Monday, March 28, 2011

Let Me Take You To The Ghirardelli Square In San Francisco

              When you think of Ghirardelli your first thought may be of chocolate. However, Ghirardelli Square isn’t just about chocolate, it’s about  history,  tradition and enjoyment.  Ghirardelli Square translates into  “a fun destination with a vibrant atmosphere”.   Ghirardelli Square restaurants  offer something for everyone. 
Today, Ghirardelli Square is a unique San Francisco destination that includes a mix of upscale shopping, fine dining, wine bars, spa facilities and live entertainment. 
Ghirardelli Square is a historic San Francisco landmark, located on the beautiful San Francisco bay just a block from the cable car turnaround on the west side of Fisherman’s Wharf.

Ghirardelli has established its position as America's premium chocolate company for more than 150 years.
They are one of very few American manufacturers that make chocolate starting from the cocoa bean through to finished products. Throughout the process, they take special steps to ensure that their premium chocolate delivers their signature: intense, smooth-melting chocolate taste.

Incorporated in 1852 and in continuous operation since then, Ghirardelli has the richest heritage of any American chocolate company. Ghirardelli continues to honor its heritage to this day.

Ghirardelli is one of the few companies in America that controls the entire chocolate manufacturing process, from cocoa bean to finished product. This control over the manufacturing process, combined with Ghirardelli's proprietary bean blend and unique methods of roasting and processing, ensures that you are rewarded with the highest quality and richest products. 
There is an interesting story regarding the name:

Say Gear-ar-delly!

The correct spelling and pronunciation of the Italian name "Ghirardelli" has long stumped even the most avid consumers of Ghirardelli Chocolate. 

Domingo Ghirardelli, the founder of Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, must have resigned himself to the fact that only by a miracle was anybody going to get his name right: the original name of the chocolate company when it opened for business in 1852 was "Ghirardely & Girard."

The spelling of the name Ghirardelli may have been an early attempt to indicate the correct pronunciation.
Throughout its early history, the company has had to cope with all this and even incorporated it into early packaging labels and advertising campaigns.
For many years, a bright colored parrot and the words, "Say Gear-ar-delly," (a phonetic spelling of the name) were used to help solve the pronunciation problem. The strategy proved to be very successful.              

During the late 1800's, Ghirardelli hired the best available artists and advertising experts to saturate the West with the Ghirardelli name and logo.

Your guest...As a result, Ghirardelli's chocolate products were marketed to a nation of homemakers and became a household staple.
Today, these advertising images can be seen on the walls of Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shops, some of which are displayed.
Your child...

Ghirardelli chocolates are simply delicious making you savor each bite.
Remember to pick up some chocolates from here.
Ghirardelli Chocolate Shop
& Ice Cream Parlor

And one can never come here and  leave without  tasting  their wonderfully delicious ice creams ..... words fail to describe ....just let yourself go.... don't even think of your diet or even how much it would cost you in Rupees, just do it !!!

I have this theory that chocolate slows down the aging process.... It may not be true, but do I dare take the chance?
-- Author Unknown

And look out!  there is the famous Loris Diner: 
 There's a new girl in town! Introducing their new addition to the family: Lori's Ghirardelli Square! opened in summer 2000, this upscale diner overlooks the beautiful San Francisco Bay. Right in the heart of the famous Ghirardelli Click to EnterChocalate factory, this diner offers fabulous  atmosphere of both indoor and outdoor dining, and counter service.

 Looking for a vintage diner that takes you back in time to the good ol’ days reminiscent of the 1950’s and the birth of rock and roll?
  Check out Lori’s Diner, a true classic, where you will find traditional American fare including hamburgers, French fries, Coca-Cola, malts –  Lori’s the most classic of diners!

Specialty shops, breathtaking bay views and beautifully landscaped plazas, no trip to San Francisco is complete without visiting Ghirardelli Square. Experience the ambience and entertainment at Ghirardelli Square!
How was this trip?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Ocean Of Abundance

I love the visualization of standing at the sea shore looking out at the vast ocean and knowing that this ocean is the abundance that is available to me....

Rejoice in other's successes, knowing there is plenty for us all. 
There is a natural rhythm and flow of life. Things come, and things go. It is good for, when something goes, it is only to make room for something new and better.

