Jun 22, 2013

Travelogue: San Francisco

It's been two weeks since I've been home and I'm just getting around to sharing my San Francisco trip with y'all. Worst Blogger of the Year Award goes to me. I'm going to be honest, jetlag is no joke. I'm still struggling to get a good night's sleep and I'm hungry 3 hours later than everyone else. Thank goodness for Advil PM.

I had never been to California before, let alone San Francisco; so, when my sister posed the idea that she wanted all of us to go when she graduated from college, I was on board immediately. I stressed for a solid month about what to pack. It's very hard to envision needing a Northface jacket when it's 90 degrees outside, but I managed to do pretty well on the packing front.
We took a 6:45pm flight out of Orlando on a non-stop flight via Virgin America. The flight was seamless and I'll tell you, having direct tv streaming in front of your face on a six hour flight was a beautiful thing. Not to mention, each seat had it's own power charger for electronics. We landed right around 9:45 west coast time, which of course was almost 1 am Florida time. That made the next hour and a half quite a challenge.
By the time we had our bags (which seemed to take forever) and find our shared van ride that we were supposed to take to the hotel downtown; it was way past our bedtime. The van company we paid for was supposed to show up at the stops every 15 minutes; that's a lie. We waited close to 40 minutes and then, had two more stops at the airport we had to make before we could even get on the road. At each stop, our driver would wait for 10 minutes. That's him above at one of the stops, sitting very far away from the driver's seat, talking on his bluetooth headset and not speaking English. To say we were annoyed would be an understatement.

My body thought it was 3am before I even climbed into bed that night; thankfully we had all agreed ahead of time that we weren't starting the next day until 10am and we didn't make any big plans for our first day in the city. I felt like a crazy person dressing in jeans, a long sleeve t-shirt and my Northface jacket at the end of May, but as soon as we walked outside and that 50 degrees with a wind hit me, I was glad to have packed correctly.
We spent the first day down at Fisherman's Wharf, Pier 39 and just kind of getting a lay of the land.  Oh, and eating lots and lots of Dungeness crab.
We caught some great views of Alcatraz "the rock" from the shoreline. While I knew it was only a mile from San Francisco, I could never have imagined just how close that looks in real life until I saw it in person. We had the typical San Francisco fog the first two days.
I was trying to figure out how I could take one of the sea lions home with me the whole time we were there. Then, it dawned on me; I'd never be able to choose just one to bring home. We made it down to watch them at least three times during our trip and each visit was at least an hour. (What can I say? We're obsessed.)

Our second day, we rented a car to drive the Pacific Coast Highway, but before heading out of town, we had to drive Lombard Street (crookedest street). All the switchbacks at the top of Lombard are the craziest things I've ever seen. Also, the views from the top were breathtaking. You can see the Bay Bridge to the right, Coit Tower in the center and Oakland in the far distance in the left corner.
The best stop of the day was this lighthouse a few miles past Pescadero. I had seen it highlighted in a recent Coastal Living magazine right before we left; it was so neat to see it in person. At one of the lookouts, I also caught a glimpse of a seal (either that or a sea lion, but we'll go with seal).
Here in Florida we don't do public transit. Ever. It's nowhere near convenient as a car and the stereotypes of the the people you find on public transit was more than enough for me to avoid them. San Francisco, however, it's the best way to get around the city and everyone; I mean everyone uses it. When my sister implied that we had to take the bus to Chinatown, I believe my exact words were, "We have to take the what? Are you crazy?" Turns out...not so bad.
Day three we were sent to prison.

Well, Alcatraz. Last year, we were all addicted to the show Alcatraz  on ABC, so I feel like I was somewhat prepared for "the rock," but to see it in real life is something else. I'm usually pretty good with words, but I can't even formulate a decent sentence to fully convey my thoughts.
Next trip, we want to do the night tour (yikes)! I probably won't sleep for a week after that and then another week after that with the light on. 
After we were released from the prison island, it was time to venture into Chinatown. Let's be clear; there is the tourist Chinatown with a huge fancy entrance and lanterns strung each and every way —everywhere. Then, there is the non-tourist Chinatown. If you find yourself in this Chinatown, poke your head down every alley and you may stumble upon a nice surprise (hint: photo directly above). You can write your own fortune and watch them stick it inside a fortune cookie for you (that was an extra hint). Everyone in the city was very protective of this place, so I would hate to give it away, but do some research.
Napa day was high up on my list of favorite days. The sun was out the entire day, it was probably 75 degrees and being chauffeured between wineries was a nice bonus as well. On the way out of the city, we were able to stop and get out at one of the Golden Gate Bridge lookouts. 
We sampled wines from The Franciscan, V. Sattui Winery, Andretti Winery and Whitehall Winery. Being able to freely roam through the vineyards seems so basic, but I was elated the entire day.
For $10 at each winery, we were able to taste 4-8 wines. By the end of the day, I was glad we had done a tour out of the city instead of trying to figure it out ourselves. Some wineries are open daily for tastings and tours, others aren't open to the public at all. To be dropped off at the front steps each time was relaxing.
V. Sattui was my favorite stop of the day and my favorite wine. We had the best bartender and I found a new favorite wine.
Their Cabernet Sauvignon is amazing! They had a little market up front as well with fresh deli meat, cheeses and anything else you can imagine for the perfect picnic outside among the grapes.
At our third stop, Andretti's, we were served a fantastic picnic lunch. Our view from the outdoor patio was jaw dropping; every direction all you could see were rows and rows of grapes, with huge mountains in the back.
Friday, we toured the city via movie scenes (movie tour). One of the stops let us off at City Hall, which seemed to be wedding day for at least five brides while we were there. 
We were able to get out at Mrs. Doubtfire's house too.
And at Alamo Square for a view of the Painted Ladies.

How cute is my family?
That afternoon we hopped on the cable car for a ride. I thought, I need to hang off the side like DJ Tanner did on Full House. So, I did. Not as easy as one might assume. The ride is bumpy, other cars pass very close and holding on when facing straight down a street weren't what I pictured in my head. That's the last time I'll let a TV show trick me.
To see the entire Golden Gate Bridge in the sun was such an amazing experience.
Saturday, we took a double decker city bus tour. Yes, that happened. All three of us also got some sort of weird sunburn that day. Sunscreen was not on the "to pack" list.
The Bay Bridge lights
Boudin Bakery
Goodbye San Francisco. See you soon!

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