🚋 Hello, San Francisco! (part 1 of 2)

About two weeks ago were in San Francisco for a few days, the first part of our USA trip! Since then we drove through Yosemite and Mammoth Lakes (where we stayed for a night), stayed in Las Vegas for a couple of nights, spent three days in Boston, five in New York, and now we are in Miami! 🌴

A view of a city from park on top of a hill. The park has very green grass, and it’s late afternoon and the city in the distance looks faded. The sky is light blue with some scattered clouds.
Mission Dolores Park is usually a bit busier on the weekends – this was a weekday!

Of course, I blog about all my travel adventures, and this is the San Francisco edition. 🙂 I decided to split it into two parts because there were a lot of photos, even though there wasn’t a lot of text. But people (myself included) freak out at tiny scrollbars, so. 🤪 I tried not to go too crazy with the photos – not like that time many years ago that I put in like a hundred fish photos along with other photos when I went to an aquarium in Japan… 🤨

So. The fourteen-hour flight from Sydney to Los Angeles was, of course, gruelling. 😩 From Los Angeles we had to change for a flight to San Francisco. It was my second flight to LAX and after the first one (which was just for a work trip to San Diego) I was dreading it a lot. It was much better though, as we booked premium economy flights and had a little extra leg room and some good food and excellent service, but getting sleep was just flat out hard. We’d tried to adjust our body clocks by sleeping early and waking up insanely early in the days before our trip, which would (hopefully) force us to sleep on the plane, but it was difficult.

A white bowl filled with white rice, green vegetables and pieces of cooked chicken
One of my meals on the plane.
The intersection of a road, on top of a steep hill, showing water and a blue sky in the distance.
SF is hilly AF. 🐦
A cable car on a street with high-rise hotels in the background. Some people are standing and hanging onto the platforms at the side of the cable car.
A cable car near Union Square, which is near where we were staying.
A woman in dark jeans and a striped top and leather jacket, holding onto the side of a cable car
Obligatory photo of me with a cable car!
A steep street in a zig-zag shape, going upwards. Cars fill the street, and bright green trees and pink flowers fill in the median areas. A staircase is at the side of the street. A crosswalk heading towards the zig-zag street is in the foreground.
Lombard Street! It’s incredibly steep, it’s so hard to see the whole thing!
A fall beige house and blue-grey house next to each other, almost concealed by green trees, shrubs, and pink flowers in front of it. A climbing plant with fuchsia flowers covers part of the space between the two houses.
A house on Lombard Street with some pretty flowers and shrubbery in front of it.
Angled view of a steep street, from a staircase at the side of the street. There is a lot of greenery in the foreground, providing shade from the sun. In the distance, many light-coloured houses can be seen.
Looking down on the street from the stairway
A city of light-coloured houses as seen from a steep street with a paved dark red brick surface. In the distance is a grey tower.
A view down Lombard Street. I’m not sure which view was better – from the top or the bottom?

Thursday, Day 1: Out on the town

We landed in the morning, having gone back in time (it was like the Thursday that never ended). But we had a layover and didn’t actually get to San Francisco until the afternoon. Hungry, we got something to eat, and hopped on the cable car and explored the touristy area of the city, checked out the zigzag road on Lombard Street, and visited Pier 39 yet only saw one of the famous sea lions. That was pretty much our first afternoon/evening.

A cable car at an intersection, at the foot of a hill. It’s afternoon and the foreground has a fair bit of shade while the sky is blue.
For some reason, we had a suuuuuper long wait on one of the cable cars.
A large carousel on a pier, with a Bubba Gump restaurant in the background
Pier 39 seemed like a bit of a tourist hotspot?
The edge of a pier at sunset, with a light blue sky and the sun reflecting on the water.
It was a cold but lovely afternoon.
A series of large wooden rectangular floats on water. A boardwalk can be seen in the distance. A sea lion can be seen sitting on one wooden float.
Only one sea lion! Apparently the water is so warm in summer that they don’t need to lie here to get sun.

It was a really tiring afternoon, and I dozed off on the cable car too. We slept at a reasonable time, though, and I think when we woke up on the second day we didn’t feel too jet lagged, which was great!

Friday, Day 2: Sunnyvale, meeting Olivia, Museum of Ice Cream, and meeting Amy

On the second day, we caught a train – the Caltrain – to Sunnyvale. The Caltrain travels fairly long distances between cities. Our trip to Sunnyvale was about an hour long, which can be quite a long way to travel. We passed a lot of office buildings for technology companies along the way. This was all very new to me – for some reason it felt strange for technology companies to have their base in suburban areas.

“But if you have 13,000 employees in the one company, where are you going to put them? You can’t fit them in the city,” Nick said. He had a point – I had never seen it that way. An exception to the technology companies in suburban areas is the Salesforce building, a skyscraper in downtown San Francisco.