Rejoice in the abundance of being able to awaken each morning and experience a new day. I am glad to be alive, to be healthy, to have friends, and to be creative.
Visualize standing at the sea shore : this ocean is the abundance that is available to all of us. Check your hands and see what sort of container you are holding : is it a mere teaspoon, a glass, a paper cup, a tumbler, a pitcher, a bucket, a wash tub,or maybe a pipeline connected to this ocean of abundance, or maybe your soul?
Compliments are gifts of prosperity: accept them graciously with a smile, and say "thank you", and return it so that the giver feels as though he or she too, has received a gift . Keep the  flow of good going.....

It is interesting to just look around us and see, that no matter how many people are there and no matter what kind of container they have, there is plenty for everyone. We see reality staring at us, and the sea roaring at us loud and clear : you cannot rob another, and they cannot rob you, and in no way can you drain the ocean dry. Isn't it wonderful to have so much abundance?

Why don't we release our jealousy, our inadequacies, our feeling of lack and realize that:

There is plenty for all of us. We don't want someone else's good. We want to have our own good. The ocean seems to say, "your container is your consciousness, and it can always be exchanged for a larger container." The choice is right within each of us.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Time,Time...... I have all the time but no time to kill !!

People are always curious to know how I kill "TIME". They keep asking me whether I kill time watching all the TV serials on offer on Tata Sky, probably imagining I was a serial time killer. And there are others who can't understand how I am not bored with all the time in this world, and there are still others, who volunteer to give me unsolicited advice on how to use my time productively.

Strangely I am not a TV addict as some would presume, for despite having so many channels begging to be watched, I rarely see anything that captures my attention, maybe one or two in a day. The earth would not come tumbling down if I happened to miss them.

As far as boredom is concerned, I am never bored with time or my life. I am just tickled pink thinking of those people, who are so worried / jealous about how I spend my time : it is so hilariously entertaining that it banishes and kills all boredom in my life forever.

Now, for the people who come with all kinds of ideas and advices to use my time productively, I have only one question: "did I ask you? Instead why don't you use your time more effectively than breaking your head about my usage of my time?"
The obsession to use time in a more productive way makes one more obsessed to be more productive, and more and more and more " productive" leaving one no time to realize, that one is getting sucked  into a whirlpool from which there is no escape. I believe such people should pause to think (and stop to smell the roses too) and see where they are blindly heading, lest they drown in their own productive whirlpool.

Well, for me Time has always been a friend, a guide, a mentor, a father all rolled into one.
He has always been there, is always there and would always be there for me.
He is my constant companion, hand in hand we have traveled together, in good times and in bad, never leaving each other's side, even for a second : our bond is strong.

I don't need to fight time, race with it or race against it, or outwit it, or even kill it. I feel so blessed to have time constantly with me, nurturing me, healing me, encouraging me, changing me,and inspiring me.
Thank you dear time, for I cherish every minute of our togetherness in this great and wonderful journey called Life.

Rama (The Timeless) Ananth.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I left my heart in San Francisco to be where little cable cars Climb halfway to the stars.....

As promised I am taking you on a tour of San Francisco: there is still so much to see, so hop along with me and lets go check out the cable cars...  San Francisco is an array of hills and valleys, and the cable car will take you up and down like a slow roller coaster ride. The views from the bay are fabulous and something you cannot miss. Ever wonder how the cable cars work, well here it is:
The cable runs underground. It’s a set of steel strands wrapped around a rope core. The cable moves at a speed of about 15km per hour. The car grabs onto the cable and is pulled along the track. When it reaches the end of the track, the car runs onto a turntable:
Now people have to turn it around by hand so that it can go in the other direction: The star of the show is the gripman. This is a highly skilled and physically superior being. The competition to become a gripman is strong and the training is harsh. Only 30 percent of trainees pass the course.

Behind the gripman you will see the impressive array of levers he has to manipulate. He is the man who makes the car grab or release the cable. He also has to judge the gaps across intersections, where the cable does not run. And he has to watch out for unaware motorists and pedestrians and other mere mortals who don’t know just how out-of-control a cable car can be.

How many times I have seen pictures of people hanging from cable cars like this in travel channels, well I did too!!

