It’s February, can I still say Happy 2020? Probably not but I’ll say it anyways… HAPPY 2020!
It’s actually been a bit busy for me, with my full time work, side projects and recent certification exam (long story, short, I like to keep learning!). However, I have been making a list of all the things I must see, do and eat in the Bay Area when I realized, does everyone else know about these sweet delights in our backyard?
What must we see, do and eat in the Bay? Here are a few off the tip of my very long list for 2020:
50 Years! I can’t be the only one that didn’t realize there is a fantastic museum that encompasses our history as a state just off the Lake Merritt Bart Station in Oakland. The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) is a fantastic space housing local art, history and culture with beautiful collections and visiting exhibits. This year, the OMCA is on my must revisit list as it celebrates it’s 50th anniversary of not just being a fabulous museum, but a welcoming “gathering place in the heart of Oakland”.
Let’s Eat!Reem’s has been added to my must eat list after seeing the nonstop hype behind it. Even the local news was all giddy when it was announced that this Oakland staple was opening up shop in San Francisco’s historic Mission District. Like a typical foodie, I went to check out the menu and literally salivated. It’s also worth mentioning that this is an Arab American lady owned business. So I’m biased in thinking it’s up to the hype and I can’t wait to eat it all up!
Up Above the Clouds! Taking a hot air balloon ride has been on my bucket list for a while. In looking to tick it off my list this year, I’ve come to find out I can do just that in the North Bay’s beautiful Napa Valley. We are spoiled for choice, whether going up with a group or privately, for an hour or so. Regardless, you can head to Visit Napa Valley to see which option best suits you, as well as other things to do while you’re up there.
Broadway! One of the longest running shows on Broadway is roaring it’s way to the Bay! The Lion King will be showcasing for a limited time this summer at the Center for Performing Arts in San Jose. As this is a limited engagement, it’s on my must see list because tickets will sell fast. Especially since it’s happening right after Hamilton’s extended run in San Francisco. What? You haven’t seen Hamilton in the Bay yet? What are you waiting for? It’s now extended through May 31st so add it to your 2020 must see list!
Frida! The most anticipated exhibit of the season coming to the Bay has to be Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving. Thanks to the Frida Kahlo Museum (aka The Blue House) in Mexico City, Mexico, we here in the Bay will get to see some of her personal items along with some of her magnificent works of art. As a fan of this prolific artist, this exhibit is on my must experience list, with the accompanying lectures, docent talks and much more at the de Young Museum.
Jazz It Up! The music scene in the Bay last year has been absolutely amazing. So much so, I started 2020 by heading to SFJAZZ‘s annual new year concert series of the legendary trumpeter Chris Botti! This concert was just a peak into the amazing line up happening this season. I’m now a proud member and so should you if you don’t want to miss out on great shows like this…
Hole In The Wall! Did you know, there’s a Peephole Cinema in San Francisco? Blink and you miss it! Peephole Cinema San Francisco is located in the Mission District at 280 Orange Alley, looping silent short films for those who’d like to take a peak. Another one was just added at SFO’s Terminal 1, thanks in kind to the curator, Sarah Klein. If you’re a movie buff or at least appreciate the art form, then add this to your must see list.
Yummy Delicious! The two day Eat Real Fest in Oakland’s Jack London Square has announced it’s dates for the year. What makes this food festival exciting is not only the great food expected to be shared, but the celebration of sustainable local ingredients and the craft behind the dishes and drinks served. I missed last year’s festival so I’m looking forward to eating my heart out while checking out all the cooking classes and demos that are being planned as we speak. Yummy!
Under The Sea! From the depths of the seas, statues of a three headed serpent and a mysterious deity were found, possibly lying in shipwrecks for centuries. The LOST AT SEA exhibit now through March is only happening at the Asian Art Museum. This tops my list as this one of a kind exhibit is only happening in San Francisco through March. You’re welcome to join our InterNations Culture and Art Group as we time travel and explore these wondrous beauties in February.
Just For Laughs! I LOVE the stand up comedy scene here in the Bay! We are truly blessed to get some of the best up and comers as well as established comedians stopping by to make us laugh. Ali Wong and Trevor Noah ended 2019 by coming through with sold out shows! 2020 shouldn’t be any different, if not better. I personally can’t wait for Michelle Wolf‘s return to the Bay later this week. Later this season, Jim Carrey, Whitney Cummings and Ali Wong will be in town too, woohoo!
