Sep 09

The Marina and tacos

The weekend in San Francisco was really warm, like in the 80s or 90s, perfect weather for a walk around the Marina and tasty tacos.

Sunday we ate a new place, at least for me, Nick’s Crispy Tacos.  It was sooo good.  Usually I don’t find tacos filling at all.  I eat two and I’m still kinda hungry but in that yucky, fast food way.  But the tacos in “Nick’s style” – with cheese and guacamole and wrapped in two tortillas, one fried and one soft – were completely satisfying.

365/71: nick's crispy tacos

I had one carnitas – the pork tender, lean, and juicy – and one fried fish, which was doused in a deliciously tangy lime sauce, and was full about halfway through the fish, but ate it all anyway.

Plus the decor was really cool, like something out of the Rat Pack era:

I could imagine Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Ava Gardner lounging in their tuxes and furs in one of those red booths, with taco juice dripping down their chins.

Afterwards we walked out to the Marina area.  What a great day to be near the water, though I resisted walking on the sand, which in retrospect I should have because the callouses on my heels could have used a good scrubbing.  We had fun watching the dogs play on the beach.  I find it hilarious when they roll around in the sand.

As we were strolling, we saw the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.  “Let’s walk across it!” MB said.  The bridge seemed pretty long to me, and I wasn’t sure if people actually walked across it like they do the Brooklyn Bridge.  But sure why not?  Then as we kept going, the bridge hardly got any closer, and we realized it was much farther away than we thought.  Ah well, next time.

On the way back, we ran into the Palace of Fine Arts.  It was really pretty!

We saw a bride and groom having their pictures taken.  The bride looked pretty, but the groom was wearing one of those tacky white tuxes.  Plus he looked so not thrilled to be there.  Then again, when does any groom?

Walking back home was a challenge because of all the hills.  I kept thinking, How are these hills in real life and not part of some extreme gym workout?  We were so pooped, we had to stop in Japantown and see a movie (Surrogates, wait for the DVD).

Now it’s back to packing and organizing.  Soon it will be over!

Sep 09

Had a lovely weekend in San Francisco

My flight was supposed to get in at 10 PM on Friday, but we didn’t land till almost 11. The weather was terrible in New York that day – rainy, windy, and cold – so we sat on the tarmac for an hour, waiting for the 40 other planes in front of us to take off.

When I got on board, I realized I had forgotten my iPod and headphones, and I had to buy Jet Blue’s crummy ones for $2. The left side worked only sometimes. Jet Blue has gotten kind of ghetto, at least compared to Virgin America. You even have to buy blankets and pillows, and there’s almost no food. I loved being able to buy eats any time I wanted on Virgin, and not having to wait for the damned cart.

On the other hand, Jet Blue has more leg room and comfier seats. Most seats have that annoying head rest – who ever wants that? It pushes your head foreward so that you get a crick in your neck. Jet Blue’s doesn’t have that; it does what a seat should – dips back and contours to your head.

At SFO I thought I’d have to wait forever for my bags, but they came out lickety split. I think it’s only New York airports that are so awful about getting luggage out in time. By the time my taxi pulled up to our place, it was midnight, and I was pooped and hungry.

While there seem to be fewer places that are open late in SF, there are still a few. We went to Grub Steak, kind of like a diner but nicer. I had a cheeseburger for about $8 – not bad! The fries were an extra $2, kind of a rip off, but I usually only eat a few fries anway so I didn’t bother getting any.

MB gets fed at work so he had virtually no food in the apartment (pasta, cream of wheat, tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, spoiled milk, and of course coffee). I wanted stuff for breakfast so we stopped at Bob’s Donuts. It looks like a hole in the wall, but who cares when fresh-baked donuts and pastries are melting your mind with their good-smellness. We got a couple of croissants and old-fashioneds, all for about $5. The croissants were just right – huge and fluffy, better actually than the ones we used to get at the more gourmet pastry shop near our NYC apartment. Next time I’ll have try the apple fritters.

The next morning was peaceful and lovely. I unpacked and did some rearranging while MB practiced piano (he bought a keyboard!) and fooled around on the computer. We spent the rest of the day just walking around. For lunch we grabbed crepes at Honey Honey (again!) since we were on Post and I was STARVING, then we wandered through Chinatown.

