Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ivory Towers


Well, time has rather flown by recently. When I wrote the last entry, on Friday, I thought "hold on, where did the week go? I'm sure it was Monday yesterday!" It's now Monday once again, and high time to update you on what I got up to last weekend in California.

I was out there primarily to see Aimee and Lauren, two fellow native-speakers from the camps in Poland I've worked at for the last two summers. I was able to tack on going to Los Angeles and driving around as well, which I've already written about. I returned the hire-car to downtown San Francisco on Friday evening, and then lugged my luggage [very apt] to the train station to head down to Palo Alto, home of Stanford University. I stayed with Aimee's boyfriend Brice, who shares a roomy room with his rheumy roomie [how long can I keep this up?].

Let me say this much: Stanford is amazing. For a uni that's only 115 years old, it has the cachet (and the cash) of somewhere like Cambridge. The campus is pristine, every building is named after someone. The weather was great too, which of course helps your impression...

As members of the gymnastics team, the girls had access to some golf carts which injured team-members can use to get around campus - everyone has a car, naturally, but they're not practical for getting around locally. I got the grand tour through the quad, past the church, under the colonnades, down the main steps, up the Herbert Hoover Tower (great views of the whole place and beyond), round the Oval, down Palm Drive and back to the frat houses. To get out of their hair (it's exam season) I went for a walk up to the hills behind the university, and then back through into Palo Alto which also qualifies as "swank".

On Saturday night there was a frat party at Brice's house. Free beer and loose women - just my idea of fun! (I'm joking, by the way.) Still, for the ten minutes I was there it was pretty interesting - as "interesting" as the state of the house the morning after! Yowser.

Sunday was a chilling-out day, enjoying the sunshine for the most part, and then going to church in the evening. After that, we popped along to a choral recital at the Stanford church (as you do). Fantastic acoustics + fantastic singing + candle-lit church = nice atmosphere.

I popped up to the city (San Francisco) on Monday - it's my third trip there, and as is traditional I didn't visit Alcatraz, instead wandering around Chinatown and watching Mexicans march against the Immigration hoohah on Market Street. "Un dia sin imigrantes" apparently, although that might not be a great idea, seeing as I haven't seen a single white person working in a fast-food restaurant around here...

In flashback style, you already know what happened next: my ridiculously long train ride across the country. On Friday afternoon, I cashed in a hefty $1 investment in a bus ticket to Minneapolis, home of Jess, Sandy and Lucy - three troopers from Poland 2004. I spent the weekend with Jess, also visiting her family in rural redneck Wisconsin, and today, after three traumatic hours at the Mall of America, I'm staying at Sandy's house, probably for the next few days. Apparently there's plenty to do in the Twin Cities area (Minneapolis and St. Paul, if you were wondering) so that should keep me busy.

Hasta la vista!

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