This place. I have heard so much of it. Cannot believe I am actually here. New York City. I was met by spring. Cold winds and singing birds. Such a big difference from California. It felt like I’d come to Stockholm in the spring, before I went out of the airport and saw all the yellow cabs. I thought about “Sex and the City” when I stepped into my first NYC taxi and saw the little glass window separating me from the driver. So unique.
It was a much longed for reunion with my parents, after being away from them for more than two months. We’re enjoying NYC together, exploring different parts of the city and spending time together.
There’s so much to do and so little time so I will have to update the blog soon again with more pics and info. For now I can share that we went to a very nice open mic the first night at a place called Paddy’s in central Manhattan. I performed three original songs and also enjoyed the music from a variety of talented singer-songwriters.
Now I’m going to squeeze out every last drop of the time I have left here in the States.
Wednesday, I went to hang out in the Golden Gate park. I did not choose to join the happy group of people at the beginning of the park that seemed to use the grass as a sleeping place, although the atmosphere was cheerful. Instead, I continued further through the park and found what I think is the Conservatory of Flowers, harboring an exquisite garden of flowers in all colors imaginable. I sat down on the grass and read for hours, to the tunes of a band improvising famous and unknown melodies. When my skin was bursting with sun, I located the Japanese Tea Garden and went to explore the serenity. Another unexpected treasure was found nearby, the little Shakespeare Garden, with the classic romantic feel to it. I took a moment to read the Shakespeare lines about flowers that were written on the wall.
Then arrived my last day in San Fran. How better to spend it than head down to one of my favorite places in San Fran together with a friend. Fisherman’s Warf, with the perfect view of the Golden Gate bridge. I also got to see the famous, crooked Lombard Street. Of course I could not leave without visiting Ghirardelli Square, or as I would like to call it Chocolate Heaven. A delicious homemade sundae with the best fudge imaginable was shared on the spot and the chocolate was smelled and tasted. We even got to see some chocolate in the making 🙂 The chocolate monster in me was thrilled!
The evening was spent with new friends from the hostel and a delicious thai meal. Garlic noodles and honey glazed pork. Just perfect. It was time for bed too soon in order to be ready for my 3:30 am shuttle to the airport. Thankful that I had such a good day already.
At the beginning of the week I got some great hostel roommates, two fun loving Australian-Polish guys. Together we set off to an Open Mic at a café close to Haight street called the Mojo Café. The place was small and cozy and people were very friendly. I played four songs, three originals and one cover. I got a very dedicated fan. It was an old man called Howard who walked around with a one-stringed guitar. His enthusiasm was contagious.
The day after, we went for a walk down to the Fisherman’s Warf and explored the area for a bit, while absorbing the sun.
I later met my friend Johan again. It was a much missed reunion. We hung out with some of his family and had dinner. We were even able to take out the guitar and play a few songs. I’ve truly missed that! We also went for a walk by Haight and Ashbury and saw the place where the peace and love movement was born. It felt historical. The Ben & Jerry’s shop was perfectly situated and surrounded by artsy boutiques and wall paintings. We even saw one of the houses where Jimi Hendrix used to live.
When the night came to an end my eyes were filled with tears. I said goodbye to Johan and the guitar, the guitar which has been my constant companion for two months. It felt like a chapter was closed as I won’t see Johan and his friends that have become my friends for a long time now. I will miss them so much. My nostalgic mind already grieves.
This weekend has been highlighted with green and people in weird hats. On Saturday I went to see the St Patrick’s day parade on Market Street in the middle of San Fran. Joyful and fun. Then I joined three athletic Australians to bike from the Fisherman’s Warf over the Golden Gate Bridge to Saulisitas. That truly was a challenge for someone who’s not very used to biking. It was worth it though. What a feeling to bike over that bridge! The view was exquisite.
On Sunday I had the privilege to hang out with two awesome Swedish girls and we went to Dolores Park situated in the mission district. The park was so nice. A diverse crowd were spread out on the green grass and we had a really chill time in the sun. Playing guitar, singing and just hanging out. The area surrounding the park was a colorful place, with a lot of cool shops and restaurants. We spent some time walking around and enjoying the scenery and had some tasty lunch. Strawberry and spinach salad, yumyum. This day was the first time I took the “subway” in San Fran, also called the Muni. It was a cute and only had one cart. Me and the girls had fun just saying the name Muni, cause it sounds so cute 🙂
After 14 hours of sitting on a Greyhound bus, I finally arrived in San Francisco at 7 am yesterday morning. Tired as I was, I needed a few hours of sleep before beginning my exploration. I went on the internet and found an open mic night taking place at a place called Cafe International not too far from me. Just 30 min away by bus – yay, finally some public transport! I played two of my original songs written in California, Nightingale and One Way Up. It was a lot of fun and I met some cool people at the cafe. After a meal the night ended with sitting on a balcony, sharing some wine with a friend and watching San Fran at night. Magical.
Preparing to leave the crazy town of Vegas now. It was everything you could expect. Bright lights covering the houses, casinos in every corner and something to see wherever you turn. It sure was an experience. There were tiny wedding chapels everywhere and everything was open 24 hours. Night and day became one. Yesterday, I went together with some people from the hostel on a gambling tour. We played slot machines, got free drinks and had a blast. Don’t worry, I didn’t lose any money. Next stop: San Francisco. How I’ve longed 🙂
Let me just say this: Grand Canyon is a must see. It was so amazing and I had a hard time grasping the enormity of it all. It is hard to explain. You have to be there and see it with your own eyes.
