O is for Oakland

Photo Credit

Welcome back, to the letter O of this year's A-Z challenge! 

Today I'm taking you from Nashville, Tennessee all the way over to Oakland, CA at the West Coast! 

OK, so I am cheating a little here. Don't get me wrong, I've been to Oakland, called the town. We landed one late night, headed to our accommodation, but first thing in the morning we crossed the Oakland Bay Bridge to drive into San Francisco, called the city, which is what I'll be talking about here. 

The letter S is just too crowded to use it for San Francisco, so I reserved it for - well, you'll see in a few days. Before you start reading, turn on the music, will you:

San Francisco is one of my very favorite places in the world. Why? It's pretty! Full of sights, and the only downside to the general Bay area is the fog (for some reason called Karl) that can - and will - unpredictably hit you! The worst actually happens in early summer and is referred to as May Gray and June Gloom. 

It may just as well occur on a warm September day, almost hot, actually, standing in line to board the Alcatraz ferry, wearing T-Sihrts and hats. 

We were handed an audio tour set and guided ourselves through the various points of interest on the island, especially the former prison. We saw Al Capone's cell and everything. Then the voice on the earphones told us to step out onto the terrace where the view to Downtown San Francisco was supposed to be breathtaking - only we saw… nothing! Nothing but fog, that is.

The shoreline was completely invisible. It was like someone had drawn the curtain. It had gotten freezing cold, too. The first thing we did was to purchase overpriced hoodies from one of the tourist vendors back at the Wharf.

Speaking of the Fishermans Wharf, let me share this piece:

Linda and her husband are sitting on a bench at Pier 39 watching their toddler running up and down the wheelchair / stroller ramp. At first he thought it was a slide.

"It's pretty amazing we ended up back here so soon, isn't it, and come to think you didn't even want to do it." She said. 

Good example of how life happens while you're busy making (other) plans.

Up to that point, being a DINK couple, they had been visiting parts of North America twice a year for several years. Major cities, National Parks, you name it, they've been there. 

They figured doing so with a baby in tow would be out of question for a couple of years. Linda couldn't remember if they specified "a couple". 

When she found out she was pregnant in January 2008 they decided to go on a Goodbye Tour. At five months pregnant, they consciously enjoyed several weeks worth of road tripping through Canada and the West Coast of the U.S.

For their 2009 vacation they went to the Italian part of Switzerland with a car full of baby stuff: stroller, food, toys, diapers, clothes, extra clothes, and their days (and nights) were dictated by their one year old son's eat / sleep routine.

Shortly after returning, Linda got a job offer. Not just any job. A part-time job as an HR Manager at their national airline. With the minor annoyance of it being located near the airport (meaning a dreadful commute on Switzerland's most congested freeway) everything was like she'd imagined her first back to work job would be. In a couple of years. (Unspecified)

February 2010:
  • Husband on board: check
  • Daycare secured: check
  • Postpartum body squeezed into business suit: check
Linda excitedly learned the ropes of being an airline employee. The guys taught her all about airworthiness, proper maintenance procedures, scheduling, pricing, the works.

It didn't take long, and she learned about the benefits of being an airline employee, too: having access to the duty-free area, the tarmac and to cheap and / or free flights.

This was where San Francisco came in. 

After the grounding of Swissair in 2001, the newly founded company "SWISS" (International Air Lines Ltd), based on the existing Crossair, taken over by Lufthansa in 2005, was slowly building up their network in terms of profitable destinations. 

In June 2010, San Francisco was officially to become a destination, and the airline decided to make that inaugural flight a special one. See for yourself:

  • Of course Linda got itchy feet. 
  • Of course Linda wanted to fly to SFO in that flower power aircraft!
  • Of course hubby said "are you crazy? A long-haul flight with a toddler?"
Fast forward three months, and they found themselves sitting on that bench at Pier 39.

This content has been copied and pasted from an early last year's post, a contribution to 20 Days of Chill. As you probably guessed Linda is me. 

Six years later, in the meantime Colin was 8 years old, we went back and recreated the same video:

We also did aaaaaalll the things a dutiful San Francisco tourist does, and we partly did so by hop on / hop off bus, even though our tour guide Ashley was so much fun it wasn't till the final stop that we actually hopped off (and started all over again for an actual chance to get off the bus and explore the sights.)

The #1 attraction and probably most photographed bridge in the world, followed by the Tower Bridge in London and the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC: The Golden Gate Bridge. I like the view from Conzelman Road which is a left turn up the hill instead of taking a right for the official vista point. 

When I was here for the very first time in 1999, I was overwhelmed by this breathtaking view. I distinctly remember thinking "this is worth all the hassle commuting, working long hours while going to school to obtain my HR diploma and more - the money I made brought me here to this very place, and I feel so privileged!"

AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants


China Town

I am not sure if a Cable Car ride was included in our package or if we paid extra for it.

The hardest street to photograph: Lombard. Did you know about the Easter tradition BYOBW Bring your own big wheel? Kids and grown ups risking life and limb racing down Lombard Street on their big wheels. So much fun!

Alamo Square Park, Steiner Street: the houses that inspired the intro of full house! I understand the actual address of the (exterior of the) Tanner family's house  is 1709 Broderick Street.

Mrs Doubtfire, The Wedding Planner, The Rock, The Game, Bullitt, Basic Instinct, James Bond - a view to a kill, Sweet November, The Bachelor, and obviously Escape from Alcatraz  are just s few other great movies filmed in San Francisco. 

A couple of weeks after we were back home, back to the daily grind, a Mom, whose girl attends the same daycare as Colin, asked me "hey, last month, were you in San Francisco by any chance?" 

Ahem, yeah, how do you know? 

"We saw you!!! Well, we thought we saw Colin! We weren't sure though as it was getting dark. He was running back and forth between the Wharf sign and Boudin, and we were at Ripley's believe it or not which is situated on the first floor of the building across the street! 

Can you believe it? She told be they were celebrating their anniversary  - ten years ago they had gotten married in San Francisco, and they wanted to bring their daughter!

"Since you like it so much, have you considered living there?" She asked. Haha, yes, as a matter of fact, I have. Apart from the fact how hard it is to become eligible to work in the U.S. I am painfully aware that cost of living are almost as high as in Switzerland, but salaries are lower and taxes higher. How do people manage?


I hope you enjoyed (time-) traveling with me. Have you been to San Francisco? Do you love it as much as I do? Let me know in the comments below. 

Tomorrow we're exploring Paris, France, yet another treat. I hope you'll join me! In the meantime find out what my fellow bloggers about the letter O.