. For some reason I ended up in a Japanese sushi resturant (Sushi Rock) and tried sushi "more real than Swedish sushi". Not as much rise as I am used to, larges fish pieces (following the american tradition that everything is big over here) and green ginger. Not bad - but I like my sushi the Swedish way. Maybe I am just too used with it that way?

After the food, I went to the hotel to get some rest. Then out again towards a comic store close to here. Hotel's name is Whitcomb, btw - photo of the room will be up tomorrow or something. Got some new graphic novels. Bought Precher vol 1 & 2. Looks pretty good.

Back to the hotel for some Puzzle Pirates - then to bed.

Saturday October 4th

Got up early to catch the first boat to Alcatraz (9am). Went around the island and did the audio tour. Kinda interesting occupied by Indians 1969-1971. Never knew about that.

After this I signed up for a tour to Muir Woods and Sausalito. Just wanted to go to Muir Woods, but had to take Sausalito as a "bonus".

I still had two hours to kill before the tour started, so I walked around Fisherman Wharf for a bit - and behold! There was the Bushman!
This is one wierd guy...

Finally the two hours were up and to the bus stop.
And the initial bus was full, so we had to wait almost 40 min extra for another bus to arrive and we stood there waiting in the wind. Not fun. Mostly cold.

Anyhow - we finally got away, driving over the Golden Gate bridge and to Muir Woods. Now there are some amazing trees in that forest...

Some pictures from the woods:

The bus dropped me off at the hotel and I realized the there was a festival going on not far from here ("Love Festival"). If I would have been less tired and a bit warmer, I would probably have gone there, but the boring Patrik said that I better go to the room instead, So up I went, started writing this blog and ordered room service.
Noticed that I has burned myself in the face and shoulders. /me shake fist toward the sun!
Better get some sun oil for tomorrow. It's going to be American football day! 49ers vs Patriots. Looking forward to it! :)
Now time for bed. Night all!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday October 5th

Football Sunday! Today it's time to see some American football, San Francisco 49ers vs New England Patriots - should be a good game. I took the Muni & buss over to Candlestick Park...
and were there about two hours before the game started. Was I alone? Not even close:
People show up early for these things - and do the american thing: being weird.

Drinking at the parking lot (I can understand this), drinking Bud & Bud Light in the parking lot (I don't understand this) and barbeque stuff in their car (I don't understand this). Listening to suck-ass music is also a mystery, but a more common one all over the world.
Anyhow; I went through the gates, looked at the team shop and the cheerleaders a bit (they smile a lot, don't they?). After this I put my game face on and went in.

I was afraid to have bad seatings in this large arena - over 70 000 seats which is (let's face it) a pretty large arena for a swede, but they were not too far away from the field at all.
I saw the game pretty good from my seat:

49ers started the game very good with to touchdowns in the first quarter, but then Patriots took over the game more and more.
Final score was 21-30 for the Patriots. Too bad, but the they were the better team over the whole match.
Sitting in the sun for four hours wasn't good either. My bad sunburn just got worse.
Good thing I am leaving this town soon and go to LA. No, wait... That won't make it better, will it? :-/
Straight back to the hotel room after the game. A 49ers fan was nice enough to pour beer over my jacket, so I have tried to clean it off and it's now is hanging in the shower to dry off.
I will try to stay inside as much as possible the next few days anyway (because of the sun), so I don't think I will need it.
That's it for now. I might do another update later on tonight.
Oh, that's right; this is my hotel room I have now:

The bed anyhow. It takes up about half the room (not counting the bathroom).

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Monday October 6th

Today is Puzzle Pirates day!
This is the big day in my San Francisco stay. I am going to visit Three Rings - the company that makes Puzzle Pirates - the online game I am addicted to.

I had already emailed Hypnos, the "Ocean Master" at OOO that handles some day to day stuff at the office, besides her work as an OM and overseer of the official Puzzle Pirates webforum.
Hypnos was very nice and she showed me around the office (see pictures below) and we talked alot about the game, some mechanics behind it - and stuff that was about to be released.

The Three Rings Office (especially the Puzzle Pirates part of it) is just amazing. They had decorated it like inside of a submarine with a lot of oceanlike things inside - and it's full of details (see more pictures in this Wired article about OOO).

The entrence to the Puzzle Pirates part of the Three Rings office:

Here we have Hypnos in the entrance to their "hidden meeting room" behind a bookshelf:

And here is the room itself. Apperently the OOO boss, Daniel James (aka Captain Cleaver) do hold meetings here for investers and when doing interviews and stuff. :)

Some more pictures from the office:

Who wouldn't be inspired to develop if you had an environment like this?
This is Cephalopod's desk:

A place to relax?
Note: the cabinet holding a Cleaver over the TV actually says something like "In case of a tentacle attack, break the glass"!

