Before I begin, I would like to say THANK YOU TONS to Elea for driving Daniel and I around San Francisco on Saturday. We spent a good portion of the time hopelessly lost and laughing hysterically. It was loads of fun.
Friday, August 31
We get to the airport earlier than we need to, and I momentarily hold up the security line for not having my ziplock bag OUTSIDE of my messenger bag for screening. A girl behind us jokingly says something about holding up the line, and then has her bag pulled off to the side, actually holding up the line, since she had full-size bottles of shampoo and conditioner in her bag. The security guard unceremoniously threw them into the trash, making me wonder how many unfortunately-circumstanced people could be helped by donating these toiletries instead of trashing them.
Getting into San Francisco was easy, as was finding our hotel. Getting food, on the other hand, was not quite so easy on a Friday night with no reservations. We end up waiting outside some podunk Italian food place for a LOOONG time before being seated. They served ridiculously giant portions.
We head back to the hotel, only to learn that the thing nobody mentions about it is that there’s a nightclub next door and on the roof. Fortunately we are not too picky and are able to sleep through it fairly easily. Sleeping through the people mucking about on our emergency-escape landing was not so easy.
Saturday, September 1
Ritual Roasters was our first destination, where we met up with Elea for coffee. After perusing the Internet with her pretty MacBook for things to do that day, we decide on visiting Haight & Ashbury and then Golden Gate Park. Stop by Amoeba Records and buy some vinyl (single of NIN’s “Only” for me) and eat lunch at Escape From New York Pizza. Incidentally, this is not the Escape From New York we have here in Portland. Seems to just be a coincidence.
On the way to the car, we realize that a bathroom is desperately needed by all. Most places do not have public restrooms and we are faced with a quandry. Miraculously, someone spots a public library! They must have bathrooms! Fortunately, they do, and while I felt sort of guilty about using them simply for their facilities, nobody said anything and we all felt better afterward.
Golden Gate Park was huge! We got lost in the AIDS Memorial Grove and couldn’t figure out how to get over to the gardens or the observatory thing. Finally resorted to getting the car and driving closer to it. Took lots of photos.
Headed to the Sunset neighborhood for dinner and decided upon Cafe Gratitude (on recommendation by Elea’s friend). It’s this great raw and vegan restaurant that is sort of hippy-dippy but in a fun, I-heart-the-earth kind of way. Every item on their menu is named some variation of “I Am [blank]” so that kind of became the catchphrase for our vacation. (Daniel and I visited a different location of Cafe Gratitude on Monday, and while a (super-nice, extremely laid-back) waiter desperately tried to reason with a loud customer, Daniel discreetly said “I am IRRITATED” and I dissolved into hysterics.)
Proceed to get really, thoroughly, lost trying to find our way back to our hotel. End up asking for directions at some weird grocery store where the clerk laughs in our faces upon hearing we are aiming for the Mission District and says, “Wow, you are lost.” Finally make it back, where Daniel and I bid Elea goodbye and wish her a safe trip home.
Sunday, September 2
Fisherman’s Wharf! I know some people said to avoid this because it’s so touristy, but we just wanted to check it out for ourselves. Of course, everyone was right. It was insanely busy. The restaurant we decided on for lunch said it offered seafood and Italian cuisine, which is good for us because I desperately needed fish n’ chips and Daniel is vegetarian. I ordered a Long Island Iced Tea with lunch (they had it advertised on the back of the menu, so I gave in) and got embarrassingly tipsy on a very small amount of it, and then proceeded to drink the rest. I kept joking with Daniel that he wasn’t allowed to let me walk down any stairs because I might not make it. Note to self: Do not drink hard liquor on an empty stomach without expecting these kinds of results.
Realize the wiggly street is close by and decide to walk. The hill is very, very steep, but I’m glad we did it.
