Monday, August 15, 2011

San Francisco (Days 3-6)

It has been a busy few weeks!  I just got back from visiting my family in Boise, Idaho, and shooting a wedding while I was up there! I had such a good time hanging out with the fam and the puppies =)  As I was trying to figure out what to do this afternoon while Andrew was writing, I figured I should probably finish my San Francisco posts before I forget what I did... so....

Monday morning, Andrew started his Six Sigma training (the reason he was up in SF, and I tagged along). I grabbed a quick breakfast at Starbucks, and pulled out a map and thought about where I wanted to go that day.  The problem was that I didn't have a car, and was not familiar with the city nor the forms of public transportation.  I stared perplexedly at the map, trying to figure out which buses stopped where and where the muni train went.  I decided to "google" bus routes and ended up stumbling upon a website called  Folks... this is one of the coolest websites ever.  If you are in an unfamiliar city and need to get somewhere, simply type in where you are, and where you want to get to, hit enter, and 511 plans your trip for you.  It gives you several transportation option (ie. whether you want to walk, take the bus, then the train, or whether you want to walk a little farther and take a different bus all the way etc.)... as well as how much all the different fares would be.  It's fantastic!  With that in had on my trusty iPhone (I don't know what I would do without that ensnaring little piece of technology), I decided to go visit Golden Gate Park.  I followed my 511 directions to the train station where I purchased a muni ticket (the muni is like a bus/train by the way... it starts like a train underground and then makes bus-like stops outside houses once above ground) and headed down to wait for my train.  The train ride took about 20 minutes, and the walk to the park about another 15.
Golden Gate park is HUGE and houses several attractions such as a flower conservatory, a Japanese Garden, a Science center, an outdoor theater, a museum, and a botanic garden.  The botanic garden was one of the first attractions I walked by, so I decided to look around.
The garden wasn't too crowded that morning, so I pulled out my camera and took several pictures while I looked around.  It really was very beautiful.

After I walked through the entire garden, I went to explore more of the park.  I passed the Japanese Garden, which was what I'd originally come to the park to see, but it was another $7.00, rather small, and very crowded.  So I headed over to the Flower Conservatory.  The Conservatory is closed on Mondays, but the outside is beautifully landscaped, so I meandered the area for a while.

After leaving the Conservatory I walked about 2 miles across the park and over to Haight Street.  This area is pretty famous for being grungy and artistic... but I only know of it from an Anberlin song called... Haight Street! =)  I wanted a picture of the street sign:

and I had the song running through my head for the rest of the day!  There was an Amoeba Records right on the corner of the street so I browsed the store for a while...

...before catching a bus all the way back to the hotel.  Needless to say, I was pretty tired by the time I got back, as it had been several hours of walking.  Andrew finished his training shortly after I arrived, so we grabbed dinner at Chipotle and watched "The Hulk" that evening.

The next morning I got up and ready and grabbed my 511 directions to another bus that took me to Washington Square.  I'd been reading a Cuisine Magazine article that talked about several restaurants around the city that were a must for visitors.  One in particular caught my attention: Mama's on Washington Square.  Mama's is a famous breakfast place, and as I think breakfast is the best meal of the day and the picture showed pancakes piled with berries and syrup, I decided Cuisine Magazine was right... I had to go.  
When I arrived at the Square, I looked across the street to where the restaurant was, and my jaw dropped.  Nobody had warned me about this!  There was a line coming out the front door of Mama's and went down the block.  Talk about famous.  I walked over and got in line, then checked my watch.  It was about 9:00... and boy was I hungry and in serious need of coffee.  I was asking myself if waiting in line to eat by myself in a crowded restaurant was worth it, when through the window I saw it.  A plate with the most delicious looking French Toast piled with strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.  The plate made the decision for me.  Other places might feed me faster, but they wouldn't serve me THAT.  Plus... who knows when I'd make it back to San Francisco again?  I didn't want to miss out on this opportunity.  So I waited.  It took me almost an hour and a half to get inside, but I'm so glad I waited.  The food was AMAZING!!! It was one of the best breakfasts I'd ever had!  The French Toast I picked (there are like 7 different kinds to choose from) was a cinnamon toast with all the berries, and I added a spicy sausage, fresh squeezed orange juice, and coffee. Yum.  

