“The Dude” and the City, a Weekend in The Bay 

This weekend, Matthew and I shed our introvert skins and ventured into the wild unknown. Because Matt works every weekday, weekends are our time to frolic throughout to Bay. Last week, I saw that a local movie theater was showing “The Big Lebowski” on the big screen, one of Matt and I’s favorite movies. We both decided it would be fun, so Friday afternoon, we headed out. First, to get some food at a local food truck event and then onto the theater.  Unfortunately, we didn’t end up eating anything. This brings me to my first lesson of weekends in California.

Lesson 1: Parking is a nightmare.

After 30 minutes of no street parking, a cash refund for a full parking garage and my anxiety shooting through the roof of the Altima, we decided to skip the food and head directly to the Paramount. photo jun 30, 6 53 55 pm-2

Opened in 1931, the Paramount Theater is a stunning monument  in Uptown Oakland. The theater now shows old movies and up-to-date television shows and live acts under their magnificent curtain.

photo jun 30, 7 05 00 pm-1
Our tickets were $5 each and allowed us to sit anywhere we liked in the 3,000+ capacity theater. The theater sold concession food for $3 an item and featured a White Russian cocktail at the bar, the signature drink of the movies main character, The Dude. Before the show, the theater raffled off some tshirts and coupons to local businesses. We, unfortunately, did not win. Before the main feature, an old “News of the Day” from the 50s was played.  An old Looney Tuns cartoon was also shown. Our experience at the theater was wonderful. Stunning, homely and  affordable. We will definitely try to catch another flick here before we leave.

Lesson 2: There’s always something to do. You just have to look. 

On Saturday, we planned a lazy day in. But anyone who knows me should know I’m terrible at lazy days.  Around noon, I started looking for things to do, with Matt rejecting most of my ideas. Farmers Market? No. Museum? No. Comedy show? Ding, ding, ding! A board game shop in Northern Oakland called It’s Your Move apparently hosts a local comedy show called Critical Hit every Saturday at 8:30pm, for $5 a person.  Matt agreed it sounded interesting, so we decided to try it out.  After it closes at 7, the shop is converted into a comedy space, complete with a stage, seating and speakers. Also, the event is BYOB, so patrons are aloud to bring food and drinks in with them. We had a blast, sitting in the front row getting picked on for being from Oklahoma by a few of the comics.  Also, we won a raffle! We received a bottle of Ethiopian Honey Wine for signing up for the show’s newsletter. We will definitely be back, probably this upcoming Saturday!

Lesson 3: Local businesses are magical. 

photo jul 01, 7 48 55 pm
Trashcan spotted in Northern Oakland

Finally, Sunday. Big trip day.  Our first venture into the city of San Francisco. I’ll admit, I was nervous about our first trip across the Bay. Bright lights, big city and all that.  We started out journey by taking the San Francisco Bay Ferry from Jack London Square in Oakland to Pier 41 in San Francisco, also known as Fisherman’s Wharf. The ferry kind of felt like an airplane on the water. Same type of seats, overpriced drinks and crying children. However, the breeze and the views were to die for. 

Stepping off the ferry at Fishermans Wharf, we were immediately ingulfed by the crowds. Every where you looked: people, people, people. We stumbled into the first restaurant we could find, which ended up being Boudin’s, famous for their sourdough bread. We ended up splitting an appetizer and an entree because of the prices, but we were more than pleased with our food. 

Lesson 4: California crab is crazy. 

Dungeoness Crab Spinach and Artichoke Dip

After our meal, we headed into the craziness, passing street performers and packs of tourists on our way to Pier 39. A magic store, a carousel and a store dedicated to left-handed people, our journey down the pier was definitely a lot to take in. We ended up leaving without having purchased anything.  Though the streetcar-shaped chocolates were extremely tempting. 

We decided to venture farther into the city, searching for one of my most anticipated stops: The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. As we walked, the signs slowly shifted from English to Chinese. We traversed up the Sand Franciscan hills to eventually find ourselves smack dab in the middle of Chinatown.  Grocers, novelty shops and tea rooms lined the streets. Every place we popped into had something new. The food, especially, piqued our interests, as we tasted and smelled things we’d never seen before. One shocking sight was the basins of dead fish on ice on the sidewalk. Cuts of fish,as well as entire fishes (with eyes), warmed in the hot sun, occasionally being flipped by a buyer looking for their dinner. By the time we reached the fortune cookie shop, we were used to the massive crowds, waiting almost ten minutes to get a glimpse of the two ladies folding fortune cookies by hand. I would’ve taken a picture, but they charged 50 cents, so instead, I took pictures of the lanterns dangling above the streets. 

Lesson 5: Weird stuff is everywhere.  Enjoy it. 

 After our uphill battle to reach our destination, the yawning began. We ended our time in the City by walking to the San Francisco Ferry Building to board the 4:30 ferry back to Oakland. After we landed, we stopped by a Ben & Jerrys store (!!!) before heading back to the car. Sunburned and exhausted, I flopped onto the bed as soon as we got in, my mind already beginning to plan our next trip into SF. 

Lesson 6: Expect the unexpected. 

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