It is nice to spend some time in the city. San Francisco that is. Though I haven’t worked out the strength to actually move there, visiting is the next best thing.
Well, my woman seems to like the cultural activities. So, after some searching on where to go exactly we settled on the California Academy of Sciences this Saturday May 14th – it has an aquarium, a planetarium, a rainforest, all under one living roof. Or so the advertisement was saying. This place had opened a while ago. I just didn’t have a chance to visit it yet.
Since the Academy is located in the Golden Gate Park we also visited a small rose garden there. Well, honestly I didn’t really plan on that. But because I didn’t want to mess with the parking right at the Academy we parked some ways away and thus the garden was on the way. Man, those roses smelled good. I seriously didn’t understand why roses in stores never had good aroma. But those on bushes smelled really good. Not only that, their aromas were different.
Well, it did have all of the things specified above. It also had a Snakes & Lizards exhibition at this time. Which in retrospect it was a bit redundant. There were a lot of snakes and lizards already on display in the aquarium. So, I didn’t find the exhibition to actually add a lot to it.
The rainforest was actually interesting. Kind of organically integrated inside the academy was this glass sphere with rainforest climate inside. In fact the glass with a lot of condensation indicating high temperature inside. It also had a special double gate to get in and a butterfly check to get out (there were actually live butterflies flying inside that sphere. So the stuff was asking people to check themselves in case some butterfly accidentally decided to stick to you. I wonder how they check if some of the butterflies didn’t make nests all over the place in some obscure corners). Interesting why, being in California, they didn’t have temperate rainforest instead. Maybe it would require larger building to house all the redwoods and I guess the animals are not as numerous and showy as a pair of those parrots making noises.
Anyways, the rainforest was very well organized (I have it when museums don’t have structure. One never knows if he saw everything). I had this spiral kind of ramp that you take to see everything on display and once you reach the top take an elevator (checking for butterflies) down to the aquarium. There were all sorts of small terrarium/aquarium displays showing different animals – frogs, geckos, some even spiders, lizards, fish, etc.
On the top floor there were different plan bushes I guess to support particular butterfly species.
Aquarium part was the best. Really. So many fishes. Different types, from different regions. Plants, all sorts of things that live in the ocean. Sea horses. Piranhas. Turtles. Frogs. Even one albino crocodile. There was a one cute couple – a fish and a shrimp. They both share the same small cave on the sea floor. The shrimp it taking care of the cave. The fish is sitting on the top watching for predators. If there is danger, they both hide in the cave. Nice cooperation.
There was also an African Savannah display. Since understandably they couldn’t really put live big game on display there like lions, cheetahs, gorillas and others, they just displayed stuffed ones. There were, however, a couple of displays of some small African creatures. But it seemed to me, after all that aquarium variety, that the space wasn’t used very efficiently.
So at the end, due to the lack of time, we just set for a visit to the planetarium. This was a modern planetarium. It didn’t have that weird mechanical machine in the middle to show stars. Frankly, it was basically just a fancy iMAX theater (very fancy). They just showed a movie about some science and life stuff. But I was expecting a bit more information about stars. It is a planetarium after all.
To top it off we went to this place called Tom Kiang. Well, let’s just say that there were no Chinese people there eating. The food was ok, the place was clean and efficient. But seems not that authentic.