I have to say SF Chinatown is about a billion times cleaner than New York’s. Canal Street is a chaotic, fishy mess of markets selling, well, fish, weird seafood, and even weirder dried substances; old Chinese ladies pushing you out of the way to get their grocer shopping done; and clueless tourists trying to get their picture taken in the midst of a Mandarin (well, Cantonese really) maelstrom. SF’s Chinatown is very neat and calm in comparison. The only crowd I saw was in front of the very popular Golden Gate Bakery, which I will have to try next time.

Eventually we ended up near Coit Tower, and decided to climb up. The hill was by far the steepest I’ve climbed so far. There are steps in some parts, but I’m not sure they’re so helpful. Once at top, we got a very nice view.

Chilly off and on the whole day, I was in the mood for hot noodles come dinnertime. MB did some Yelp-searching and found Chai-Yo Thai Noodle. It was really good!

I had the Yen Ta Foe, a “combination of seafood with red bean curd in a spicy and sour soup” and your choice of noodles. I got the vermicelli which was probably a bit too delicate, but the dish itself was amazing. There was plenty of seafood – shrimp, fishcakes, squid, and this thing that had the consistency of a jelly fish but looked almost like an anenome. I have no idea what it was but it was tasty. Plus the soup was nice and sour, and just a little spicy. A bargain at $8.95. In New York the same thing would have been $12 or more.

That night we saw 9. We had heard it was hokey, but we liked it. The preview did make it seem very dark so it was good to adjust our expectations. Plus we loved the theater we saw it in. It was huge and so non-ghetto. Going to the movies in New York is often a ghetto experience – people talking in regular voices the whole time, a mess all over the floor, cell phones going off and mofos answering them. Hopefully on the west coast it’ll be different.

The next morning I had to leave! It was tough although we’ll be seeing each other again in just a few days. My flight back was much easier than my flight in. I breezed right through check-in and security.

“Where is everyone?” I asked one of the security guys.

“September and October are the best months to fly,” he told me. Kids are back in school, and the holidays are not yet upon us. Plus that time of day was before the international flight rush hour, which was what we hit last time when the line stretched all the way across the terminal.

The flight left on time and for most of it, my rowmate and I enjoyed an empty seat between us, till some guy just *had* to watch TV and squeezed in. We were both annoyed, though I probably wouldn’t like not having TV either. Next time I’m bringing some DVDs. Hopefully I’ll get the next Dexter soon from Netflix.

Plus it was so nice to have almost no luggage, having dropped everything off at our new place. All I had was my computer, purse junk, and an almost empty duffel bag. Since I was carrying almost nothing, I took the Air Train and subway home, which took about an hour, including wait time. I’m thinking about taking it for my trip out as well this Friday. Although I’ll be carrying stuff, I may just suck it up since it’s so cheap.

I’m totally taking Friday off. I thought about changing my flight to earlier in the day, but last night I took a gander at our still mostly unpacked apartment, and began to panic. I’d rather take the day to organize and throw stuff out instead, before heading out around 3.

Work was pretty calm today. I had time to mail out a whole bunch of Amazon orders (keep ‘em coming!) and a box of MB’s stuff, the first of several shipments. Tonight I may start trying to organize. I’m thinking about taping up signs around the apartment – Toss, Donate, Keep (NJ), Keep (SF) – and just throwing stuff into piles.

See all my SF pics.

Sep 09

I’m a little sleepy so it’ll be a rambly post

Had a fun and active Labor Day weekend.

ES was in town. Friday night we met up with SB for dinner, the last time the three of us would be able to hang out in a while. I can’t believe we’ve been friends for so long – ES and I since senior year in high school, and SB and I since freshman year of college. I think ES and SB met sophomore year, and of course hit it off instantly.

The next day ES and I tooled around the city. I was planning on being all efficient and running errands, but the weather was so nice, I wanted to do something fun instead. We slept in and took our time getting out of the house. There’s this mural on Houston Street that I’ve been wanting to photograph so we stopped there first.

Next up was lunch at Cafe Colonial. Sometimes it’s stupendously crowded, but it wasn’t too bad that day. I got the cowboy rice:

It was really tasty but overpriced at $15.

We decided to head downtown to ride the Staten Island Ferry, which neither of us had ever ridden before.  We caught what I thought was the 1 downtown, but suddenly it was an express and before I knew it we were in Brooklyn.  Oops!  We got off, hopped the next uptown, and got off at Wall Street.  ES had never been there before so it was cool to walk around.

It seemed everyone had the same idea about riding the ferry.  When we got there, the waiting area was packed.

