Wednesday, February 20, 2013

San Francisco: My West Coast Home

How could you not go?
Old news is good news if you haven't talked about it on the internet yet.  In December, I piggybacked on my husband's business trip to San Francisco.  It's been years since I made my first trip to the West Coast, so going back was like going to a West Coast home that I wish was home. 

Surprisingly it would be the first mini-vacation as a married couple as well.
(Note: this post is long but has lots of food and pictures)

What has always impressed me about San Francisco was the weather; nothing like New York and simply fantastic no matter what season. While it was during winter, it was nothing like the biting cold of New York, and for the entire week I mostly stuck to jackets and cardigans, and a scarf for expectionally chilly nights.  Since I was to keep myself occupied while the other half was working, I was determined to not limit my experiences. However I was a bit worried about exploring by myself. So it was extremely fortunate that we stayed at the Marquis Marriott as it was in Union Square and central to everything.  Also I had a smartphone.  And if worst came to worse I would hangout at the Westfield Centre Mall which thankfully didn't happen. However we did up hanging around there several times.
Fish Tacos meet Giant Salad.
We arrived early and were able to catch some lunch before I met a local Bay Area Lolita for dinner. He chose a giant salad and I had fish tacos, both ironically at the mall food court but then it had been a long and early flight, so perfectably acceptable.  And since an old college friend of mine worked nearby, she joined us on her lunch break.

It was the best day ever because we were in San Francisco.
We also got dessert at a crème brulee cart.

The Fortune Cookie Factory and familiar facades.
The Great Wall of Cake.
Our hotel was next to Beard Papa and Angelic Pretty.
Full from food we walked to Chinatown and passed by the Angelic Pretty store, which turned out to be dangerously close to our hotel.

Comfort food done right.
After working off our food, I was set for another meal at Mel's Drive-In, a local chain known for their shakes ands and giant salads (is it a West Coast thing?).  I ordered a black and white shake and a burger, both of which were delicious.  The best were the sweet potato fries.

Legion of Honor Museum
The next day I went to the Legion of Honor to check out a Versailles exhibit. It was actually my first time taking public transportation in San Francisco, and typical me I went in the wrong direction first.  However thanks to a smartphone and Google Maps I was to get on my way.  The only thing about the Legion of Honor, if  you are taking public transportation, was at Golden Gate Park, but what neither my phone or the internet mentioned was there was a golf course at the entrance.  So I got quite confused for a few minutes (literally walking in circles) but then eventually went back on instincts and followed the path up until the museum was in sight.

Part of a Byzantine Chapel.
Unlike New York, San Francisco is very much a driving city but encourages taking public transportation for a more eco-friendly atmosphere. You even get a small discount at local attractions – just show them your pass or ticket stub before you pay admission. Unfortunately they did not allow pictures in the exhibit (not even the sign!) but it was really amazing.  From golden snuffboxes to silver dinnerware to tapestries depicting Louis and Marie Antoinette as Venus and Apollo. In the end it was small but made up in quality, and I imagine that one could only take so much on loan from Versailles. I was also able to check out some of the other galleries where they had a ceiling from a Byzantine-era chapel and were also planning to restore a future exhibit. Rushed back to Union Square to meet up with said college friend for lunch who took me to a local gyro place known for its fries. Then quickly left to change to take a Caltrain, local commuter rail, to meet up with some girls in San Jose.

Christmas in the Park
Christmas in the Park is apparently an annual event where local vendors and schools buy a tree and decorate it all for the sake of charity.

Taking pictures of food is strange thing out here.
We were even able to take a picture with Santa, which I hadn't done in a long time but it was free so why not? Then it was to Peggy Sue's for dinner.  In true Californian fashion I added avocado to my BLT, even though the healthiness surely cancelled itself out with the bacon.  Then not realizing the time we all parted ways to catch a train, which we ended up missing. Someone lived nearby so we camped out and played with their cats for a few minutes until the next train. After which I attempted to use the Uber app to catch a taxi back to the hotel.

Honey Honey Cafe & Creperie: Salmon Scramble with Home fries and wheat toast.
Wednesday I decided to get an actual breakfast, since most of the time I just got a hot tea, and picked Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery because it was near my tourist destination of choice. It's really cute and has lots to choose from. It was a hard decision but I had a salmon scramble – salmon with scrambled eggs and home fries; it was hard to relax and enjoy my food, since I wanted to eat it all right away.
From there it was a mountainous walk to the San Francisco Cable Car Museum.  I assumed it would be more of a tribute, but turned out to be the epicenter of all the lines. Be warned it may be a bit loud.  If you ever get a chance you should make a stop here -- and it's free.  They do asked for a small donation.

Iconically Berkeley.
I took a cable car back to Union Square and headed to Berkeley to meet up with a New York expat.  She took me to a pizzeria which serves only one type of vegetarian pizza every day. As we sat down there was a local band playing, apparently typical of Berkeley.  Then onto various thrift shopping where I purchased some Celeste Stein tights (which are apparently everywhere out there), two blouses and a recent prize posession, a Gunne Sax skirt. After all that retail therapy it was time for some food therapy with gelato.

Mixed Green Salad; Root Vegetable Gratin; Sweet Dumpling Squash Ravioli; Vanilla Lavender Creme Brulee
And then I went back to join my husband for a dinner at Annabelle's Bar & Bistro, a restaurant across from our hotel. The food was very rich and the vanilla lavender crème brulee was simply amazing; you could taste the lavendar all throughtout. Between the ravioli and the gratin, the ravioli won out because I felt the other dish was still a bit too bland for my tastes.

Sea Lions at Pier 39; Golden Gate Bridge
Thursday I hung out at Fisherman's Wharf for a bit while waiting for my husband's last business meeting and the start of our mini-vacation. Unsurprisingly the sea lions were still there, not a lot but still a good amount.

Japantown; New People; MaruQ
From there we walked to Japantown for another meeting, where I ended up spending a lot of time trying things on at Baby, the Stars Shine Bright. I made a few purchases at the Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, and a lot of purchase at Daiso, a Japanese dollar store.

Kushi Tsuru: Vegetarian Rolls; Edamame and Potato Croquette; Soba Bento
We then had lunch at Kushi Tsuru, one of several sushi restaurant along the bridge portion of the mall. What I presumed was a small bento was still overwhelming; it would also be the last time I would order soba since I am realizing I'm not that big a fan. Then it was a long walk back to the hotel.

Stay tuned for the last half of my trip.

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