Posts Tagged With: California

USA: Day-trip to Oakland for some Freak Pitching, 18 June 2016

O.co Coliseum

18 June 2016: Oakland Athletics vs. Anaheim Angels (Andrew Triggs vs. Tim Lincecum)

We would have been ok either way – staying in Oakland overnight, or simply day-tripping from Seattle for a day baseball game, but the stars aligned perfectly. This also gave me the opportunity to return to Seattle for dinner with my friends. The truth is, we couldn’t have planned the day better. The Angels signed Tim Lincecum after his showcase, and he was slotted to be the starter for this game. As a Giants pitcher for all of his career to date, this will be his first start in any other MLB uniform. It’s always interesting to watch the Freak pitch – the guy has some crazy mechanics to generate sufficient torque to pitch.

Because it was a one-pm game, we didn’t feel compelled to go into Oakland too early, so we booked the 10.20 flight, which arrives in Oakland at 12.30 ish, giving us plenty of time to make it to the Coliseum.

O.co Coliseum

Getting there and back:

The ride from the airport to the Coliseum is really, really easy. The sky shuttle from the airport literally drops you in front of the Coliseum. Unfortunately, it’s not free, even though you don’t have to pay at the shuttle station. You will have to pay $6 to get out of the shuttle and into the BART station, and ditto for the way back from the Coliseum to the airport. Nevertheless, this is about as easy as it gets.

O.Co Coliseum and seating:

Pulling into the O.Co Coliseum from the airport sky shuttle, I can see why people hate the Coliseum. I have no strong feelings about it, but it is a really run-down park. When I pointed it out to my boyfriend, he was in disbelief, and thought I was making stuff up again. Turns out I was right – the run-down stadium is indeed the Coliseum. The stadium itself is also rather run down. The barricades are made of that green plastic that you are more likely to see at older college baseball stadiums. This stadium really reminds me of U Hawaii baseball stadium, the one and only college baseball game I ever attended.

We started our tour from the top (Level 3oo), which offered great views of the stadium. If you want to do panorama shots of the stadium, do it here. Most of the upper level seats were not for sale at this point, with only 3 sections for sale. These tickets are affordable (~$18) and comes with $6 credit on a weekend game.

You can peep into half of the Level 200 seats, but otherwise, the rest are closed-access club seats. The view ain’t too bad, and if you need some shade from the sun shining down, these seats will be great.

Oakland Bullpen Warming Up

We had seats at Level 100, behind the As bullpen. The bullpens are by the foul lines, and the mound is really just right there. If you sit around section 127, you will be right behind the As bullpen. If you are in the business for heckling, you’d be in perfect heckling distance. Or signatures. Whatever floats your boat.

Food: 

They do have some interesting options as well. Price-wise, it’s pretty average for ballpark food. They have a nice looking deli, serving freshly carved sandwiches, and I thought their hamburger poppers ($8) looked really interested. It was a shame that by the time I decided I wanted to try them, the stand was closed by the sixth inning. I wound up with cheeseburger and fries ($10), which was pretty good value and tasty as well.

Overall:

The O.Co Coliseum is probably the most rundown stadium we went to so far. I actually enjoyed it nevertheless. The atmosphere was great – the game was well-attended and the fans are super friendly, and I got to see quite an offensive display by the Angels. Oh, and I specifically picked up Tim Lincecum for this game, and he only gave up 1 ER, and got me a W.

Tim Lincecum is Pitching - first time in Angels uniform

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USA: We be Highrollers in the Desert – El Centro CA to San Diego CA, 19 March 2016

View from Club Lounge at Sheraton San Diego and Marina

11 00: We set off from El Centro, but not before a quick food stop at In & Out again.

12 00: We are making good time, but probably need a gallon of gas (we prepaid for a tank of gas on our rental). Solution? Get gas at a casino, the Golden Acorn. We lost some greenbacks, but we left with our pants on.

San Diego

14 30: Return car to rental, hop on rental car shuttle, hop off, hop on hotel shuttle. I had this all planned out. 😉

15 00: I shall give more extensive comments on the Sheraton (it ain’t looking good).

