« on: June 16, 2010, 03:01:22 am »
So, I've been around the country a bit in the last month or so and other pders have been to a lot more places a lot more frequently. We're spread out, we've all gone to different places, etc. I'm wondering what the interest would be in getting together a bunch of pieces as a travel guide with our own spin on it - pointing people to actually interesting parts of cities instead of hellholes, maybe touching upon stuff that a regular guide wouldn't. Think Weird New England, but written by people you know.
Anyway, this is in Discordian Recipes right now because even if we can't get a legit travel guide, at the very least we could have a list of good places to eat, little hidden gems you know about that even other locals might not.
City: San Francisco - EoC
Area: Fisherman's Wharf
Fisherman's Wharf is an area well known for blubbery mammals sunning themselves on wooden planks against the backdrop of the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge. Sea lions are also known to show up there. While the majority of this destination seems to be reserved for cheap souvenier shops and only-in-tourist-town eateries like Bubba Gump Shrimp there are a few gems to be found by the water.
The view is certainly worth seeing, offering Alcatraz, aforementioned bridge and sea life, and some seriously bizarre street performers often from the same vantage point. Fresh crab is readily available from a number of little stands for a seafood lunch.
Check out Musee Mechanique, a private museum housing historic coin operated machines - able to be used by the public. Break a dollar and you can watch a mechanized reenactment of a British trial and hanging, get your fortune read by a terrifying wizard, enjoy a brief vintage peep show, and arm wrestle against a robotic bicep.
What to see:
Just south of San Francisco, an easy drive or a hop off the commuter rail is Colma. The area is known for its density of cemeteries, but one will have particular interest. The Woodlawn Memorial Park is the current resting place of Joshua Norton, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. The Woodlawn office has maps at the ready and the employees were more than willing to send travelers in the right direction.
City: Fresno - Secret Agent GARBO (HoverCat)
In the Fresno area proper, there's practically nothing touristy (I have no idea what the German and Japanese tourists come here for). Tower district is like a mini Castro, sort of, and Tower Theater is really cool inside. If you like antiquing, there's some decent stores in Old Town Clovis (I still recommend Fulton's Folly, though, which is in Tower). I can't speak for most of the little towns around here otherwise because I don't go to them.
Teazers (actually a tea house)
Mezze House (best Mediterranean place in town)
Thai Gem (teeeny tiny place, like I think the max is twenty people, including staff)
Me 'n Ed's (a super good local pizza chain)
The Starline (for local acts)
Clovis Farmer's Market is every Friday all summer long. Really, really, really good produce, local acts, various things to distract your kids, like a bounce slide, and pretty good food.
In the Sierras:
Yosemite (ehhh...scads of tourists, though still pretty)
Squaw Leap Loop (a small hiking trail - pretty and moderately difficult)
Sequoia National Park (much prettier and much quieter than Yosemite - it and Kings Canyon tend to be where locals go)
Kings Canyon (absolutely gorgeous and very quiet)
Shaver Lake (man made lake, but very pretty. Popular day trip spot here, and Shaver Pizza is a good spot for lunch/dinner)
Dinkey Creek - pretty, there's fishing, and Honeymoon Pool is a good swim in the late summer)
City: San Diego - Jenne
San Diego, CA.
You got your usual haunts that are "internationally known," like the Zoo, Balboa Park, and SeaWorld.
Balboa Park is the only WORTHY of those three, because it's got some cultural bent to it. It's got these international houses that specialize in the cultures from the area after which they are named. House of France, House of Iran, House of Palestine (!), House of Germany, House of England, House of Uzbekistan (!), etc. And twice a year, they have "street fairs," where they put out booths where they sell food, up and down the row where they are located. Every other weekend of the year, they take turns opening up (about half to a third of them rotate ever month) through volunteer labor to showcase their curiosities, historical artifacts and some small food item(s), which you can pay a voluntary fee for.
Balboa Park also has sooo many museums--flight, sports, natural history, science...all in historical buildings. Parking is FREE. The zoo is also located here, if you have the notion. But you can also simply park, picnic or hike. Is all good.
Downtown Gaslamp is awesome...Balboa's located nearby. This area in San Diego is rich in cultural diversity, different shopping areas, an outdoor mall that's all funky because it's multiple buildings put together, and performing arts. It's got your usual homeless, etc. element, like a "true" downtown...but not to worry. Popo abound. So do the bike cabbies.
