My month in SF

It’s upsetting that it takes both my mother and father to bring up my lack of promptness and overall neglect toward this beautiful blog to get me back on it.

In my defense, I’m used to working on deadline. Working under pressure is my thing. A loose schedule? Not so much.

That being said, we have some catching up to do.

I spent about six weeks in Northern California following the end of the school semester in May. Derek spent three of those weeks with me. After being apart for a semester (in the college-lifetime-perspective, that’s a significant amount of time), it was a sigh of relief to spend a weekend with him without worrying about how quickly Saturday would turn to Sunday — or the day that was stained with goodbye every two weeks or so.

The trip started out interestingly enough: We were flying from Tampa, Fla. to Houston, Texas, but the weather was not in our favor. Our 6 p.m. flight was delayed, then canceled. We were then sent off to the Marriott within the airport for the night. We caught a new flight at 6 a.m. the next morning and one stopover later, we arrived in San Francisco.

This time around we decided to visit one of California’s inescapably elegant yet scandalously sleazy neighbor: Vegas. But that trip deserves a post of its own.

Derek and I spent days wandering the city by car and by foot. Like any other city, the spontaneous finds during a stroll through San Francisco do not disappoint — walk in any direction and you’ll stumble upon a strange bar, in this case, one combining Mexican beer with a live Bluegrass band…

El Rio

El Rio

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Or a grassy hill taken over by PBR-drinking teens and 20-somethings, overlooking San Francisco’s downtown skyline

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Dolores Park

Or THIS view

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Twin Peaks

At one point, we took our aimless walking to a less urban setting: Muir Woods. Trading in skyscrapers for 100-foot tall redwoods, Derek and I hiked the Ocean View Trail through Muir Woods National Monument, a redwood forest. Hiking is one of my favorite hobbies, especially when doing a new trail within a new setting. The weather was so pleasant and the air so clean, life really just seemed to pause for a moment — a relaxing escape from reality across the bridge.

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It’s 1:37 a.m. I’ll save the rest for a future post. (Coming soon this week — promise!)

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Summer for a student journalist: Struggle Edition.

With four days left in the semester, there is one thing on everyone’s mind: summer.

But for that segment of the student population that call themselves journalism majors, something else gets in the way of summer-time thoughts: internships.

As a journalism student, the biggest asset to a resume, besides a degree, is internship experience. For those that aren’t aware, the internship battle field — and yes, I call it a battle field — is highly competitive. By competitive I mean thousands of journalism students with more than enough clips, reputable internships, stellar GPAs and a list of extracurricular activities are applying for the same two positions within the same one organization. This happens over and over and over again, until all the spots are filled.

In total, I’ve applied for 22 internships across the country. I started applying in December, which is surprisingly later than most deadlines (the deadline for a summer internship with the New York Times is Oct. 31). Here’s a partial list of what the organizations I applied to:

Trust me, the list goes on. After realizing that my chances of getting a paid internship were slim to none, I started applying for unpaid positions. These, however, are limited to where I already live. Without a paycheck, I can’t afford to pay rent in a city like New York. Fortunately for me, my home is now in San Francisco, so that’s not an awful Plan B.

I’ve applied to six internships in SF ranging from social media to editorial positions. I began following up on my applications this week (something we all should do more often), and I was simply told to wait.

That’s what it’s been like: a waiting game. I check my email about three times every ten minutes. My most recent searches involve the word “internship” in some way or another.

I’m a firm believer that if you try hard enough, you’ll achieve your dreams. Yes — It’s sappy, corny and cliché, but it keeps me going. I decided to change my major to journalism four semesters ago. Since then, I’ve secured three internships.  I wasn’t chosen for those positions by chance. I’ve been putting my heart and soul (excuse the sappy clichés again, sorry) into this major since I chose it. 

“Keep trying. Keep at it. Don’t give up.”

That’s the general consensus between editors and professors alike. So, to other student journalists that share this boat with me, I leave you with one piece of advice:

Let’s listen to them.

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The wonders of an iPhone camera

So far, my favorites:

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Where to’s

Now that I’ve caught you up with my most recent travels, I can start planning for future ones!

Today’s place of interest: VEGAS!

When my mom moved to San Francisco last year, I took it upon myself to declare an end-of-the-school-year tradition with my boyfriend: a trip to California.

This passed weekend Derek and I were sitting on the beach draped in sweaters and towels (it was windy) and talking about the upcoming trip when it dawned on us: Vegas is a nine-hour drive away from SF. Better yet, it’s an hour and a half flight away. And then I remembered seeing 100$ plane tickets from Fort Lauderdale to Vegas about three months prior, and then Derek told me that you can find hotels there on the strip for less than a 100$ a night, and then he went on to tell me that his uncle can get free show tickets …

WE’RE GOING TO VEGAS! (well, hopefully)

So, I began to do some snooping around the web.

I started out where everyone looking for traveling deals should: Groupon.

I found a deal for a hotel on The Strip, a room for two at the Riviera Hotel And Casino for 17$ a night. Let me repeat that: 17$ a night. Now that is unreal. Of course, it’s not the Bellagio, but for someone who’s on a very tight budget, that’s a heck of steal. More money to be spent on gambling, eating, drinking, watching shows (what else do you do in Vegas again?)

Of course, I wouldn’t just hit the “Buy” button without looking up some reviews. If there’s anyone I fully trust in this world … it’s the creators of Yelp.