San Diego

17 30: The +1 has never signed up for Uber or Lyft. Time to capitalize on that for some free rides. Turns out Lyft’s sign-up bonus is $5 off 10 rides for new users, yippee! Our ride from Sheraton San Diego and Marina to Gaslamp was $6.66. 😛

18 00: Petco Park looks pretty cool. We strolled through the Gaslamp Quarter, before taking the San Diego trolley to Seaport Village. The Headquarters is now an upscale strip mall, but used to be the police headquarters with jail cells intact.

San Diego San Diego

20 00: We walked to the USS Midway. We probably should have come here earlier.

21 30: We just ordered room service, and turned in early. 8 30 flight out the next morning.

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USA: In & Out It’s Been so Long, San Diego – El Centro, 17 March 2016

Southwest Airlines

10 45: My first Southwest flight! (free is beautiful! Companion pass is even more awesome) I checked in yesterday at ~10.46 am, and got B20. We still wound up with a window + middle seat – flight was full (I will write a more extensive review of Southwest after I’m done with all these flights).

13 30-14 30: Dash out of airport, toilet break, hop on rental car shuttle, schmooze with rental car agent because we’re driving into Mexico. 14.30 – out of gate, and on the way to El Centro. I passed out for both the flight and the drive, because I only slept 1 hr after power grading through some finals.

16 00: In & Out at El Centro. Hello Double Meat Animal-Style and well-done fries! It’s been 6 years almost to date!

18 00: Quesadillas at a Mexican diner (Celia’s). We spent the night at my partner’s grandparents’ place. I passed out at 19 00, and only woke up at 9 00 the next day.

True love - In & Out

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Itinerary: That’s a Lot of Baseball, 17 – 27 March 2016

Thanks to two credit card sign-ups with Southwest, my US baseball plan will be funded by my stash of Southwest points. Beyond that, I also earned the very lucrative Southwest Companion Pass on 02 February, giving me the privilege of taking someone with me for free (well, just the $5.60 security fee and international taxes) from 2016 – 2017.

I have a rather weird itinerary for this trip, because my partner wants to visit his grandparents in El Centro, and he wants to watch the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in his hometown of Mexicali.

17 Mar: Seattle – San Diego – El Centro

18 Mar: El Centro – Mexicali – El Centro

19 Mar: El Centro – San Diego

20 Mar: San Diego – Houston – San Jose, Costa Rica

21 Mar: San Jose, Costa Rica

22 Mar: San Jose, Costa Rica

23 Mar: San Jose, Costa Rica – Houston – Albuquerque

24 Mar: Albuquerque

25 Mar: Albuquerque – Phoenix

26 Mar: Phoenix

27 Mar: Phoenix – Seattle

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USA: San Francisco CA, 03 Dec 2015

San Francisco - Market Street at Night I had to do a segment run to qualify for elite status with American Airlines, and since I have some Thank You points lying around, I made a redemption for a day-trip to San Francisco. What started out as a simple SEA-SFO-SEA 6hr-ish day trip turned into quite an adventure, and an amazing customer service recovery by Alaska Air.

When I got to Seatac airport, I found out that my SEA-SFO flight was diverted to SJC, due to SFO traffic control issues. I was already feeling rather angsty about the whole process, as that cuts down the time I have in San Francisco significantly. I was supposed to arrive at SFO at 12.05, but with the added coach transfer from SJC-SFO, I only boarded the AirTrain at 13.22. To add to my angst, I checked the Alaska Airlines app, and discovered that my flight from SFO-SEA would be delayed by more than an hour. What was supposed to be a 20.30 departure, 22.30 arrival is turning into a 22.00 departure, 24.00 arrival. As the bus rolled from SJC to SFO, I got even more cranky, because I realized that in the past year of flying with Alaska, I was only on time once in six flights. On the other five flights, the plane arrived more than an hour late, and for one of them, I even missed my connection to PTY, leading to a re-route from LAX-MEX-PTY to LAX-SJO-PTY. I was so cranky that I contacted Alaska Airlines via twitter (more on that later).

After arriving at SFO, I quickly got on the AirTrain, and got to the BART. This time, I bought my return ticket on the BART, to minimize the hassle of buying another ticket on the way back. I dropped off on Embarcadero, and went to Rubio’s for lunch.

