I finished school a couple of weeks ago and I immediately took myself on a quick vacation up north to the Bay Area. I had a dire urge to get out of town as I've been doing the school thing for quite a long time and just needed a breath of fresh air. My cousin, Sarah, lives up there so hooray for having a place to stay! The first few days I hung out by myself and walked all around the city of San Francisco. And, really, I did hoof it all over the place. It's a great walking town because the streets are narrow and there is lots to see and do.
|My cousin Sarah was was such a great hostess! She was very hospitable and took me to eat at some scrumptious places!|
The first day, I got off the BART at 16th and Mission and had lunch at the Pork Store Cafe. Now, this was a major whoops moment because I had been reading the reviews for the Haight-Ashbury location, not the one on Valencia. So, it was quite a disappointment. The establishment itself was quite dark and tattered; my booth (all the booths) were torn up like some cat went cuckoo all over the place. The water tasted really weird. After having a mediocre chicken fried steak meal, I walked all the way up to Market Street where I saw many a tourist and many a nutcase. I guess this is typical for the city of San Francisco.
The next day, I had a quick lunch at Chris Cosentino's Boccalone at the Ferry Building. The prosciutto sandwich I had was okay but really quite salty. Combine this salty with my next endeavor and I can tell you--it was a little bit of a miserable afternoon. After Boccalone, I walked down Embarcadero and saw Coit Tower looming to the west of me. I crossed the street, walked through the cutest little romantic park, found a diner, and saw the steps leading up to Coit Tower. Now, there was a Starbucks right there, too, and it didn't occur to me to grab water or a drink for my hike up. Bad idea. So, here I am halfway up to the base of the tower and I'm completely dehydrated because I forgot my number one rule: always have a water bottle with you. That prosciutto sandwich did not help, either :-( Oh, and it was unseasonably warm, too. Probably great So Cal weather at 75F or so but "a scorcher" according to a San Franciscan I'd met the prior day.
I knew I was going to be walking around a lot so I left my camera at the apartment. Thus, all I had was my phone and I must say--the Blackberry Bold's camera sucks.
|Pardon the quality, it's from my phone. However, these are the steps to Coit Tower from the Embarcadero side. I stopped counting how many steps I was taking after 600-something.|
Finally, I got to Coit and I even paid the $7 to go to the top. I saw the views from the top and they were great but I had not realized that there were locked windows. I guess they are a good idea to 1) block the crazy wind up there and 2) prevent anyone from jumping out. I think that will be my first and my last time up the tower because there wasn't much else to it.
|View of Golden Gate Bridge from Coit Tower.|
After I came down from the tower, I found out that Lombard Street takes you to Coit Tower, too. So, I went down Lombard Street. I found myself at Columbus Avenue and walked into a liquor store to buy a honking huge bottle of water. Even the cashier guy said that everyone was walking around with water that day. Hooray for finally getting some agua in me!
|This is Lombard Street at Columbus Avenue. It might look like nothing but oh, I assure you your booty will tell you differently after you've walked up it.|
After my little chat, I continued up Lombard Street. I've got to tell you--it's a darn steep street! And I'm not even to the crooked part yet! I was like, "Okay, natural Stairmaster, natural Stairmaster. Today's the day I'm working my glutes in this city."
|The famed crooked part of Lombard Street. Real tourist attraction.|
I made it to the famed crooked part of Lombard. Then, I went to the top of it and didn't even realize that you can go on down the other side. It was a warm day. I'm getting slight hydration back in my body but I've been trekking around the city for a few hours now. It's almost 3pm. I'm over it. Back down I go on Lombard Street.
I just went back the same way and then came on back down to Columbus Avenue where I headed into the Financial District and Chinatown, on my way to dinner with my cousin in Oakland. However, on my way down Columbus, I passed my beloved Molinari Delicatessen. They have amazing Italian goods in there and ooh, the sandwiches are super fabulous. I didn't buy anything that day but I want to make a visit each time I go up there. The salami that they have... oh! be still my heart. Take a gander at their website to read about their rich history.
|Make sure to visit!|
So, I took the BART over to Oakland where I met up with my cousin to head to dinner. She took me to a little Korean restaurant called Koryo Jajang. We had fried dumplings to start and then a duo noodle dish along with some fried chicken. It was quite tasty. My cousin's a foodie! Hooray!
|The thing about Chinese people: we tend to over-order. However, it's nice to try a variety of different dishes.|
I was so happy that Sarah finally let me treat her to something on this trip because after dinner, she took me to the famous Fentons Creamery in North Oakland. I'd never heard of this place but apparently, it was in the movie Up. I love Up. Poor Sarah says she's always fallen asleep five minutes into it. Pixar Animation Studios is located in Emeryville, the next town over. It seems that they tend to put local landmarks into their movies. I didn't know that. Anyway, Fentons was featured in Up and I'm glad! Obviously, that is not its claim to fame but it's nice to know. This North Oakland landmark has been around since 1894 and I'm just sad that they don't have any locations close to me :-(
|Yum! And I'm not even that huge of an ice cream fan.|
|I got the banana nut ice cream. Such a classic combination but I've never thought about it in ice cream form. Whoever thunk it was a total G-E-N-I-U-S! Sooooo good! And yes, I like the cheap cones best.|
Friday was really fun because I was taken around by Trish of Dish by Trish. Hooray for hanging out with a registered dietitian! Did you know she recently won a calorie cutting challenge on the Dr. Oz Show? I was so proud! She is a classy and fabulous person to know and I'm so happy that we got to meet up! And this lady knows her San Francisco parts and history.