I thought the boat couldn’t possibly fit all of us, but it did with room to spare.  Most people were crowded at the railing, trying to get that perfect picture of the Statue of Liberty or the Manhattan skyline. I was satisfied with just one.

There wasn’t much to see on SI, at least in the immediate area of the ferry, so we just sat by the water till it was time to get back on.  This time I stood with ES by the railing, which was fun, except that this one girl kept smushing me with her backpack till I wanted to grab her camera and throw it in the water.

Afterwards we met up with YP and his sister for dinner.  We ate at Quantum Leap, this vegetarian place.  It was pretty good.  I got the vegetable tofu curry stew.  The sauce was excellent, but I could have done with more tofu.  After we ate, we walked over to Washington Square Park and hung out.  It’s really nice now that they’ve taken down the construction.

The next morning ES and I took the train together to our respective parents’ in NJ.  I had somehow forgotten everything I was planning on bringing – my laptop charger, my copyedited memoir, my running shoes – so I had almost nothing to do.  I mostly read.  Then later MB wanted to test out the web cam he had given my parents, so he Skyped my dad.  It was funny to see MB on my parents’ giant TV.

Today I caught the 12:43 train back to New York, and spent the day organizing what clothes I’ll be bringing to SF next weekend, what I’ll be donating, and what I’ll be moving to my parents’.  Took a little walk to the Container Store to return some crappy ass hangers and get some decent ones.  It was a mad house by the way, what with all the students back for the fall.

Now I’m pooped!  I woke up semi-early, around 8, and look forward to crashing soon.  Ah, how I love to sleep.

Just a few more days till I visit MB in Cali!

Aug 09

Back from SF!

And what better way to sum up the trip than with a Not-So-Secret-Diary-of-a-Bad-Luck-Girl’s Index, kind of like Harper’s Index, only a lot wordier.

Number of Japanese restaurants we ate at in one day: 3

I’m not sure how this happened.  I think one day we mostly just stayed in our area.

First we walked up Fillmore Street and popped into Osaka for sushi.  It was pretty good though not stupendous.  For an early dinner, we tried to find Kiss Seafood, which is supposedly on Laguna but we couldn’t find it for the life of us.  It seemed to be just apartment buildings.

So we gave up on that and instead went to Shabu Shabu, which in case you don’t know is a lot like Mongolian hotpot, which in case you don’t know is basically fondue with raw meat, seafood, and veggies.

It was very good.  We got the beef/shrimp combo, and the quality of the beef seemed pretty good, though a few pieces were a bit fatty.  We thought we’d never be full, but we totally were.

Later that night we were totally hungry again, so we stopped in this random ramen place.  It was just okay, but luckily my ramen was under $9 so I didn’t feel like it was a total ripoff.  I actually enjoyed the instant ramen I had last night, but maybe that’s cuz I knew it was only $1.

Number of movies we saw: 1

We caught Ponyo at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, which is this incredibly nice theater near our hotel.  For $2 extra you reserve your seats beforehand, which having dealt with terrible seats surrounded by obnoxious people, was totally worth it to me.  Plus there was much more leg room, so that when you got up to go to the bathroom, people didn’t have to get up to let you by. And I swear even the Sprite tasted better, like real Sprite and not just syrupy soda water.

Oh yeah the movie.  It was very cute and trippy, as the director’s movies tend to be.  I still like the others ones better though, namely Sprited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle.

Number of museums we went to: 1

The Asian Art Museum. It was just okay. Lots of Buddhas and other artifacts. There was a samurai exhibit, but we didn’t feel like paying extra, since we’ve seen lots of samurai stuff at the Met. The archery demonstration was pretty cool though.

Number of touristy things we did: 1

Saturday we headed out to Fisherman’s Wharf.  It was pretty crowded but not as bad as the South Street Seaport or Faneuil Hall on a bad day.  We wandered around, saw a seal poking his head out of the water near the shore, and another shitload of seals sunning themselves on a rock.  Then we had dinner at this place, the Franciscan Crab Restaurant, sort of a random pick because it was fuh-REE-zing and we were tired.

We got the prix fixe at $19, which was reasonable: clam chowder, a main dish, and this custard-like ice cream for dessert.  My soup was delicious, but our entrees, the crab enchiladas, while tasty were more like crab mannicotti.  Sorta strange. The custard-ice cream was really good.

Number of toothless hobos MB struck up a conversation with: 1

We were on the bus on our way home from our (mis)adventure in the Mission.  He claims he thought the guy was just a street musician since he had a nice flute, but then he noticed the guy had no shirt on and not many teeth, and then he asked MB for money.