We made our way to the Apple Visitor Center at Apple Park campus, where Nick bought one of their special edition t-shirts. I hardly have any intention of buying anything when I visit a physical Apple store, but I always enjoy looking at the products that I don’t already own. I have been eyeing the electric blue Apple Watch band though, and I have a slight fear that soon it will no longer be available. It’s not a colour that they always have. My current watch band is the cosmos blue colour, a deep blue with a hint of grey. I’m a sucker for interesting shades of blue, though, and the electric blue is that bright blue I often get drawn to. I just don’t know if I really need another watch band, but I suspect it might be cheaper to buy overseas.

A display of the designs of six different coloured shirts on a wooden background, all reading “Apple Park” with an Apple logo in place of the word “Apple”
Special Edition Apple Park shirts
A staircase in white, with handrails built into the sides. The stairs change direction and there is no distinct pillar in the centre of the stairs.
Famous Jony Ive stairs

We had coffee at their cafe, Caffe Macs (coffee was good!), and went upstairs and looked around on the roof deck. You couldn’t really see into the Apple Park campus from there, but we observed employees walking in via the reception.

A man with dark hair, wearing a blue jacket, holding an iPad and about to press on the screen. He is sitting in a cafe with light brown furniture and full-size windows showing trees outside.
The cafe menu on an iPad

We met up with my friend Olivia, one of my blogger/internet friends. We started chatting online a few years ago and this was our first time meeting each other in person. I actually interviewed Olivia as part of my Hey Girlfriend! series in April. 🙌 We had lunch at an Italian/American restaurant – it was OK, Olivia did warn us that there weren’t many good food options – and popped by Philz Coffee afterwards.

The counter at the inside of a cafe. A man is paying for his purchase, and in the foreground are some samples of food as well as bottles of hot sauce for sale. There are blackboards above the counter showing the menu.
Olivia took us to Philz Coffee

It was hot in Sunnyvale. Much warmer compared to the cool weather we had been experiencing in San Francisco. The heat was a… warm welcome, hah. I dislike summer and heat, but I do like summer clothes, chilled beverages, and the sun in general. 🌞

Two women smiling, with their arms around each other, and a giant brown gingerbread statue behind them
It was so nice to finally meet Olivia! First internet/online friend I met on this trip! 💕

Olivia drove us to the Google Visitor Center where we took photos at the Android sculptures lawn. Each sculpture represented a different Android version, and I was surprised that I knew most of them. I noticed that they attempted to put a bit of green in each sculpture, but not in all of them. There was a tiny green circle in the Froyo sculpture! I couldn’t spot any green in the Eclair sculpture (and I didn’t take a photo because it looked a bit ugly and worn down), maybe it would have looked too weird.

A dirt ground with various sculptures: a giant orange set of headphones; a frozen yoghurt with berries; the Google Android robot holding a marshmallow; as well as some others in the background A dirt ground with various sculptures, a couple of metres tall. One resembles a robot made of chocolate Kit Kats, another resembles honeycomb, and another two can be partially seen: a green robot holding a lollipop, and a giant gingerbread man
A sculpture resembling a honeycomb, with the Google Android robot in one honeycomb hexagon, and one hexagon free. Two women are looking through the free hexagon from behind and smiling

We were going to stop by Stanford University but decided to get the Caltrain back to San Francisco a little earlier than planned. We were heading to the Museum of Ice Cream and had a ticket for a 5:30 slot, and wanted to give ourselves a bit of time.

The MOIC was an interesting experience. It was extremely Instagrammable. It’s nice to have something that is designed to help you share nice photos on social media. There are many places and attractions that attract a crazy amount of people who want to share nice photos on social media, but the crowds become a bother. In the MOIC, you’re guided through and encouraged to take all the photos you want, so the crowds are more controlled and people taking selfies is less annoying, so to speak. 😋

A woman wearing a black skirt and jacket sitting on a swing in a small cubicle with pink spray cans lining the walls
I felt really weird about these swings in the first room of the museum. The photos look super staged too.
The same woman from the previous photo in this post, sitting on a swing in a yellow room
I guess this one looks a bit like a movie set? It was hard to capture a good photo showing the pink bananas up top.
A pink painted room with a table full of pink aerosol cans. There are pink balloons attached to the wall.
Pink was definitely the theme of this museum
A large whiteboard with pink magnetic letters all over it, some forming words
Various messages left by others
A woman with short dark hair in a blue shirt, smiling. Behind her is a whiteboard reading “love your selfie” in pink magnetic letters
We had to make our own inspirational message out of the letters – this was mine
A light pink floor with a pattern of white uppercase letters. A woman’s feet wearing black loafers are at the edge of the photo.
I took this photo because I liked the pattern. I think my shoes don’t really “match” the floor though

The exhibits in the museum were mostly interactive, and the staff were very cheerful. We got some samples of candy and ice cream as we went through the museum. My favourite was the chocolate mint ice cream mochi! I don’t think I have had ice cream mochi before. I dig chocolate mint, and this had a terrific taste.

