Saturday, October 19, 2013


Compared to our last move (three blocks down the hill), this move was a monster. It took months to prepare for, weeks to pack and technically we're not even finished since our stuff is still in transit! Right now my favorite pots, pans, and other belongings are on a cargo ship somewhere in the Atlantic - and hopefully not at the bottom of the Atlantic.

Before even taping together the first cardboard moving box, we needed to figure out how much of our stuff we wanted to take. This would determine what kind of moving services we needed. Some expats get rid of just about everything they own (or put it in a storage unit in the US) and bring only what they can fit into a few suitcases on the airplane. Others whose move is generally paid for by their employer will pack their entire home along with a car in a full metal shipping container. Since we are picking up the bill, we settled for something in the middle. We decided to leave behind the majority of our furniture, some of our decor, and any thing we hadn't used recently.
Cargo ship bound for the Port of Oakland... and just might head back out to sea with our stuff.

We chose to move through Moving Star, who does domestic and international moving. For customers with smaller sized moves, they offer shared metal shipping containers. Our belongs are stored in a separate wood crate and/or palette within the metal container. We decided to save some money and pack everything ourselves. We were requested by the moving company to leave all of our boxes open until our moving date, where someone will be inventorying what's in each box.
Let's see how well they do.

Packing our apartment was time consuming and mentally exhausting. We questioned each item: would it survive the voyage, would it be cheaper to replace or ship, would we easily be able to convert the power, would we need it in the next two or three months. Overall we spent three weeks packing, starting with just the evening and eventually turning into all day extravaganzas of bubble wrap.
Inventorying every item that's moving with us to Europe.
It's feeling less and less like home.
Almost done!

We were able to find a new home for many of the items that stayed behind. Furniture went to friends and family, housewares went to families transitioning out of homeless shelters, craft supplies items went to a donation based crafting store, office supplies went to local schools and some items went to Goodwill. It took a bit of extra time and effort to sort out where our used items could go but it was worth the effort to help out our community and loved ones. In the end, mainly pillows and a couple other items went in the trash. This website really helped keep lots out of the landfill.
Donated books to an organization that resells them as a fundraiser for the San Francisco public library.
On moving day, three men showed up right on time with a moving truck and our empty 200 cubic foot wood crate inside. One person took a rough inventory of what's inside each box and immediately after the two other men taped up each box and loaded them into the wood crate. A few boxes didn't fit within the crate and were wrapped on a separate palette.
Q considering taking the long way to Europe.
Looks like there wasn't room for Q and some of our belongings in the crate.
Now that the movers took the boxes out, it really doesn't feel like home.
Thank goodness we still had our sleeping bags and a bottle of champagne.

In the end, we pared  our belongs down to a 320 cubic foot shipment, three suitcases (technically one was a cardboard box), two carry-on bags and a bike.

Our belongings will be taking the long way to their new home. Departing the Port of Oakland California, down to Central America, through the Panama Canal, up to England where it will go through customs and then onward to Zurich, Switzerland. The whole trip should take roughly eight weeks. I'm nervous to see how our stuff weathers the journey. We'll have to wait until mid October to find out how well we packed.
Eight weeks at sea.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Our Last Activities in San Francisco

Before moving from San Francisco, Laure and I did a list of things that we knew that we would not be able to accomplish after moving to Switzerland.

Here are some highlights.

Seward Street Slides

Here is a truly San Francisco off-the-beaten-path corky activity that you won't find in your guidebook. Seward Mini Park created some fun slides made out of concrete open for the public. It surprisingly gets pretty steep at some parts. We highly recommend it if you're in the Castro district.
Laure down the Seward Street Slides

Bicycling Across Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito

This is one is cheesy but totally worth it. Actually, it is one of our top recommendations to anyone visiting San Francisco. We just had to do it one last time before we left.

Eat Food

Before leaving the San Francisco bay area, we had to visit a lot of restaurants we wouldn't have in Switzerland. Some of them were ethnic restaurants, others were places we had been wanting to try for a while, and some of them were places that we had always loved going and had known the staff for a few years.

Our buddy Lawrence in front of our go-to coffee shop Capriccio.
Petite Deli has North Beach's best sandwiches and also the sweetest owner, Young.
We finally tried the famous Brown Sugar's Chicken and Waffle. So delicious.
One last visit the the Ferry Building's Farmer's Market.
It may be pricey but it has some of San Francisco's best produce.
Okay, this one is not strictly food related, but Laure LOVES bulk grocery shopping at Rainbow Groceries Coop.
Zachary's Spinach and Mushroom pizza is what converted me into a Chicago Pizza eater.
The carcass of Sotto Mare's "Best Damn Cioppino".
One last dinner at our favorite Italian spot Sodini's.
When they learned we were leaving, the staff completely took care of us and kept our wine glasses full all night.

Swing Dance With Friends

Over the years we became engulfed in the Bay Area's friendly swing dancing community. Before leaving, we went to swing workshops and danced with as many of our friends as possible.

The Stomptroopers before our 920 Special performance.

StoryCorps Interview

For years, Laure and I have listened to the amazing stories of ordinary people broadcasted on the radio by StoryCorps on NPR. These stories are recorded in professional audio booths. After, the contributors get a copy of their interview on a CD and another copy is stored at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. Future generations are able to listen to the stories of their great-great-great-grandparents that lived in a completely different time.

I interviewed my mother in San Francisco and asked her many questions regarding her multi-cultural life, personal values, and even some funny stories. In the process of preparing for the interview, she researched about her past, which brought back fond memories of her childhood.

The 16th Avenue Steps

Also when my mother was visiting, we checked out The 16th Avenue Steps decorated with a beautiful mosaic all the way up the 163 steps. I can't believe I had lived in San Francisco for so long without checking this out.
My mother and I at the 16th Avenue Steps.

Climbing and Snowboarding Mount Shasta

One of my ultimate goals in snowboarding was to climb and ride down Mount Shasta, which some consider to be the best place for backcountry skiing and snowboarding in the continental United States.

Well, the snow was unfortunately pretty low this season, but the views were incredible.

Going down Trinity Chutes in Mount Shasta.

Camping at Point Reyes

Point Reyes is a popular spot one hour north of San Francisco for camping and hiking. Elaine, Llew, and Gabbie joined us in a two-night trip that turned out to be a great way for me and Laure to escape the mental stress of preparing to move.

Beach Bonfire With Friends

Beach bonfires are typical in Northern California because of the cold nights and because Northern Californians like to do hippy stuff. Besides, since Switzerland is a landlocked country, we knew we wouldn't get another opportunity any time soon.

This turned out to be a great way to see a lot of our friends, especially since people could come and go as they wanted. We were also able to cook some delicious sausages and drink some *ahem* completely alcohol-free refreshments.

We'll miss San Francisco and all you guys!