I’ve just returned from a blissful 5 days in San Francisco – my first time to the city and the first time back to CA since high school! I’m the type of traveler that goes with loose plans, but packs so much into a few days that I always come home needing another vacation! We trekked around the entire city – about 20 miles walking, 6 or so on bike and I logged another 8 miles running. Can I just say… the hills! Good lord they are a workout! There was one hill we walked up a few times that I thought I might go tumbling down, avalanche style. The city was amazing (more on that…) but the best part of the trip was the people.
Between Mike & I, San Francisco contains 3 best friends and family – brother, wife and baby (who has officially graduated to WALKING!). Being able to completely unplug from our lives on the east coast and spend some major quality time with all of them was the very, very best part of our trip. Oh, and the QT the two of us had during their workdays on Thursday and Friday was literally priceless.
So – what did we do? Let’s see about a photo montage.
We drank. Airport beers pre-flight are a tradition to officially start vacation! And the next morning at La Boulange, we literally had our worlds rocked with bowls of coffee.
We ate. San Francisco’s dining choices did not disappoint. From Tachos at Bullit (yes, tater-tots nacho style), to a full Italian spread at Ottimista starting with a salumi plate and roasted brussell sprouts with pesto, to street vendors selling “street meat” (bacon wrapped hot dog at 2am? yes please) to “korritos” (korean style burrito stuffed with bbq beef and kimchee = heaven) we came home stuffed and ready for a detox. Oh and wait!!! In & Out!!! How could I forget that!
We explored. Our friends all lived close to one another (literally 2 of them lived 400 FEET apart), so we had a really easy time getting around the city on foot. We stayed in Cow Hollow, close to the marina, fisherman’s wharf, the golden gate bridge and lots of parks and trails. On Thursday & Friday, Mike and I spent the days wandering around the city – seeing most of the touristy stuff – ghirardelli square, the wharf & pier, little italy, the streetcars and we hoofed it up to Coit tower to get a gorgeous view of the city, the bay and the bridges. One of our favorite stops was at the Palace of the Arts, where we saw multiple brides getting their wedding photos done and watched as a little kid “tamed” a pigeon (i.e. fed the bird so dang much he was practically sitting on the kid’s shoulder).
We stopped along the way to peek around some shops – hanging out in a local bookstore (one of our top things to do in every city we visit) and picking up a few interesting reads. Then we plopped ourselves down on a park bench to people-watch (actually, more like puppy-watch) and read. The weather was fantastic – sunny, mid-60’s and we just soaked it all up. I can very well say they were the best Thursday & Friday I can remember in a long time!
I ran. Here is my best advice – every city you visit, pack your running shoes and hit the streets to see the city from another perspective. Picking your route, lacing up and covering some major ground (all while appearing to be a local) is an awesome experience. While we were in SF, I ran two routes – one that weaved me around the city blocks, so I could imagine what my evening 4 miler would look like if/when (ahem) I happen to live here and another that took me down Chrissy Field along the bay and to the start of the Golden Gate bridge. The runs were refreshing and needed after our lazy days of food & drink. And then, on that note…
We drank some more. I’ll skip right through our Friday night (which began with the aforementioned Tachos and consisted of bar hopping and liar dice) and move along to Saturday. We ventured out from the city and got a tour of the SF suburbs on the way up to Napa. BEAUTIFUL country. The water, the mountains, the architecture. And the perfect weather all made our trip so enjoyable. We started off the day at Mumm, a winery that specializes in white, sparkling wine (champagne style, if you will). I would have moved in if they’d have let me. After Mumm, we stopped at Paraduxx (fantastic zinfandel blends) and Chimney Rock (cab sav for all you heavy bodied drinkers). The day was perfect in every way. And then we stopped at In & Out on our way home and the day got even better!
We biked, blue-grassed & hit the beach. Sunday was spent in the beautiful Golden Gate Park – wandering the gardens, perusing an outdoor art show and checking out a blue grass festival on ocean beach. We rented a couple bikes, stopped by to tell the bison hello and headed straight for the beach. One of my favorite things about San Francisco is all the water. Having both the bay and the ocean is awesome – although swimming doesn’t seem to be doable without a wetsuit! Ocean Beach was full of interesting people enjoying the free music and we managed to make it there in time to catch the Old Crow Medicine Show and do some major people watching.
I honestly don’t know how this trip could have gotten any better, unless it ended with me signing an apartment lease and shipping all my stuff across the country. See you soon San Francisco, I’m already planning (slash plotting) my return!