Number of homeless people in the Downtown/Civic Center area: A lot

I was kind of surprised though I have heard people say this before.  Maybe it’s because the general walking population is less so the homeless stick out more, or because of the mild weather, or because Giuliani really did make an impact in New York, for better or worse.

Number of stars I’d give our hotel: 4 out of 5

I really liked where we stayed, Hotel Kabuki. I’ve read reviews complaining about the small rooms, but I thought ours was fine.  It was also very clean with great bedding and cool Japanese-style decor.  The bath is traditional Japanese with a closed off extra-deep tub/shower area.

I didn’t take a bath but I showered in the part outside the tub, and unfortunately the water doesn’t drain very well.  The floor should be slightly slanted so that the water runs into the drain instead of pooling on the sides.  But maybe you’re not supposed to take extended showers in that area of the bathroom.  Maybe it’s just for rinsing off after a soak in the tub.

Our room had sliding glass doors with a little balcony.  It was fun to stand out there and enjoy the view:

The thing we had to remember was that the balcony was connected to our neighbor’s, of which we were reminded when their little white dog came trotting over and peeked in.  It was so cute.

As for the area, I found Japantown to be fun.  I’m a sucker for Asian convenience, grocery, and stationery stores. Plus this weekend was some sort of J-Pop festival so there was a fair, girls dressed up Harajuku-style for the grand opening of some store, and an all-girl Japanese punk rock band.

On top of that, Fillmore Street is very close by, full of cute shops and restaurants.  We had breakfast had the Grove twice. It was super crowded both times, but the service was equally fast. By the time I got my mocha, the guy was bringing our food to the table. We had a simple eggs special – two eggs, toast, and a side of bacon. Yum! The first time I had sausage, which was very good too, as was the coffee and mocha.

The only downside to Japantown is that the convenience and grocery stores close early.  I went out at 8:30 one night to get water, and the stores were already closed.  I had to go into the mall (which is right next door) and get some bottles from this crepe place.

Number of hills we climbed up and down: a billion

Wow, it was killer! Especially around Nob Hill and that surrounding area.  I didn’t know how the old people canes could do it without keeling over.  What really got us was going downhill.  Our shins were killing us.

Number of times I put on and took off my jacket in a span of 10 minutes: 10

I love this weather but it was sort of annoying to constantly be freezing one minute, then hot the next.  And then at sundown it was really cold.  Makes for good sleeping weather though.

And finally.  .

Number of jobs MB got: 1

Yes, this is really happening!  He starts September 1. Since getting a long-term apartment seems to be so difficult, we went with a four-month sublet in Nob Hill. It’s furnished so we don’t have to worry about that for a while, the building seems clean, and the apartment in good condition. There’s a washer/dryer in the building, and a Whole Foods a few blocks away (though SF blocks seem much longer than those in NYC). The owner also seems very nice.

As for whether it’s in “real” Nob Hill, or Lower Nob Hill, I think we’re on the northern edge of “Tender Nob” (thanks, Sitcomgirl ;)). While walking back from the Asian Art Museum to our hotel, I think I did notice like three prostitutes. Oh well. Lots to write about! And the place is just temporary till we find something more permanent.

Lots to get done before we move. MB’s going first, and I’ll be following at the end of September or beginning of October. While he’s working crazy hours and getting situated, I’ll finish up stuff here at work (haven’t given my notice yet) and take care of our apartment. I was a bit worried about what to do with our furniture, but I just spoke with my mom and she suggested moving our stuff to their house till we have a bigger place. I was hoping she’d volunteer that! We really don’t have much: a bed, two desks, a dresser, and a small kitchen table with two chairs. The bookcases are crappy, though if we’re moving a bunch of stuff, we might as well move those too.

Luckily for me JetBlue is having a special for the month that MB and I are apart: fly as much as you want for $600.  I’ve already booked flights for three weekends in September, and still have yet to book my last one way, just don’t when I’ll be going yet. I know it’ll be killer to fly that much, but we’ll miss each other too much otherwise. Plus it gives me the chance to lug a whole bunch of stuff over on each trip.

I’m a little nervous about these big changes – not having a job, living in a new city where I don’t really know anyone – but I’m also excited. While I worry about having too much time on my hands, I’m also looking forward to about putting tons of energy into my writing.

