San Francisco and the Bay Area through a mirrorless camera

San Francisco skyline and the Bay Bridge

I had the chance to try out the Fujifilm X-M1 mirrorless camera. All the images in this post were taken with it, no post processsing, and I think the results are of great quality.

Back in the Bay Area once again thanks to my job, I mainly visited Oakland, Fremont, Berkeley, Pleasanton and of course, San Francisco. Since my friend Basilio moved to California a couple months ago, I had the chance to stay during the weekend for some sightseeing and shopping.

I tried ramen for the first time at Japan Town, visited my favorite restaurant in Chinatown and at night we stopped at Treasure Island to take some city skyline shots. I love visiting San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Gabriel Saldana testing the Fujifilm X-M1 camera

Soldier at the Japanese fountain

Japanese ramen restaurant

The Tesla is closer than it appears

Light at the end of the tunnel

Alcatraz and sails

San Francisco Chinatown entrance

San Francisco steep street

Chinatown's dragon lamps

Chinatown trade mark

Chinese tamales

San Francisco Van Ness cable car

Old lady playing rock in the street

SF subway station



San Francisco Grant’s Tobacco shop closed

Grant's Tobacco shop closed

Grant’s tobacco shop, a historic landmark in San Francisco has closed. It was shocking to me to find out this way, walking all the way through market to suddenly have this sad view of the shop. I have good memories of the time I first encountered the shop, made new friends and had a great time. I was looking forward to have more of that nice time there on my visit to San Francisco.

grant's tobacconists logo


Grant’s Tobacco shop

Montecristo hope operation package

While walking in the financial district of San Francisco, I stopped by Grant’s Tobacco shop. It’s a traditional tobacco shop that’s been around since 1849. I usually don’t stop by any tobacco shops in the US because cuban cigars are illegal, and most of the cigars I smoke are cubans. But I got curious about some humidors and decided to step inside and take a look.

Turns out they were having a small event, thanks to Montecristo (my favorite cigar brand) and they were selling the Operation Hope package, a box with 5 cigars, two of them limited edition, a lighter and a cap for $50 USD and the profits would contribute to the Montecristo Relief Organization, helping victims of hurricanes and other natural and economic disasters in the Caribbean.

They also offered free drinks and snacks, and since it was a great deal and also a good cause, I bought the package. As if not all of that was pretty good already, there was also a raffle for a beautiful Montecristo cigar ash tray and a cutter.

That night I hanged at the shop for a while to smoke one of the cigars (the one missing in the picture) at the smoking corner they have, have some snacks, and met a few cool people. Later on I was hanging around at some clubs with some of them. It’s fun and interesting to meet new people when travelling, and Grant’s shop made it very easy for a shy foreigner like me to socialize and have a good time among strangers.

Later, while I was travelling back to Mexico, I checked my emails and to my surprise, I won the raffle! The guys at Grant’s Tobacco were so cool that they are even sending me my prize all the way to Monterrey, Mexico! I’ll post pictures of the prize as soon as I get it.

I really had a great time at the shop smoking a cigar and talking to people. Everyone is very friendly and the staff give you good tips and advice on cigar care and smoking. If you’re in San Francisco and enjoy tobacco, don’t forget to stop by Grant’s.

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Some days at San Francisco

San Francisco cable cart

I went to San Francisco last week and after the few things I had the compromise to do, I decided to walk around the city and practice my photography skills.

I stayed at a very cheap hotel, not knowing well the surroundings, let’s just say that 9th and Mission street is not a very touristic neighborhood to be. Luckily the hotel room was nice, clean and functional, so I decided not to cancel my reservation and stayed there.

Walking down Market street I stumbled upon a farmer’s market at Civic Center. It’s nice to see all the natural products by local farmers being sold there. I used to go to something similar in Mexico with my grandmother when I was little, so it kind of brings back some memories.

Farmer's market at Civic Center

Cello player and seagull

Horse statue

There was a kind of “food corner” in the market, lots of different options, mixed food scents in the air, it all made me hungry. I was in a very touristic mode, so I wondered if I could get a classic american street hotdog. I know, this is not New York, its California, so I couldn’t find any hotdogs (at least not right there). I found crepes, lots of mexican food (which I refuse to take, since for me it’s…well, just food, but with a crappy taste), and vegetarian options. Then I saw a Greek food stand, and I’ve never before had greek so I tried that. I enjoyed it a lot, very tasteful, loved the lamb and pita. Still, why aren’t there a traditional hotdog cart?

Greek Food stand

Then I bought some tickets for the musical Hair at the Golden Gate theater. The actors on stage interact with the audience a lot and the music is great (oh and there was this brief moment of full nudity on stage). I’ve only seen the movie before, and expected the play to have the same storyline, but it doesn’t. It’s the same topic and all but very different storyline.

Hair musical at Golden Gate Theater

Cable cart

Later that day, I saw the Occupy San Francisco movement by the Federal Reserve Bank building.

