We had a nice day checking out Oakland.
I let everyone sleep in again today, though it feels like our normal sleep in is I wake up by 7:30, and they wake up by 9, so not too bad. I needed to catch up on writing some posts, so I worked on that while I could, and worked on the picture for what I was posting today. Internet was not helping so it took longer, I ended up finishing the post when we got back from Oakland. As the ladies woke up, they changed, had breakfast and we were out by 11.
The drive to Oakland is nice, it’s only like 25 minutes. We go towards San Francisco, and then take the Bay Bridge across the bay to Oakland. The Bay Bridge is very cool as well. When you get there, it’s a crazy complex of many bridges all together. If you get in there by mistake (Carol did that a few years ago when we were here), or take the wrong one, you have to go all the way to the end and then find a way to turn around and come back, and pay the tolls. The way to Oakland on the bridge is on the second level, so the views were ok, but the way back is on the top, so much nicer views. What we can see of Oakland as we arrive is basically the port, port cranes, etc. It’s a port look and feel, but it is clean and organized. Traffic all the way was light, lots of cars, but just flowing. We were going to Jack London square first, so right after the bridge we turned right.
Oh, I had read some posts about Oakland, its history and people, and what to expect, so on the way I went over some of that with the girls. Bia usually gets really interested and asks lots of questions. What the posts said is that there are a lot of homeless people in Oakland, and the majority of people living there is black and latinos, or at least were, and they also have a Chinatown area, which is near Jack London square. The posts said to have compassion for the homeless, as the writers had friends who were homeless at some point, or are right now. That I didn’t have to say to the girls, they always want to help.
Now, we got to Jack London square, which I feel was more of an area than just a square per say. Parking was actually easy, we were “early” so not too many people there and we were car number 5 maybe in the parking area. We had to pay $15 to park there as they only had one charge, which was they day price.
We walked around the area, there’s also a trail that connects there, but we didn’t take that. It’s a nice waterfront area, with many restaurants around. Supposedly there is a farmers market every Sunday, but we didn’t see it, Carol was disappointed in that.
We checked out the waterfront, walked around, saw their nice Xmas tree, and decided to go eat hahahaha…
We found an “authentic Thai” restaurant that had outdoor seating, so they were open, so we went there. Carol liked that, they had some different stuff in the menu.
The girls didn’t like it so much hahahaha… They ended up ordering rice and eggs for Bella, and rice and chicken for Bia. Carol and I got some “Thai Street Food” items, can’t remember the name, mine with beef and Carol’s with shrimp. Mine was spicy, and it was spicy… so good! And I had to have some Singha beer with it.
Moods on the kids immediately changed as they ate their food, hahahah they were a bit in a bad mood until we ate, I guess they were a little “hangry”. After lunch, we walked around bit more and moved on. Jack London Square is a nice little spot to hang out, walk around a bit, but nothing you can’t miss.
We went to downtown/uptwon from there. Oakland’s downtown is unique as it has a lake right in the middle of it, Lake Merritt. So, if you walk around the lake, which is 3.3 miles, you will see pretty much most of downtown. And that was our plan, so we headed there. They also have this kids themed park, so we found a parking spot not too far from it, right on the street, and right in front of a playground. The girls were happy about that. Bia went to play while I took Bella to find a bathroom.
As Bella and I went, we saw their birds area where they have lots of ducks, geese, pelicans, etc. Kind of cool, and messy\dirty at the same time. hahaha… We finally found the restrooms, and Bella peaked in and said “nope, I’m not going in there” hahahaha.. it was filthy. Everything was wet, graffiti everywhere, etc. So, we went back, got Carol and Bia and started walking towards the themed park. As we walked there, we stopped a few times to enjoy the views of Oakland’s downtown, it is very nice. Again, even the lake looked a bit “dirty and messy”, but the views of the town are nice. Once we got to the “Children’s Fairyland”, Carol paid up ($38 for the four of us), and Bella finally got to the restroom hahaha.
The girls enjoyed this fairyland, it’s more for smaller kids I think, but they found a way to enjoy it. They also had some animals, like donkeys, miniature horses (are those ponies?), rabbits, and even a chicken. Many of the rides were closed. They had many signs about keeping safe distance, waiting for people to pass, etc. there weren’t a lot of people there, so it was fine. We were there for close to two hours, and left right at 4 when they closed.
From there, we kept walking around the lake, I wanted to complete the entire walk :). It was a nice walk, and the further we went the more different things we saw.
Many people doing picnics, some bands playing together, street artists, etc. The kids sure saw a variety of different people on the walk. We also saw a few “homes” under some trees, I mean, there were at least 5 tents under different trees with people living there. Then, as we were almost 3/4 of the way around the lake, and getting close to the truck, something started happening…. Lifted cars, all tricked up, with loud music started driving by, together… then more… then more… and more… next thing, they were blocking the center of the street, car after car, loud music, souped up cars, tricked out old cars, pretty cool cars… we felt we were in the middle of a last minute parade or demonstration. And as we walked more, there were some street vendors starting to setup, more groups getting together… then motorcycles started coming, then bicycles… just groups and groups of people on their choice of vehicle :). I eventually saw a guy on a skateboard holding a pretty big camera, so I asked him what this was, and he said this was a party, just a party that has been happening on Sunday afternoons in Oakland for some time now, just because, and then he said “this is Oakland baby, Enjoy it!”. I read later that these started some time or around the protests earlier this year, so feels like a “demonstration of power and freedom”? I don’t know… felt like people were showing off their stuff (cars, music, bling), and their power (just doing whatever they wanted in the middle of the street, driving with the car doors open, blocking streets), and mainly their collective power (big groups with things in common). It was actually pretty cool, a little intimidating at first because we didn’t know what it was, but then it started taking shape and looking like something more organized. Even street vendors were getting setup, so it is a big party. I’m glad we got to see a bit of it.
We finished our walk to the truck, and headed back, with amazing views of San Francisco, now from Bay Bridge. Always beautiful views when going back due to the sunset. The drive back through the bridge had a toll, and it was the same “invoice sent by mail” deal as on the Golden Gate Bridge, so we made sure to go on that lane. Traffic was quite full, but flowing nicely, so no problems there.
We got back and just relaxed the rest of the evening. Girls have school tomorrow, so we needed to get them to bed early. They showered, we watched a movie and snacked, and they were in bed before 9.
It was a nice day checking out Oakland, and cool surprises there.