Aug 09

San Francisco eats

As we were getting ready for our trip out here, we kept hearing that “the food sucked,” at least compared to New York, but that the “tacos were really good.”  We both found this hard to believe.  Isn’t the produce supposed to be fresher here?  The Asian food more authentic?  Plus SF is a big city – not ALL of the eats can suck, and in fact none of it does.


Apparently crepes are a big thing in San Francisco.  I received two separate recommendations for crepe places (none from the idiots above), and we’ve found one that is none of those recommendations but tasty all the same.

We had breakfast at Honey Honey on Post Street both yesterday and today.  It’s about a 10 minute walk from our hotel and seems popular.  Yesterday I had the breakfast crepe, ham, cheddar cheese, and tomatoes, which was tasty.

365/63: breakfast crepe

But today’s selection, the Half Moon Bay – crab cake, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and mushrooms – was face-meltingly good.

The dishes come with a side of fruit (or potatoes if you prefer something carbier) and were less than $9 each, a pretty good deal for the amount of food.

Mexican in the Mission

As you New Yorkers know, it’s virtually impossible to get good Mexican food in the Big Apple.  In fact, I can barely tell the difference.  So getting authentic tacos and burritos in the Mission District was a must.

We traveled out to the Mission last night, an adventure in itself.  Deciding to forego public transportation, we walked, which was fine till we got to a highway.  Luckily that stretch didn’t last too long.

Our destination was 24th Street.  At 12th Street, we thought, Just 12 more blocks, not so bad.  Well 12 NYC blocks and 12 blocks in the Mission District are two very different things.  By the time, we got to where we were going, we were both pooped and starving.

We had done our research beforehand, looking up places on Yelp, but couldn’t remember any of the names.  So we randomly picked El Delfin.

Apparently it specializes in seafood, but we went with the enchilada/tamale combination.

365/64: pork tamale and chicken enchilada combo

Yum!  I still don’t know “authentic” Mexican food from inauthentic – all I know it was good, not overly greasy/cheesy like in some other places I’ve been.  Also the salsa for the nacho chips was amazing!  Super spicy and tangy.  And our waitress was super nice.

As for the Mission itself, we’ve heard people rave about how cool and hip it is, but I dunno.  Maybe we missed the main stretch but it seemed a little scummy to me.  It was strange because there’d be seedy areas, then suddenly a very chic restaurant or cafe.

And then we got on the wrong bus to go home.  We ended up even farther out, at 26th Street.  One lady on the bus very kindly told us the right bus to get on, and then warned us to be careful.  “Lots of crazy people around here!” she called with concern from across the deserted street.  Great.

We had toyed with the idea of living in the Mission, but we both agree: a big fat no.  We’re too old to be hipsters.


Another thing we noticed is that there seem to be a lot fewer Starbuck’s here.  In New York they’re on every fucking block.  Around our hotel there are zero.

So far we’ve tried coffee from a bunch of random places, and I haven’t had a bad cup so far.  From the little place on Post with the mismatched chairs and tables, to Honey Honey, to this chi chi coffee kiosk in Union Square, everything I’ve had has been good.

I’ve realized: coffee in New York is terrible.  When the best voted is McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts, you know the bar has to be set pretty low. I wonder why that is.  Maybe there’s just not that tradition of gourmet coffee, aside from Starbuck’s, which I would not call gourmet.  There’s the 50 cent deli coffee, which is pretty damned good; there’s fast food coffee; and then there’s Starbuck’s. There are rare instances of a cup of joe that’s in between.

More plusses to living in San Francisco.  There are definitley minuses – like seemingly lots more homeless people – but I’ll get into those later.

Aug 09

Had a great time in Boston this weekend

Thought I’d get in a visit with ES before I potentially move to SF.  Beside, it’s been more than a year, and I like to go at least once a year.


I arrived early evening, just in time for dinner at one my favorite Boston restaurants, Elephant Walk (the website is sort of awful btw).  The restaurant is much more chi-chi than I remember, at least in an old-fashioned, New England blueblood kind of way.  Or maybe in a French way.  But the food was less expensive than memory serves.

We got our favorite appetizer, nataing, to start, and then I got the Amok Royal, which is, according to the menu, “a spicy, custard-like preparation of fresh crab, bay scallops, grouper and shrimp with coconut milk and complex Khmer seasonings, steamed in a banana leaf cup and garnished with cilantro and red bell pepper.”  I thought it was going to be more like a stew so when the very custard-like concoction arrived, I was surprised.  But it was really tasty.

