View from our window
Due to where we live and the nature of our job, we couldn't take limitless time off to celebrate our union, in fact one month was the absolute best we could do. We decided it would be wise to utilize most of that month before the wedding for planning than for leisure time afterwards. Thus, after the wedding we only had one day before departing Ohio for another year.
However, we weren't going back to Japan straight away, we were having a mini-honeymoon. I say "mini" because originally back when wedding talks first began (when the wedding was going to be held post-Japan), Leizel and I had toyed with the idea of doing a grand honeymoon via the Trans-Siberian Express. However, given we only had a month off, this was simply not possible. Our Kyushu trip last winter was the best trip we'd ever had and it had incorporated a lot of the things we'd hoped for in a honeymoon, so we kind of considered that (for now) our "honeymoon" and decided against doing one after the wedding. However, as the wedding date grew closer we realized we wanted to at least go somewhere, if for no other reason than to relax after such a big event that would take so much planning. There were talks of doing a short road trip and bed & breakfast stay (something we've never done) somewhere in a part of the midwest we've never been, but due to Leizel's research we discovered that multi-destination plane tickets that stopped somewhere on the west coast on the way back to Japan were basically free (ie, no more expensive than a regular Japan - Ohio roundtrip), thus we opted for the west coast -- specifically, San Francisco. We decided to save one week for post-wedding, which included one day in Ohio, two days of traveling, and thus four left-over days for hanging out and having our mini-honeymoon. We love traveling to cities and San Francisco had always seemed like such a nice city so it was an easy choice. It was our first time to California and that whole part of the country, so we were excited.
The city is truly amazing, we weren't let down at all. Since we hadn't traveled in the US together for 3 years we kind of felt like foreigners in our own land, but it's so different from both Ohio that we may have felt that way anyway and it was great to experience such a different city...a city full of American diversity, driven by (more) progressive ideals, and possessing a rich history yet being one of the most modern cities in the country.
In particular, I really noticed a deep-seated element of going against the flow in San Francisco. To me, it seems as if the city has collectively been prone to motivate people to rise up against the odds and defy convention in the face of traditional wisdom. It's not like I got this from every individual in the city, but its history is so full of this thinking that it would be hard for it to not still be alive and well today.
The most basic example here is, simply, what possessed humans to actually build San Francisco? Of course, gold makes people do crazy things, but the city is basically a small set of mountains paved over with concrete and buildings. Other people don't do stuff like that, at least not to that degree...but somebody in San Francisco decided it was a good idea. That person/group was probably laughed out of the room by many, accused of foolishly attempting the impossible, but today that city is one of the world's gems.
Somebody built a military base (later becoming a prison) on a small rocky island in the middle of a violent bay. Somebody built a bridge that, at the time, spanned such a long distance and was so high off the ground that it was decried as "impossible" by experts. Unable to run trains through the city, somebody buried a metal cable underneath the streets to pull carriages up the hills. People gathered there to rebel against the established social order. Many different people and organizations in the area have pioneered computing, an idea that wasn't accepted a mere 30 years ago...they developed things that would've been laughed up until the very moment they existed. Simply put, the city stands as a testament to all who have ever thought "I don't care what you think, I'm going to do it anyway and it's going to be great". I really appreciated that feeling about San Francisco.
As for what we actually did there, honestly it was a short list because we spent a lot of time relaxing in our hotel. Our room was on the top floor and had an excellent view of the city, thus we took a lot of time to enjoy that scenery. Also, we were absolutely exhausted after the wedding and didn't feel like doing a whirlwind trip. We'd initially had a ton of things to do and see on our list but in the end just decided we would definitely return and that we'd do most of the list next time. The only place we really saw properly was Alcatraz, it was highest on the list due to Leizel's obsession with historic crime. We also took a short cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge, did a bit of walking both days, rode a cable car, had a really nice dinner, and procured a chocolate sundae (or two) for Leizel.
Our hotel, by chance was owned by a Japanese company. We stayed at the Nikko (Japanese for 'Japan Airlines' or JAL), and thus had some tasty Japanese food available to us at breakfast as well as via room service. There was a dilemma about eating Japanese food since we were going to be back in the real place soon enough, but I did delve into it just a little bit.
Our four days passed far too quickly, and eventually the morning of departure was upon us and we found ourselves boarding the plane back to Japan. However, the plane wasn't full. This was absolutely amazing to us midwesterners, who only have two airports that have Japan-bound flights just a few times per day. Those on the west coast, with more direct contact and influence from Japan, apparently have enough flights across the Pacific that not every one is completely full. Also, for some reason, even the thought San Francisco-Tokyo flight is shorter than the one from Detroit, the San Francisco plane was much better equipped...in particular, it had the on-demand screens for each seat, an absolutely genius invention for those forced to deal with trans-oceanic air travel. The pleasant experience on the plane only further drove home the idea that living in San Francisco (or somewhere in the bay area) one day would be really nice. I imagine it'll be fresh in our minds for some time and we will look into employment and grad school opportunities there when the time comes.