Guys, this was a whirlwind of a trip. I only spent 2 full days in San Francisco, and pretty much spent another 2 full days travelling. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
I’m gonna break it down on a day-by-day basis, to help me remember what happened. It’s all a little fuzzy due to lack of sleep!
Tigger and I hopped in the car at about 8am to drive down to Boston since I was flying out of Logan. I stopped for coffee, gas, and some Trader Joe’s snacks. Yum! And then we were off!
I’m gonna skim over all the driving and long flight and such, except to say that it was smooth sailing, and I got my first glimpse of the Pacific ocean around 7 pm San Francisco time.
Immediately upon landing, Krissy and her bf Dave picked me up and we headed into the Mission district to meet their friend Schumann for sushi. We went to this place called Kiji, and I can say with all honesty that this was the best sushi I’ve ever had in my life. Fresh, flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth tender pieces of fish, and wonderful flavor combinations. I’m so sorry I don’t have any pictures, but I left my phone in the truck. It didn’t really last long enough for pictures anyway! Dave knew the chef, so we got a few complimentary plates, as well as 2 complimentary bottles of Sake, which I’d never had before, and is quite tasty. I highly recommend Kiji if you’re in the Mission–great service and amazing food!
When we were finally done eating (we ordered 2 separate rounds of food!) we headed over to a bar called Amnesia. Little did we know that they had a honky tonk band competition happening, so we got to see two live bands that were both pretty good! This bar was great because it reminded me a lot of the way one of my favorite local coffee shop/bar/music house combos used to be, before it got “hipster-ified.” We danced and had a few drinks, and headed home around 1:30.
Krissy and Dave live in the Presidio, which is a former Army base, and it’s actually a wildlife area, built mostly on sand dunes. There are some cool trails that wind around the dunes and across the street to Baker Beach and Marshall Beach. This is the view off their front porch.
The Presidio is usually foggy and much cooler than the rest of the city, due to some funky weather patterns
Breakfast was sourdough bread from the famous Boudin (pronounced boo-deen) Bakery. This bakery has been using the same sourdough starter for over 100 years, and it is AMAZING. We each ate about 6 slices slathered in butter, lightly toasted, and then sprinkled with pure Vermont maple sugar crystals. So, so good.
After breakfast, Krissy and I took their golden retriever, River, for a walk along Marshall Beach. You have to walk down lots of steps and past an old battery to get there–that’s the stone structure in the forefront of this picture looking down at Marshall Beach.
This beach is really cool, because at low tide, you can walk almost all the way up to the base of the Golden Gate bridge.
In the afternoon, several of their friends came over for a BBQ, cause what’s the 4th of July without grilled meat? And margaritas? And homemade salsa? A travesty, that’s what. Thankfully, we had all those things and more, so life was good!
Around 7:30, we packed some blankets and a flask and hopped on bicycles to ride down to the Hyde Street Pier. We had an exclusive invitation to watch the fireworks from the deck of the Balclutha, which is a windjammer class cargo ship that was first launched in 1866. This is not something you can buy tickets for. This is not something that you can pay for. We only got an invitation because Krissy and Dave’s neighbor, Jo-Jo, works for the maritime museum and does the rigging for the ship. Can you say, VIP? Oh, yeah!
Watching the fireworks from the ship was SO.FRICKEN.COOL. First of all, the barge that was lighting off the fireworks was only about 200 yards away. Second of all, the lights and explosions made me feel like I was in the midst of a naval battle. I kept imagining what it would have been like, and I just sat there with an idiotic grin the whole 30 minute show. Thirdly, the way we were positioned in SF bay meant that we could see not one, not two, but three different fireworks shows. BALLER!
Can you see Old Glory flying in the upper right corner? So patriotic!
Afterwards, we rode our bikes back through the crazy crowds of people, and Jo-Jo, his girlfriend Tessa, and another of the museum workers, Marcos, came over and we drank some beers and ate delicious popcorn with nutritional yeast sprinkled on it. This was new to me, and as a popcorn aficionado, I was really pleased. It’s almost cheesy, but with a really rich flavor. Yum! Finally, around 1 am as I was struggling to keep my eyes open, we headed to bed. I left my window open and I could hear the waves and the fog horns 🙂
I awoke around 6 am to the
aggravating dulcet tones of a baby hawk shrieking outside my window. This is a long story, but basically there are two baby hawks, named Bob, and Steve. But since you can’t tell them apart, I started calling them “Stevebob.” So I’m lying there, thinking REALLY murderous thoughts, and threatening Stevebob under my breath. Thankfully, he shut up and I got to sleep a bit longer.
Stevebob through the telescope
Krissy and I got dressed and hopped on a bus (locals refer to public transportation as “muni”) and went to a delicious, New York style bagel bakery for breakfast. We were trying to meet up with our friend Sophia’s tour bus company at Union Square for a 10 am tour, but unfortunately, we got “muni’d”–public transportation is not always that reliable in the bay area.
Instead, we headed down to Market Street. Now, I’m gonna lay a little history lesson on you. After the earthquake of 1906, most of the city was leveled. What didn’t collapse during the earthquake itself generally caught fire and burned, so there’s very little historical architecture left in San Francisco. This golden fountain is one of the few surviving structures. In the aftermath of the quake, it was one of the few recognizable landmarks, and became an unofficial meeting place for people looking for friends and family. They painted it gold after the fact, and it remains right downtown.
Tigger is having adventures
Next, we hopped on the F line, which is REALLY cool. It’s made up of street cars from all over the world–the one we sat in was originally from Italy, and all of the signage was in Italian!
