Monday, January 26, 2015

An Evening At Shoreline Park

My first post in the new year! I have been to Shoreline Park a number of times since I moved here. I was introduced to this wonderful place by my friend Anne. The park is located in Mountain View quite close to the downtown. It is a vast expanse of land with a lake, hiking and biking trails, golf course and a beautiful picnic area. It has something for everyone.

The trails are mostly flat and unshaded. The open space with many different types of birds and the green grass make for a very pleasant walk. I usually go there when I want to be outdoors but don't feel up to a strenuous hike. Of course, you can bring a nice little picnic basket and soak in the sun or play frisbee or board games. They also have bicycles for rent too. One of these days, I intend to rent one to learn how to ride a bike!

Shoreline Lake with birds

My favorite part is of course the small man-made lake which has lots of birds. You can rent kayaks, row boats, peddle-boats or bring your own to enjoy a few hours on the water. We recently went kayaking on the lake. It was a fun experience. We rented a two-person kayak for an hour. Strapping on the life vests and armed with paddles, we entered the lake and started paddling around the lake. The sight of the setting sun, the birds flying all around us and the gorgeous pink of the earth shadow on the sky made the evening simply perfect. The lake is quite small so you can easily kayak around the entire lake in an hour without rushing. I even stopped mid way to click some pictures!

If you want to enjoy being on the water without having to leave the city, Shoreline is the best place for you. They also have two cafes-Michael's and Lakeside cafe where you can grab a quick snack after your activity. The website mentions you can order a picnic lunch from the cafe to carry on the boat but I personally don't think it is such a good idea.

There is no entry fee for the park which makes it even more appealing. Right outside the park, there is a dog-park and an area to fly kites and remote controlled aeroplanes although I have not been to that side.
There are tons of things you can do here: run, jog, stroll, wind surf, row, canoe, sail, picnic, relax, admire nature, click pictures and have a superb time!

What: Shoreline Park
Where: 3070 North Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View CA 94043
When: Sunrise to Sunset all year round
Fee: Free 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Lake Tahoe Winter Trip

Squaw Valley Resort
I recently took a day trip to Tahoe on Christmas Day along with family. Since it snows in Tahoe, we were not too keen on driving so instead we took a bus tour that picked us up at 4am from Sunnyvale and brought us back the same day at 9pm.

Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the US and is located along the border  between California and Nevada. During summer, it is a popular tourist spot for people interested in water sports. Skiing and snowboarding are significant activities in winter. 

We took the trip with The bus dropped us at the Squaw Valley resort at 9am and we had until 3.30pm to go ski, snow board or just hang out at the resort. Since none of us were keen on skiing, we decided to take the aerial tram up to the High Camp. The tram ride was fun and I could see a jaw dropping aerial view of Squaw valley. At High Camp, there is a restaurant, a bar, the Olympic Museum and an ice skating rink. 

At High Camp, Squaw Valley
The temperature was below zero and too much for us to handle so we spent most of the time at the restaurant which gave us a wonderful view of the snow outside without having to brave the cold. The Olympic Museum would be interesting for sports enthusiasts but I did not spend too much time there. I simply enjoyed watching the snow and hearing the wind roar. After a light snack, we took the tram back down to the resort. 

Olympic Rings at High Camp

View from the aerial tram

I had already bought tickets for snow tubing in the morning. So after the tram, we took the free Squaw valley shuttle to 'SnoVentures' which is an area for snow tubing and skiing for beginners as well as kids. Snow tubing is a fun activity wherein you sit in an inflated tube and are pushed down a gradual slope of ice and the tube slides down. It is a lot of fun and is perfect for those who want to experience the snow without the training or skill required for skiing.  After a few rounds of tubing, we were too tired and cold so we walked around the gift stores before heading back to the bus which promptly started at 4.30pm. 

Posing in the snow

It was an exciting day as it was the first time I saw snowfall. The tiny snowflakes were beautiful. Of course, I wished I was better prepared for the harsh weather. The next time around, I plan to go to another resort, probably Heavenly and try snow mobiling and perhaps skiing if I feel brave enough.

Snow Tubing

Snow Tubing

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Christmas Lights in San Francisco

Christmas is the time for lights, decorations and above all celebration. This year, thanks to a friend,  I spent a day in San Francisco taking in the spirit of the holiday season. 

We took the caltrain at mid day and headed up to the city. Union Square was our first stop. The giant christmas tree with the beautiful and colorful decorations was a sight to behold. Union Square also has an ice-skating rink where people had a fun time.

In Union Square, the 'Heart Sculpture' is a very popular tourist spot. Each year, new heart sculptures are installed after the old ones are auctioned off for charity. 

Union Square Heats of San Francisco Sculpture 

After a uphill walk, we then reached the Fairmont Hotel in Nob Hill. The hotel lobby had a spectacular decorations. A giant tree, lights, gingerbread cookie house and an area for kids to write letters to Santa. I was impressed by the fact that it was open to public. 

A short bus ride took us to Ghirardelli square where we grabbed some chocolate-y drinks and walked across the street to the marina to enjoy the view of the ocean. 

As we walked along the pier, we made the terrible mistake of trying out the 'SF Dungeon'. This is a rip off in the name of entertainment. Stay away from this place. I do not want to go into the details of how horrible the place was. 

The big tree near Fisherman's Wharf was gorgeous. Have a look.

Pier 39 Christmas Tree

My favorite decoration however was the one in Hyatt Regency near Union Square. The 300,000 cascading lights were stunning. And so was the christmas village set up. It was so detailed and well made. Unfortunately, I do not have a very good picture for this. 

The christmas music on the streets and stores along with all the decorations lifted my spirits and I was so glad I got to spend a fun day in SF.