When Parker and I first arrived in San Francisco after having just left Portland (and before that Seattle, and Colorado before that), we took the BART (their train system) in to the city and I fell in love immediately. The big blue skies and the brightly colored buildings really make the city look beautiful and unique.
But let me tell you something that no one else ever tells you (especially the SF bloggers) and some people may hate me for saying – San Francisco is a dirty, smelly city (love ya though, SF, mean it!). Dare I say even more dirty and more smelly than New York. The stench of urine seemed to linger every-freaking-where from the streets to the buses and I have a sensitive nose, so…I had a bad ‘tude about that. Also it’s freaking cold. No, like for real. We had jackets but we (poor little Georgia folk) needed coats at times – in the middle of June. Also, the wind. The wind was the absolute worst and at one point I wanted to shave my head because I couldn’t deal with my hair in my face all the time – even when I put it up, the wind would let loose tiny baby hairs that would tickle my nose and get in my eyes. I get stressed out just thinking about it.
All of this to say… we had a lovely time! No for real, after the initial shock of the pee smell, bitter cold, and hurricane force winds, we laughed and just went with it. :)
Click through for the rest of this post! :)
Originally, we booked a room in the Tenderloin district at Hotel Diva. Folks, don’t stay in the Tenderloin district, kay? It’s where a lot of the tourist hotels are so you may think it wise, but there isn’t much to see there or walk to except the cable cars and we came to find out that it’s got one of the highest crime rates in the city and the highest concentration of homeless people in the city. The hotel was perfectly fine, but we cancelled the rest of our stay after one night and moved to Hotel Vitale in the Embarcadero, which was literally right outside the start line to the half marathon we would be running that Sunday, and a much nicer area. Score!
We took a long walk that first day. I wanted to go to Golden Gate Park, which I naively thought would be the area right below the Golden Gate Bridge (you know, like in New York how Brooklyn Bridge Park is right under/next to the Brooklyn Bridge so you can relax in the grass and gaze up at all it’s bridge-y glory) – but no. Golden Gate Park and the Golden Gate bridge are two totally different things and no where near each other if you’re walking. Silly me :) But we walked through the park, which is lovely, all the way down to Ocean Beach and played around in the sand and barely touched our pinkie toes in the water because it was freeeezing.
We made our way in to the Mission district and walked around a bit – I found a pretty white cotton dress straight from the 70s that I had to buy at Idol Vintage – and then we had dinner at a great pizza restaurant, Mozzeria. We didn’t know until we were seated and started looking around, but the restaurant employs all deaf servers! How unique and awesome. If you don’t speak sign language, they read lips quite well (speak slowly and clearly, but don’t be an idiot), you can point to what you want on the menu, and there is a pad of paper and pen at each table just in case. It was really neat! Oh and the food was awesome! We ate charcuterie and cheeses to start and then a rustic italian sausage pizza with red wine, and we got to sit right at a window to watch the city outside. It was one of our favorite dinners in San Francisco.
So on our anniversary, June 16, we got up before dawn to go run a half marathon together. This was kind of the whole point of the trip, actually, now that I think of it. Yes, that’s how this trip all came about – I had forgotten. Parker got it in his mind that we should run a half marathon. I had run two full marathons and a couple of halfs and never wanted to run long distance ever again. But he looked up all the races in the country, found one in San Francisco on our anniversary and got excited – and said we could make a whole trip of it. So I said yes :)
Couple of HOT MESSES, that’s what that is. But we did it! More importantly, my baby did it. He is not, has never been, and swears he’ll never be (after this) a runner. But he made me so proud. And the course was a really nice way to see San Francisco – starts in the Emarcadero, goes through Fisherman’s Warf, then out to the Presidio, up across the Golden Gate Bridge and back, through some beautiful residential neighborhood and then ends in Golden Gate Park. And the hills weren’t nearly as bad as we had trained for, so all in all, it was a good time. Happy Anniversary to us!
Okay, so after we finished running, we showered and ate and were in the mood to explore. We had coffee in some little shop in lower Haight and the people watching was the best. This is one of my favorite memories from San Francisco. I love the 70s era, but these guys outside live the 70s era. Check them out! Parker and I had such a fun time sitting at the window, drinking coffee and just watching them. They kind of crowded the sidewalk though and regular folks would get mad trying to push their way through them and they’d be all “hey, peace, man” – ha! What a trip. :) Oh and Parker was convinced we were on a movie set and there were cameras somewhere filming, but I was like “No, babe. This is San Francisco.”
Later on we wanted to go up to Twin Peaks, which is the highest point in the city and a fantastic vista. Finding out out how to get there is kind of tricky though. We took the bus until we thought it was the last stop (it wasn’t) walked up higher, got all confused, and luckily, met a really nice guy who lived at the top and was on his way there who gave us the inside scoop (“Get off the bus when I do, then you’ll see some stairs and a trail, then when you get to the concrete wall, hop over it, cross the road, then keep climbing and you’re there”). His instructions sounded kinda crazy, but were actually spot on. If you want a little more info for your next trip, click here.
The views did not disappoint! Beautiful! We went late in the day because the fog sticks around until the afternoon, and it was just perfect. The wind however (have I mentioned the wind?) was so strong, it nearly knocked us off our feet and took the breath right out of us. It was the most intense wind I have ever experienced. These pictures look so serene and calm, but oh man, we were getting knocked around so violently from the wind that we were only able to stay up for a few minutes. If it had been calmer, it would have been a beautiful spot to spend lounging around and admiring the city.
On our way out of the city the next day, before we set off on our trip down the Pacific Coast Highway, we drove across the bridge to see the city from the other side and to visit Bonita Cove. This is another favorite memory of mine – the day was gorgeous, the drive was incredible, the weather was finally warm, and the scenery was just breathtaking.
Also, the winds were blissfully absent during our time up here and my hair remained off my face. The most amazing feeling. :)
Overall, despite my whining about the stank, the cold and the wind, I would absolutely love to visit SF again – now that I have proper expectations and have a feel for the city and the best/worst neighborhoods a little more. We had fun, but the next part – the drive down the PCH was what I was most excited about and had been waiting for. Can’t wait to share that with you guys tomorrow!