The Harbor near downtown is cool if only because it's got some great eats, just like downtown, cruises where you can go see some whales, and great atmosphere. You get a great view of the Coronado Bridge, which leads to Coronado itself. Home to the Navy as well as this little area full of moneyed buttheads. It's cute, overpriced, and damn gorgeous. OH, and it has one of THE most famous haunted hotels in San Diego--"The Hotel Del Coronado" or "Hotel Del" as it's known locally.
San Diego has a lot of local hiking, biking and walking trails. Our national parks system has not only inland mountain hiking but also trail and beach hiking. Waterfalls. Creeks. Lakes where you can fish. They're all over. You are surrounded by nature here. You can't run from it or hide from it. You come here, it is your destiny.
Lastly--the arts community. We got your hippies, we got your Chicanos, we got your Wylands. You want artsy fartsy--you won't be disappointed. From street art in Barrio Logan, to Lomas Santa Fe where artists have studios by the beach, to Escondido where the poorer art students hold regular art nights with free wine and artisanal chocolates.
San Diego seems vastly white washed thanks to all the midwestern folks that have transplanted thanks to job opportunities and our all-too-prevalent military complexes. But in the end, we're pretty diverse. And damned gorgeous.
Maine - RWHN
If you're ever in Maine.
Actually, Portland is alright. It used to be more fun back when I lived there IMO. There was this great club called The Skinny. We'd get a lot of the kinda sorta famous acts who weren't so big that they actually still wrote and played music with some soul to it. Saw a great performance by Superdrag there. One of the small rock shows I've been too. We had the Sheila Divine too which some of you Mass-types might be familiar with. Anyway, that is a ghost of the past now. As was the Free Street Taverna.
We do have a couple of Irish-styled pubs. Ri Ra and Brian Boru. Both have good fare and good music if you're into folk and Celtic music. Can be a little pricey. Next to Ri Ra is the ferry that can take you to some of the small islands off the Portland coast. Mind the locals, especially native Mainers. Don't always take too well to out-of-staters.
If you're more into the nature/outdoors scene, you can't really go wrong with Maine. tons of places for hiking and camping. There is a great hiking trail in Cutler, Maine which is in far east Maine. One of the trails ends with some pretty spectacular views of the ocean. That is views atop of high cliffs of jagged rock. Mind your step. There's a pretty good folk music scene in that part of Maine as well. Blue Hill is a hotspot for that sort of thing.
The places to avoid in Maine at all cost are: Biddeford, Lewiston/Auburn (where I live coincidentally), Augusta, Calais, Old Orchard Beach (unless you are French-Canadian and then apparently it is a mandatory summer destination) and pretty much the entire county of Piscataquis.
If you want to go somewhere that is completely devoid of human life, save for the occasional lumberjack, then The Allagash Wilderness is for you.
Sunshine coast. QLD, Australia. - PlacidDingo
Mooloolah is a piddly little town on the sunshine coast that really isn't all that bad, provided you cab generally entertain yourself. Theres a park wig trees that are good for climbing, a train station that can get you out of there when you go mad and some nice walks. Hunt down the national forest: there's a nice long walk there that will take you through an abandoned train tunnel. There's usually a bit of mildly interesting graffiti on it. Wear shoes; it wasn't all that dangerous to walk through barefoot a few years back, but broken glass pops up now and then. Keep walking long enough and you'll hit Beerwah; but thats a long walk. It's good for bikes too.
Shops round Mooloolah aren't too special but they have what you need. There's a place called the Thunderbird cafe that is periodically renamed but its worth a visit. Good place to get a hungover breakfast and read the paper.
There's b and bs around; I was a local so I never went but it's meant to be worthwhile.
And that's Mooloolah.
Nagoya, Japan - PlacidDingo
Everyone shits on Nagoya, which is totally unfair. Tokyo is the big city. Kyoto has beauty. Hiroshima has history. And Nagoya doesn't really fit anywhere nearly into that spectrum so it gets ignored.
Nagoya is a place for music, but only if you look for it. I don't know how you can find it. Personally I learned Japanese and made friends with a guy in a band. Because when you get into that scene, it's wicked awesome. Find yourself some of the smaller crazier clubs and bars and get into it.