Aquarius Records on Valencia street had a great selection of metal and I got a Vintersorg album, a Thyrfing album, The Faint’s “Blank-Wave Arcade” and a Tristania album. Can’t think of the names at the moment. Definitely worth checking out if you like small-ish indie music stores with great metal selections.
As mentioned earlier, we headed to the Mission District location of Cafe Gratitude for dinner. Yum! I totally recommend this place, but you have to have an open mind about the selections. For instance, the “cinnamon roll” is not so much a cinnamon roll as it is an oaty brick (a delicious oaty brick, but oaty and bricky nonetheless) with caramel sauce on top. I’d get the chocolate mousse if I were you.
Monday, September 3
Check out time at the hotel was 11am, and our plane didn’t leave until 10:20pm, so we were faced with the dilemma of having to lug our wheely suitcase around all day. Daniel called the airlines and asked if we could check it in earlier and from what I understand, was rather shortly told that early bag check would not be an option. I thought about it later and realized there’s probably some sort of liability involved, but it was worth a shot. Asking around at the hotel, we learn that they actually offer to hold bags if necessary. Hurray!
Daniel wanted to make it over to Blue Bottle Coffee, some sort of kiosk downtown. Again with the getting lost – took us forever to find since we went the wrong direction at first. The neighborhood was super neat though; it had a lot of indie shops and one called “Lavish” was my favorite. I bought a sewing book there, and probably would have spent several hundreds of dollars on neat things if I had kids, since a lot of it was totally rad baby clothes and bibs and the like.
I wanted to go to the Aquarium, so we headed over to the Fisherman’s Wharf area again. Most of the photos I took were crap, even though I set my ISO speed for 800 hoping that would help. I do not claim to be a photographer so I’m not even sure if that was the right thing to do, especially since it makes my camera auto-shift the quality from “Best” to “Good.” I liked seeing the Moon Jellies, anemones, and starfish. Lots of people thought it would be a brilliant idea to leave their baby strollers unattended in the walkways and I got annoyed. They had “touch” pools at the end where I got to pet a Leopard Shark and some starfish.
To kill some time, we decided that seeing a movie would be a good idea and – get this – I managed to convince Daniel to see a scary movie! This rarely happens, and if it does, it involves a lot of peer pressure. We saw “Invasion” with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. I liked it; I think Daniel did too but it’s hard to say since scary movies are not his thing.
Dinner that night was from Burger Joint on Valencia. It’s this retro-y diner place that had the foresight to serve veggie burgers so we could both be happy. The french fries were delicious. Right after, we ran by the hotel to pick up our bag (yes, singular – we packed both our stuff into one wheely suitcase) and headed to the airport.
When we got there, none of the lines were that bad, but after about five minutes or so they were awful. I became convinced we were going to miss our flight, even though I didn’t know what time it was. If you got past the extremely long, rather slow-moving line, security was a breeze and we made it to our gate okay.
After the plane got delayed 15 minutes due to mechanical failure (a seal on the pressurized door was faulty or something) I began thinking a very late-night flight when Daniel had to be at work at 5:50am and I get up at 6:30am was probably a bad idea. This was the first plane I’ve been on that had video screens and they played an episode of the American version of The Office. It was a funny one, something about new employee orientation and Tim-who-is-not-Tim (Jim?) came back from being away? Or at another branch? I don’t have TV so I don’t know much about this version. Didn’t get to see the end since we had to land.
Made the executive decision to take a taxi home from the airport and avoid the 45+ minute MAX ride home, and paid through the nose for this luxury. Oh well. I suppose you can be extravagant on occasion and live through it.
So! Overall the trip was a sucess. I liked “The City” and had fun being lost absolutely everywhere. Food was pretty expensive, but I’m really, really glad we decided to go this route instead of dinking around at home or trying to rent a car to drive to the coast. It’s actually given me confidence that we could travel other places! Farther away! And have an okay time doing it! One thing I would have changed was coming up with an itinerary beforehand, since I think we wasted a lot of time every morning trying to decide what we would go see that day. Other than that, it was great.