San Francisco Video Tour

Posted on 26. Mar, 2015 by in Culture, Travel

San Fran Streets, Beats & Eats.

San Fran Streets, Beats & Eats.

Join the Grateful Gypsies on a video tour of San Francisco that highlights the “Streets, Beats & Eats” of this famous American city. Take a stroll through Golden Gate Park, hit the legendary Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, and go Phishing at the Bill Graham Auditorium.

YouTube Preview Image

“Start a day in San Francisco with a coffee and a walk on the beach. It’s rarely warm enough here to lay out or go swimming, but it’s still a nice place for a stroll… especially with your dogs.

Next, head to Gate Park, where you can see the once nearly extinct American bison. This huge park is actually bigger than New York’s central park. There’s a lot to see here, including the rose garden and the conservatory of flowers. It’s a popular place to just hang out… Get around the park on segway, a sightseeing bus, or even the magic bus.

Nearby you’ll find one of the city’s most famous neighborhoods – Haight/Ashbury. At 710 Ashbury street is the former home of the Grateful Dead, a band synonymous with San Francisco. You’ll even see images of band members Jerry Garcia and Pigpen on the sidewalk.

Although the summer of love is long gone, the Haight is still an interesting place to visit, with a wide variety of shops, from vintage, to glassware, to music, to the Haight Street Market.

Shop for cool clothes with a bargain price tag at Buffalo Exchange. Head to Decades of Fashion for clothing, accessories, and jewelry from every decade since the 50s. Or pick up some new tunes at Amoeba Music. Anyone who thinks record stores are a thing of the past should come here. Peruse the vinyl, books, and even old concert posters.

For lunch, drop by the People’s Cafe. Inside you can browse the local art for sale while you contemplate their large menu and decide what delicious draft beer to have. Fill up on a massive burrito, or go slightly healthier with a Thai chicken sandwich, and wash it all down with a pale ale.

There’s always music going on in San Francisco. Once in a while the circus comes to town when Phish plays a 3-night stand at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Near City Hall and the Supreme Court, thousands of fans gather before the show. Take a walk down Shakedown Street, where you can pick up t-shirts, crystals, pins, handmade jewelry, and plenty of other things. If you don’t have a ticket, put that finger in the air…

If you’ve got one, get inside and stake out a spot…”

Some of the most unbelievable words in English!

Posted on 24. Mar, 2015 by in English Vocabulary

Get ready to learn some new words – some new and unbelievable words! Take a look at the infographic below from  Do you recognize any of the words you see there? No. Well, me neither! These are some crazy English words for sure.  They are not common words to say the least, but I figured we’d have some fun today and I’d introduce you to these crazy, rare, and interesting words in English. You will definitely impress your teacher, colleague, or any native English speaker if you use any of these words. You will likely also have to tell them what the word means after you use it because chances are they will never have heard the word before them self!

Infographic about Enlgish words.

Image by

The words introduced in this infographic are pictorially represented. These pictures are intended to help you understand the meaning of these words. I think an actual definition for each of these words would be helpful too. So, that is what I have provided below. I have to warn you though, some of the words I use to define the words above need their own definitions! This is definitely an advanced level vocabulary building exercise, beginning students should not be discouraged if they find this vocabulary over their head. Beginners should come back and revisit this post in the future if they are finding it to advanced now.

gobemouche (n) – a credulous person (credulous  = believing things too easily or usually believing things); a person who believes everything he or she hears
yepsen (n) – an amount that can be held in two hands when the hands are cupped together; a form of measurement
natiform (adj) – something that looks like buttocks (buttocks = a bottom)
inadvertist (n) – a person who is generally thought to not take notice of things; a similar meaning to the word ‘oblivious’
ombutescence (n) – a persistent silence (persistent = long lasting or on going)
plinyism (n) – a statement of having doubt about the truth or accuracy of something
scrouge (v) – to crowd or press in
quaresimal (adj) – having meager (meager = lacking in quantity or quality) or modest qualities
maritality (adj)  – generally relating to marriage or being married; more specifically relating to a husband and his role or duties in marriage
fard (v) – to put on makeup
hansardize (v) – to show (or prove) that a person previously held a different point of view
killcrop (n) – a changeling (changeling = a child that is believed to have been secretly substituted for a different child by fairies)
bayard (n) – a legendary horse that is believed to be magical
bed-swerver (n) – a person who swerves (to swerve = to turn aside from a straight course) from their marriage vows
agerasia (n) – an old person who is youthful in appearance or behavior

Now that you know the meaning of all these crazy words, see if you can fill in the blanks below with the appropriate words from above.

1. Sam gathered a ________________ of vegetables and put them in the pot to make soup.
2. The woman’s ____________ made it difficult to pinpoint her age.
3. Because it was winter Carolyn was only able to picked a __________________ bouquet of flowers for her mother to give her for her birthday.
4. __________________ takes too much time for me, which is why I don’t wear makeup.
5. James’ wife is a __________________, which is why he is filing for divorce.
6. The mother couldn’t believe that the child she took home from the hospital was the same one she gave birth to two days earlier. She believed her baby was a ______________.

How did you do? You can check your answers below.

If all these words didn’t confuse you too much and you want to learn more odd or uncommon words in English I recommend checking out this webpage. Enjoy!



1. yepsen; 2. agerasia; 3. quaresimal; 4. Farding (fard); 5. bed-swerver; 6. killcrop

Great American Cities – San Francisco

Posted on 19. Mar, 2015 by in Uncategorized

After visiting a handful of east coast cities (Washington D.C., New York, Philadelphia, and Boston), our journey around the great cities of America moves out west to the Golden State – California. Today, we pay a visit to San Francisco.

