Sunday, October 2, 2011

San Francisco Treat

Remember back when Jürgen was cast in a Broadway show? Remember how it closed unexpectedly?

Yeah? Ok just wasn't sure if you still remembered.

Well, before all of that came crashing down there was a point when we thought he would be getting one weeks paid vacation after the show had run for at least six months. This would have put us somewhere around March or April of 2009 and we thought it would be a perfect time to visit California Wine Country. And thus the dream was born, our next vacation would be in Napa.

Well we all know how that turned out, and dreams of crushed grapes and rolling hills all but vanished.

Fast forward through eight months of my misery in NYC and almost a year of living apart and we felt like we deserved a vacation. Throw in a best friend getting her MBA at a Bay Area school and you have no excuse not to travel west. And thus, the dream was reborn.

We have known about this trip since April, and while neither of us wanted to wish away the time, or the fleeting Chicago summer, we. could. not. wait. We saved, researched, planned, mapped, we even made multiple spreadsheets in preparation for this excursion. We were to be gone a full week, but we wanted to see and do it all. That's just how we roll.

We spent two and a half days in San Francisco, four and a half days in Napa and about twenty hours in Berkeley, California. It was busy, it was enriching, it was a trip for the record books. Our personal record books anyway. And while there is no way I can fully capture the experience here, I will certainly do my best.

It would be far too much to try to cover it all in one post, so I shall begin with San Fran.

Day 1:

Despite our best efforts to get a good nights sleep, the night before our trip was restless. Many sheep were counted, very few hours of sleep were accumulated. Not the best foot to start on but we persevered, and thankfully were met with no flight delays or mid air turbulence! I managed to squeeze in a few winks en route but Jürgen wasn't as fortunate (a positive side effect of being tiny is the ability to curly up on two airplane seats). Ah well, we pressed on.

Upon arriving in Oakland, CA it took us about an hour to reach San Francisco proper, and our first order of business was to stop at the visitors center and pick up three day City Passes, allowing us freedom to use all buses, subways and trolley cars for transportation. If you ever travel to San Fran, get these...they are worth their weight in gold!

After that we headed to the studio apartment we rented through this site to drop off our stuff, freshen up and get our bearings. The place wasn't fancy, but it suited us just fine. Clean, centrally located to all modes of transportation and directly across the street from a foodie hotspot the Zuni Cafe (which we never ate at but was excited to be near it nonetheless).

The view from our window
After unloading our belongings, we were still fighting fatigue but decided a good place to begin would be the Hight Ashbury district. An area not unlike Belmont in Chicago (if you aren't familiar with this Chicago area just trust me when I tell you they are similar). Imagine a world where dressing like a hippie is totally en vogue and you can't throw a stone without hitting a tattoo parlor, and you have imagined Haight-Ashbury. We walked into some vintage shops, stopped by the Grateful Dead house, and explored a tiny bit of Golden Gate park.

I swear I spotted some Dancing Bears

The rumors are true. San Francisco has a lot of Fog. 
It was now a suitable hour to imbibe in some beverages of the alcoholic variety so we stopped in Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery. A respected brewhouse in San Fran with a cool community table you can belly up to and hydrate yourself. We settled upon a six glass beer sampler, goat cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon and some crispy pig ears. Yes you read that right...crispy pig ears.

Note: I will not go into detail about the food we ate in these summary posts, I will save that for a separate entry

Now revived from hops and pig parts, we decided to catch a bus to the Mission District. The bus ride was long but we got to wind through the Twin Peaks neighborhood and get some cool views of the city. I was continually amazed at the concept of a large metropolis being built on so many hills, it's just a sight I am not used to seeing.

Once we found ourselves in the Mission, our first mission (pun! intended!) was to put our name in for a table at the renowned pasta restaurant Flour + Water. We knew it would be a long wait, which was fine considering we were still a bit full from our cocktail hour and it would give us a chance to explore.

Go Here. Go here now!
We wandered over to Clarion Alley, a famous alley in San Francisco for its incredible street art.

After immersing our self in street art culture we sat down for what was truly the best pasta either of us has ever consumed. Trust me on this one. Details are forthcoming.

Once we literally licked our bowls clean the effects of a long day of travel combined with next to no sleep were kicking in. So much so that we didn't even have a desire to eat dessert! Satiated and happy,  we traversed back to our little apartment, and I was asleep by 9pm (which in fairness was 11pm Chicago time).

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