Happy Chinese New Year!

If you’ve visited Chinatown in San Francisco, you know what an amazing place it can be to experience Chinese culture, food, and more. They really do it up for Chinese New Year, complete with an amazing parade. The festivities begin on Feb. 1st this year, with the parade taking place on Feb. 19th.

It is the Year of the Tiger, which is known to be king of all beasts in China. People born in a year of the Tiger are predicted to be brave, strong, competitive, unpredictable, and confident. They are also expected to display great levels of willpower.

Previous years of the Tiger include 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, and 2010. If you or someone you know was born in one of those years, take a look at that list of attributes and see if it fits!

If you can’t attend the Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown, you can always refer to this awesome list from 7×7 for other holiday-related inspiration, including some great eats and other adventures!

Let me know if you have ever gone to the parade and what your experience was. I was born in 1962, so I am a Tiger and a Capricorn – both have similar traits. I currently have a client who is Chinese and just got into contract, and she said she would make me some Chinese food for the New Year. I am very excited to taste her cooking; she has spoken about cooking on most of our house-hunting trips!

(The reason why Chinese cooking came up: most townhomes and condos don’t have a vent from the stovetop venting to the exterior. It is usually a microwave with a fan that blows out into the kitchen. If you pull the cabinet doors open above the microwave, more times than not there is no venting. Don’t worry, they did end up finding a townhome with a vent and it was new construction!)

Best tours in San Francisco

Just because we live in the Bay Area and are “locals” of San Francisco doesn’t mean we can’t still play tourist when we hit The City! In fact, it’s one of the more fun things you can do when you cross the Bay Bridge. I love just wandering around and finding new nooks and crannies of the city I had never noticed before.

As with any major city, San Francisco has its fair share of awesome tours, and these are five I have researched that I think you should take a chance on next time you visit! From art, to history, to food, you’ll get the real, full, behind-the-scenes experience of San Francisco with any of these. If you go, let me know how it went!

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1. Precita Eyes Mural Tour

On the third Saturday of every month, founder and director or the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center, Susan Cervantes, leads guided mural walks through the Mission. It’s $20, but it takes you through an array from over 200 alley murals in the hippest neighborhood in San Francisco. You can get more info here.

2. San Francisco Urban Hike

Now, I hate to do this, but I think you can self-lead a tour rather than spend $49 on having it guided. This “urban hike,” which has gained in popularity given San Francisco’s plethora of lush areas, is something you can certainly research and do yourself. If you’d rather go with a guide, check out this link!

3. San Francisco Love Tour

If nothing else, San Francisco is known for its role in the Summer of Love. Former hippies and music lovers should be excited to pony up $48 for this radical tour, which takes participants through iconic neighborhoods from the 60’s, and hit main attractions like Golden Gate Park. You’ll see the homes of Hendrix and Joplin, and do it all from an old-school VW van!

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4. Teas, Temples and Beatniks Tour

Okay, you can’t beat a tour that combines two of the coolest neighborhoods in a city full of cool neighborhoods: Chinatown and North Beach. You get to try local food, get your fortune read, taste the famous fortune cookies, and venture into North Beach to see the old hangouts of legends like Jack Kerouac. Check it out here.

5. City Guides

You’ve probably at least heard of this tour. City Guides is a full-blown non-profit with more than 200 volunteers leading 50 walking tours all around San Francisco.┬áLocal history buffs share their knowledge and whisk you around the beautiful city. And the best part for those who want to pinch pennies – City Guides is all donation-based, and technically admission is free!

The story behind Civic Park’s “Hand of Peace”

FullSizeRender (4)We continue our tour of Walnut Creek’s public art scene with one of the more recognizable sculptures in the city: “Hand of Peace,” located just outside the library in Civic Park. The aptly-named sculpture is a monument to peace by Italian-born artist Beniamino Bufano, who passed away in 1970.

Legend has it that Bufano cut off his trigger finger and sent it to President Woodrow Wilson to protest World War I. He was a peace activist who taught at the San Francisco Institute of Art, UC Berkeley and Oakland’s California College of Arts and Crafts, according to a 2012 San Jose Mercury News story. Bufano has other prominent pieces in the Bay Area, including a sculpture in Chinatown, one at Mondavi Vineyards in Napa, and one at Lake Merced.

According to the San Jose Mercury News article, Bufano originally created the “Hand of Peace” for the San Francisco Arts Commission, but when the piece was put up for sale, developer Bill Swigert paid $50,000 to place the sculpture in Walnut Creek, outbidding Fox Plaza and Ghirardelli Square.

The sculpture sat in an office park in Walnut Creek from 1967 to 2009, when it was taken down for restoration. Now, it’s up for display for many years to come in Civic Park.┬áThe sculpture weighs nearly 5 tons, stands 30 feet tall, and is made of copper, mosaic and stained glass.

Oh, and it’s a PokeStop, by the way…