February 27th, 2012 by Adam
It was another beautiful sunny day in San Fran, with blue skies and tasty bagel/coffee breakfasts. This day was not a typical field school day, because today…. we had a VAN! We could go anywhere we so pleased, and what could be a better idea than doing some wine tasting in the Sonoma/Napa Valley?
- Overlooking San Francisco
Before the wine, the enthusiastic young geographers casually stopped off at the iconic Golden Gate Bridge for some group pictures. The fine clear day presented the picturesque landmark in its full glory. The crimson steel of the bridge was alluring and the ocean; a fine contrast.
Later, after driving through the dramatic landscape of the Californian coast we reached our first winery. With everyone in the class putting on their elite connoisseur face, we drank several of Sonoma Valley’s finest wines. The group travelled for the most part of the day in the van, going from winery to winery, with red smiles and good laughs.
Golden Gate Bridge
To finish off this perfect day, we stopped off in a peripheral town called Healsburg to wash down the remnants of wine with a cool glass of ale. We raced back to San Fran, with minimal pee breaks, had a quick class discussion and called it quits after a long tough day at the office.
February 23rd, 2012 by Adam
The dense vegetation in the Conservatory of Flowers
Guess what’s for breakfast…? BAGELS AND COFFEE!
The group made it out to the Golden Gate Park, just as the fog was lifting. The park boasts a multitude of various recreational spaces, museums, and lakes. Michael decided we had to see the Conservatory of Flowers…? I just bit my tongue, and went with it. The massive old green house consisted of hundreds of species of flowers and trees from all over the world, and made for a surprisingly interesting tour, even though the only other people there were 70 year-old grannies.
good looking ladies
Golden Gate Park is a lush green space, and one who didn’t know better would have guessed it was all-natural. In reality, 1017 acre park was originally a desert wasteland. The city decided that it would be a good idea to basically terra-form the area and go though great lengths to artificially change the desert into a jungle. This in itself is an amazing feat.
We finished the day early in the hip Haight/Ashbury district. This community boasts over 100 unique shops that range from record stores to anarchist bookstores. After this everyone had the rest of the afternoon off. Some people slept, others went exploring, I bought an accordion!
February 23rd, 2012 by Adam
View from 'The Rock'
Starting off the day with the same hostel breakfast of bagels and coffee, our class headed off bright and early to meet up with a San Fran city guide. The aim of this guided tour was to analyze the notable buildings in downtown core. In total, there were close to 40 different buildings that we checked out. One of our many assignments is to choose one of these building and do a brief write-up on a building that caught our attention. My favorite out of these would be the Westin St. Francis Hotel. This spectacle is one of the oldest buildings in San Francisco, among the few to survive the 1906 earthquake.
After this, the group convened by the docks for lunch before heading over to Alcatraz Island. Alcatraz, being a lot closer to San Fran than I had imagined, was so far the highlight of the trip. Our class along with about 100 other eager tourists crossed the ocean on a solar powered ferry, in a swift 12 minutes. It was interesting to see how small the prison was, and kind of lame how tailored the actual tour was. We were each provided with headsets and an audio tape, then basically instructed on where to go and what to look at. I found that it was anti-social and zombie like. However, it was a beautiful sunny day, so I spent a good chunk of time outside looking and the great view of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.
Our SF tour guide
By the time we had returned from Alcatraz it was getting to be dusk, but we managed to travel by cable car to get to ‘The Painted Ladies’, a popular grouping of victorian style houses. These marvels are located on the outer rim of a picturesque urban park. With the sun setting, and the amazing view of downtown San Fran, it made for an epic photo-shoot.
The Painted Ladies
February 21st, 2012 by Adam
Although not many had a great sleep, we awoke to a dainty bagel and coffee breakfast, and headed out into the city. The clan jumped on to a cable car in the Union Square district and headed North to Fisherman’s Wharf. We walked along the harbor, trying to keep up with Pam Shaw, the fastest walking professor on earth. I managed to snap a few shots of the infamous Alcatraz Island, the world famous sea lions, and class-mate Ryan stuffing a corn dog down his gullet.
The daily adventure had just begun, as we ascended upon telegraph hill, (VIU hill training=useless) where we saw intricate houses wedged onto steep slopes surrounded by lush vegetation. The ultimate goal was to reach the 360-degree, panoramic view of Coit Tower.
View from Coit Tower - PIRATES!? It can't be!!
After Coit Tower, the class descended into the beat generation hub of North Beach district. We enjoyed an extravagant Italian meal, at one of Michael Tripp’s old hangouts and drank some quintessential Italian wine. The North Beach area is packed with classy multicultural restaurants, weathered bookstores and unique shops.
City Lights, a iconic bookstore in North Beach
We managed to fit a lot into one day, walking endlessly through Chinatown for the second time, heading up the massive picturesque slope of Lombard St. and finishing off the day at the legendary Castro District. We dined at Orphan Andy’s for greasy burgers to cap off the evening. By the end of the day, everyone was bagged and ready for sleep. Readying themselves for the adventure to continue the next day.
North Beach District
February 21st, 2012 by Adam
Let the trip begin! On February 18th the adventure had begun, the intrepid group of VIU geographers set out across the straight, the waves were rolling, as was the boat. We met the remainder of the class at the airport, checked in, and set out. This group consists of a rock star roster of geographers, accompanied by some of the finest professors in Canada; Pam Shaw a visionary and urban mastermind, and Michael Tripp, a man of legendary status from the bowels of San Fran.
As we were flying over the bright city lights of San Francisco, the prospective city planners were in awe of the quilt-like grid pattern of the streets. A light switch had turned on for every geographer, and the trip had truly begun. We were all frothing at the mouths, ready to get down and dirty and feel the pulse of ‘San Fran’.
We jumped on to the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and headed straight for our new home, the Hostel International in the downtown core. We dropped off our bags and headed off into the night in search of food. After a large meal, a few of the courageous headed out into the night in search of drink.
The night ended late for the class, but the street dwellers and the party revelers outside the hostel continued on until dawn. Sleep was a rarity for most, and the following day was set to be action packed.