It was decided at work that I would attend a UI workshop with a client in San Francisco mainly because I was physically closest. I didn’t object, but it was for a product I knew absolutely nothing about which created some challenges. I was coming along because the product managers organizing the visit were hoping that I could ask better questions to the users then they could. Perhaps true, if I had the same level of knowledge on the product as they did. But I was coming in at what I’m equating to a ‘I read the Wikipedia article’ level of knowledge. A good overview, but not very deep. So a lot of my questions were surface level. If I went back again next week, knowing what I know now, I’d be able to ask better questions.
The other odd thing about it is that I’m not going to be working on this product going forward (as of right now). I was brought on just for this workshop, so I’ll write a report documenting the trip and then…nothing. I’m back to my regularly scheduled programming.
But, for the fun and touristy stuff. I flew down on Sunday and Uncle David was able to pick me up at the airport and I spent the afternoon with him and his family. Camryn and Adam both had soccer games so I just followed them around as they drove around to various soccer fields at different times. That evening, I met up with the two project managers that I’d be attending the workshop with and got dinner with them at the Cheesecake Factory (their choice, not mine).
The two project managers are from Israel, and apparently stuff is significantly cheaper for them in the States, so they were often talking about all the shopping they had done/still had to do. Thus, I wasn’t hanging out with them a lot after work because the shopping was nothing special for me. We did go to a restaurant one evening together called The Stinking Rose, where literally every dish on the menu (even dessert) features garlic. They’re also home to the world’s largest and longest braided garlic.
On Tuesday evening a whole bunch of Finastra people and people from our client company went out to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. I really liked it, although I could tell some other people were not as into it. Nobody saw any menus, we just got a set list of dishes that kept showing up on our table.
The next evening I wanted to stroll through Chinatown and find a Chinese bakery. The one I had in mind decided to take a day off that day, so I wandered around until I found another bakery. I got a salted egg bun and a dan tat. Then I made my way to Lombard St, the (in)famous steep street with hairpin turns which I made the mistake of approaching from the bottom. Once I made my way to the top, I headed down the other side of the hill towards the coast. I walked all along the north east corner of San Francisco, starting by the old Ghiradelli factory, past Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, all the way down to Pier 7. Along the way, I ate dinner at a crab restaurant that has great views of the water and Alcatraz Island. I also saw a number of sea otters swim by as I ate. The food was decent, but the view made it excellent.
I of course also saw the sea lions hanging out at Pier 39. Unfortunately my phone was almost out of battery and I needed to be able to call an Uber when I was done walking, so I wasn’t able to take as many pictures of the sea lions as I would have liked. A shame really, because it was golden hour too. Probably for the best in hindsight; what was I going to do with 50 pictures of sea lions?
Since Monday was a holiday in Canada but I was attending this workshop, I took Thursday off instead and extended my stay in San Francisco a little longer. I had the morning to putts around so I decided to walk through Golden Gate Park and Lands End, where I would (finally!) get a good view the Golden Gate bridge (I had seen slivers and sections of it the night before).
Unfortunately, I got myself into a bit of a mindset where I needed to accomplish X number of things in the given time that I had, which was detrimental to my enjoyment of such things. I was also paranoid of losing track of time and missing my flight. I wish I could have spent more time in both places. I did wander around the Botanical Gardens, located inside Golden Gate park. They had a whole section dedicated to succulents. The San Francisco Zoo also has a small herd of bison that live in the park, so that was a fun surprise to walk by. I then gave up and took an Uber to Lands End, because it was going to take too long to walk there.
Lands End is the north west corner of San Francisco. As I learned too late, there’s a hiking trail that goes along the coast and takes you to a specific lookout point I was trying to get to. I, however, had just looked at google maps and took what seemed to be the most direct path there, which ended up being through a golf course. I probably looked a little strange wandering across the golf course, but I had views to see and not a lot of time. But, it was all worth it. The views of the ocean and the Golden Gate bridge were beautiful. If you ever happen to be in my situation, I’d recommend going to Lands End first and really enjoying that hike, then going to Golden Gate park if you have the time.
And this is the first trip to the States in a long time where I haven’t bought Oreos! But I did one better, I got to go to an Amazon Go store, which was a very cool experience. I bought a chocolate bar I didn’t need just to experience the whole thing. It was weird just walking out of the store without having to do anything, but I could get used to it. Hopefully one day there will be full sized grocery stores where you don’t have to cash out.
The flag flying in front of the ferry pier here is the City of San Francisco flag, which if you’re wondering why I was particularly excited to see, you should watch this video.