There's something to look for called nomihoudai (飲み放題) which is all you can drink. Look for this in Karaoke bars. You want to go in with friends. Start with easier stuff, then move into heavy screamy stuff towards night end.
Ossu is a great market area, great for a wander. Beyond the market area are some weirder areas worth a look. I remember a tattoo shop, which is worth a visit; Japanese tend to be anti tattoo. Except the mafia.
Sakae is your party city. Men garishly dressed in a club may be yakuza. If fingers are missing, dnt. There's lots of clubs, go in and enjoy. Don't get too boisterous and loud, generally. You'll be tolerated, but you'll look like a fucking idiot gaijin. Which you are, but you know. Make an effort. Go to Hub the English pub if you want to get some advice from English speakers.
Anchorage, AK - Alty
This place is beautiful.
Unless you've seen it you have no idea. Some seasons can be tougher than others, but each one has its own brutalities and essential rawness. There's something so comforting in the deep inhale of ice-cold air, feels clean and good and pure. And you can feel every piece of your body without even trying. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to feel individual parts of yourself?
Of course, the brutality. Homeless people die here, a lot. You don't really hear much about it because most of them are very, very drunk native alaskans who don't know many people outside their own circles, which are mostly from out in the middle of nowhere. The cops certainly don't care, and most of these Sarah Palin propelling republican assholes just leaching big oils slimy tit (I guess that's me too since I'm registering Red this year) are way, way, way more concerned with whatever is happening on their giant televisions. But fundies and libtards aren’t the only ones here. There’s an army of stoners and hippie stoners that are way, way, way more concerned with what's on their giant televisions. Every one in Anchorage has a giant television. Doesn't matter if you're in debt to your ears and live in FILTH, you’ve got a giant television. Something, something warm light, like unto the womb, something distractions from death you own and others and HO MAH GAWD DID YOU SEE THAT SHIT, THAT SHIT WAS HILARIOUS.
Where was I? Oh yeah, people dying. People die here. They get trampled by moose. They get mauled right in the city limits while riding their bikes at 3 am. They get shot. The get beaten over the head with rocks and shoved somewhere in the massive expanse of earth and ice that is easily accessible by road. Or sometimes some moron just leaves the body in the woods for some hunters or kids to find. And sure, it’s not all the time or anything. But still, nature will fuck you up..
But from where I'm sitting I can see none of that. In place where WILD things are everywhere is nothing around me that is not stale. This entire town serves. It is one giant strip-mall to feed the hungry, squealing masses who are supports for wheels that grind the rest of the world into dust. Landmarks are stores, shops, confectioneries. Achievements in civilization are opening an Olive Garden, finally getting a Victoria Secret, ooh there's a new target opened up on Southside and OH MAH GAH SUPER WALMART. I know what it feels like to become on these people.
I drove from Seattle back here. When you drive here you drive to the end of the earth. And on the way you will see mountains that are so purple they're nearly black, think Kali, with tops that look like jagged crystal, that completely surround you. And you will see trees that go on forever and ever. Fields of seemingly nothing will do the same as well, but the vastness of those forests are overwhelming. When you first arrive all you can think about are those trees and how you're in the middle of them, they're everywhere. You go to the grocery store, the bank, your apartment, but all the while you are surrounded by raw, wild forests peppered with people.
After a while, though, the trees and the mountains fade. Something else takes their place. Can you imagine? Massive, raw, unrelenting and unmerciful WILD cast aside to make room in your head for THEM. They worm their way inside your head. Spiders, yeah. Black Flies, them too. Creeping bags of plastic slugs ready to seal you up and keep you warm. Even if they don't get in you're so busy fighting them off that you forget about the trees. Not that they offer anything special beyond their massive presence. But how can something so huge work its way out of your mind? How can you forget that you're just a cold little monkey using your awesome brain to beat back nature far enough so you can actually enjoy it instead of ending up dead.
If you're looking down from on high this town spreads like an oil slick across a soggy marsh sitting on an open lip of ocean. The funny part is underneath most of this mess is clay. Lots and lots of clay. You can probably imagine what happens to clay in an earthquake. Maybe if you visit at the right time you won’t have to.
Notable places to get hammered:
The Spenard Roadhouse
The Bear Tooth Grill
*These two also have good food, if you’re into that kind of thing..*
Aaaand I hate all the other places, more or less.