November 15, 2012

Vacation Wrap Up: San Francisco Edition

Last week John & I went to San Francisco.  We went to celebrate the completion of this huge project John has been working on, but it also coincided with our wedding anniversary, so it ended up being kind of a second honeymoon.  This was my first time in California (I know!) & I loved it.  I spent the entire trip trying to figure out how we could live there.

We got there on Tuesday & stayed through Saturday.  It was plenty of time to do everything we wanted to do, with a lot of time to do nothing.  We stayed at the Sir Francis Drake in Union Square.  The location was perfect for us as we were within walking distance to coffee, food & two H&M's.  I'm on the fence as to whether or not I'd actually recommend this hotel, so email me if you'd like more info.  We also had a rental car, which I highly recommend if you can afford it, just be careful about where you park.  We accidentally illegally parked in The Castro & got our car towed.  It was $501 to get it out of car jail & then we had to pay the city an additional $98.  Yeah.

Buckle, up.  This is going to take you the rest of the day to read.

Day One:
On our first full day there, it was cold & super foggy.  We walked to Taylor Street Coffee Shop for breakfast then got the car & headed towards the Golden Gate Bridge.  First things first though:  Lombard Street.  This may be a good time to tell you that our rental car was a Crown Victoria.  Against the advice of everyone, we got that huge car down Lombard Street.  And it was awesome!  From there, we went across the Golden Gate Bridge, which I sadly couldn't really see due to the fog, & into Sausalito.  We hiked through Muir Woods & I got to see my first redwoods.  Then, on the recommendation of Mary Katherine & Marshall, we stopped for lunch at Fish.  Y'all.  The crab roll there almost made me cry.  It was the most delicious $60 lunch I ever had.

Back across the Golden Gate Bridge & back in San Francisco, we went to Seal Rocks so I could see the seals.  Alas, there were no seals that day, but it was a pretty hike nonetheless.  From there we drove around Golden Gate Park & ended up in Haight Ashbury where John spent hours at Amoeba Music.  Then we went to The Castro.  We parked & walked around for a long time.  I really liked this part of town.  We got ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery (so good!) & I saw Melissa from Project Runway.  Stars!  They're just like us!

This is the point in the story where our rental car gets towed.  Wah wah.  $600 later....  We walked to Chinatown & ate dinner at Hunan Homes.  So good!  It was the best Chinese food I've ever had.  Then I shopped around a little & bought cheap, Chinese wares for my nieces.  We ended the night at our hotel bar, trying to dull the pain of having our car towed.  After a drink or two, John quipped, "Remember at lunch when we thought $60 was the most money we'd spend today?"  Ha!

Day Two:
We awoke to gorgeous weather, so we went to Coit Tower to get a better look at the city & the Golden Gate Bridge.  Definitely worth it, especially since the non-English speaking man I stopped & asked to take our picture is clearly a world famous photographer skilled at taking pictures where you look 20 lbs lighter.  Thank you, mystery photographer, for the best pictures of us that have ever been taken.  If you haven't seen me in person lately, I've lost weight, but not that much weight.  The man is a magician.

From Coit Tower, which my phone kept changing to Coot Tower, so that's what I want to call it, we went to the Ferry Building to walk around & eat lunch.  I loved the Ferry Building.  Nashvillians, it's like a cross between The Arcade & The Farmers' Market + food trucks.  It was awesome.  We ate at the  4505 Meats food truck.  Y'all.  Mind.  Blown.  It was another meal that almost made me cry.  Their spicy garlic chimichurri fries & their cheeseburger topped with a fried egg...  OMG.  Tears, y'all.  Tears.

A day & a half in & we were hilariously already out of things to do.  It was also starting to rain.  So we drove to Santa Cruz & then drove the Pacific Coast Highway back to San Francisco.  Even though it was overcast & raining, it was still a beautiful drive.  We stopped here & there & snapped pics.

