Montage: April 2014

April – wow! What a month!

This past months video is so jam-packed – it was practically impossible to fit everything in!

April’s video montage is very exciting as it tracks my first month away from home, with my (almost) 4 week holiday in California. So much fun! Towards the end it also shows a bit of my arrival here in Toronto – that’s right, I’m in Canada!!!

I’ve been here for almost a week now, and my orientation at Bonnie Gordon College is tomorrow!

More on that later. For now, here’s April!

Phew! I feel like I need a whole festival of naps after all that, but there’s just no time! 
So much to do, so much to learn!

California Snapshots

Since my time in California has now come to an end, I thought I would share with you some photos I’ve taken over the past month that didn’t make it onto the blog for whatever reason.

These photos are a mix of photography practise on my DSLR and typical touristy happy snaps from my iPhone. Enjoy!

Dinner on my first night in California at Panda Express

On the road to Portland on my first weekend

The ’58 Ford that’s had a few mentions in the blog so far – what a fun car!

Alcatraz Landing in San Francisco
Typical San Francisco Streets
Artichokes at the Stanford Shopping Centre
Banana Cupcakes at Sprinkles, Stanford Shopping Centre
Pizza My Heart, Palo Alto
Lego Store, San Mateo
Lego Store fun – the head was my creation!
Muir Beach Outlook
Muir Beach Outlook – ocean!
Antique Store in Petaluma (and some guy lurking in the background)
More adventures in Petaluma (and that same guy lurking!)
California, you’ve been a blast! Can’t wait to see you again in September!

Easter Sunday – San Francisco turned Bikes & Films

Our plans for Easter Sunday also went awry, though to nobody’s fault but our own. After a lazy sleep in, we decided to go for a bike ride before venturing into the city.

Having been given a bike on my arrival here in the US (thank you!), I’d faced one minor problem – I didn’t know how to ride it!

I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was twelve, and while the saying “it’s like riding a bike!” is regularly repeated, I can assure you that it is entirely not true and you certainly can forget how to do it.

Loving my ‘Beach Cruiser’

This was my first big adventure outside the safety of a car park. I am very happy to announce that not once did I fall off! Phew!

By the time we returned from our ride we realised it was getting a bit late to head into the city, so we went for another bike ride and ended up at a beautiful Thai restaurant for a late lunch – our Easter lunch! It was delicious and they served the best spring rolls I’ve ever had.

Spring Rolls, Sweet & Sour Pork and Chicken Pad Thai at Sweet Basil Thai, Foster City

Later that evening we hopped into the ’58 Ford and headed into Palo Alto to see a film at the Stanford Theatre. This is my favourite place in Palo Alto and I highly recommend it to anyone who is in the area.

We picked up some sweets from the candy store, Rocket Fizz (taffy for me, chocolate for him), purchased a big bucket of buttered popcorn and a couple of sodas and entered the cinema to enjoy the playing of the Wurlitzer Organ which is always an enjoyable ‘between film’ event.

We watched a Barbara Stanwyck (and Marilyn Monroe) film by the name of Clash by Night which was incredibly enjoyable, and became the perfect end to our wonderful weekend.

Now I only have one more day here in California before we fly out tomorrow night to Toronto! Yippee!

Easter Saturday – Hiking turned Thrifting

This past weekend was my last to be spent here in California. At least, until September.

It was also Easter, however unlike in Australia we did not get a long weekend. Major bummer!

We planned to make the most of the two days we had, with Saturday set aside for hiking in Muir Woods and for Sunday we’d planned a whole day adventure in San Francisco.

Unfortunately, as we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge Saturday morning on our way to Muir Woods we realised that everyone else had a similar idea as us – the car parks were full and the line for the shuttle bus was a mile long!

Lacking the patience required to wait in a long line, we decided to drive up the mountain anyway to have a look at the scenery.

View from an outlook over Muir Beach

It was a lovely drive and we soon found ourselves in the little town of Olema where there was a delightful ‘Farm House Restraurant and Bar’. While I only had a salad, it was one of the best meals I’ve had since being in the US, the staff were exceptionally attentive, and the prices were very reasonable.

On a whim, we decided to continue our drive to a town by the name of Petaluma where the film American Graffiti was filmed. The town is now known for it’s large number of Antique stores, and it sure lived up to it’s reputation!

We had a very unexpectedly pleasant afternoon of thrifting and I was chuffed to return home with this set of 4 Pyrex bowls.

Happily Thrifted: Vintage Pyrex Mixing Bowls

We finished our Saturday with a stop at Baskin Robbins where I devoured a chocolate chip cookie dough & toffee caramel ice cream – mmmmmm!

The most delicious ice cream! Mmmm!

More on our Easter weekend adventures tomorrow!

San Francsico: Take 3

I was determined to like San Francisco.

I knew there had to be something there I’ve been missing that everyone else adores.

Bay Bridge, San Francisco

Up until this past weekend I had only been to San Francisco at night. My perception of the city was glimpses of potential (the Ice Cream Bar and dogs everywhere, for example) clouded by the seedy streets that come with any large city at night.

I never felt safe and that ruined the whole experience for me.

Yesterday I went to San Francisco during the day. Yesterday I fell in love with San Francisco.

The beautiful houses, the variety of people, the shopping. Oh my!

We parked the ’58 Ford near Market Street and I was all bundled up in my usual coat, scarf, gloves and beanie that has been my permanent clothing choice since arriving in California – who knew it got so cold here?! It wasn’t long though before the sun really came out and all those items were discarded. Ahh, warm sunshine!

We checked out a few stores that I’d never experienced, such as Old Navy, Forever 21, and Macy’s. We happened to stumble upon a Converse store which put the Australian Converse stores to shame. As we walked in our attention was first caught by a whole wall of sneakers in the design of the American Flag (something rather common here I’ve noticed!), and shortly after by a ‘chandelier’ in the middle of the store made of sneakers. So awesome.

Converse Store, San Francisco

After our shopping fix we drove through Fisherman’s Wharf to see some of the touristy sights. We plan to return next weekend to check it out on foot.

Pier 23, San Francisco

There were two sights we had to see before we headed back out of the city. First, Lombard Street and driving down it (also known as causing a bit of scene) in the ’58. Very cool.

Secondly, Twin Peaks: the highest point in San Francisco. Very cool as well, but more so in the temperature sense. Yikes! Glad I had my coat!

The view from Twin Peaks

I have been sold on San Francisco and now cannot wait to explore more of it… during the day of course.

Oh, and in more general terms of the US. I knew things were much cheaper over here, but THIS much cheaper blew my mind.

A KitchenAid for $300?! You would be paying minimum $600 for the exact same thing in Australia – on sale!

I think their recommended retail price is around $799 but don’t quote me on that. Either way, it’s less than half price, and in my favourite colour too! If I have any funds left at the end of this 6 month trip I may have to pack one of these guys in my suitcase!