Coastal Trio at Rubio's

I must say, I generally don’t think highly of Business Insider’s travel/food recommendations, but boy, Rubio’s was awesome! I got the Coastal Trio ($10), which features a grilled tilapia taco, a grilled shrimp taco, and their signature (fried) fish taco. They also have a salsa bar, catering to a full range of heat-tolerance. I went with the smoked chipotle, picante, and diablo (the last one did pack some heat). Man, those were some tasty tacos. I wasn’t too impressed with the signature fish taco, but their grilled shrimp and grilled tilapia tacos tasted amazing, with or without the extra salsa. If you are in the vicinity of one, I do recommend you pop in.

Since I had some time, I decided to check out more of San Francisco this time round. I walked down Market Street, and really loved the architecture. It is always interesting to look up the streets that feed into Market Street, and check out those hills of San Francisco. I eventually turned up Powell Street, which is served by the famous tourist cable car, before stopping at Union Square – the second part of my mission for today was to locate a cafe, and do my work there, but unfortunately, my phone ran out of juice, so I had to sit for a bit, and charge up my phone using my laptop.

San Francisco At Union Square, I discovered that Alaska Airlines CS had responded to my tweet. They offered some compensation for all the inconveniences of my day. I thought it was really quick and responsive of their CS. I would say that despite me having the worst luck with them, they are generally quite communicative about all their delays. When I was waiting to board my very late flight later in the evening, the gate agents seemed genuinely apologetic about the flight’s long delay.

So, apparently, I let google make decisions for me these days. In any case, while looking up cafes at Union Square, google spit up Sightglass Coffee. Sightglass coffee is an indy coffee shop located in Soma, a couple of blocks walk from Civic Center BART station. They focus on small batch productions, and this particular location is also their headquarters, where they roast their coffee on premise.

Sightless Cafe

Latte at Sightless Cafe

The space is gorgeous, and features all the things I like – industrial design, high ceilings (tri-level), coffee bar, large windows. Erm, it might be a San Francisco thing, but they do not offer free wifi, and I couldn’t find any power points either. This would be a good balls-to-the-wall place if you are working on something, and trying to hammer it out before the juice on your laptop runs out. Also, without wifi, you can work distraction free? It could also be a good place to like, you know, chat with people, for real. A basic latte runs around $5. At around 18.30 or so, I decided to make my way back to SFO for my flight back to SEA. That concludes my rather short day-trip to San Francisco.

Costs:

BART: $17.30

Lunch: $10

Coffee: $5

Total: $32.30 + 11000 Citi ThankYou points

Categories: Alaska Air, Cafe, Food, Miles&Points, USA | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Lounge Review: SFO Air France/KLM Lounge, 03 Dec 2015

Air France/KLM Lounge at SFO Air France/KLM, located in SFO International Terminal A, was recently added to the Priority Pass network, and this is definitely a positive development. Generally, it has lots of positives going for it, with one exception – the dearth of power points!

The lounge is divided into three areas: a work area, a sofa area, and the food/entertainment area.

Upon entry, the first area is the sofa area. It was curiously empty when I went there (~7 pm on Thursday). It consists mainly of a caffeine station – espresso machine, teas, sodas in the mini fridge.

The work area is a sectioned out room in the main sofa area. There are individual work stations with power plugs. But for some reason or other, I found it unappealing, as it felt somewhat claustrophobic. When my laptop ran out of juice, I actually opted to sit in the airport, rather than work in the lounge.

Air France/KLM Lounge at SFO

The food/entertainment/the-only-two-power-plugs/TV area seemed to be the center of this lounge’s gravity. The food consists mostly of finger sandwiches, some cheese, breads, and some salads in the fridge. It is pretty decent. While I don’t drink, the alcohol selection seems pretty fine – Johnny Walker Black Label, Skyy Vodka, Beaumont Champagne, and some red and white wines.

Air France/KLM Lounge at SFO

The service here was actually the positive surprise. One of the servers directed me to one of the two power outlets, without me asking (apparently people hunting for power outlets have a look!). Also, when they made a fresh batch of ham baguettes, the servers went around asking if any of those in the lounge would care for some. There’s nothing like someone bringing you a warm baguette!

The lounge has spotty wifi, but generally, it was a nice place to wait for a plane – just pre-charge your electronics before coming here!