So what’s on your Bay Area list for 2020?
Disclaimer: This rant was not sponsored or paid for by any of the above mentioned entities unless otherwise noted. Any and all sponsored or paid rants are for time spent, never for a biased take or review. If you’d like me to check out a happening around town or a local eatery to rant about, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Under the sun but above the clouds. Floating with the wind until your feet touches the softest patch of grass. The entire experience of it all, from beginning to end is absolutely surreal even as I write this rant.
Who hasn’t put skydiving on their bucket list? Who hasn’t thought about it a few times but never really motivated? That was me. I’ve always wanted to go but never really motivated until my brother’s birthday came up. He wanted to do something wild and skydiving was one thing my siblings and I said, “let’s do it!”
Lots of anticipation, excitement, fear, and anxiety builds up between the three of us until we got on that plane. I can’t imagine going up 13,000 feet without those two with me, let alone jumping before me. Totally not jumped in the order we planned, I’m a good big sister, I swear. But before processing my brother’s over the shoulder look or my sister’s scream, I looked down -yikes!- and willingly jumped off the plane!
A few seconds of disorientation before I’m synced, remembering the instructions told to us just a few minutes ago. Part of which is spreading your arms when you get tapped since you’ve got to hold the harness for the jump. I catch Brad, my flying camera dude, in my sights. With fists in the air, I scream, “Oh my God!”
The hardest part for me was the parachute pull, it’s a backwards jolt that caught me by surprise. Think of it as a hard break while driving 120 miles per hour. Again, it takes me a few seconds before I’m synced and I’m literally just floating. My tandem dude, Toshi, makes sure I’m good and comfortable before maneuvering the parachute to allow me a 360 degree view of my surroundings.
The Bay Area can fit in my hands. Mount Diablo, the highest mountain in California, is just a mole. The entire world below is so small, but oh so beautiful. Our planet is beautiful, peeps. In that moment, there was a sense of peace all over me. By the grace of God, I breathed in the cool air breeze, I couldn’t close my eyes, I spread my arms as if they were wings and had to be conscious enough not to kick poor Toshi. Ha!
Before I knew it, we were slowly descending towards our landing point. My short self finally got to shout, “look out below!” as we landed on a soft patch of grass. Brad came up to me to capture my thoughts. “That was fucking awesome!” was my first response. Did I just fly? Did I just land? Wasn’t I just on a plane? Oh my God, I jumped off a plane!
Before you go on your first skydiving adventure, please do your research. Note that you will be signing waivers because you are taking a risk when you go skydiving. My experience may not have been what I expected, may not have been perfect but at the end of the day, when you go with a good crew, your experience is all the more better. We went with Bay Area Skydiving in Byron, California. Per our research, they’ve been flying for over 25 years so it made sense to go with them for our first jump. While there is room for improvement, the team deserves props because they actually enjoy what they do and share in that excitement of flying with us rookies.
I’ve officially crossed “Skydiving” off my bucket list!! Have you? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below or via Twitter.
Throwback to My Dinner at Fouj Cafe
A Snapchat Story
By Ms. Hala
Here’s a throwback to my last few weeks in Qatar when I got to dine at Fouj Cafe on Grand Hamad Street (aka Bank Street), in Doha. My favorite, of course, was their take on the Qatari dish, chicken majboos.
I appreciate their gourmet take on the local cuisine without sacrificing on flavor. The chicken was fall off the bone tender and I was surprised I had a picture of it as it seems to have not made it to the video above. Oops! It’s seriously one of those dishes you almost can’t get enough of and can smell it whenever you crave it and right now, I’m having massive cravings!
They are well known for their deserts, with a wide selection as well as custom-made cakes, including tiered wedding cakes. I thought the one they had on display then was quite impressive. Their take on tiramisu that I had was so filling, I ate it slowly for three days, literally! I had to share the goodie bag with friends as it was much and I was moving out of the apartment. I can say though that nothing was left after about 20 minutes.
Shout out to the Fouj Cafe team for making my last few weeks in Qatar a delicious one!
Flashback to two weeks ago when Kamal and myself (aka foodie royalty) got a magnificent send off! Can’t thank the team at Nisantasi Baskose and my foodie friends enough for this lovely, unforgettable afternoon.
Inspired by the success of Street Food Doha, the lovely Doha Marriott is at it again for the second year with Streets of Arabia. Dishes from all corners of the region, such as Sudan, Morocco and Qatar, are the stars of the streets. I started with the Moroccan harira soup and was tempted to go for seconds but there was much to discover throughout the restaurant gallery turned street food galore.
