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Melita Jaric :: Blog

June 01, 2010


Thanks to IBM shutting down its servers on Friday at 5PM, Memorial Day weekend was busy… Napa Valley, San Francisco, San Jose, hanging out with coworkers and old friends…

San Jose:

Winchester Mystery house: A rich lady Mrs. Winchester from Connecticut had no luck in life. So she called on spirits to help her out. They told her that she had to move west, buy land and construct ‘never finished’ gigantic Victorian style house of 140 small rooms. She never had guests, though she had one ballroom and the other under construction. Her favorite number was 13, so there were 13 palms in her main driveway, and 13 windows in most of her rooms.  She had 6 kitchens and 27 or so bathrooms. Most of her windows were composed of original, beautifully decorated Tiffany glass. She was also an innovative lady. She was the architect of the house. Staircases on the first three floors steps were one inch high to facilitate her movement once she got arthritis; to avoid the ash from chimneys spreading all around the house she designed all the pipes to empty at one spot in the basement; she also designed the machine that would help dry out (evenly) her fruits for when the weather was not hot enough…

Friday night at Santana Row mall and restaurant search: Jonatan and I, together with 3 of our coworkers, Avrilia, Jorge and Vivian, visited Winchester Mystery House and then decided to go out and eat at the nearby restaurant, which ended up being at one of the most popular Friday night gathering places for Silicon Valley: Santana Row. We tried couple of methods to decide where to eat: first, does anyone have a preference – got nowhere, second does anyone have a no-no place- eliminated Italian and Chinese and the eventually my favorite non-offensive method: flip the coin. However, after all this effort we realized that we will have to wait for at least an hour so we decided to give up and head to the Thai place where a lot of IBM going away lunches take place. I must say that I was pleasantly surprise to discover this street, because for the first time I felt that this area is a not just suburb of suburbs of San Francisco.

Napa Valley:

Napa Valley is part of San Francisco life style. It is about and hour and a half from where we are staying and some 45 minutes from SF. The day was tailor made for wine tasting and relaxing. Wineries offer tours, wine tasting and cheese plates. Wine tours include wine tasting, but I recommend to stay and have a cheese plate as well. Wineries do not offer meals except for the cheese plate, so it is not recommended to visit more then three, four maybe, if one comes early. Eventually Bay area residents choose their favorite vinery and with friends make weekend trips to it every so often.

Which winery one will like is a matter of taste. We visited one that was highly recommended, offered a beautiful view of vineyard, good cheese plate, but I did not care for the wines. Then there was the other, it had great wines, but no kitchen, so not even a cheese plate was available; designated driver highly recommended. The third one we visited was the most popular, and for a good reason:  French-like chateau, overlooking rolling hills of vines, relaxing sit in area, helpful stuff, good cheese plates and a variety of excellent wines, reasonable prices….

San Francisco:

Museum of Natural Science:

Extreme mammals: All mammals have four limbs, spine, jaws…variety comes from different size and development stages of these basic body features. Whale’s flip has the same bone construction as a human arm and hand, just different proportions and strength between upper arm and forearm. Whale predecessor had small limbs and heavy body; looked more like an alligator than a whale. Because of its body to limbs proportions ‘prehistoric’ whale was not nimble on land. Thus, with time, its limbs evolved into flips and today’s species of whale was born.

Gazing at the stars:

The most amazing experience was looking through a telescope… There, millions of miles away was a clear small ball surrounded by rings… there was no mistaking it, I actually saw Saturn!!!!

Golden Gate Park:

Residents and tourist alike make this park full of life and happy energy. One can bike, roller blade, run, stroll, have a picnic with family and friends or just lay on the blanket and read a book or listen to the iPod.  We chose to enjoy well manicured lawns of Botanical Garden, Japanese Tea Garden, and Flower Conservatorium and ‘Green’ lake.

Ocean Beach:

Located on the Pacific Ocean at the other side of Golden Gate Park. The water is cold, but it has sand dunes  - kids and dogs love rolling down and climbing them.   It is great for breathing in fresh ocean air, but I do prefer warm water of South Beach.

San Francisco neighborhoods:

Pacific Heights, El Presidio, Fisherman’s Dwarf, Golden Gate, Mission, Financial District, Union Square, SoMa (acronym for South of Market street) and Castro. We drove back from Napa Valley by Golden Gate Bridge. It was a cloudless day and under the California sun the bridge looked clean and pale orange, rather than the color of rust. We finally saw sea lions at Fisherman’s dwarf… Then we took a tour of non touristy neighborhoods, and ended up eating at Limon, a happening ‘Peruvian cuisine’ type restaurant. The food was excellent and prices reasonable. San Francisco is not such a big city, and we drove through it in about an hour. We heard different opinions on whether to use public transportation or not. On Sunday’s the parking is free, otherwise it is on expensive side, but available, unlike on Manhattan were it is expensive and hardly ever available. 

Hanging out with friends and coworkers:  

Friends: I have couple of friends in Bay area. One is from my home town. She showed Jonatan and I all the important spots in SF, and all the areas we need to try to avoid. We went with her to Limon and stayed for hours enjoying good food, catching up and exchanging views of SF. The other friend I met few years back and we stayed in touch. She is from Hong Kong, our next PIRE program destination…so we got together for lunch and she gave me pointer where to look for housing, what is metro in Hong Kong (HK) like, what to expect and look forward to…

Coworkers: We all enjoyed Friday in San Jose, so we will try to do something else together next week…


Till next week,


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