For a visitor to San Francisco,  cable cars are not a means of transportation but a destination, one of the things one has to 'see', and be 'seen' in, if they go to the City by the Bay, (like me : I am very much one of them).  Powell-Hyde: (blue on the map) : Goes from Market and Powell to Aquatic Park, past Union Square, the Cable Car Barn Museum, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, .Lombard Street, ends at the Ghirardelli Square. Look out for the brown signs on it.
In this picture, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, and the scenery behind me is so breath takingly beautiful. 

This where you have to keep your cameras ready to get a shot of the Lombard Street from the Cable Car
While waiting for the Cable Car: you are never bored as street musicians keep entertaining you all the while. The waiting too is just 10 mins.
Don't ever make the mistake of sitting inside the cable car, for that is not fun, either you sit on the open sides or just stand near the entrance, also only 2/3 people are allowed to stand in the front near the entrance. You want to be in the front of the cable car and for Maximum Fun you want to be hanging onto a pole while standing on the running board.

Along the way you can exit the cable car at Lombard Street, if you aren't going there then get your camera ready because at the top of this hill (Hyde and Lombard) you are treated to an unobstructed view of San Francisco's Alcatraz Island. If you want to get down don't pull the rope (that is the bell-rope, exclusively for the grip person's use), just yell: "Next stop, please", about a block away before you want to get off. If you wait too long to ask, the grip person needs some time to bring the car to a halt, and he may have to take you the next stop instead. It is always better to know these things before itself, so that we don't encounter any problems.

some views taken from inside the cable car
The Famous Lombard Street: The street is famous for a small section near the top of Russian Hill, between Hyde and Leavenworth streets. Here the hill is so steep (27°) that it would be too dangerous for most vehicles, 
so between 1922 and 1923 this part of Lombard Street was transformed into a switchback with eight sharp turns. Cars can only drive downhill, east-bound towards Leavenworth Street. 

Winding down the road The sight of cars maneuvering down the winding road has become a popular tourist attraction. Some tourists even drive down the street themselves, braving the frequent traffic jams and bumper to bumper traffic. If this sounds like fun to you and you also want to feel how it's like driving down a switchback, make sure you approach Lombard street from Hyde street since this is a one-way street. In this picture you can get a clear view of the Coit Tower. 

The main attraction is watching people drive down the crooked, one block section, or driving down it yourself ( which is what we did ). On a busy day, a seemingly endless stream of automobiles, with passengers squealing in mock fear at every turn. You can also walk down or up the side walks and watch the show. I believe the best place to photograph Lombard street is from the bottom, looking up. Because we opted for driving down, we couldn't take proper pictures, as one cannot stop in the middle to take pictures, one has to keep moving on. The racket people create by shouting, squealing as if they are in some scary roller coaster is really very irritating. I wonder how people living there tolerate this nonsense whole year round. 

The Coit Tower visible from the top of Lombard street

I wonder how people living there tolerate this nonsense everyday. They have to pay exorbitant money to own a property there. Even though Lombard Street is billed as the crookedest street in the world, it is not even the most crooked or steepest street in San Francisco. The steepest street is Filbert street with a 31.5° slope while Vermont Avenue at 20th Street claims to be the most crooked. And Snake Alley in Burlington, Iowa, has even sharper turns. But all this doesn't matter for Lombard Street: it is the most photogenic of them all, especially in the spring and summer when the many chrysanthemums in the well tended flowerbeds are in full bloom.When we were there the whole of San Francisco was in full bloom in pretty colors. I really loved it .
 People who live here not only have to pay lot of money just to stay here, but also have to spend money on keeping this places beautifully landscaped and well maintained all year round. 


The end of the Lombard Street

San Francisco is well known for its support of alternative lifestyles which routinely sees families and frat boys pounding the pavement next to nudists and artists. Once synonymous with hippies and the counter-culture, today the corner of Haight and Ashbury Street is a confluence of modern, trendy shops and piercing salons and alternative bookstores.

Rising in pale tiers from shining San Francisco Bay, this extraordinary city issues a siren's call to visitors, inviting them to sample its charms, marvel at its architecture, scale its steep streets, explore its familiar and hidden places, and absorb its one-of-a-kind character. It's a city rich with possibility, abounding in diversity, and irresistibly beautiful. It claims a fascinating history, landmark sights and a welcoming atmosphere.
 San Francisco has  many more attractions to visit, which can only be covered in my next blog. Till then I leave you with my favorite song by Tony Bennett:

Did you enjoy hopping along with me?