And below is me and Captain Cleaver himself! A very nice Englishman, who has settled himself in the US. We actually talked not just about the game (and american football for some reason), but also electronic music. Apperently he had also been into the whole New Romantic wave when it came and we spoke about the old Depeche Mode songs and the latest Yazoo tour and what a genious Vince Clark was. Cleaver know his stuff. :)
He also told me he would check out Unter Null (the T-shirt I was wearing at the time), but I doubt he will enjoy it as much as the electronic music from the 80's...
So after spening an hour in their office (thank you OOO!) I was off again to new adventures!
I had decided to do some shopping today, so I went to the Westfield Centre. They have rounded escalators there O.o
Never seen that before:
When that was done, it was time to head back to the hotel (did I ever mention the name? It's Whitcomb, anyhow) and time for some... Puzzle Pirates gaming. What can I say? I am addicted...
We made a fun flotilla attack (that was pretty successful :)
When that was over, it was time for food. I was recommended a resturant by a beautiful woman, so I went there (I am pretty predictable...). Unfortunally she couldn't join me - this time. ;)
So - the resturant was of the italian sort and was called Brindis. Unfortunally they were out of a few dishes, but I had the pan grilled chicken - and it was lovely. I did however feel that one of the waitresses was a bit too pushy to bounce people into the place, which spoiled some of the mood, but nevertheless - I liked it.
After that meal it was back to the hotel again to write this blog, check up a few things for the trip to and in LA on Wednesday.
I will see you again tomorrow, when I have a day off in San Francisco. I think I will just relax and spend the day in Golden Gate park with a book.
Ahhh, how I love vacations. :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Tuesday October 7th

All the things to do on San Francisco-list has been done, so I had to find something new today. So I took the bus to Golden Gate Park and walked around in there.

First real stop in the park was the Japanese Tea Garden.

A quiet nice little park with japanese trees, houses and bridges. It was really a nice place to visit - highly recommended! :)

After that I walked to the California Academy of Science - always something more I can fit in this head of mine! :)

Here is the albino alligator they have:

They had a nice Planetarium (where they showed the movie "Fragile Planet", narriated by Sigourney Weaver), but I also liked the Rainforest "room":

Butterflies were flying around freely in there. Real cool.

And the mandatory "Look at me"-frogs:

But the truth is, have you been to one of these museums, you have seen the most part of them all. Some new things in each museum (like this museum's roof, on which they had planted grass and flowers), but very much the same.
I still liked it though - and will always go to more of these when I see them.

I also spent some time in their garden, reading my current book ("Relic" - not sure if it is any good yet) while laying in the grass. Vacation is nice!

In retrospect, both the Japanese Garden and the Science museums were fun - but I am sure that it would have been ten times better sharing the experience with someone.
Going there alone - not the same thing.

Well, well - moving on.

I went back to the hotel after this, had spent about five hours in the Park. I made a reservation for my car tomorrow - going to be much more expensive than expected. :( and ordered a pizza (which just arrived!).

Tomorrow I will head down Highway 1 towards LA. I will probably stop one night on the way (not sure where yet).
If it has internet, I'll post a new log then - if not you have to wait until Thursday. :)

And here is a bonus picture, just because I am an old-time Arnold fan:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wednesday October 8th

Billions of blue blistering barnacles, what a road I've been on today!

But lets start from the beginning; I woke up early, got ready and checked out from the hotel. Got in a taxi to the Rental car office (Hertz) to get my car. And got hit in the head with the calculated bill. Real hard. My car + insurance and stuff would be about 14 000 SEK (just under $ 2 000). Plus gas. :(
I kinda thought it would be a lot less when I was making my budget...

Anyhow, somehow I pick myself up from the floor and agreed to it. I didn't want to make changes to my plans these next few days, but I have already begun thinking of ways to limit my car useage to bring the price down. Maybe I'll take a bus to Las Vegas for instance, we'll see.

So - I drive south on Highway 1 and just outside San Francisco the fog finally disappears and I can see the coast. And holy cow, it's amazing!

I drive for a while and I get to Monterey, where I go visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium (where they filmed parts of Star Trek IV for you movie people). Not the main reason I am there though, I have just heard so much good about the place I wanted to see it.

Inside, they had the normal things like penguins (why always penguins...?):

But they also had Sea Otters,

and a very nice part with many differet kinds of Jelly fishs. Here are some of them:

Their "Outer Bay" aquarium was intriging - and it contain perhaps the worlds ugliest fish?
Look for the Sunfish in the centre of this picture:

And some of you will understand why I took this picture. I give you... the Seacucumber!

(piratey injoke - don't even try to understand it).

The aquarium was great fun - and more if you have a family. They had done lots of small exhibits and "touch & play" stuff for kids. Even I enjoyed them. :)

OK, that was done - back to my southbound travel again!
Passing Monterey and Carmel, the road became narrow and very crooked.
Having steep sloops on my right side and not much railing was an interesing experiance. Something to try once, but maybe not more. :)

Here is an example:

More photos of the fantastic view Highway 1 gives you:

Finally I arrive at San Simeon, a small town midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The reason for staying here tonight is that Hearst Castle is just next to it and that's where I plan to go tomorrow before I start driving south again.

I check in at Motel-6 (thanks for the tip, Carita! :) and it looks pretty nice.
Ate a very good burger at the motel's resturant, while watching the new South Park episode on television (12x08 - The China Problem). One of the funniest SP episodes I have seen in a long time. :)

Apperently the road from here to LA is a normal freeway, so it will go much faster (and safer!) than today. It took almost 1½ hour longer than expected to get here because of 1) I had to drive pretty slow not to fall of the road and 2) I had to stop every 10 mins to take pictures! :)