The F line took us to the Castro, which is the “gay” district. Rainbow flags everywhere! We went to Philz coffee, which is AMAZING, by the way, and is attached to a laundromat called the Sit ‘n’ Spin. Oh, San Francisco, you sassy thing! We wandered around the Castro for a while, and stopped in at Hot Cookie. All they sell is cookies, and they serve them warm. I’m still drooling thinking about my cookie.
We got on a train for Union Square and stopped at the Westin Hotel. This thing is enormous, and has elevators on the outside, so you get a fantastic view of the city. Unfortunately, the elevators require a room key to operate. We lurked by the elevator bays until some other people got on, and we rode up with them. While we didn’t get to go all the way to the top, it was still really cool. And those things move FAST! It was almost like a roller coaster ride!
We decided to catch Sophia’s 12 pm tour on the Magic Bus. Guys, I can’t recommend this tour bus enough.
Not just a tour–it’s a trip!
This bus takes you to all the same places that any other tour bus would take you, but it’s way more fun and interesting. It’s set in the historical and political context of the Summer of Love. Projector screens roll down over the windows so you can watch video clips, and they roll up again so you can look out the window and see where you are, or yell things to passersby.
Sophia, or “Gaia,” as she’s called on the bus, is a riot. This is basically a 2 hour one-woman show, and she’s perfectly in character at all times.
Yes, those are all her own clothes
You will be offered LSD (melty mint candies) and directed to look at “blank white walls,” which actually have murals painted on them, to indicate whether or not your drugs are working 😉 You’ll be driven through the Haight-Ashbury, of course, the lower Haight, North Beach, the Conservatory of Flowers, past Golden Gate Park, and everywhere else you might want to go in downtown San Francisco, and you will laugh your butt off the whole time. This is a small, independent business, so if you’re planning a trip to San Francisco, I highly recommend you take a trip on the Magic Bus.
After the bus ride, Krissy and I blasted over to City Hall, because apparently, the steps inside the front lobby are featured in the final scenes of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sadly, City Hall was closed for the weekend, so all we could do was peek in the windows. Next up, drinks at Zeitgeist. I don’t have any pictures because there were actually signs around discouraging the use of camera and video equipment, which was sad. Anyway, this place is pretty cool. It’s cash only, which I think is really unusual. The only foods they serve are burgers, grilled cheeses, and home fries, which are all VERY tasty. They have a beautiful patio out back that’s jam-packed with picnic tables, and it sort of encourages more of a community feeling, because you usually end up sharing a table with another group. Sophia and her bf Will, met us there for a couple of drinks, and then Krissy and I headed back to the Presidio.
We weren’t sure where the evening was going to take us, so we showered and changed, and then hopped in the truck with Dave. He was heading back up to Napa to finish his concert gig, so Krissy and I needed to pick up her car, the Scubaru (Subaru WRX, and Krissy is a diver), so she could drive me to the airport in the morning. We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset, and it was really cool, because the sun’s rays were peeking out from beneath the fog cover.
We took a spin up through the Marin Headlands and back around toward Sausalito, where Krissy’s friend Spike has a farm. That’s where the Scubaru was stashed. Spike gave us dinner and we stayed until almost 10:30.
The Scubaru is unfortunately about to be retired–K has had this car for over 10 years, and it’s unfortunately reached the point of no return, so we took her out for her final Krissy and Rachel sing-along road trip. We drove up to the Palace of Fine Arts, which is affectionately referred to as a particular piece of female anatomy that I will be polite enough not to repeat, because it has a big dome on top. It’s incredibly beautiful all lit up at night, and we actually scaled one of the walls to get a better view.
Any Dr. Who fans out there?
Next, we drove up to Coit Tower, which is affectionately referred to as a particular piece of male anatomy due to its shape. I’m sure you can figure that one out yourself from the picture. There is a huge Diego Rivera mural all around the lobby, but of course since it was now 11 pm, the building was closed. Thankfully, we could look through the windows and see it anyway.
The view from up on the hill is pretty phenomenal. We could see the TransAmerica building, which has a giant LED light on top. Apparently, the light isn’t lit every night, but it was on Saturday, so I felt pretty special 🙂
The TransAmerica building is that big blue light
As the final stop for the night, we headed over to North Beach to check out Vesuvio cafe. This place is a historic landmark, a “monument to jazz, poetry, art, and the good life of the Beat Generation.” Jack Kerouac was a frequent visitor, and it remains a “hip” bar and tourist attraction. It was really crowded, so we just went inside and poked around for a while, and then went across the street to Spec’s for a drink.
This Vermont state flag was placed on the ceiling at Spec’s by an actor that Krissy has worked with back in VT. Crazy, no?
Finally, we were exhausted and decided to head back to the Presidio. We watched one of our absolute favorite chick flicks, Dirty Love, with Jenny McCarthy, and didn’t head to bed until 2 am.
That 5 am wake up call was pretty rough after such a late night, but I managed to drag myself up and pull all my stuff together. It was a beautiful morning, with fog pouring down the mountains like an avalanche.
Since it was my last ride in the Scubaru, I had to take a final picture before heading into the terminal.
So there you have it! San Francisco. Or at least, a tiny, tiny portion of it. I can’t wait to go back when I’ve got more time. And I really want Ben to come too. His dad was stationed in SF during his time in the Navy, and Ben has always wanted to visit.
Ever been to San Francisco? What’s your favorite thing to do there?
Where did you get the best sushi you’ve ever had?
Have you ever done a whirlwind weekend getaway?