I hit the campus right out of a big CF* in Santa Cruz. It is a tad elevated over the city and – interesting! You have a humongous forest around all the university buildings and in between the little condo houses of the students. It looks a bit like the elven village from Lord of the Rings. I want to talk to a Professor I know from a congress and I am lucky to find him in his office. Won’t say more, can’t say more, believe me it was quite an interesting talk… But University of California, Santa Cruz is for sure a nice place to be. It’s comparable to Innsbruck from the spirit, in IBK you got mountains and snowboarding, in Santa Cruz you got the Pacific in front of your door, supreme surfing and snowboarding if you are willing for a two hour ride into the mountains – what is a couple of hundred miles, right? Awesome!
After sunset and some observation of the skills of the local surfers (hilarious!) I make my way into the city. It’s tiny! I stroll around and discover a bad-ass shop for vinyl LPs, some of the most cool shops for surfers clothes, I’ve ever seen – and that’s where I get my new beloved hat – and a little further into downtown, some artists performing Hip Hop and Samba on the street. I join them, of course and party until 10:30 p.m.
And after this really cool experience, I attend the Irish Pub Poet & Patriot, where I get to know some really nice people. A girl called Violet from south Italy and her American friends, and later this evening Cassidy, a dude from Washington D.C.
I still have no place to sleep and I really don’t care. Could just ride up to campus and sleep in the car, right? But that’s not necessary. I talk with Cassidy about mountaneering, surfing, snowboarding and want to say goodbye, like “Dude, was awesome to meet you and your buddies, have to leave now to find a place to crash in the car, where the cops don’t find me at night…”. And he invites me to crash at his place. It’s really great! And so I crash at their place. The guys are all PhD students in physics, really nice folks, love to surf, to snowboard and the craziest thing is, Cassidy will come to Europe by the time I come back, for a conference and I invite him to experience the mountains of Tyrol with me. That will be fun! Cassidy, you are still very welcome and I hope you will be able to manage our mountains… 😉
The next morning I have breakfast with the guys, the other one is Juan from Spain. And since I had the intention to go surfing – second time of my life, 6 years after my first experience on Eleuthera of the Bahamas – I ask them for advice, where to rent the equipment and where to go. They send me over to Freeline, a small but very well sorted surf shop in the south of Santa Cruz. And they tell me to visit the Nisene State Park close to Santa Cruz before I leave… You can rent your equipment for just $25 a day, that’s what I do. Glad the board fits into my small rental car.
I hit Sharks Cove right at the end of 41st Street and enjoy two hours of surfing. Probably looks pretty clumsy but I don’t care. It’s the second time as I told you and for that it still works alright! I am able to catch some waves, they are pretty big. And all the paddling and swimming really exhausts me, yet leaves joy, happiness and adrenaline. After two hours I am just done, with a big grin on my face, and I still need to hit San Francisco… Exhausted, but happy and relaxed I continue my journey and I will never forget those friendly and nice people who live in this city.
*I will use CF as a abbreviation for cluster fuck = traffic jam