Monday, October 13, 2014

Mon 13 Oct - Walnut Creek, CA

Where is Walnut Creek you may ask and why is Hans suddenly going there?

Well, today Hans is catching up with another old buddy of his, Ben MacDonald. Ben is an Aussie that Hans worked with at Westpac almost 20 years ago. He then moved to the U.S., is now married to Jen and they have 3 kids together.

They live in Walnut Creek which is 35 minutes by train eastwards from downtown San Francisco, on the other side of Oakland.

Hans was staying the night at the MacDonalds' house.

Before breakfast today, Hans went to the little gym and indoor pool across Vineet's place. It was one of those typical gyms that you find in newish apartment blocks all around. The pool was perhaps 10 meters long, but Hans persisted and did some 30 laps there after working out with the limited equipment. Felt good afterwards.

After breakfast, Hans packed an overnight bag and left for the local bus stop. Bus 219 takes you to Tiburon Wharf.

Public transport is not big in California. A cute little bus, with seating for a total of 20 people (Hans counted). But cheap and this one was very comfortable.

This is the Blue and Gold ferry which does the run between downtown San Francisco and Tiburon (and a few other wharfs on the north side of the bay as well).

All on board and Tiburon Wharf fades into the distance.

It was another sunny and very warm day so Hans dressed up in his "best" hiking gear, complete with his fisherman hat. Don't want to get sun burnt again.

The ferry looked nice from the outside, but the inside cabin looked old and tired. Not many passengers as you can see, but there were 3 decks, with both inside and outside seating.

The ferry ride was lovely and many of the San Francisco landmarks came into closer view.

Look at that, Golden Gate Bridge not being shrouded in clouds for once...

Pretty close to Alcatraz Island.

The financial district of downtown San Francisco came into view.

The ferry did a stop along the way at what is referred to as the Ferry Building, at the northern end of Market Street.

After a short stop there, the ferry continued to Pier 41 and you then get this view of Oakland Bay Bridge.

Yes, all the seals are still there at Pier 41.

Fishermans Wharf and the Embarcedero were unbelievably touristy, definitely not for Hans.

Only one highlight, the building to the right below.

That building contained Boudin Cafe and Bakery, supposedly the origins of San Francisco sourdough bread and we have been recommended to try their San Francisco sourdough chowder.

No, not today. Hans didn't dare to sample the chowder without Di present.

Hans bought himself a cob of sourdough bread, was given free butter and that was his lunch later on.

Even a "cat strangler" was there on the Embarcedero...

Warning. Touristy pictures of San Francisco coming up...

Hyde Street, looking south, up the hill... San Francisco style.

Lombard Street, very very steep, up the hill, leading onto...

..."that" corkscrew down the other side. Plenty of tourists here and even 2 security guys trying to keep order.

San Francisco cable car. The cables running in the ground are very noisy by the way.

Nob Hill. Not so much a touristy place as it made Hans recall 1997 when he was in San Francisco the last time.

Hans was at Nob Hill on the very same day that Jeremy turned 3 years so he spent time in its playground. Jeremy was occupying himself "stealing" and playing with some Chinese kids' toys, much to their disapproval.


No, Hans did not investigate further as he will wait to do so until Di arrives and can do it with him. So he continued down California Street and just crossed Stockton after taking this photo.

Hans was due to meet Ben in the lobby where he works in the corner of Market and California at 4pm.

It was very early still at 2pm so Hans first found a Citibank branch and withdraw money from the ATM. Worked fine.

Given that Hans no longer had a 28 Degrees Master Card due to the earlier fraud attempts, he wanted to make sure that he could withdraw Citibank cash and this was the first time he tried since he arrived. All his earlier use of the card had been swiping it at retailers and then sign on a pad, ie no pin code involvement.

Hans then found that there was a Peet Coffee and Tea (a California based Starbucks style coffee shop) at the ground floor of Ben's building. With free wifi.

Perfect. So for the next hour and a bit, Hans slowly drank his dark house special (pretty OK), read and blogged online. And just relaxed.

Ben surfaced exactly at 4pm and Hans and him then took the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transport) train from the adjacent Embarcedero station to Walnut Creek, an around 35 minutes trip.

After meet and greet Jen and their 3 kids, Liam (oldest), Emily and Madison (youngest), we all got into the family wagon and drove to a burger bar in the centre of Walnut Creek.

A warm evening and with kids, seating was outside.

After the meal, it was back to base for getting the kids to bed. With 3 young ones, that was not a small feat.
Ben, shouldn't you help out?

Hans and Ben then wandered back to the town centre, to a micro brewery called Pyramid for a few cold ones and chat.

Pyramid had a nice beer garden at the back, which was were we sat. This was in preference to sitting inside as Monday Night Football was on and there were TV screens blasting and loud fans everywhere.


We sampled 2 different house brews, of various taste and quality. One "midrange" IPA was really nice, but the house Weissbier was watery and pretty tasteless.

Some time after 10pm, we made ourselves back through dark and quiet backstreets of Walnut Creek.

Jen was up and the 3 of us continued to chat to after 1am.

Hans finally went to bed in the MacDonalds family's spare room / office around 1.30am.


1 comment:

  1. Another great day and thanks for thinking of me and NOT doing chowder and Chinatown.