A woman with short dark hair in a blue t-shirt. Behind her is a big sculpture of two giant cherries. She is in a room with pink wallpaper with a cherry pattern.
Giant cherries I guess? Hehe
A woman taking a photo in a room with entirely mirrored surfaces of small reflective square tiles. The woman is crouched down with a jacket draped over her shoulders.

We took a lot of photos but we didn’t go mad at every opportunity! In the gift store, I was really after some of the funky socks I saw some of the museum staff wearing, but they didn’t have any. I suppose they got their own.

I saw a range of pins, though, and recently I have been meaning to start a pin collection again, so I looked for what I could potentially start it with. I used to collect pins like crazy when I was in high school, but it got a little out of hand, such that I was collecting just for the sake of it. So now I want to collect with intent. I don’t want a collection that’s huge, rather I want pins that speak to me or that I can relate to. I don’t know where I will put them yet, but I have been thinking about wearing them on sweaters or putting them on a jacket or blazer. Pins tend to look awesome in a collection but upon closer inspection I didn’t love all of the ones I saw at MOIC. I bought one that was a jar of candy!

We grabbed a quick dinner of tacos, before meeting up with Amy. Amy is another internet friend I met via Twitter, and I actually interviewed her for my Hey Girlfriend! interview series last year. She illustrates and writes her own zine called Bubblesort, and has recently designed merch to match. Her work is definitely worth following! We also started chatting because we both have Indonesian background and do work in technology, and we all know having something in common helps start a conversation! She told us about a great ice cream place and we walked and sat in the park for a chat for dessert.

Two women joined at the hip, both have shoulder-length dark hair. One woman is wearing a blue and white dress with a pink bomber jacket; the other is wearing a blue shirt and a black skirt with a black leather jacket. It is evening and the women are standing in a park with a lamppost just behind them.
It was such an honour to meet Amy. I am a huge fan of her work. 🧡

Thank you for reading! I will be posting the second half of our San Francisco adventures in a day or two! 🙌

If you’d like to stay up to date with our adventures, follow the hastag #cookesUSA2018 on Twitter, where most of my posts are up-to-date – or on Instagram, where I’m slow at posting and I post only the highlights, because we all know that’s how Instagram is. 😜

I’ve also been doing more long-form Instagram captions that tell stories, so I’m not just “posting pretty photos”, so look out for that if that’s your kind of thing.

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I’m bookmarking this post for future reference because San Francisco is somewhere Tyrone and I really want to visit.

I always struggle to sleep on flights. I’ve only managed to fall asleep once on a flight and that was on the way back from New York after I’d taken my pain killers that make me drowsy! That plane food looks so fancy.

The trams cable cars in San Fran look so much fun! I would never have thought to go to the Apple and Google visitors centres but both look like an interesting experience.

The ice cream museum looks so cool! Is that like a sprinkle ball pool?!

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Such a looooooong flight. It’s good that you upgraded and did have the extra leg room. :D I love all the photos and the places you visited looked interesting. I especially love the MOIC. The sprinkles pit omg. It’s great that you were able to meet up with some online friends, especially people that you were able to interview! :D Hope the rest of your trip is going well and look forward to more updates. :D

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Ahhh, this is awesome! I’ve been to California a few times, but only to Downtown Los Angeles and to Anaheim. I’ve always wanted to visit San Francisco (I actually entertained the thought of attending graduate school yet), so it was nice to experience it through your posts :)

Maybe my boss will book some SF conferences for us next year. He is playing around with the thought of some Australian conferences, so maybe I’ll be heading to Sydney in 2019!

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You have done yourself great service by visiting these spots in San Francisco, especially considering the fact that you flew across the world for this. I’ve never been there myself, but did hear that they have some quirky architectural landmarks worth checking out. The hilly landscape brings forth certain optics that render SF an unforgettable city to visit. :)

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Your trip looks like so much fun!

I’ll admit that I hate LAX… I once ended up there for about 9 hours and it was a terrible experience. The terminal was small and only had two places to eat — Burger King and Starbucks. They were definitely over capacity because all of the flights were delayed by hours thanks to a horrible rainstorm. It was miserable and disorganized, and ever since then I’ve never wanted to return, ha.

I’ve been to Lombard Street! It’s so hard to photograph because the hill never looks as steep in photos as it does in person. I drove down the hill and it felt like our car was fighting to go flying down it. The houses are so pretty on that street!

I’ve seen a lot about MOIC. It’s been on Instagram a ton of times! I’m not sure I like all of the pink, but I think it looks like a super cool place to visit. I’m glad you enjoyed San Francisco! ^ ^

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OMG!! This trip looks amazing as I came from part 2 of your blog post, and I was not disappointed. I’ve never been to SF, but I can’t wait to go eventually but Cali is very expensive to live in but to visit? I dunno.

But this part 1 is amazing. That gingerbread man is HUUUUGE.

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Coincidently I also went to San Francisco in July! I loved the city. Great photos and the Apple and Google visitors centres look interesting, I’ll have to put those on my travel bucket list for next time. I wanted to visit the ice cream museum but we ran out of time.

Look forward to reading part 2.

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