Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Muni

We spent a lot of time on the Muni today. The Muni is San Francisco's bus and subway system and you can ride them for about three hours for two dollars as long as you keep your transfer ticket on you.
First we went to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to apply for a California State ID so we don't have to carry around our passports anymore. We got there before it opened yet there was already an immensly long line, reminiscent of Japan. We waited patiently, filled out some paperwork, waited some more, were confronted with very unfriendly state employees and had our picture and thumbprints taken. Two hours later we were told to expect them four weeks later... I hope I don't look to ridiculous in the ID picture.
Next Muni took us to Japantown, where we browsed many Japanese stores including a couple of 100 yen stores (or $1.50 stores here) with the exact same products for sale as in Japan, which was quite exciting. We bought ourselves some instant misosoup in a small supermarket and found ourselves daydreaming about our favorite restaurants back in Osaka.
The main reason to walk around Japantown was to have some Japanese food for dinner, of course! We ended up having sushi and a salmon teriyaki bento at a place called Sushi Boom. The sushi wasn't quite what we were used to though and had names like Lion King roll and California roll. I prefer authentic sushi, but it was fun to try.
I was so sick of the hot and humid weather in Japan but in San Francisco it's cold and I like it! This may be the only time in my life that I've worn a woolen scarf in August. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

At home

Tomorrow we're going to try and get California state IDs so we don't need to carry our passports around anymore. This will probably take all morning and possibly a large part of the afternoon, as there'll be endless lines and things don't tend to go fast at government offices. We also have some other errands to run and we're planning on having dinner somewhere in Japantown. That's why we stayed home today so that Yasu could get a lot of studying done before his classes start again on Tuesday.

He also played around on his new iPhone and I finally got my sewing stuff out and actually did some sewing, I'm still working on a custom order of horses for a very patient customer. I've missed it!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hipstamatic

A quiet night at home playing with my new iPhone 4 (my Japanese iPhone was simlocked and doesn't work here) and my new apps, while my husband is studying.

I cooked!

We've assembled all the furniture (finally) so today we went to Lucky's to get some groceries. Or rather Yasu studied at Starbucks, while I spent about 2.5 hours at the immense grocery store trying to figure out what to buy. It was quite overwhelming, there is just too much to choose from and the packages are too big. But eventually I gathered a cart full of groceries and somehow we got it all home on our new American bicycles. And then I cooked dinner for the first time in our new apartment!
I decided to make something easy with a salad because I was eager to try my new salad spinner. If you don't have one, get one. Such a simple thing with such an amazing result: fully washed and completely dry salad leaves! Anyway, dinner was really good and Yasu was so happy!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Settling in

All right, so I have been MIA for more than a month. I’ve left Japan, went home and spent a glorious time with my family, friends and husband. And as you can see I’m still embarrasingly behind on blogging, so I’m going to have to catch up on the past in the future.
I arrived in San Francisco two weeks ago and moved into Yasu’s hotel room, who got here a week before me. Four days later, just before Yasu went on a school retreat, I had found us a wonderful apartment in a building from the 1920’s in a nice area right next to a BART station.
I never hoped to find something great that quickly but we were lucky. We saw a couple of apartments in the building and we ended up choosing one on the fourth floor because of the beautiful view and the stunning way they had restored everything. They just redid the original hardwood floors and they are so beautiful and shiny. The doors have the original glass doorknobs from the twenties, the ceilings are really high and there are huge strong storage boxes.
The kitchen has new granite countertops, a new huge sink, restored cabinets, original tiles on the floor, a new huge fridge and stove, and a built-in ironing board from the twenties behind a door in the breakfast nook with a view.
The bathroom is almost totally redone, but they kept the cute original tiling and there is a walk-in closet in the corner of the studio with an extra door near the front door.
After viewing the apartment together Yasu had to leave on his retreat, so I spent several days going back and forth between our hotel and our new home, to secure the apartment with the right paperwork, to sign the lease, and to make the apartment habitable.
We have the nicest building manager, he not only moved me and all our suitcases out of the hotel early, he also took me to a local PG&E office to get electricity turned on and he spent a whole day at IKEA with me to get furniture and other basics for our apartment. Then we stuffed his vintage convertible to the rim with our new stuff and he lugged almost all of our stuff up for me.
Then after Yasu came home to our new place on Sunday, the IKEA delivery men delivered all of our heavy furniture to the fourth floor late at night. We spent the rest of the week assembling our furniture, cleaning (me), attending classes and orientation (Yasu), buying more things (like kitchen appliances) and now it’s almost done.
We have all the furniture we need, but our walls are still bare and we have nothing to decorate our apartment with yet. Wednesday boxes from Japan will arrive and they may contain some decorative things, don't really remember having packed them two months ago. Otherwise, I'll just have to go shopping again :).
The kitchen is the most complete with all new appliances and an expandable table, but we still need to go grocery shopping to fill the cabinets and the fridge, and to be able to cook a meal.
We've filled the drawer chests in the bathroom and closet with clothes, new towels and stuff from our suitcases and I'm not sure where to put all the other stuff coming from Japan in those boxes on Wednesday, but I'll figure something out, besides we still have those huge storage boxes on the ceiling.
So as you can see, we're settling in nicely here in the Bay Area and I can't wait to start sewing again and get into a new daily routine.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Berkeley

