San Francisco Travelogue

For our 10th wedding anniversary, TP and I bandied about the idea of traveling to Paris (where we spent our honeymoon), Quebec (North North America’s Paris – apparently DC is America’s Paris), and Charleston, SC (nothing like Paris). After debating the financial, emotional, and physical costs, we settled on San Francisco (the title totally gave that away, didn’t it?).

Thursday: We bundled the kids off to school, wrote them each a letter replete with lavish love and subtle threats if they didn’t behave, and drove to the airport. The drive itself only took about 45 minutes but getting from the parking lot, through security, down the escalators, onto the tram, up the escalators and finally to our gate took about an hour. For some mysterious reason, the TSA gods decided to bestow upon me the glory of “precheck” which meant that I could skate through security in the fast lane WITH my jacket on, WITH my shoes on, WITH my dignity intact!  Ah, irony: white boy was not so blessed and I ended up waiting around for him anyway.

Fly, my pretties, fly. Arrive. Since this was my vacation too, I treated myself to a small planning break and delegated to TP the task of figuring out how to get from SFO to our hotel. More fool me. Frazzled by the choices and buttons and growing line behind him, TP made us purchase $20 BART tickets even though the fare to downtown was less than $9. Even counting the future trip to Oakland ($3), we would still have unused funds left on the cards. We consoled ourselves with the fact that the hotel we were staying in was pretty swank and we were getting a deal because this was TP’s 10th hotel stay via hotels.com. I was annoyed by the loss of $15 but slightly mollified by the savings of $100.

Late afternoon found us trying to squeeze in a nap before trekking about but with such precious little time in the city afforded to us, we couldn’t relax.  We stretched our legs by walking up, over, and around Chinatown (more legit than our paltry version, cleaner than NYC’s, but mostly tourist shops) and the waterfront. Guided by our concierge’s advice, we made reservations at a nearby sushi restaurant, Ozumo. Highlights: Hanabi (hamachi, avocado, warm ginger-jalapeño ponzu) and, pictured below, Choco Chan (Flourless chocolate cake, green tea ice cream, shiso syrup). The time difference served us well as we were more than ready and happy to accept an early reservation. A post-dinner constitutional was followed by immediate snoozing. I’m not 100% sure I even took my shoes off before I fell asleep.

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Friday: Of course, the downside to falling asleep at “8:00 pm” (real time 11pm) is that I was up at “3:00 am” (real time 6am which is actually almost oversleeping for me these days). Thank you, MCPL and Jim Butcher (and a hat tip to Eric) for the ebook to keep me company until the more decent hour of “6:00 am” finally arrived. I shook TP awake (still abed as he’s not a morning person… or any time of day really person) and suggested a morning stroll before the highly-lauded (and rightly so) Blue Bottle Coffee Co. opened at “7:00 am”. We headed down to the port and loitered on the docks watching the early morning ferry commuters disembark while we waited for the shop to open. Third in line? Inconceivable!

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We had a quick first breakfast (“cheese toasties” for me, eggs-n-cheese-grits for TP) at the nearby Cowgirl Creamery before we walked over to Mama‘s on Washington Square for second breakfast. I would have loved to stop at City Lights Books but it was closed at “9:00 am”. Arriving on foot, we had no worries with respect to parking but for the fact that the friends we were supposed to meet were driving and thus were delayed looking for parking. After we waited for an hour in line, they neatly swooped in just as we were next to be called. The food was good, the company was better.

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Well-fueled, with a mediocre cannoli to top us off, we packed our meager belongings and stored our single carry-on with the concierge before we hoofed it through the rest of the town. Up to Nob Hill, across North Beach, and up some more to Telegraph Hill to arrive at Coit Tower. Whew, my dogs were barking! After some totally unnecessary banter by the elevator operator (seriously, dude, we all walked up here and stink to high heaven and now we’re trapped in this claustrophobic, rickety, antique elevator and you want to give a speech and make jokes about the elevator elves before even pulling the lever?), we were released into the wild, blue yonder.