According to Yelp’s reviews, the Riviera Hotel is rated at about 2.5 stars. Skimming the complaints about broken toilets, slow service, no towel replacements and the angry “I will never stay in this hell hole ever again!” I couldn’t help but think to myself “Well, what did you expect from a 17$ a night hotel?”

Then again, others dub it 4 to 5 stars and say the loved it. I’m sure they prefer heavier pockets over cleaner sheets.

So far the flights I have found range from 190$ to 250$ one-way from Florida to Vegas. I experiment with various airports: Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and on various days of the week (I think Tuesdays are best). But, don’t give up. Whenever you find a lower price, keep looking — there’s always hidden deals out there. Spirit airlines, although it’s reputation isn’t the highest, is known for having the cheapest flights. But watch out for their extra fees.

I’ll update this in the next couple weeks … let’s see if I can make this real-life Hangover-trip happen.

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Spring Break: Tourist Edition

Although most of the trip was simply based on one question:

Where should we eat?

We did stray from our hungered thoughts long enough to hit most of the highlighted tourist spots in the city. On day one, we took the BART into the city and went straight to China Town. Five sweatered-up girls walked aimlessly down Market Street, when the nicest thing happened. A bus driver gave us a free ride that lasted about five blocks, then dropped us off with precise directions on how to get to the orange chicken — I mean, Chinatown. (I’m not kidding. Everything was based on food.)

“Go straight up Grant Avenue,” he said.

Straight up was right. After climbing up an impossibly steep hill, or two, we arrived here:

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From here, we strolled down to Little Italy, which is actually quite little. We then stumbled upon (which is why I love being in a city so much) the steps leading up to Coit Tower. Unfortunately for us, Coit Tower was closed for renovations so we weren’t able to catch the 360-view of the city and bay from its top. Nevertheless, it was good enough for a #selfie.

This brings us to day two: an amazing (as usual) lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf and a sweet hello to the Bay.

From there, we checked into our hotel, Parc 55 Wyndham, where we’d crash after our night out with no time constraints or the risk of sleeping on a bench in the Golden Gate Park holding us back. (details of this night are reserved for a future post).

After that, we hopped on a trolley, but not before a homeless man schemed me into giving him a dollar. (He told me he would give me back four quarters if I gave him $1 … then he gave me back one quarter and walked away. I wouldn’t mind, you know, helping him out. But then he proceeded to do the same thing to the next ten families in the trolley line in front of me. Hustling at its finest.)

This trolley took us from Union Square all the way down to the Marina district, a few miles away from our hotel. It was OK though, because that’s where we stumbled upon …

IMG_6631Oh yeah. Chocolate heaven.

On day 3, we went to Napa. Like celebrities, we each held a vineyard pass around our necks (courtesy of my sweet mother who, after a few too many tastings, bought herself a membership to Sterling Vineyards). We spun our glasses, tasted the wine, drank more wine and paired it with cheese. Keeping up with the high Napa Valley celeb status, we tasted the wine that was to be served at the Oscars that very night. Yeah – we fancy.

Day 4: The day I lost my rain coat. I don’t want to talk about it. It now belongs to the obscure “lost and found,” where all good things are lost but never found, when left behind on the train. It’s probably a dark, wet, dungeon-like place, wherever it may be.

So I had to use my scarf as a rain jacket when we made it to the Golden Gate bridge, who still looked painfully beautiful and postcard-like underneath the stupid rain.

… which brings us to day 5, when we ditched the land for ocean. We took a ferry over to Alcatraz and took a guided tour through the jail itself. I felt somewhat at place behind the cold, yet welcoming stone cells. Ha, kidding. It was a great historical tour – a quite interactive one at that. I can’t imagine how insanely creepy the night tour must be … but it’s definitely on my bucket list. I recommend the day tour for all, and the night one for the brave and horror-movie-obsessed, like me.

Thankfully they let us off the rock, despite more than a couple red flags coming up on our background checks (kidding, again), and we set off to Sausalito, a peaceful island across the bay lined with shops, small restaurants and houses with beautiful views.

Oh day 6, how I wish you never came. Our last day to enjoy California came way too soon. On this day we ditched the bay for the open ocean – the Pacific. We drove south on the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Cruz, a perfect California beach town, where we all found our own Barbie dream houses while simultaneously finding our dream surfer boyfriends. One day, I will own a house with that view.

 

P.S. I’m a local.

 

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Malaysia Airlines

Updated:

One of the most far-fetched, yet almost believable theories out there:

The Craziest Malaysia Flight 370 Theory Yet: The Missing Jet Used Another Jet to Hide

Traveling is not all fun and games. This is a travel blog, so I can’t disregard this recent event:

Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: What we know and don’t know

It is honestly terrifying — probably my greatest fear — vanishing into thin air. May the searches continue and turn up some answers.

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Spring Break 2014: Food Edition

What do all vacations have in common? They’re never long enough.

The days end too soon, and a week is far too short. Regardless, my four friends and I managed to eat our way through the city. I’m dividing these posts into categories: welcome to the food edition.

Hunan Home’s Restaurant in Chinatown

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Gelato in Little Italy

Crab cake sandwich at Pier 39: Pier Market Seafood Restaurant and Market

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Ghirardelli Square!

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Wine tasting in Napa Valley at Sterling Vineyard. That’s a meal, right?

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In-N-Out Burger

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Thai food in the Haight

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And of course, amazing Brazilian food in Santa Cruz

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