Air France/KLM Lounge at SFO

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Segment Run Time: Day trip to San Francisco, 03 December 2015

Market Street

After getting in on the British Airways business class sale to Europe, and doing some calculations, I realized that I have enough Elite Qualifying Points (EQP) to make AAdvantage Gold from that trip. Unfortunately, I did not sign up for the AAdvantage Elite Challenge when it was open. So, now I have a problem – I am short of two AA segments for Gold. I mulled over this for a while, and was trying to decide if making AAdvantage Gold/OneWorld Ruby is going to be worth my time next year. It did take some willpower on my part to not go on some crazy mileage runs just to get status for the sake of getting it. I am trying to stick with my rule of only purchasing tickets to places I’d want to visit, instead of doing a pure mileage run.

Thankfully, after playing around with different options on Google flights, and waiting around for a while, I finally caught a break – Alaska Airlines had a sale (sorta, USD 183) to San Francisco. In my last day trip to San Francisco, I didn’t have too much time to explore San Francisco after attending a San Francisco Giants game. So, this would be an opportunity for me to explore more of this fun city.

I wasn’t going to shell out 183 USD for a day trip to San Francisco, but I do have quite a number of Citi Thank You points sitting around. They are excellent value for making American Airlines redemptions, because you can redeem them for 1.6x their value on the Thank You portal. So, this flight just costs me ~11,400 Thank You points, no money out of the pocket, and I’ll get the segments I need, and also get mileage credit on my AAdvantage account.

Looking forward to this trip!

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USA: Day trip to San Francisco CA, 13 September 2015

San Francisco

Taking advantage of the Delta Award sale, I redeemed 10,000 Delta points for a same-day round-trip ticket to San Francisco. I had to plan this quite well, as my main goal was to check out AT&T Ball Park, and so, I had to ensure that I flew in on a day when the Giants were playing a day game at home. The stars aligned for today.

San Francisco

Getting to downtown San Francisco

Getting from SFO airport to downtown is easy. I took the free AirTran to the BART, which sells tickets at the station, and bought a ticket with my Citi credit card to cash in on the 3X transport bonus to Embarcadero ($8.65 – one-way, a fare chart is by the side of ticket booths), as I planned on eating lunch near there before making my way to the game.

Just a small note – you might want to get round trip tickets if you know your plans in advance. I had a lot of trouble locating a machine that took credit cards when I was buying my ticket back from the Montgomery Street Station. I had to try about 7 machines before I got one that took credit cards. The rest took debit/ATM cards. Weird. You do not get a discount for getting round trip tickets.

San Francisco

The BART trains are rather oldish, but comfortable. My tushy appreciates the padded chairs! The train to/from the airport runs every 15-20 min, and the journey takes about 30 mins. The signs should be fairly self-explanatory, and the driver makes announcements at every station.

AT&T Park

I was trying to eat lunch at Rubio’s, which was featured on Business Insider, but guess what? The Embarcadero location is closed on Sundays. Grr!!! It was nice to check out the Ferry Terminal building, and the buildings on Market Street, nevertheless. After striking out on my lunch plans, I simply walked along the waterfront to AT&T park. It was a pretty nice walk, where you see a mixture of older buildings, along with those modern tall glass buildings. I would say it was a 15-20 min leisurely stroll. San Francisco

San Francisco

San Francisco also has a bike share program alike Seattle (well, Seattle probably copied them, whatever). It costs $9 for 24 hrs, and you can check them out for 30 min stretches, but I have severely strained quad muscles, so riding a bike didn’t seem like such a good idea. So, stroll, it was. There are a number of little eateries along the way, if you want to get your munchies in before going to the ballgame.

I would say I generally liked AT&T park. At the bleachers, it has some nice views of the bay. My friend, who attended a game some time back at the terrace level, didn’t like how he couldn’t get to certain places because of his ticket. I was mostly on the main level with my bleacher ticket, and I thought it was kinda nice. The AT&T Park children’s play area also looked cooler than the Safeco field play area.

One of the nice things about the bleacher area is that, there’s a dining area behind the bleachers. While you cannot watch the game from this dining area, it has picnic tables, and a nice selection of interesting food options (i.e. not just ballpark food) – a crab shack, a seafood stand, a BBQ place, and a taco place. I got a crab and shrimp sandwich ($13.50) from Crazy Crab, which I thought was tasty and fresh.