Back in San Fran, we parked the car & took a siesta, then went back out to shop a little before dinner.  In the 8+ years that I've known John, I think this is the first time he's gone into an actual store, a store that other people go into, & bought something.  It kind of blew my mind.  Meanwhile, in the time it took John to buy one pair of jeans, I hit Zara, Aldo, H&M & Uniqlo.  But I was saving the best for last:  Madewell.  Hilariously, & purely by accident, I was wearing head to toe Madewell, so I basically had a target on my back.  I can't remember the last time a sales associate payed me that much attention.  And it totally worked.  I bought a new gray cardigan & a circle scarf.  And by "I bought", I mean John bought because once you spend $600 to get your car out of jail, it's all just one big disaster you'll deal with later anyway.

We grabbed dinner at a place next door to Madewell called John's Grill.  It has some tie-in to a celebrity  and/or The Maltese Falcon - ?  I didn't understand.  It was kind of like if The Palm & Maggiano's had a baby.  Ridiculous restaurant.  Delicious steak.

Day Three:
On our final full day there, we walked to Dottie's for brunch.  Dottie's came highly recommended & we were excited to try it.  Unfortunately, John got accosted & subsequently peed on by a homeless lady while we were waiting in line, but that's another 1,000,000 word post for another day.  We stood in line for easily an hour, but I daresay it was worth it (said the one Baldwin who didn't get peed on.  Okay, he didn't really get peed on, more like peed beside, but still).  Best brunch I've ever had.  Ever!  Y'all, they had buttermilk dill toast!!!  Tiffany, you would have died.

After Dottie's, we shopped a little bit more.  What can I say?  There were multiple H&M's.  I had to see what they all had!  We also walked to the SFMOMA Museum Store, where I bought a birthday present for my niece.  And maybe some auxiliary Christmas presents for friends...

John wanted to spend a little more quality time with the Crown Victoria, so we decided to drive around some more.  We drove through more of Golden Gate Park & finally stopped & got a snack & some hot chocolate.  It was cold!  Then we found Strawberry Hill & hiked to the top of that.  So pretty!  Well, aside from all the teenagers hiding out smoking weed.  But you know, it's San Francisco, you expect that.

Hilarious side note, as we were getting back to our car, an older Chinese couple came up to us & asked if they could use our phone.  They didn't speak any English.  They were apparently lost & their daughter was driving around trying to find them.  Little did they know, but they didn't just stop an Eagle Scout, no, they stopped the 1999 Maryland State Orienteering Champion.  So John talked to their daughter on my phone, while he used his phone to track her until he got her there.  It was kind of amazing.

It was too early to eat, but it was cold & dark, so we drove to Mission & walked around until we were hungry.  On Yewknee's recommendation, we tried Mission Chinese Food.  We put our name on a hanging, unattended clip board on the door & got in line.  It was early, so it didn't take long & they seat you family-style, so it goes faster.  We ordered the salt cod fried rice & the thrice cooked bacon.  It's not necessarily a sichuan restaurant, but it's all pretty spicy.  Like light your colon on fire spicy.  It was the most painful, delicious Chinese food I've ever had.  I loved it.  And our seat mates shared.  Score!  They let us try their kung pao pastrami & it was AMAZING.

Sadly, my body had an adverse reaction to the food, so I got a little sick.  We had plans to meet our friends Ryan & Jessica, who were also in town, at the infamous tiki bar, Smuggler's Cove, but I was basically dying a slow death & felt like all of my internal organs were melting, so we just went back to the hotel.  I felt bad for ruining our last night there, but there was really nothing I could do about it.

Not that anyone is still reading at this point, but all in all, this was a fantastic vacation.  I love San Francisco so much.  Thanks to everyone who gave me recommendations.  They were all spot-on!  Most of all, thank you to my husband who spent roughly one million dollars to take me on this amazing vacation.  Team Baldwin!

Full San Francisco photostream here.

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