And so it ends! The final full day of the holiday. Wednesday morning, we had breakfast and waited until about 9:30 to leave the hostel. We planned to go to the California Museum, which opened at 10:00. We were a little early but waited for it to open, and then wandered around for an hour or so. Our train was due to leave at 12:10. We had left our luggage in the hostel which we would collect on our way back.
The museum was interesting, and not too much to see or do, so it fitted well with the time we had.
There was an interesting activist section, talking about equality and campaigns different groups did. Displays like this are always interesting, always inspiring. It is a source of hope and happiness to know that, despite the need for a unity centre, there are people who are active and making the world a better place. It covered a broad range of activism – feminism, lgbt+, black and minority ethnic, religious persecution, environmental and so on.
There was also a selection of photographs about Japanese American experiences during the Second World War. The museum contained a California hall of fame, which had information about many famous Californians.
We were in two minds about whether we would have enough time to do the museum but at the end of the day we did, and in hindsight we all agreed I think that spending one night in Sacramento was probably worth it – if we stayed longer, we might have struggled for things to do.
The train ride back was uneventful. We bought some sandwiches from a store near the station to eat on the way.
We got back to Emeryville, took the bus to San Francisco then the Bart to San Bruno, and walked to the motel. The Bart map looked quite cool; almost like a rainbow going through the heart of the city (which fits well with its liberal, open attitude).
It did not take too long to find the motel, though we had to walk through an industrial estate. The motel, for our final night, was quite close to the airport and they did airport drop-off every half an hour. My flight was early the next morning and so we were staying here for the convenience.
The motel was by a main road which was busy all the time (and the noise penetrated the room. Nevertheless, ear plugs were provided and I slept reasonably well). There were only fast food restaurants in the vicinity, until dad spotted a buffet across the road. This was a Chinese buffet – an all you can eat type of thing – attached to a hotel. When it came time to eat, we went there instead of the other fast food places. San Bruno had a more working-class vibe to it, compare with SF and Sacramento.
Thursday morning I took the 7:30 shuttle to the airport, checked in and departed. The flight was uneventful. I think I have mentioned before that usually during the holidays I watch a film which has some sort of significance. In the first year, I saw Paddington, which is about the positives of immigration; the second year I saw Zootopia, which stresses the importance of individuality, being yourself and respecting diversity; and last year I saw The Post in Thailand, which is about freedom of the press. I did not go to the cinema in the US, but the flights to and from America had a very good selection of films and television programmes on them. On programme I saw on my journey back to China was about Theodore Roosevelt’s trip in 1914 to the Brazilian amazon. This was a two-hour drama-documentary, and was part of the PBS series called American Experience (I found out later). The other programme I watched was about student athletes in the US and the system around them and how that system exploits them. Both were particularly interesting, and whilst they did not have a message like the others, they were worth watching all the same.
Overall, an assessment of the holiday was that it was great. We saw a lot and did a lot, both typical touristy stuff and stuff that is probably less touristy. It is difficult to pick out one or two highlights, since we did a lot of interesting and fun things, but the California Academy of Sciences was definitely worth a visit, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge was a highlight, as was Alcatraz, and riding on the cable cars was cool too. The state house tour in Sacramento, however, proved to be an unexpected delight, feeding our interest in progressive politics and was well worth the trip to the city. It was also nice to be able to have a vegetarian option most meals. Many food places had a vegetarian or vegan choice, which is a change from here and quite refreshing. Even on United, they offered a vegetarian option as standard I think (it seemed to be vegetarian anyway), which I thought was very good.
It is hard to say if there was anything that was not so fun. It sounds corny to say it was fantastic, but I did need the break and I was sad to leave when it came time to depart. I am pleased that, for what is likely my final winter break in China, I chose to spend the majority of it in San Francisco and Sacramento. Even the weather did not phase us; being used to rain, we just ploughed on regardless, which is always nice! In a nutshell, it was a very good, relaxing, and fun, break.