One small little tip about drinks at the ballpark. They do have soda machines near the kids’ play area, and they sell bottled sodas for $3, and take credit cards as well. I would highly suggest this option, if you want to save some money, but don’t want to drink water either. It is a good deal for ballparks, considering how watered down sodas in cups full of ice cost at least $5.50 usually. If you did not get a chance to see/get on a cable car, they do have a sample cable car by the bleachers.

San Francisco

San Francisco

Unfortunately, after 7 innings, I had to leave, as I did want to check out other parts of San Francisco as well. I walked down 3rd Street, towards Market Street (and Mission Street further south), where the BART runs underground, as I was planning on catching the BART back to the airport. I was gonna check out a cafe, and do some writing in a cafe, but wound up at Ghirardelli chocolate cafe. Apparently, a store attendant handing out free chocolate is all it takes for me to walk into a store! In the short time that I was here, I did like the buildings clustered around Market Street. They have the early 1900s flavor, with ornate carvings, high ceilings. It is a shame that I had so few hours in San Francisco!

Costs:

Flight: $11.20 + 10000 Delta Skymiles

To/From SFO – San Francisco: $17.30

Lunch: $13.50 + $3

Ballpark tickets: $16

Hot chocolate: $5

Total: $66 + 10000 Delta Skymiles

Sea Salt Caramel Hot Cocoa at Ghirardelli, San Francisco (Met Trust building in reflection)

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San Francisco, USA: Day trip to AT&T Ballpark, 13 September 2015

Delta Airlines is having a mileage and airfare sale. There are one-way fares going for 5,000 miles. I had 10,000 Delta miles lying around, which wasn’t good for anything (most domestic one-way airfares start at 12,500 miles), so I jumped on this deal. Because accommodations in San Francisco are prohibitively expensive, I decided to book a day trip to San Francisco, to accomplish one of my side projects – visiting all the MLB parks in the US! I found two non-stop one-way tickets, with the first arriving in SFO at 10.45 am, and the second one-way ticket leaving SFO at 7 pm. That’s time enough for me to take in the 1 pm game, and do some sightseeing around San Francisco!

So, for 10,000 Delta Skymiles and US 11.20, San Francisco, here I come!

Stuff I want to do:

1. Eat In&Out again

2. Ride the cable car

3. Check out a coffee shop

4. Watch a Giants game.

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USA – Death Valley National Park, 21 March 2011

For a trip to Vegas, we certainly did not spend a lot of time Vegas. We actually chose Vegas due to its proximity to numerous National Parks, and after Grand Canyon, next in line on our itinerary was Death Valley National Park.

I think I picked this one. I think the only reason why I picked it was because I thought it has such a cool name! Well, unless of course, I become a reason why it is called what it is called. The Death Valley National Park spans the states of California and Nevada. California mainly, really. At its lowest point, it is actually below sea level. For some reason or other, that makes it quite a dangerous place. After some googling, I figured out a route that will bring us through a ghost town or two, and given my fascination with what nature does to places after humans abandon settlements, obviously, it was a must see.

Anyways, after the ‘training’ of the Grand Canyon trip, driving to Death Valley was a breeze by comparison. The landscape on the way was actually very breathtaking. The road was surrounded by mountains in the distance, and an expanse of desert. And of course, the mirage.

Our first stop in Death Valley National Park was Rhyolite Ghost Town. Not quite sure why it was abandoned, but the sight of semi-decrepit structures against blue skies and desert made for great pictures. It did seem to be quite a developed town. There was even a Rhyolite Casino.

Next, we kinda just followed the driving trail, and stopped by some structure that we thought was fascinating (my research is awesome … not). Turns out it was pretty fascinating. The Death Valley used to be mined for some material nicknamed white gold by Chinese. To cut costs of purifying them, they were done on site, so there were pretty big settlements of Chinese. Looking out from the look out point, you can still see some remnants of buildings. It was quite a desolate landscape.

There were, however, some pretty out-of-place spots in this landscape. For instance, there was a golf course, and some really garish-looking resorts. I am not quite sure why, but the tale of immigrant labor and abandonment of settlements seems to be detracted by these new features that capitalize on tourism.

Endless Road in Nevada

Rhyolite Ghost Casino, Death Valley National Park

Former residence of migrant workers in Death Valley National Park

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