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front view of Carmel mission

Two pearls of the California mission system: Carmel Mission and Mission Dolores

We often forget that California history goes further back than the “49-ers,” the gold prospectors who hurried to California once gold was discovered in 1848. Carmel Mission and Mission Delores in Northern California are two pearls of the California mission system that arrived long before the Gold Rush. Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to…

a row of Victorian houses

Haight-Ashbury nostalgia

  Back in the 1990’s, I lived in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, the birthplace of the hippie movement and the epicenter of the Summer of Love. When my daughter was born in 1992, I decided not to go back to work right away. Paying for childcare would have cost much of my take-home pay, so…

Awesome customer service!

“I’ll have a bagel with cream cheese and lox and a diet Coke.” “Awesome! I’ll get it for you right away.” This is a typical exchange with a server in a restaurant here in San Francisco. It’s also the same at a store. “I’d like to buy this shirt.” “Awesome! That’ll be 13 dollars and…

view of Ghirardelli factory

Ghirardelli’s chocolatiers

Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, a tourist destination in San Francisco, is offering something new: a “chocolatier” program. The “factory” isn’t really a factory anymore. Ghirardelli’s chocolate production has moved to a more modern factory out of town and the historic buildings near Fisherman’s Wharf are now a complex of shops, with an emphasis on everything chocolate….

street art in San Francisco

Spotted in San Francisco

I moved to the Netherlands from San Francisco about 17 years ago. The last time I visited was only two years later. Now I’m back, and I’ve spent the past week rediscovering this fascinating city: wandering through different neighborhoods, reconnecting with old friends over delicious food from all over the world, and generally playing tourist…

A walk along the Embarcadero, San Francisco, being a tourist

Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz: these are typical tourist destinations in San Francisco. Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. This will not affect your price. Those of us who…

view over Lake Tahoe

A quick trip to the Sierra

Old Sacramento You’ve probably seen it in a hundred cowboy films: a main street lined with wooden buildings, fronted by a wooden sidewalk shaded by a roof. The storefronts say “Bank” or “General Merchandise” in formal, old-fashioned lettering. Cowboys stumble out through the swinging doors of the saloon. Women of ill repute beckon from a…

How Americans see the Dutch

When I posted about how the Dutch see the Americans, it wasn’t particularly complimentary, so I promised to write the opposite post: how the Americans see the Dutch. (Nederlands vertaling beneden) Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on one of them and spend money, I will receive a small percentage of what…