Trish took me to lots of neat places! The first was Twin Peaks where I got to view the city from the very middle; Twin Peaks is in the middle of San Francisco and you get beautiful views!
|If you ever thought you were in a smushed together town, then you've not been to San Francisco yet.|
|This long stretch is Market Street. You can see the rainbow flag there in the Castro District.|
|The skinny line of trees on the left of the picture, running through the middle of the picture, is the famous "Panhandle" before reaching Golden Gate Park.|
After this we headed over to Golden Gate Park where we marveled at some of the gorgeous and peaceful views it offers. This truly is a magnificent place and when I do come back up to visit, I'll definitely hit this up first.
Since I had been walking around a lot the past couple of days, I wanted to add more mileage to my pedometer and walk the Golden Gate Bridge. Sadly, the shoes I was wearing did not agree with me. Why I wore my cheap Target shoes is beyond me; they were creating blisters on my pinky toes and I think my pinky toes gave sighs of relief when I said it was probably not a good idea to walk the bridge. But it sure is stunning in person!
|Another reason it was probably a good idea that we didn't walk the bridge: the wind! It was a tad windy over there!|
After this, we headed to the Marina District for a little SHOPPING! That's one thing I've got to say about San Francisco--there's great shopping. Because there are so many different districts and neighborhoods, they all have their own little downtown which might be one block long with shops and restaurants or a few blocks long. Either way, each "downtown" has its own charm and the Marina District's was no different.
We stopped at the Palace of the Fine Arts for a little bit. The famous Exploratorium is this huge crescent building to the exterior of the Palace. We didn't go in but did have a nice walk around the grounds.
|We were greeted by a little swan family.|
|A beautiful piece of architecture from 1915.|
|There's a grassy knoll/park behind me here and it's a nice place to relax and watch the sun set behind the Palace.|
It was Friday and early in the afternoon Trish and I were talking about food and she had an ooh moment--Friday Night Food Truck Party at Fort Mason. It's a weekly event where food trucks and people gather for food, fun, and music. So, that's where we went to for dinner. I've never been to a food truck event before. Actually, I've never had food truck food before. There is quite a food truck scene here in Orange County but hmm, I'm not sure why I've never been. It was quite interesting.
|This was around 5:30pm or so? The event (hosted by Off the Grid) started at 5pm but it started filling up quickly.|
|I've always found liquid nitrogen ice cream to be the bestest ice cream ever.|
None of the dessert offerings at the Fort Mason were really wowing us so we drove to Hayes Valley and stopped at Smitten Ice Cream. They only had four flavor choices but had a bunch of different toppings available as well as recommended ice cream and topping combinations. OMG, why didn't I take a picture of the menu board? I got... malted vanilla ice cream with a... brown sugar caramel? It was so good! I have always advocated for liquid nitrogen ice cream since I started making it in my chemistry classes at Orange Coast College. It's so freaking good! The reason is because of how cold the ice cream is freezing at; it's super duper cold. Go to Smitten's website and read up on it. But because of the coldness and the quick freezing, it doesn't have time to form any large ice crystals, just really small ones which ensure a smooth consistency.
|Freshly made liquid nitrogen ice cream. You've got to try some and experience the fabulosity!|
On Saturday morning, I met up with Kate from BlendAbout in Downtown Palo Alto. Have you heard of that site? It is a social dining website and I believe the basic objective is eating together with new people at restaurants. Making new friends over a shared love of food. That's totally my kind of thing. I've still yet to try it but I recommend checking it out.
We walked around the Palo Alto Farmers Market and it wasn't until we were done there that I remembered I had to take some pictures. I had the most amazing almond croissant from a bakery of which I did not catch their name. Sad, I know. When I'm getting to business enjoying a baked good, there is nothing else going on around me!
The farmers market was alright and hanging with Kate was definitely fun. It was a short visit as I had a plane to catch later in the evening back home. It was a short flight, too, less than an hour back to Long Beach. I really do dig jetBlue. Last year, I flew to Washington, D.C. on the same day as my graduation from UCI. However, it was a red-eye flight. I've never been on a red-eye flight (that I'm consciously aware of) and so I was surprised to receive a Snooze Kit. In the kit are ear plugs but more importantly, a sleeping mask. Now, I'd never worn sleeping masks prior to this and tried it on and man, it blocked out all light! It was comfy, felt good on my face, and off to sleep I drifted in an uncomfortable sitting position.
You can probably imagine how incredibly sad I was when one of the straps on the mask broke months later! So sad. I was bummed to no longer have it. I ended up buying another sleeping mask but it just wasn't the same. And it was supposed to be more luxurious than the jetBlue mask. So, on my flight to SFO, I asked the flight attendant if they had any sleeping kits with masks tucked away somewhere. They didn't. Boo. When I got onto my seat to return home, I asked another flight attendant and yay!!!! They had a kit! And there was a mask in it :-) I'm so incredibly excited!
|Great customer service and interaction with jetBlue!|
Also exciting? I had an aisle seat and was waiting for my seatmates (whomever they were) to join me. Well, I ended up having no seatmates. How bizarre and cool at the same time! It wasn't until we were flying for about five minutes that I took my seatbelt off and slid over to the window seat! I had three TVs to myself but only had two on. Watching TV on two different screens... neat! Sadly, the sun was setting behind us but I still had incredible views from the top.
|Gorgeous, isn't it?|
By the end of my trip, I had walked a total of 174,631 steps, which equaled 30.60 miles. Quite a lot of steps but definitely good times and great memories. Good-bye Bay Area! Until we meet again... ciao for now.