We both stupidly forgot our cameras, and so couldn’t take pics of the beautiful, and delicious, food.

Afterwards we walked around Boston University, my grad school alma mater.  I barely recognized anything, except where I actually had classes.  I know the campus has changed a lot but we walked to areas I swear I had never been before.

We got back to ES’s place semi-early, around 10, and then just chilled for the night.  Half of the fun of visiting ES is all the chatting and catching up, and lying around making comments about stupid TV.


Saturday was absolutely beautiful: sunny, dry, and cool.  I was up fairly early, around 8:30, and had a leisurely morning with coffee, toast, and my computer.  (I’ve been visiting ES for so long I always have no problem making myself at home, though I’m not sure how her roommates feel about that!)  It took us a while to get out of the house, between gabbing and whatnot, but we finally made it around 2.

We took the subway to the Boston Harbor area, and started our journey by snagging some lobster and crab rolls along the way:

We were supposed to take a boat out to one of the harbor islands, but every single one was sold out.  I guess everyone had the same idea on that unbelievably perfect summer day.

So instead we just enjoyed the weather and tooled around the area, spotting among other things, a parade of segues:

A lovely ocean view:

And pretty flowers:

Next we headed out to the North End, where there was a street festival for one of the innumerable Catholic saints:

And of course there were games, where you could a variety of animal-shaped items, such as rubber duckies:

And where you could nosh on a delicious cannoli:

I got one with chocolate chips.  Yum!

Then we wandered over to where some old guys out of The Sopranos were playing bacci ball.  There was one guy who played with a cigar hanging from the corner of his mouth while another had a thinning jet black pompadour you know he’s had since about 1955.

I wasn’t close enough to get any good shots of the players.  Just this spectator:

His whole outfit screams, “I’M ITALIAN AND I’M FROM BOSTON!”

We were supposed to go see this show at 7, but it was such a gorgeous day, neither of us wanted to go underground on the subway and then sit in a theater for two hours.  So we just walked around some more, venturing first into Haymarket at closing.  Not a good idea!  Not only were all the vendors taking down their stands and equipment, people were rifling through all the thrown-out/discounted vegetables and fruit, all at a madcap pace.  It was crazy.  I kept feeling like I was going to get whacked in the head by some metal pole or knocked over by an Indian or Chinese grandma lunging for a free tomato.  Then when I stepped in something cold and mushy, I decided it was over and hightailed it out of there, waiting for ES on the other side.

For dinner we ate at Lucca.  The food was delish.  We shared the Carpaccio di Manzo, which I didn’t realize till afterwards was raw meat.  Still, it was really good.  I got the Pappardelle alla Bolognese and ES got the Orecchiette al Formaggio, which was like gourmet mac and cheese with sausage.  Both our dishes were yummy but I think I liked ES’s better.

Again, no pictures.  Our waiter was very snooty and we felt intimidated, dolts we are.  He was way younger than we were too!  Douche.

After dinner we walked around some more.  We came upon this fountain sculpture, or whatever you want to call it.  Kind of like the fountains at Bellagio in miniature.  People kept running through it, trying to beat the water spouts but getting soaked all the same.

We did not attempt a run.


Another leisurely morning, followed by a quick visit at the Sowa Open Market in the South End, which was perfect because it’s right near South Station.  There’s a fun indoor antiques market, where you can buy everything from a suit of armor:

To a Muhammad Ali figurine:

To this crab plate:

I did not buy the crab plate, but found some cool jewelry.  Since there was TONS of stuff, I narrowed down my choices down by focusing on stuff in cases, assuming that quality was a little better.  I got an art deco style necklace and bracelet for $34.  Originally there were $40 together but I bargained the lady down a little.

That was it!  You couldn’t have asked for better weather or a better hostess (thanks ES!).

Next up, San Francisco!

See all my Boston pics.

Jul 09

I ate sooo badly today

  • Toast with butter and cheese
  • Coffee
  • Slice of plain pizza
  • Half a bagel with cream cheese
  • More coffee
  • Hot dog with sauerkraut, onions, pickles, cheese, and hot sauce (YUM)
  • Lemonade
  • Tomato soup
  • More toast with cheese and butter
  • A 99 cent bag of Cheetos, which at 2.5 servings contains 36 grams of fat (!!!)

Nothing green (unless you count the pickles).  No fruit.

I can feel the double chin growing.

Jun 09

London, Day 10

Ten days are more than enough in London. I am so ready to go home.

