Thursday, 8 July 2010

Sightseeing in California

After endless days in the sagebrush desert of Nevada I was culturally deprived and really looking forward to do some serious sightseeing now. And there was a lot to see in California.

Sacramento is the capitol of California and therefore I took a nice free tour of the capitol building and visited the California Museum including the California Hall of Fame. This hall of fame really surprised me: Many countries have halls of fame (comparable to Germany's rather old-fashioned Walhalla), but whereas in Germany we would honor writers like Goethe and Schiller the California Hall of Fame only honored Danielle Steele! No other writers or philosophers, but loads of actors like Jane Fonda and Clint Eastwood and a whole bunch of athletes nobody has ever heard of outside the US. At least they honored Harvey Milk.... Poor California!

Message board in Berkeley
When I did my first trip into downtown San Francisco I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across the annual San Francisco Gay Pride! After several years of Christopher Street Day in Berlin it was nice to compare. To my even bigger surprise I saw quite a few totally naked men at the parade (generally on roller blades) and the police did not try to arrest them for public indecency! Try that in Nevada.... Lots of colorful costumes, but much more commercialised than its Berlin counter part. Every California business seemed to participate in the parade from BMW San Francisco to Google! I spent a whole afternoon people watching and I guess lots of the participants ended up with a horrible sun burn the other day due to exposing white flesh to the sun....

Staying with a couchsurfing host in Berkeley made me tour the college there. There is not really that much to see, but the tour guide's explanations where quite enlightening. I learnt that it costs 30,000 $ per year to study at Berkeley, plus 19,000 $ on top of that if you are a foreigner. And Berkeley is even considered a cheap college! Who can afford that? No wonder that American educational level is so bad.

I also saw a whole bunch of art museums. And I thoroughly hated the hills - some of them are so steep that I hardly dared to ride my bike downhill...

LACMA museum in LA
In LA I did not have much nerve left for sightseeing. I was getting antsy to leave the US. Nevertheless I saw 2 art museums again and was shocked to realise that it took me longer to get to these places than to actually see them. LA is so huge that even with taking public transport and living relatively central it took me up to 2 hours to get anywhere. Not much fun! Interestingly, LA was in some sort of Richard Wagner fever. The LA Opera had just staged the whole "Ring der Nibelungen" and therefore there were Wagner exhibitions all over the place.

I have to admit that I was sort of happy to leave the US. My cycling experience in the US has not been the greatest and the news of Dave's death really shook me. I have spent 24 months in the US in the last 6 years and I have probably had an American overdose. The decline of the EUR/$ exchange rate did the rest. So now: Australia, here I come!

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