Category Archives: U.S.A.

Times Square & Broadway – New York City (1 of 7)

In May, I took my first trip to New York City with friends from Calgary.

Times Square is very busy and bright, though not overwhelming. With dozens of police officers around at all times, it also feels extremely safe.

As you can imagine, taxis are everywhere in New York. So are electronics stores that are open very late.

Another busy street near Times Square. This area is very flashy, though the excitement ends once you go underground. The subway stations were actually quite dirty, old, and hard to understand at first.

Outside the Metropolitan Opera. Yes, I actually did see an opera. At $100 a ticket, it was an expensive show to see, and not one I can see myself doing too often in the future.

A much more engaging performance was Wicked! The theatre was very well decorated for the musical and unlike anything I have ever seen before. I previously saw Chicago in London.

That’s all for my first section of New York.

San Francisco, Spring 2010

On the way back from my visit to Japan, I had an 8 hour layover in San Francisco. Despite being tired, I decided to use this time to re-explore the Union Square area where I stayed before. Knowing the neighbourhood quite well already, this gave me a chance to explore some of the finer details here.

Perhaps this isn’t so special or unique, but there’s something nice and charming about the architecture here.

Just in case you thought the first picture may have been taken in Saint John, the palm trees here remind you that this is in fact a much warmer climate.

Retailers of designer fashion are everywhere in this neighbourhood. Artists show off their work in Union Square.

Although everyone is familiar with the cable cars iconic to San Francisco that are retained mostly for tourists, the city also still uses older electric buses on many routes.

San Francisco is a city known for its hills. It’s not hard to find many views with bridges, tall buoldings and other landmarks all merging together to create a unique viewpoint.

San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge

At last, I am posting my last set of pictures from my visit to San Francisco, almost 2 months ago now!

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There it is! The only thing spoiling this sight is the building at the bottom. I’m not sure what it is.

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Next to the bridge is a walking trail. You can walk for quite a distance like this.

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Using my camera’s very nice 12X optical zoom, I was able to get an interesting close-up.

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There’s abandoned military buildings nearby. They aren’t very well maintained, but they are totally accessible.

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Hills and a beautiful seashore surround the area.

That’s all for my California pictures.

San Francisco – Alcatraz

No visit to San Francisco could be complete without a visit to the island of Alcatraz.

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Since being closed as a prison, it is now a very popular national park, though I wonder for how many more years it will be able to operate since it’s not well maintained in many places.

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Immediately upon entering the island, you see this sign which has been left as it was, graffiti included. It says “Indians Welcome” (called Indians because its what they call themselves) because they took possession of the island for a short while after it closed as a prison. They never gained permanent control of the island as they hoped, but they did raise awareness for their cause.

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Inside, there is a large network of areas that tourists aren’t allowed to go. This is one of them. I poked my camera through a barricade when taking this picture. It was actually quite dark, since you can see I left my shutter open a long time with the brightness of the lights.

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This is a typical cell, and one that is particularly well preserved. I wonder how often those towels need to be washed due to dust collection. I didn’t notice until now there’s also a broom on the floor, perhaps for keeping the area tidy.

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Very prison-like.

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During the Indian Occupation and a few years after, several buildings, mostly residences, were destroyed by fires, which are still mysterious today. All that remains is their concrete shells.

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Alcatraz Island is particularly well known for its gardens, which are being restored to their former glory. Many plants have been found to still be growing over 100 years after being planted.

Alcatraz was also noted as a decent place to raise a family… outside the prison of course. Some families of prison employees lived on the island, taking boats to San Francisco for school, and other such things. There was never any noted problems of these families mixing with prisoners, and the families rarely thought about the prisoners, according to the audio tour.

I’ll post my final San Francisco set of pictures from the Golden Gate bridge area soon.

San Francisco – Lombard Street

After going to Alcatraz (which I’ll talk about in another post), I walked from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Lombard Street area. It turns out that this is actually a long street and several large mountains (slight exageration) separate it from the waterfront area where I started.

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It looks so relaxing out there on the bay. I took this from the top of one of the hills using my camera’s 12X optical zoom. That really comes in handy for zooming in on distant areas that virtually no one else would be able to do so casually.

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This is quite a cozy, densely populated neighbourhood.

As I walked, I noticed that cars do park on the steep hills, but signs tell them to park at a 90 degree angle. Eventually, I reached the crooked part of Lombard Street.

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There it is! Cars were constantly driving down this one way street.

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You know you’re in trouble when you need to use a whole hand to count the night of curves.

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At the top was a stop for the cable car. I rode it back to the area near my hostel. It costs $5 USD one way, so it’s a bit expensive, but it’s definitely interesting. You can see why they aren’t in use anymore because it’s hard to hold on when taking sharp turns and it’s loud inside. The history is interesting though. The cable cars were created in the 19th century because they discovered the hills were too steep for horses to climb.

San Francisco – Downtown

Prior to attending my conference in San Diego, California, I stopped in San Francisco first.

I have many photos from San Francisco and its various attractions. My first set will focus on Downtown, including China and Little Italy.

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In the region where I stayed near Union Square, the buildings reach tall and there’s lots of stylish stores everywhere.

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I took a free walking tour organized through the hostel, which led us to Chinatown. Until recently, this Chinatown was North America’s largest, though Vancouver now claims this title.

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These are patrons of the tour company which promises you an experience of San Francisco by Segway. Sounds good, right? Not really. They don’t tell you beforehand in the brochure that you need to wear those ugly uniforms. If you want to look like a very stupid tourist, this is the way to go.

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On my last full day in the city, I didn’t have any special plans so I hopped on the BART train and just got off at a random stop that seemed like a significant place. I end up at San Francisco City Hall where a Free Tibet demonstration is taking place.

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These binoculars by the Coit Tower give you a nice view of the overgrown trees.

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San Francisco sure has a lot of hills.

San Diego – Sea World

On the second last night of the conference, a banquet event was held at the nearby Sea World. Despite the park being mostly closed for the night, we were able to see the penquins!

These creatures are so clumsy on land, but so majestic when swimming in the water.

The penguin area is climate controlled to simulate their native southern hemisphere. Even the lighting is apparently controlled to go on and off as the sun rises and sets.

At the back, you could see a rarer variety of penguin best known for being “fatter” than the others. While other penguins can be seen in many places, this type can only be seen in three places on earth: San Diego, Australia and of course Antarctica. Interesting indeed!

This concludes my series of photos for San Diego. I hope you enjoyed them.

Trip to San Diego – USS Midway

On one of the days before the conference, I decided to visit the USS Midway, a floating museum. It was in use as an aircraft carrier right up until the 90’s.

This is a portion of the ship, on top of which you can see various aircraft.

Inside the ships, every single doorway is raised above the floor somewhat. I assume this is to prevent minor flooding from becoming a major problem!

That’s a lot of controls!

On top, you can see the aircraft up close, and the San Diego skyscrapers in the background on shore.

The control deck is rather huge on top.

I took many photos inside the ship, far too many to post here.