Today was a good day. We went out to Cambridge and heard presentations from ProQuest and the Royal Society of Chemistry. All were very good. ProQuest talked a lot about their project with the Paley Center, putting the center’s seminars, interviews, and show/movie clips online in a database, all with transcripts and subtitles, and indexed. You can even download clips, edit them, and email them.  It’s pretty neat and launched today, in fact.  I think it’s only available through universities, and maybe the NYPL.

After the talks, Anthony took us on a tour of Pembroke College Cambridge, his alma mater.  It was very pretty.

After the tour, we all went off on our own, basically splitting into two groups.  Of course in library school there are a lot of women.  Today it hit me that I’m used to hanging out with men, between MB, YP, my brother online, hell even my boss.  Of course there are all my other good friends, but I don’t see them as much.

So when I somehow ended up in the group with three men and one other woman in her mid-40s – ie, a grown-up – I felt a huge sense of relief.  I think it helped that there were just five of us as well, instead of a giant group with three or four conversations going on at once.  It was very relaxing sitting there with our drinks and chatting.

For dinner we went to Queen’s Head.  It was a very nice pub.  I got the fish and chips since I’ve been wanting to try it all this time.

It was GOOD, especially after having had a drink.  I got a nice big piece of cod, and the batter was crispy and thin.  The fries were tasty as well.  9.95 pounds.  That plus 2.75 for the wine made a total of 12.70 (they gave us lunch at ProQuest).

While hanging out at dinner was fun, I was ready to go back way before most of the others.  I’m definitely someone who needs her quiet time.  It’s tough to spend a nearly solid two weeks with the same group of people, and to be away from home.

Tomorrow is a lecture in the morning and a visit to the Nature Publishing Company in the afternoon.

All London Day 10 pictures.

Jun 09

London, Days 8 & 9

Now I have to two days to write about.

Day 8

Again I had a leisurely morning, getting up at 8 and fooling around on my computer till I left at 10.

The tube to the Natural History Museum was much calmer than the one to London Bridge. Once I got out, however, I was as always confused about where I was, but managed to figure it out. The next problem: hungry and not wanting to spend a lot, especially after the previous night’s expensive dinner. I was still on a grilled cheese sandwich kick so I got one with a mocha from a café nearby for less than 5 pounds. Not bad.

I meant to go to the Natural History Museum first, but ended up in the Science Museum (which explained why I kept thinking, This is a lot like the Science Museum in Boston). It’s very much for kids, but it was very good. I liked the History of Medicine exhibit, though it starts out chronologically then gets totally mixed up, and the Listening Post, in which bits of real chat room conversation are captured via light and sound. It was pretty neat.

After finally realizing I wasn’t in the Natural History Museum, I headed over there, and was immediately overwhelemed by the zillions of kids. I kind of zipped through it, though I did go out of my way to see the animatronic dinasours, the coup de grace of which was T. Rex:

It was pretty neat despite the mob. One little kid got really scared when he turned the corner and saw what he was in for.

I also wanted to see the Blue Whale, which is touted by my Time Out book. I have to say: an utter disappointment. It’s humungous, of course, but the room is so tiny and jam packed with other mammals. It’s not like the American Museum of Natural History, where you have this enormous room and the blue whale suspended from the ceiling.

Next was the Victoria & Albert Museum. Thankfully there were no kids on the top few floors, only running around the ground floor. I loved looking at the royal collection and all the Victorian-era stuff. It was such a peaceful atmosphere, a huge relief after the madness of the Natural History Museum. My energy waned as I made my way down so that by the time I reached bottom, I’d see yet another wing and think, No more!

There’s a nice courtyard, where I sat for quite some time, eating my Balance bar and chilling.

Afterwards I walked over to Hyde Park, through Mayfair, where I found another nice courtyard to sit in, and over to Picadilly. Used the bathroom again at the Meridian, and was much less conspicuous this time around.

Over the weekend I had suddenly remembered that I regularly read a blog about food in London, duh! Su-Lin’s latest post was on Malaysia Kopi Tiam, which I realized I’ve passed a billion times since I’ve been here. I was excited to try good, reasonably priced food so I made a beeline there after all my sightseeing.

It seemed authentic what with all the Chinese-speaking people hanging around, and, unlike that damned Japanese place from yesterday, there was no minimum. I wasn’t sure what some of dishes were so I went for the menu with the pictures and picked the laksa mee with chicken, basically a mildly spicy coconut curry noodle soup with chicken on the bone and fish cakes.

