Travel Diary: San Francisco Day 4 (Part 1) - Chinatown

January 22, 2016 (continued): I began my fourth and final full day in San Francisco, with a little rain and getting my Art Deco fill at 450 Sutter St. When I was researching places to visit in SF, this came up as a must see and it was perfect that it was near my hotel. It is known for its “Neo-Mayan”, Art Deco architecture and was designed by Timothy L. Pflueger. The golden interior in the lobby is stunning! I wanted to take more pictures but the security guard was giving me a suspicious side-eye so I quickly snapped a couple and then left for breakfast.

For breakfast, I decided on something lighter since I’d been having my fair share of heavy comfort foods - my body was craving something a little healthier. I yelped places in the nearby area and came across Native Juice Co. it was the perfect choice since it was literally down the road. I ordered their You’ve Got Kale smoothie (consisting of kale, pineapple, banana, coconut milk, and coconut water) and the ultimate millennial choice, Smashed Avocado Toast (pain au levain, maldon sea salt, lemon zest, micro greens, and chili flakes). I also got a coffee for the road to keep me going for my big adventure for the day. Verdict on the food - the smoothie had a nice flavor and I know some people get put off by having vegetables in their drinks, but having had a few smoothies in my day you don’t really notice it with the inclusion of banana which kind of neutralizes most flavors with its creamy sweetness. The Avocado toast was definitely decent but I think the large chunks of sea salt kind of left of an inconsistency in the general bite flavors as some were too salty and some not enough.

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My first big exploration of the day was the nearby Chinatown. I’d heard how iconic it was before visiting and why not connect to my Chinese roots while here. Walking through, you could see many of the familiar local vendors hawking their wares from China that you see in many other Chinatowns.

Had to get a pic of this interesting, yet creepy form of advertisement. I saw another fellow photographer grab a snap as well after me hehe.

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Further into Chinatown, I saw what set this one apart for me personally - it was the multitude of vibrant art and architecture adorning each street you turned down. My art heart was in love.

While I did enjoy visiting this neighborhood and wished I had time to look around a little longer, the rain had started to pick up, my gear was getting heavier with every step and navigating the narrow, steep, crowded sidewalks while also trying to avoid getting impaled in the head by everyone’s umbrella was wearing on me a little. So I decided to move onto my next destination, Lombard Street!

Travel Diary: Portland - Day 2

 January 13, 2016: My second day of the trip started at a place I’d heard many rave reviews about, Mother’s Bistro. I decided to try their special of the day - waffles with peach compote and whipped cream, a side of extra crispy bacon and coffee. While their service was amazing, I think I had hyped the food up too much in my mind and was a little underwhelmed. It was still good, but not outstanding, I’d still go back and try some of the other items though.

After breakfast, I walked my way through downtown - spotting incredible Art Deco buildings (my favorite art movement), little office messages constructed out of post-its, the cold and the creativity was invigorating. I ended up at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, mainly due to my love of vintage signs and typography. After many selfie and angles were taken, I made my way around more of the downtown area, heading towards Chinatown.

The downtown exploration lead to walks through Lownsdale Square, where I was stopped by a Canadian fellow asking if I was a photographer - ended up talking about what we were both doing in Portland and why (see how solo travel sparks many delightful, unexpected encounters). Following the chit chat I furthered my way towards Chinatown, my journey slowing every few seconds as I was bedazzled by the charming historic buildings and street art murals everywhere I turned.

I finally made it to Old Town Chinatown, I love to check out the different Chinatown’s to see what spin that city has put on it (and because it’s probably an impulse in my DNA being half Chinese). Again, the vibrant historic buildings did not disappoint for me, and also once again I was stopped and asked if I was a photographer. They asked where I was from, to which I replied I was visiting from Hawaii, and then got a remark I haven’t heard in a long time, (especially after they hear I’m from Hawaii) was that “I spoke good English”. They were nice, but I had a nice little chuckle to myself afterwards, and was a reminder that some people still think we wear grass skirts and live in tree houses in Hawaii (not kidding, actual questions that have been asked before).

My love for vintage lead me towards the iconic “White Stag” sign, where I took in the views of both sides of the river up on the bridge. The famous Voodoo Doughnuts was nearby, so it wasn’t a really difficult choice to stop in. Their doughnut names were hilarious, especially when you have to say what you want to the cashier, including some *ahem* phallic themed ones. I just got an oreo topped doughnut along with their classic voodoo doll one. Verdict: I think go to visit just to see it but the doughnuts were like regular doughnuts to me, just with interesting and amusing themes. While it was still a little early for dinner, I stopped off at a Stumptown Coffee nearby because when in Rome (or Portland for that matter). It definitely lived up to the hype and was the perfect little jolt I needed.

Finally it was dinner time and I decided to try Grassa, because they make their own pasta for a reasonable price, and I if I had to choose one meal for the rest of my life it would probably be a type of pasta. I decided to go with their truffle parmesan fettucine, and let’s just say this is me every time I think of it. Nothing short of divine! Following dinner, I decided to burn off some carbs with a little retail exercise (a.k.a. shopping) around town. The glow of the neon signs and leftover Christmas decorations was a magical ending to the night.

All photographs taken by my with a Canon 70D and iPhone 6.