vacation recap: san francisco part 1

Hi!  Did you think I forgot you? Even though we got back from our vacation last week, I was busy catching up at work and then was in the Hamptons for a few days. I had tee-ed up a few posts, but honestly, I just needed that additional week to feel like I could get back in to the swing of blogging.  Sometimes, a break is just what you need to feel engaged and inspired again. So thanks for sticking with me while I was away. It was needed and thoroughly enjoyed. 

Since our weekend was pretty much walks, catching up on TV, and eating fresh produce from the Hamptons, I'm skipping the Weekend Recap this week and getting straight to the vacation recaps. Starting with our first stop, San Francisco.  Here's what we did, ate, and saw on our first day in the Bay Area...

Well first off, we had to say goodbye to this sweet girl. No joke, I cried leaving her. Our bond is ridiculously strong (and weird). It hurt my little heart to leave her behind. But, we had a great trip ahead of us and she was safe and happy back at home with her Grandma and Grandpa (Al's parent's). (P.S. Her lazy eye is out of control here.)

We landed at around 10PM so we checked in to our hotel and started early the next day (thank ya jet lag!). The first thing we saw when walking out of our hotel -  the cars on the hill! Exclamation point deserved! Look at them. How do they not fall over? How does one park? How does one drive and not die? Our first wonder of San Francisco - the hills and the cars that drive and park on them.

Our first stop in SF was food-related, obvi. We walked through Union Square over to Blue Bottle Coffee in the old Mint Building for some pre-sight seeing fuel. This place is clearly where the cool kids go. Line out the door of very pretty and stylish people. And a few tourists who heard the good word. Friendly staff, strong brew, yummy food. Go here. (They have a few locations, but the Mint Building location is the only one where you can dine-in).

I should note for the male readers, Al recognized and met Jason Vargas from the Royals in line for Blue Bottle. The Royals were in town playing Oakland that weekend and Al was a super fan spouting weird things to Vargas like "yeah, heard you're coming of the DL this weekend" etc. Vargas was equal parts impressed/creeped out. We talked about The Great Vargas Encounter the whole walk to our next stop.

So after a hearty breakfast and a Royals sighting, we headed to do perhaps the most touristy thing in the city (hey, we were tourists!): ride the famous cable cars. On the way though, was Chinatown, so we strolled through the beautiful few blocks and I even popped in to The Wok Shop (saw it on Food Network). Did you know San Francisco's Chinatown is the largest Chinese community outside of Asia? Neat! I will say, San Fran's Chinatown is much prettier and less-smelly than New York's. And no one approached me to buy a "handbag? handbag?". 

^^ Look who are right next to each other at this souvenir shop. We're meant to be - me and Lil. 

^^  The Wok Shop also sports a nice variety of lanterns, chopsticks, and other cooking and party related essentials.
We boarded our cable car on the other side of Chinatown and headed for Lombard Street (the "curviest street in the world").  Did you know that San Francisco's cable cars are one of the only two moving historical landmarks? They are also very crowded with about 98% tourists. We couldn't get a seat up front in the open air part, but I had a nice view of the conductor's butt working the foot break. 

And then we were at the beautiful (and extremely dangerous-looking) Lombard Street. Again, I don't know how one drives in San Francisco. The hills, the turns, and oohhh look the pretty pink flowers... (I am a very distracted driver. I haven't driven in 7 years!). But back to the street - it was quite beautiful with the manicured gardens and pretty houses and some great views too.

^^Lombard Street Selfie
After adventures in walking down a one block hill, we headed to Fisherman's Wharf to hopefully see some sea lions and eat some local seafood. A lovely local couple at our breakfast told us to skip the restaurants that line the wharf and go back on a pier to the legendary Scoma's. And that's just what we did. 

^^ Clam Chowder at Scoma's

^^ Catch of the Day at Scoma's - Crab stuffed fish (I think he said it was cod? I don't remember. It was tasty, though.)
^^ The sun finally came out!
^^ And we spotted a lone sea lion!  I named him Buster. Buster the sea lion.

Now that the sun was out, we decided to walk up and see Ghiradelli Square (shoulda done the tour. Free chocolate!) and then walk quite a few blocks to Telegraph Hill where we could catch great views of the city and the bay. Mostly though, I was excited that the clouds had mostly cleared. It was COLD without the sun.

^^ Over there way on the right is Alcatraz. No, we didn't do the tour. We only had two days. Next time.
 We made it up to Telegraph Hill. A great way to get your bearings and see several different neighborhoods. Also a nice place to stop and sit. We had walked a ton!
^^ So weird to see palm trees. I couldn't get over it.

^^ Coit Tower on top of Telegraph Hill. We didn't go up. There was a long line. And Al doesn't do lines. ;) 
But wait, we weren't done yet! We then walked over to The Ferry Building which has some great food stalls and shops (and on the weekend a huge farmer's market). Ina went here on her San Francisco episode. So clearly we had to go. It made for a great snack-stop.


And after all that, we walked home. Up a GIGANTIC hill on California street. It was worth it because after showering and a quick nap, we were headed out for Mexican food!  We ate at Mamacita, a place I'd read of on a few local blogs. We seemed to be the only non-locals, so it was nice to do something "normal" after a day of being map-reading, camera-slinging, fanny-pack-wearing (kidding!) tourists. Al ordered the enchiladas and I had the carnitas. My mouth waters at the thought of them. Big hunks of meat, sizzling skillet of cheese, and fresh tortillas. My heaven. I was pretty bad about taking photos that night. Just this one of my meal. And after that I was in a blissful food-coma. We strolled Chestnut street a little after dinner, but were so beat from the day that we called it an early night. 

All that in one day!  And aside from a quick cable car ride and the cab to dinner, we did all of it on foot! Stay tuned for Day 2. It was our last day and we still had quite a bit to see (hullo - the bridge!).
^^ Cable car selfie

Be sure to check out the rest of our summer vacation posts: 

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