Name: The name San Francisco is Spanish for “Saint Francis.” This is because the city was founded around a Spanish mission dedicated to Francis of Assisi.

A view of San Francisco.

A view of San Francisco.

Location: The city is located in northern California at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula. Within its boundaries lie parts of the Pacific Ocean, the San Francisco Bay, and several islands. There are also over fifty hills in the city, with many neighborhoods getting their name from the hill they’re located on. Two fault lines lie nearby, making earthquakes a constant threat here.

Nicknames: A lot of the nicknames for San Francisco are simple abbreviations – SF, San Fran, and Frisco. It’s also often referred to as the City by the Bay thanks to its location, and the Fog City thanks to its funky weather.

Colorful homes in San Francisco.

Colorful homes in San Francisco.

Year Founded: Spanish explorers established Mission San Francisco de Asís (also known as Mission Dolores) here in June 1776. In 1821, the area won independence from Spain and became a part of Mexico. At the time, it was called Yerba Buena after a plant that was abundant in the area. During the Mexican-American War, California was claimed for the US in 1846. The city’s name was changed to San Francisco the next year, and in 1848 it and the state of California officially became part of the United States.

Population: The 2013 estimate of SF’s population was 837,442, making it the 14th-most populous city in the country. Although its population isn’t very high, its relatively small area makes it the second-most densely populated city, after New York. San Francisco has a minority-majority population, as non-Hispanic whites only account for 42% of the city’s residents. Asians make up 33% of the population, with Chinese being the largest minority group at around 21%.

Transportation: San Francisco has an excellent public transportation system, if you can figure it out. Three major systems are in operation here, but they are all separate organizations – the Muni, BART, and Caltrain. Do a little research before you go and figure out which forms of transport you’ll be using the most in order to figure out the best pass to buy. When it comes to getting around SF, the city’s street and cable cars are world famous. It’s also a biker-friendly city, and there are plenty of places to rent wheels if you’re just visiting. Whatever you do, try to avoid driving in San Fran – the hilly roads, one way streets, and expensive parking make it a less than desirable option.

Take public transport!

Take public transport!

Famous Places: Perhaps the most famous symbol of San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge, named one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World. You can also visit Golden Gate Park in the city, a massive green space with plenty to see and do.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

A nice walk in Golden Gate Park.

A nice walk in Golden Gate Park.

Near the park, you’ll find the Haight-Ashbury district. Home to the hippie movement of the 1960s and bands such as the Grateful Dead, this neighborhood has an important part in recent American culture and history. These days it’s more of a tourist trap, but it’s still an interesting place to visit.

Hangin' in the Haight.

Hangin’ in the Haight.

In addition to the Haight, San Francisco has many other interesting neighborhoods, each unique in their own way. One of the most famous is Fisherman’s Wharf, which is home to many excellent restaurants and plenty of entertainers.

Yummy seafood at Fisherman's Wharf.

Yummy seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf.

It’s also possible to take a cruise out to the defunct Alcatraz Prison, nicknamed “The Rock” and scene for an action movie starring Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage.

Welcome to the Rock!

Welcome to the Rock!

Culture: San Francisco has a diverse and vibrant culture, with an abundance of museums, theaters, music venues, and so much more. Whether you want to see the ballet or a heavy metal band, you can find it in SF. There are countless events and festivals going on throughout the year, so check the calendar before you go. The city is also home to the oldest and one of the largest Chinatowns in the US, and it holds the biggest Chinese New Year celebration in the country. San Francisco is famous for its exuberant LGBT community, which is celebrated in one of the biggest gay pride parades and festivals every June.

Chinatown in SF.

Chinatown in SF.

Sports Teams: Sports are a big part of the Bay Area culture, but there are actually only two professional teams in San Francisco:

  • NFL: San Francisco 49ers
  • MLB: San Francisco Giants

The 49ers are one of the most successful football teams in NFL history, boasting five Super Bowl titles. The Giants have also been on a hot streak, with World Series wins in 2010, ’12, and ’14. There are other pro teams spread out in the Bay Area, such as the Golden State Warriors (NBA) in Oakland and the San Jose Sharks (NHL) in San Jose.

Travel Experience: I’ve had the pleasure of visiting San Francisco twice, both times to see my favorite band – Phish. The first trip came in the summer of 2009, and it was short and sweet. We stayed in a cheap Chinatown hotel, enjoyed a delicious dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf, explored the Haight-Ashbury district (where we took the obligatory hippie photo in front of the old Grateful Dead house), and caught a concert at the nearby Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View.

710 - former home of the Grateful Dead.

710 – former home of the Grateful Dead.

Fast forward a few years, and we were once again headed back to SF to catch some Phish shows. This time, however, we got to stay a bit longer as the band had three nights booked at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.

Come to San Fran for the Phish.

Come to San Fran for the Phish.

Jet-lagged after a long flight from Beijing, we were up at 5 AM and unable to get back to sleep. As such, we decided to seize the day and walk all the way through Golden Gate Park to the Haight-Ashbury district to meet friends.

Freakin' hippies.

Freakin’ hippies.

In the Haight, we sat down for a nice brunch, explored the area’s quirky shops, and started the party with Happy Hour. Not surprisingly, the early start, busy day, and jet-lag all combined to wear us out. After the first show, we made a beeline for the train and took it back to our friend’s place to crash.

Burritos and sandwiches... mmm...

Burritos and sandwiches… mmm…

Aside from hanging out with friends and catching the shows, we didn’t do a whole lot else. We did, however manage to finally make it to see the famed Golden Gate Bridge and take some photos. Although my two trips to San Francisco have been short and have both been specifically for concerts, I’d love to make it back there some day with more time to explore all that the city has to offer.