Now I can relax, because we already have an apartment. And today I did that by hanging out with Sean. Sean was the teacher who replaced me when I left AEON Inuyama in 2008, he’s been back in the States a few months and he happened to be in the Bay Area this week.
We met up in a bar on the Berkeley Campus where he used to study. After lunch and a lot of catching up (we probably talked more today than we ever did in Japan) he gave me a little campus tour. I got to see Proul Plaza, the Sather Gate and Tower and I even stood in the free speech hole. We also explored the shopping area around the campus with his old college friend. Berkeley is really beautiful and it must be awesome to live and study here. It was fun to see Sean again and I wish him lots of luck with his new adventure in New York.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Progress

Apartment hunting is over, it didn’t last too long though. Spent hours at Starbucks and the Apple store (while waiting for new shipments of iPhones 4 to arrive...in vain) on craigslist (quite a messy website, but very useful nonetheless), we visited 4 places and this morning (just before Yasu left on his 5-day school retreat) we decided place #5 is going to be our new home! It's by far the best place, it stands out so far from the others that our deicision was really easy. And it's also way cheaper than the others!
I’m moving in on Saturday, after a trip to Ikea with the building manager to get us some furniture and other necessities. And Sunday when Yasu returns he will come home to our new home not some hotel. Although, we feel lucky to have found an apartment this quickly, we’re still hunting for iPhones 4. But the friendly people at the Apple store gave us two iPhones 3GSs to use until the new 4s arrive, very helpful.

Monday, August 16, 2010

CIIS

Our last stop today was at Yasu’s school. He’s been going there for a week already for an academic writing course and knows his way around pretty well.
He showed me some classrooms, the library, the cafeteria and lounge and we even stumbled upon some event that provided us with free food. Like we weren’t already stuffed from pizza! It was fun to see his school though.

American pizza

After our sightseeing activities we explored the Sunset area of San Francisco, to see if there are any apartments for rent. We weren’t successful at finding potential apartments but we did find a place to have dinner. Pizza! Delicious but way too much, so we took half of it back to the hotel.
Tomorrow, I’ll start searching for apartments on Craig’s List, which seems to be the most popular place for that. We were successful at getting cell service today for iPhones, but not at getting the actual phones. They were sold out for the day by the time we got to the Apple store. So tomorrow I’ll be hunting for an apartment and two iPhones 4. Wish me luck.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Clam chowder in a bread bowl

Another thing I didn’t do during previous visits to San Francisco is eat clam chowder in a bread bowl. Mostly because I used to hate soup. But the concept of eating soup from a bowl made of delicious bread intrigued me. After having learned to like soup (more than I used to anyway) in Japan, I was intent on eating this typical Fisherman’s Wharf snack a.s.a.p. So we did.
We shared one bowl, but it was so rich and filling we couldn’t finish it. And it was quite good! Especially, the bread was delicious, it was a sourdough roll, another thing San Francisco is famous for.

Cable car

I have traveled to San Francisco twice before and both times I didn’t get to ride the cable car. Don’t know how that happened because it was certainly on my list of things to do, maybe I forgot? Well, third time is the charm, today we rode the cable car!
We weren’t the only people eager to ride the cable car and the line at Powel Station was super long. But they don’t completely fill the car at the first stop, so we simply walked two blocks to the second stop, where there was no line. We hopped on almost immediately, and left behind the patient tourists who were probably going to be there for at least another hour.
The trip up to Fisherman’s Wharf is very nice with lots of interesting things to see and beautiful sights to see. Sometimes the street is so steep it's a little scary and the ride's a little expensive, but it's all well worth a go. I’m happy I finally did it!

San Francisco

Made it to San Francisco last night, after another sad farewell at Schiphol Airport and an extremely uncomfortable and enormously delayed Air France flight. Having flown Air France before I wasn’t surprised at the unpleasant experience, just wish to never fly with them ever again. My very patient husband picked me up at the airport and he was truly ecstatic to see me. We’re finally here, in San Francisco together! And today we’re exploring San Francisco together.
We took the BART (train) from our hotel in Oakland, arrived in San Francisco, got coffee at the first Starbucks we saw and now we’re going to score some cell phones somewhere here on Market street.