Monthly Archives: December 2010
Happy New Year (Spanish style)
One of my favorite New Years memories was when I went to Barcelona, Spain for a week with 3 of my good friends. Our initial plans of partying like rock stars in the city for New Years Eve went bust when we realized our ‘hostel’ was about an hour train ride outside of the city and the train stopped running early in the evening. Oops. We were stuck.
Thankfully we were able to find a grocery store still open and picked up everything we needed for a fun night in: food, wine, a radio so we could hear the countdown to the new year, and grapes. Yes, grapes. We found out that the Spanish have a tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight to bring good luck for the new year.
So, fast forward to 11:59pm. We are all sitting around the table huddled over the radio waiting for it to start counting down in Spanish. We didn’t really know what we were doing so when we heard something that sounded like a countdown we all started shoving grapes into our mouths.
However, almost as quickly as we shoved the grapes in our mouths, we all started spitting them out!
These were not the grapes we were used to at home, these were SEEDED grapes. When you are not used to crunchy bits in your grapes, it is rather shocking to bite down on them. Needless to say it was one of the funniest moments of my life. Our attempt of joining in on local tradition totally failed, but had a blast trying.
On that note, I wish you all a happy seedless 2011! Until next year (aka tomorrow).
Traveling Sustainably Is Easy When You Are Visiting San Francisco
Excellent, my first reader question (courtesy of my mother):
We’ll be in San Francisco for several days in a couple of weeks with family from the Midwest. Do you have any suggestions for activities other than the large tourist attractions that would support the local community?
San Francisco is a pretty magical city to visit with everything you could ask for on a vacation in the wee space of a 7×7 square mile box. Because of its limited space resources, San Francisco has taken innovative steps to become one of the top Green cities in the U.S. The city excels in sustainable values with its vast public transportation network, strong biking community, well-preserved parks and green spaces, and support for local shops and restaurants.
But to answer the question more specifically, with regard to looking for tourist worthy activities that support local communities in San Francisco, I have the following ideas…
San Francisco is well-known for having distinctive neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has its own eclectic style and feel and consequently each neighborhood, aside from Union Square and the Financial District (which are full of chain stores and restaurants), is filled to the brim with local SME’s (small and medium-sized enterprises). Therefore, you can pretty much walk around any neighborhood in the city and easily support the local community by supporting their local businesses.
One idea for getting to know some of these unique neighborhoods, while supporting and interacting with the local community, is joining one of the San Francisco City Guides walking tours. City Guides is a non-profit organization that runs primarily off of the support of volunteer guides. The tours are free and no reservations are required, unless you are a group of 8 or more. The guides are locals themselves and this promotes a healthy interaction between visitors and hosts who are both excited about sharing knowledge about the city they love. Tours range from general neighborhood walks of Japantown or West Portal, to themed ones like Ghosts, Sinners and Secret Places and Billionaire’s Row: Outdoor Broadway Architecture.
Another great destination to visit in San Francisco that will help support the local community is taking a trip to the Ferry Building. While it is slowly starting to become a tourist hot spot, it is still a local hangout and brimming with locally sourced shops and places to eat. Furthermore, if you visit on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday you can enjoy the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market which takes place just outside of the Ferry Building. Visiting the market and sampling the local food, such as the pork sandwich from Roli Roti, will help support the local Northern California agriculture industry.
Does anyone else have any suggestions on places to take visitors in San Francisco that support local communities and/or would be sustainable travel options?
For more information on “Green” travel options in San Francisco, visit the San Francisco Convention and Visitor Bureau’s website dedicated to the topic: http://www.onlyinsanfrancisco.com/green/
I thought it would be a good idea, for my first posting, to share some of the things I hope to address in the future of this blog to titillate your interest. (Yes, I just said titillate)
But I think it is first important to start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start. When you write you begin with “A, B, C”, when you travel you begin with “Where the hell am I?”
Lot’s of travel blogs will tell you all about the next coolest place to visit in the world, but not mine. OK, I lie, maybe I will a little bit. My main goal, however, is to spread the word about sustainable tourism. Now, before you go waving me off for being too “hippie” or a “tree-huger” take a listen to some of my ideas. I am fully aware that many believe sustainable tourism is an oxymoron since tourism itself is a rather consumptive activity. In many ways this is true, and I fully acknowledge that I too consume a great deal when I travel and leave a mighty footprint when I fly on planes. But, I am hoping to show you that there are smart, smarter, and smartest choices to make while traveling that do result in positive sustainable outcomes and can increase the fun factor on your holiday experience. I hope to cover a broad range of topics as this blog of mine progresses. From questioning what sustainable tourism really means, to highlighting specific sites and sounds around the world that can be sustainably experienced. I also plan to talk about some cheaper traveling options, for those like me with small budgets, that can make larger differences in a community than an over the top, oober pricey, resorty/cruisey vacation. And if you are lucky I may post some embarrassing holiday photos and videos of my own travel experiences. Obviously I would do this to once again titillate your interest.
So, to get things started, I would love for you to send me any questions you have or ideas you would like me to discuss about traveling, tourism, sustainability, my love of trekking with llamas, etc. Let this blog be your oyster.