Tuesday, May 17, 2005

summer events--just doing my bit for the local tourist industry

Looking for something to do this summer? Travelling? Well, if you are reading this from far away and are looking to travel this summer, consider visiting the San Francisco Bay Area. The weather is mild, the people are generally nice, the views of the bay spectacular, fine restaurants, world-class wineries relatively nearby, cultural events, the arts, museums. Everything under the sun can be found in the Bay Area. Literally.

I was just looking at the SF Chronicle's listing of cultural events from June to September, and the calendar is packed with events from the nation's original outdoor arts & crafts festival called the North Beach Festival to the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Fest.

And it's not just San Francisco that you should be looking at. The Bay Area has many cities and communities near San Francisco that are worthy of visitation. For instance there is Oakland, a short drive across the bay from San Francisco. Oakland will have its annual Chinatown Street fest in August among other events. And a few minutes away from Oakland, Berkeley, also across the Bay from SF, will hold it's 8th annual wacky "How Berkeley Can You Be" festivities. I might go to that this year.

And down south, the city of Gilroy--known famously for its garlic--will hold its annual garlic festival for all you garlic lovers out there. I have had the chance to drive by Gilroy twice in my life and I can still remember detecting the aroma of garlic 5 miles from the city-limit driving on the freeway at 70 miles per hour. Honest. And if you like jazz, there's the Stanford Jazz Festival (I mentioned Berkeley, so I ought to mention Stanford), and further south, in the city of Monterey, there's the Monterey Bay Strawberry Festival. I love strawberries.

And, of course, the Bay Area is a fine place to go on pilgrimage. There's SF's St. Mary's Cathedral: soon to be the former seat of the new CDF Prefect Archbishop Levada. As you walk in the cathedral, the first thing you notice is the "kinetic sculpture by Richard Lippold [above the sanctuary]. Alive with reflected light, the 14 tiers of triangular aluminum rods symbolize the channel of love and grace from God to His people, and their prayers and praise rising to him."

The Bay Area also boasts two old Mission Churches dating back from the 18th Century, established by the Franciscan Junipero Serra. There's Mission Dolores in San Francisco, "the oldest intact building in the City of San Francisco and the only intact Mission Chapel in the chain of 21 established under the direction of Father Serra." And across the Bay, in Fremont, there's Mission San Jose. And don't miss SF's Episcopal Grace Cathedral. Plus, there are other historic churches in San Francisco you should considering visiting. In San Francisco's North Beach alone for instance, there are two remarkable historic churches--Sts. Peter and Paul Church and the Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi.

Accommodations and air fare? Look at Hotwire: you can find lodgings at a 4-star hotel from $48. You might also find good deals at Hotfares. Never tried it, but check it out. Another place to go for possible low rates is the city's official site for the convention and visitor's bureau.

So, make your vacation plans soon. And wherever you decide to go this summer, happy travels!

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