Mmm my mouth is watering just looking at this picture...
Anyway, after eating as much of this as I could... I headed outside to get a picture of the front of the restaurant

See the line that goes up the block? It was longer when I first got there!
I then decided to hike up to Coit Tower, the tallest point of the city.

San Francisco is known for its hills... and this was a big one! But being even halfway up the hill gave me a great view of the city, and there were some pretty cool buildings along the way.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't panting a little by the time I got to the top of the hill, then climbed the stairs to the tower.  
Coit Tower was built in 1933, and was paid for by San Francisco socialite, Lillie Hitchcock Coit... who was known for being "one of the boys." She smoked cigars, wore mens clothing, and was an avid gambler!  She was also an honorary firefighter and "mascot" for the Knickerbocker Engine Co. 5, which started when she was a schoolgirl and witnessed a firefighter response to a fire on Telegraph Hill (where Coit Tower now sits).  The firefighters were shorthanded, and Lillie was said to have thrown down her schoolbooks and called out to passersby to help the firefighting team while she herself pitched in to help. What a character!
The inside of Coit Tower is also famous for its murals that cover the walls, which depict San Francisco city life.  You can also take an elevator to the top and see a grand view of the city, which I did not do... they have started to charge $14.00 to go up, and I was content to take pictures out front. 

After seeing the sights, I hopped a bus back to the hotel where I put a new battery in my camera, then found another bus to a different part of the city.  I got off near Alamo Square Park, which is right across the street from the "Painted Ladies."  The "ladies" are a row of Victorian houses that are all brightly colored.  Though there are many brightly painted buildings all over the city, this particular row is the most famous. 

The house on the far left had some pretty flowers out front :)

I spent about 45 minutes in the area, then boarded yet another bus back to the hotel.  I accidentally got off a stop early, but I ended up walking by a Dick Blick's Art Supplies store... which had SO much paint! I know there is one in LA... I'm going to have to check it out someday.  
Andrew and I went to Mason Cafe for dinner that night, which was decidedly not as good as their breakfast.  We rented Life As We Know It for evening entertainment, and headed to bed.

The next morning, it was my birthday!  Andrew brought me a Starbucks, and I stayed in bed with my latte and watched The Regis and Kelly Show... which I haven't done for years!  It's totally a guilty pleasure show :D  I also went to Mason Cafe for a second round of eggs benedict, and spent the morning/afternoon lounging and reading.  When Andrew was done with training around 3, we headed over to the San Francisco Ferry Building to take a boat over to Sausalito.  

The Ferry Building itself is pretty cool.  It used to house a lot of offices, but has been turning into a haven for "foodies."  There are so many different restaurants and coffee shops, as well as a farmer's market during weekday mornings.  Andrew and I were planning on eating in Sausalito, so we grabbed two lattes and went out to the dock to wait for our ferry.

On the ferry!
Sausalito is such a cute little place!  When you get off the ferry, you are right in the center of this little shopping area, right next to a yacht club.  It is so quiet compared to the hustle and bustle of downtown, and the harbor is quite beautiful.  Andrew and I walked the boardwalk taking in the scenery before heading to dinner at an Italian restaurant called Poggio's.  

Poggio's was not the sort of Italian food I'm used to... it was fancy food!  But still very good.  I had spinach pasta with rabbit, and Andrew had rigatoni with lamb sausage.  We shared a creme brulee for dessert, which I'd never had before, and it was sooo good!
After we finished eating we took a bus all the way back to our hotel (the ferry stops running at 7) and crashed.  It was a great birthday!

Thursday was our last day in San Francisco, and I got to spend some time with my friend Carrie, who I went to college with.  We realized we hadn't seen each other for 6 years!  Crazy how fast time goes by.  Carrie now has two little girls, who were adorable... and we just got to catch up on life.
I spent the rest of the day wandering the downtown area near our hotel and visiting several art galleries.  I stopped at a Boudin for lunch and had this amazing ham and brie sandwich.  Shortly after lunch, Andrew got out of training and we packed up our things and took a train down to the SF airport.   We were pretty tired once we got all the way home, but it was such a fun trip!  I'm so glad I was able to go with him, we had a blast =)

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