It was soooo good, and at 7.50 pounds definitely the right price. Since I was well under my 25 pounds for the day, I got a lychee drink too – with real lychees – for two pounds.

My total food spend for the day: 13.49 pounds! A huge improvement from the day before.

Day 9

This was today. Lectures were really boring. This morning’s was supposed to be a discussion but it just meandered and never really focused on one topic. It was really torture, to be quite honest.

This afternoon we went to the Office of Public Sector Information, where the guy talked about government documents. Again: snoresville. I mean, the information was somewhat interesting, but he was such a dry presenter.

I felt so burnt out on sight seeing today that I did absolutely nothing. After lectures I went with one of my classmates back to our dorm, and hung out playing on the internet till we went to dinner.

Finally had Indian food: Diwana on Drummond Street, as recommended by Anthony. It was very good! We shared a chef’s sampling of appetizers for about 4 pounds, got paneer dosas for 7.05, and a mango lassi for 2.

Chefs sampling of appetizers

Chef's sampling of appetizers

The coconut chutney was so good; I’ve never had it before. And the dosa was extrememly filling and tasty.

My total food spend: 16.30.

Tomorrow we’re off to Cambridge.

All Day 8 and Day 9 pictures.

Jun 09

London, Day 7

Writing about Day 7 on the 8th day. I was so tired last night, I got into bed before 10 and slept till 8 this morning. Today’s agenda: Victoria and Albert and Natural History Museums.

Got a good amount of shut eye the night before, from about midnight to 8 AM. I wasn’t sure if there was cafeteria breakfast and I didn’t feel like having it, so I just stayed in my room, drank instant coffee, ate part of an Odawalla Bar and played with my pictures, some of which are up on Flickr. I’ll also put links by day in the earlier posts, and perhaps some actual pictures.

I left around 10. Getting to the subway to take me to London Bridge was absolute madness. There were zillions of people coming and going from the airport, on top of just the regular tourists and Londoners. But the actual ride was super short, about 10 minutes.

From the London Bridge station, I wandered over to Borough Market, as recommended by my brother. It was a lot of fun. There was such gorgeous food:

Plus the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever had.

It was greasy and crispy and melty with pieces of sweet red onion. Yum!

Next was the Tate Modern, which I loved. There seem to be just two free floors, but those floors go on forever. I’d think I was done, then discover two more ginourmous wings. Of course I got the audio, though I remember little, except:

• I liked the Richard Long and Robert Smithson pictures. Robert Smithson did the Spiral Jetty, which I was obssessed with when it was at the Whitney.

• Meshes in the Afternoon was a totally bizarre surrealist film, but it actually kind of made sense. I could totally see how David Lynch has been inspired by it.

• Francis Bacon died in 1992. I thought he was much older and that he was a contemporary of Max Ernst. They are actually 20 years apart. I really like Francis Bacon’s stuff though a lot of it is disturbing. Maybe because I love horror movies, and see how a lot of them are influenced by his work, like when a face changes to something horrific for a split second.

• Then there was the whole series of works on the manga character Ann Lee from Ghost in the Shell. I’ve never heard of either, but it was still fascinating – the idea of person as a commodity, of having no identity. Of course we couldn’t take picures but I managed to sneak one in:

After the Tate Modern, I needed a break so I headed over to the Cut, which Anthony said was a cool area.  It looked like a fun place to hang out, but aside from one bookstore, I just sort of walked around, then turned around and headed right back.

I wanted to walk back over to where Dali Universe was but got completely lost. Somehow I ventured off the Thames Path, and ended up in a quiet (too quiet) residential area. I saw signs for the Tower Bridge and followed those, but the signs led right onto the Tower Bridge and soon I found myself crossing back over. Dammit!

I was probably kinda museumed out anyway and just took my time walking back to my area. I passed the Tower of London, but didn’t feel like going in, and found St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Very pretty and peaceful, at least not at the main entrance.  Too bad it was too late to go inside.

Then I just meandered my way back. I was wearing my new Keds, which sort of hurt my toes by the end of the day.

For dinner I tried the Japanese place next to the first Korean place I went to. While the food was pretty good, it was overpriced. And there was a 10 pound minimum, boo! I got tamagoyaki, fried noodles with veggies and meat, and a soda for 16 pounds, almost $30! Way too much. I guess it’s not that easy to find cheap eats around here.

All Day 7 pictures.