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We filled our eyes with views of the city, its beautiful bridges, and the bay, filled our lungs with deep, cleansing breaths, and hiked down, down, down the city.

IMG_1647 IMG_1649 IMG_1651 IMG_1653With plans to avoid Friday rush hour traffic, we took the BART into Oakland around “3:00 pm” and were met by our law school buddy who whisked us away to her comfortable and thoughtfully ‘cat free for a week’ home. We caught up on our lives over a tour of the house and garden, caught up on other people’s lives over Vietnamese food at Xyclo, and caught up on health woes and dietary restrictions over gelato at Lush Gelato. We stocked up on snacky snacks for our outing the next day and returned home. Ever the gracious hostess, J let me go to bed at “8:00 pm”.

Saturday: With only Ebony, the ousted cat, to keep me company (she glared at me from outside the kitchen window), I caught up on my reading, showered, changed, ate a giant slice of delicious homemade peach pie, and finally rousted the rest to get a move on for our trip to Muir Woods.

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By the skin of her teeth, Yaznotjaz and Lemon fortuitously met us just as we were parking. We wound our way through the majestic redwoods, startled a deer (not as newsworthy as these deer but still pretty unexpected), and took many a lovely sit to discuss all our favorite topics: books, travel, gadgets, blogs, and other people.

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We had planned to have lunch in Sausalito but Sushi Ran wasn’t open for lunch and Fish had a line out the door. With the assurance of only a few minutes to wait, we settled on Scoma‘s where we were granted a nice table near the window overlooking the bay. I had the special of the day: pan seared rare ahi tuna with a sesame seed crust, wasabi-ginger soy sauce, goat cheese, beets (which J kindly ate for me), toasted almonds on a spring mix green salad. Not sure what the others had because who cares, this is what I had!

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Following G’s advice, we swung by Philz for more fuel before heading to the next comestible destination.

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Even since I read a blurb in “Telegraph Hill”, I’ve wanted to try suff. You’d think that living in the city known as ‘second only to Ethiopia’ in terms of Ethiopian population and restaurants, I’d have encountered it by now. You are so silly. I mean, where do you come up with this stuff? Honestly. I had to travel across this wide country (though not as far as Zora) to land at the steps of Cafe Colucci and get my suff. Slightly gritty but sweet and so satisfying.

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Stomach full of sunflower seeds, I sloshed into the car and joined my crew in recuperating at home. We learned French as taught by a Scot. We recharged our bodies and devices. We heaved out of our comfy seats and went to the cemetery.  As you do.

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We strolled over to Geta and patiently waited for our final takeout sushi dinner. The restaurant was packed. Standing around was a little uncomfortable after a full day on our feet but J warned us not to rest our weary bones on the dusty ledges nearby because the ongoing drought meant there was untold amounts of untold yuckiness around that had not been washed away in untold months. Point taken. Home again for delectable sushi, a peach pie chaser, and bed.

Sunday: We were drawn to Caffe Trieste when we saw it in North Beach but didn’t have time to partake in a coffee break. Today, we made the time. TP and I had a quiet morning with the other early risers (bums and hipsters alike) before returning home to catch J in the act of cuddling with/seeking forgiveness from Ebony. With farmer’s market fresh eggs, newly purchased Parrano, and a dash of half-and-half (you didn’t know that, did you, J?), we whipped up some cheese omelets with avocado and tomatoes for breakfast.

The drive over the Bay Bridge was thankfully uneventful (we just missed this snarl) and we arrived at SFO in good time for another “what’s the point of this pre-check when I can’t even use it properly” dance through security and to the gate. The rest of the journey home was replete with the requisite arm-rest skirmish (but thankfully no all out recliner war), terrible movie, and patient zero passengers anointing us with their various viruses and disgusting diseases. I looked forward to a Silkwood chemical decontamination shower.

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