Headed to Sudan for stew, Egypt for hawashy, Lebanon for grills, Qatar for majbous, Turkey for kavurma and India for dahi vada. I was not disappointed in the least bit! Desserts were good, the qatayef were a hit for me. I just wish they had them in serving sizes rather than “serve yourself” type setup, people get a little too excited around desserts. #JustSaying
Service, as always, was professional and friendly. I just wish some of the serving staff were more knowledgable of some of the dishes they were serving. The setup is simple, nothing over the top, but nothing plain either. It’s a very chill and casual space for iftar, my kind of chill to be honest. It’s so chill, even the famous Ramadan camels, Bashoosh and Sahara were just chilling in the warm breeze outside the hotel with their new baby girl, Samara. Yep, it’s a girl! Woohoo!
On Friday, November 18th an organized peaceful protest was held in Tahrir Square to address the dissatisfaction many citizens have of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (also known as SCAF) currently running the nation since Hosny Mubarak’s fall in February. Of course, the main concern is the military trials of civilians, including that of Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abdelfattah alongside thousands of others.
Friday’s protest took place in Tahrir Square, similar to the many Occupy Movement protests happening here in my Bay Area hometown cities of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. The reaction from police and the military however has turned this peaceful protest into complete violent chaos!
Police and SCAF soldiers entered the square attacking protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas. Many reported that the tear gas used seemed to be more lethal than those used in the past. There were reports of protesters suffering from eye and nose irritations as well as seizures after inhaling these toxins. And surprise, the tear gas is “Made in the USA”!! A company by the name of Combined Tactical Systems (CTB) seems to be behind the latest in tear gases that are more lethal, similar to those used in Yemen. Ironically, the company’s website address is less-lethal.com. We need to call our representatives here in the USA to stop selling or sending these products to SCAF! CTB’s address and phone number can be found at the end of this rant.
This violent attack also saw several protesters being shot directly in the eye, either from close range or trained snipers. One in particular is activist Ahmed Harara who lost his right eye on January 28th. He lost his left eye on Saturday November 19th amongst other activists who were actually in the hospital with him being treated by the same doctor. He is now completely blind but in unbelievable high spirits. He is my hero!
Later a video surfaced of SCAF and police congratulating each other on shooting a man in the eye! Even if one doesn’t know Arabic, it’s just disgusting and graphic to hear these officers cheer on the shooting and possibly killing civilians they are suppose to be protecting!
Thanks to social media and none to the many state-run new stations, Egyptians were made well aware of these attacks taking place in Tahrir Square. Solidarity protests took place in Alexandria, Suez and surrounding counties on Saturday and Sunday. There were reports of protesters sitting in at several police stations, ministry offices and outside SCAF facilities. The only major report came from Alexandria and Suez when riot police responded with tear gas.
Back in Tahrir Square on Sunday, the Imam of the Omar Makram Mosque tried to call a cease-fire between both sides when police on several occasions attacked the makeshift hospital in the square and inside the mosque. Many doctors carried the injured as they escaped the tear gas bombs. It didn’t last long for I received statements from people on the front lines that they were being attacked again after “the truce” lasted maybe 10 minutes! Many took refuge in near by churches, mosques and homes.
At the American University of Cairo (AUC) on the other side of Tahrir Square, several snipers were spotted on the rooftop shooting at the protesters below. Many protesters were able to escape tear gas bombs and bullets, both lethal and rubber. Again, many tweeted how they were having difficulty breathing and irritation in many parts of their bodies. Others saw many shot directly in the eye, head and neck including several dying on the scene. One very graphic photo shows a 23 year old man shot in the neck. Doctors in the makeshift hospital were unable to save him.
As of right now (Monday morning in Cairo, Sunday night in San Francisco), over 30 have been reported dead and at least 2,000 injured. This is with none stop violence since Friday night, almost 40 hours as I write this rant. What is happening in Egypt is not a second revolution because the first one never ended!
To stay up to date on the latest, please follow me on Twitter, Facebook as well as my updated Twitter list of all those tweeting from the front lines of not just Egypt but Yemen, Bahrain and Syria!
Combined Tactical Systems (CTB)
388 Kinsman Rd., Jamestown, PA 16134
Call your representatives today and ask them to stop supporting this company from selling these lethal tear gas products to SCAF in Egypt!!