Tristan and I went to San Francisco for 5 days last week, to celebrate the anniversary of my birth.
We stayed in Lower Nob Hill, (or Tendernob as some locals call it, because of it’s proximity to another area of town called the Tenderloin), on Sutter Street. I loved the area, and our hotel, The Hotel Carlton.
I was surprised how much the 3 hour time change kicked my butt on the first night. After crossing the Atlantic more times that I can count, and being just fine with the 5 or 6 hour jump ahead, I was really caught off guard.
On our first full day we explored the city… walking down to Union Square from our hotel, to see the swanky shops… and the protesters. (There was a huge protest going on while we were there – the hotel workers were on strike). From Union Square we took a taxi to Disvisadero Street to visit GAMESCAPE… a store right up Tristan’s alley. He browsed all things gaming/D&D, and surprisingly I found something that I wanted to buy! It was a game called “Snatch”… similar to “Scrabble” it seems, but quirkier. We haven’t had a chance to play it yet, but it looks fun!
From there we walked down the Panhandle, to Golden Gate Park. (It was quite the walk!)
San Franciscans will be quick to tell you… their Golden Gate Park is bigger than Central Park. We saw the Conservatory of Flowers… passed by the California Academy of Sciences and the MH de Young museum; but my favorite part of all was the Japanese Tea Garden.
Japanese Tea Garden
Buddha statue, at the Japanese Tea Garden
It was an oasis of calm in the already serene environment of the park. We didn’t leave until it was nearly dark.
The next day, (my birthday!), we rented a car… with the plan to spend the morning in Muir Woods. However, near the cool grey city of love – sometimes you get grey clouds – and lots of rain. We went ahead with our plan, driving out of the city and over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County.
A foggy and rainy excursion over the Golden Gate Bridge
We drove past Sausalito and up into the mountains to Muir Woods. It was raining very steadily… and frankly bummed me out. This was going to be the only time we could see the Redwoods; and I envisioned that we would be taking a long walk in the woods together. We hung in there, in our raincoats – with me carrying my camera protectively under my umbrella – as long as we could.
Tristan, at Muir Woods
When we finally gave up, we were soaked to the core, a bit dirty and cold. We ended up back in San Fran turning in our rental car after only 4 hours or something. Oh well. It was beautiful nonetheless – I just don’t have all the photos I imagined I would.
After changing into dry clothes, having a restorative lunch and nap, we headed out to Chinatown.
Dragon Gate, Chinatown
The very first store we came across, had my favorite Asian slippers! I used to buy them all the time in Chinatown in NYC – but the last time I was there I couldn’t find them. I searched high and low on the Internet for them – to no avail. I was thrilled to bits to find them here, and bought two pairs.
We explored Chinatown all afternoon…
That night we ate at the city’s best Indonesian restaurant Borobudur, which was lovely. For dessert we chose the “Pisang Bakar Keju”. A grilled plantain smothered in shredded cheese, condensed milk and chocolate sprinkles. Such a strange combination! Tristan thought it was super tasty. I thought it was pretty good, (as weird as it sounds), but I was full from our yummy dinner and didn’t eat too much of it.
Saturday dawned bright and blue… so we headed out to the Bay… Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Embarcadero, etc. For some people-watching and shopping – before our cruise to Alcatraz around noon.
Sea Lions at Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf
Arriving at Alcatraz
Alcatraz was really interesting… I had thankfully gotten our tickets ahead of time, as when we arrived at Alcatraz Landing, we saw that the next available boat to Alcatraz was on the following Tuesday! The boat ride only took 13 minutes, and then we found ourselves on “The Rock”.
Angie, behind bars
“Break the rules, and go to prison… break the prison rules, go to Alcatraz!”
We toured the prison ourselves, walked around the grounds, took photos of all the birds (it’s a bird sanctuary too, by the way) and then hopped on a return boat back to the mainland. We walked to the Boudin Bakery and had a sandwich on SF’s original sourdough bread.
Streets of Frisco
I loved being in a true city again… I miss living in that environment, so much. We found our favorite little neighborhood coffee shop, where Tristan went every morning to get us breakfast and a latte… And and our little neighborhood convenience/grocery store, Sutter Fine Foods, which we frequented every day. We discovered a cool, hip, high-class burger joint – Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers – that was close to our hotel.
We saw the homeless population there… you can’t be in SF and not notice; but it wasn’t to the overwhelming degree that I had imagined it might be. (Of course, we didn’t hang out in the Tenderloin either). Our hotel was next to the Raphael House – and we made a donation to the work that they do there for the women and children in the city that don’t have a place to live.
San Francisco skyline, as seen from our hotel window
I miss living in a city where you don’t need your car. The hills there are incredible… and killer! I thought I knew what the city was going to be like, but I really had no idea. Riding around in a taxi, you felt as if you were on a roller coaster. How anyone ever decided to build there, is beyond me?
All in all, it was a wonderful trip. We thoroughly enjoyed our time away, and new experiences. Now it’s time to plan our next trip!