Redwood Grove at the San Francisco Botanical Garden

Redwood Grove pic
Redwood Grove

Currently living in the Bay Area in California and working as a nurse practitioner, Jonathan Vrban enjoys spending time gardening and studying botany. Also a fan of cooking and baking, Jonathan Vrban likes to travel to destinations like Italy, but his own city also has plenty to offer.

San Francisco boasts many attractions, from the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz to the tourist favorite Fisherman’s Wharf. One hidden gem in the area is San Francisco Botanical Garden, a living museum in Golden Gate Park that includes more than 55 acres of landscaped gardens as well as open natural spaces.

One of the park’s biggest draws is the Redwood Grove, a treat for visitors who do not want to journey out of the city to view these towering giant trees. Planted near the turn of the 20th century, the trees are some of the oldest in the garden. Furthermore, the area contains more than 100 species of plants to make the grove resemble a typical redwood forest. Visitors to the grove can download or pick up the Redwood Trail Guide or listen to a walking tour podcast.

The park is open 365 days a year. Learn more by visiting


Unusual Dishes from Around the World

Dr. Jonathan Vrban worked in San Francisco as a practitioner at Kaiser Permanente. Dr. Jonathan Vrban enjoys cooking and traveling. When he travels, he likes to immerse himself in the local culture and sample new dishes.

One of the most exciting parts of traveling to another country is having the opportunity to try its lesser-known delicacies. While many people will want to order pasta in Italy or enjoy an authentic Swiss dessert, there are countless exotic dishes most tourists likely never seek out. China’s bird’s nest soup, for example, is comprised primarily of a swiftlet’s nest. Rather than collecting sticks and leaves, swiftlets use saliva to make their nests. The idea of eating bird saliva might not sound so appetizing, but swiftlet saliva ranks among the most expensive animal products consumed by humans. A quality bowl can carry a price tag of $100.

When it comes to the American diet, few – if any – meals come to mind that emphasize fried insects as a key ingredient. In Cambodia, however, fried tarantula is considered an affordable delicacy. World travelers can further broaden their tastes in Korea, where live octopus can be found on the menu. The meal is prepared with a light sesame oil seasoning, and is famous for severed tentacles still moving.