Port of San Francisco

Men statue

The next day I took another long walk (about 28 kms) all day along the bay and returned just in time to do some shopping around Union Square. I intended to take a tour to Alcatraz, but I couldn’t make it. I didn’t had the schedule at hand, so if you’re planning to take the tour, don’t be like me and visit the Alcatraz cruises website to have the information ready beforehand. It was a great sunny (but not hot) day and I hope the photos came out great as well.


Embarcadero street

49ers Flag

Seagull by the bay

Golden Gate at distance

San Francisco city sunshine

Street silver demon

Dog man

Street jazz players

Ended the day with some shopping around Union Square, where there was ice skating going on.

All in one band musician

Union Square's skating

View from Union Square's Cheesecake Factory


Although it is always nice to have some self time and walk around a big city observing and taking pictures of all the interesting things (and some not as interesting) around you. If I didn’t have my camera, I don’t know what I would’ve been doing by myself around the city. Unfortunately, I’m not in any of my pictures, since I had no one to photograph me.

Cart by night

Travelling alone can get boring sometimes. The good part of it is that I got to do exactly what I wanted, go wherever I wanted and walked kilometers with no one else but myself to complain about it. I really enjoy those silent reflexion moments for one self.

Night street view

Have you gone travelling alone? What activities you like to do on those trips to not get bored or homesick?

Events Photography

Occupy San Francisco images

The 99% is waking up

Last week I went to San Francisco to do some business, and having some extra days I decided to get outside and take a few shots around the city.

Little did I know that there was an Occupy San Francisco movement over at the Federal Reserve bank building. It was an interesting and shocking thing to see all those signs and tents and people camping there. Everyone was in peace and calm. People got close to them to talk and exchange ideas, there were books and publications scattered everywhere and they had some kind of lectures and classes at certain times.

The funny thing was the coincidence that earlier on that same day I went to see the musical Hair, at the Golden Gate theater. It’s sad so see how similar the movement for peace in the 70’s is to the movement for freedom (and many other things) today, because it’s a sign that not much has changed, or a confirmation that history has repeating cycles. One way or the other, it’s not good progress for humanity.

Here are some of the pictures I took of the campings and the signs and some Hair music to accompany them:

01 Let the Sunshine In by Ritter Hanz


three strikes


end the fed


Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Occupy Love

SFPD Police line, do not cross

give something, borrow something, take something

Occupy tents

99 occupy

occupy daylight

no life is illegal

Freedom is a hoax

What do you think about the movement? Have you participated in one? Tell me what you think in the comments, as a foreigner, I’d like to learn more about it.

personal Photography

San Francisco & Napa Valley trip photos

Golden Gate crossing

Before attending Google I/O, I went with a co-worker and friend to San Francisco and Napa Valley. Originally we were only going to SF for some shopping and walking around before going to see Cats, the broadway show at the Orpheum Theatre.

Gabriel Saldaña at Napa Valley

But after I commented that I’ve never been to there before, and since we both love wine, we decided to make a detour to Napa Valley. The view was fantastic all the way, very nice, green and relaxing landscapes.

napa valley

wine barrels

I don’t remember the name of the winery where we stopped by, but it was very nice. You could go see the wine barrels and picnic at the front yards. There was lots of families and live spanish guitar musicians playing.

big wine containers

wine in grass

I tried several wines, we bought some bottles and had some white wine glasses while having picnic lunch under the sun in very nice and comfortable grass.

Time flies when you’re relaxed under the sun and enjoying a nice wine, so we had to rush back to San Francisco, fighting traffic cause we were running late to see Cats. Fortunately we already had tickets so it was only a matter of getting there. We made it just 10mins late, so we did enjoy the whole show except for the two first songs. I would’ve loved to take some pictures of the show, but it was forbidden.

Ghirardelli chocolate factory store

Then when we thought we had already passed our stress moment of the day back in the traffic jam before the show, we decided to continue our day going to the Ghirardelli chocolate factory to get some chocolates and some shakes at the cafeteria. But we ran out of gas, uphill right at Union Square. We didn’t pay attention to the gas meter and the car completely stopped. I stopped a cab and went to the nearest gas station and fortunately they also sell the gas containers, so I easily filled up the container, went back to the car, poured it in and we were set. Of course we stopped at the nearest gas station to get a full tank, but we continued our journey through the city towards the chocolate factory.

Ghirardelly chocolate factory

The chocolate factory has a beautiful sight from the bay, I was lucky to get some steady shots without a tripod.

After enjoying a great chocolate shake at Ghirardelli’s cafeteria, we still wanted more touring and we ended up having dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe by Pier 39. It was a great day.

Hard Rock Cafe at Pier 39

I love travelling, and every time I get to travel I try to squeeze the most out of my time to know and experience the best from each place. After visiting the Bay Area a couple of times already, there’s still lots of places I still don’t know. So I’m looking forward to my next trip to know more of the area, the people and take some good photos. Any recommendations?