So the story. My friend Abel and I continued our road trip from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon. Along route 66 in our beautiful mustang. I can now say I’ve been in three states in the US. California, Nevada and Arizona. A lot of desert, but different and cool roads to travel.
When we arrived to Grand Canyon it was pretty late so we had to layer pretty soon to keep us from freezing. The temperature dropped extremely fast. We walked along the edges of the plateau and climbed out on rocks as far as possible. We then watched the sunset over the canyon. Just magical.
The last days in San Diego went by quickly with visits to the beach and hanging out with awesome people. We found a magical little place by the harbor, with beach shops and old American style trinkets stores. The place was also home to a bookstore/café with furniture that seemed taken out of Alice in Wonderland. Imagine if I liked it. Earlier this week I also got to see my dad’s cousin and his wife who live in San Diego. It was such a delight to finally meet some of my distant relatives in California! We went to Coronado, a peninsula in San Diego, and had some delicious food at a restaurant just by the water. I had a great time! 🙂
So a sudden change of events have occurred. I met a guy from Switzerland (the country that people mix up with Sweden) at the hostel in San Diego and he was going to Las Vegas next. So I decided to tag along before I continue more up north. In a dark blue convertible ford mustang we set off for the road trip this morning, but not before visiting the USS Midway. It’s an old army ship from the second world war, which they’ve turned into a museum. Really cool place! I even found an Jurassic Park like kitchen.
I am now in Las Vegas and the city is just as vibrant as portrayed in the movies. I cannot imagine how much electricity it takes to power this city… Tomorrow we’ll be going to visit the Grand Canyon. So I should probably get some sleep in the Hostel Cat, the hostel we’re staying the night at. No, you don’t actually sleep in the trailer.
Sunshine and a soft breeze was in the air today. I slept in this morning and joined a few people from the hostel in the afternoon. We went to Ocean Beach and visited a restaurant with the theme of Bali. I had some spring rolls (really tasty) and a Mai Thai, which was the strongest cocktail I’ve ever tried. The drink was disgusting to be honest and I failed to finish it. The Restaurant offered an iconic view of the ocean and the other side of San Diego. We continued to a beer brewery which had a beautiful garden and heaters so it was very comfy to sit outside.
Moving on we went to a Farmer’s market nearby and enjoyed looking at random trinkets and listening to great street performances. A Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha later we continued back to the hostel to get ready for the weekly Pub Crawl.
Some of the hostel friends and I went for sushi at a place called Bang Bang, which had a lot of interesting Japanese styled things to offer. For example, a bathroom completely wallpapered with Ryan Gosling. A tiny bit creepy. I taught my friends how to take Sake Bombs, like my friends taught me in Pomona, and we had some really tasty sushi and miso soup. I chose the salmon skin rolls, crispy and so delicious!
Afterwards, we joined the others for the pub crawl and went to an amazing place called the Shouthouse. The special thing about the Shouthouse was that the entertainment consisted of two guys dueling each other on pianos. Two pianos were put together center stage and the guys took turns playing songs and occasionally singing together. My friends told me I should sing with them and I asked if it was okay, but open mick with them cost 20 bucks, which I thought was a bit too much. Of course they have to make money somehow. The most beautiful thing happened then. All the wonderful people I met at the hostel chipped in and collected 20 dollars for me to be able to sing. My heart was filled to the tip with joy and love at this gesture. I went up and sang Nothing Compares by Sinead O’Connor and had a good amount of people cheering for me. A few even came up to me afterwards to compliment me. Wow. My head was in the clouds for the rest of the night.
Yesterday, I tried Frozen Yoghurt for the first time in the US. It is really popular and was surely worth a try. You could choose as many flavors as you wanted, for example New York cheesecake and Chocolate Twilight. Then you chose some toppings, like fresh fruit, cookie dough and pieces of walnuts. Finally you added some kind of sauce, in my case it was chocolate sauce, of course. It was delicious! I really loved that it was self-served, so you were totally in control of the amounts of everything 🙂 Awesome!
Today we went exploring Ocean Beach by spending some time there meditating and throwing Frisbee. We continued on to Sunset Cliffs where we sat and watched the crashing waves. We were even sprayed by the ocean water once. My dress was soaking wet, but I still had a smile on my face.
A had some lunch the Italian cafe near the hostel and got the waiting number one. Oh yeah. I ordered a delicious scrambled eggs, salmon and mozzarella plate. Good food – happy soul.
This Tuesday was Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. It was celebrated in the streets of San Diego with parades and performances. Unfortunately it cost 30 dollars to see the festivities so me and some people from the hostel chose to celebrate in a different way. Tuesday is also Taco Tuesday so we wandered down the streets of Little Italy and found a Mexican restaurant called Hola. I had the smallest taco ever. We had plenty of nachos with dip too so I did not leave hungry. Margaritas was a given on the menu during happy hour so of course we all had some. Then it was time for karaoke. I decided to attempt to honor Queen and sang Somebody to Love. I acquired some beads for the performance, so when we later moved on to a club downtown, I fit right in with the crowd wearing bead covered necklaces. It was a perfect Mardi Gras!