I left my heart in San Francisco!

I left my heart in San Francisco!

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Destination: San Francisco, California
Date: November 2012

Trent and I on Pier 39
November 2012

Recently Trent and I had to run out to California for a quick thirty-six hour trip.  It was fast and we were met out there by my mother “S” who joined us for a quick whirl around the city.  Since I grew up fifty minutes north of San Fran I felt like I was going home. For heavens sake, I even went on my first date there, August 4, 1991!!  I’ve visited the city numerous times in my life but this time I decided to see the city like I was a tourist.  So I did a little homework, browsed some websites, and put together a fun little itinerary that could include my mom, that as you can see below was not best suited for travel.

My mom “S”.  She can’t walk long distances so she
had the airport handlers push her in this wheelchair from the gate.  The
week before her trip she also scratched her eye so it was blood red
during our travel.  Poor lady
November 2012
Pier 39
San Francisco 2012

We started off our day by going to my number one favorite location….Pier 39!  Its right on the wharf just east of Fisherman’s Wharf and has lots of cute shops for browsing and picking up cheap tourist items.  The number one item bought at these shops over the years…sweatshirts!  Yes, San Fran is usually much cooler than most people anticipate.  However, being early November I was prepared and dressed accordingly.  Right on the pier they serve my favorite clam chowder in a bread bowl at Boudin Bakery, www.boudinbakery.com so of course we had to check that off of our list of “to-do’s”.  We took pictures, browsed the hat shop, the 49ner’s store, and had I not already been to the Earthquake Museum that is located right on the pier, we would have probably visited it again.

Trent getting a chowder bread bowl in SF at Boudin Bakery
November 2012
If you can’t tell my mom took this pic of Trent and I at the end of the pier.  Yep that’s her finger in the shot!
San Francisco 2012
The Sea Lion Habitat just west of Pier 39
San Francisco 2012

On the West side of the pier there is also the sea lion habitat.  Its loud, stink, and attracts many tourists, but it is a cool site to see.  The sea lions have made this their home and the numbers have soared up to 1700, piling two to three sea lions deep on the floating docks in the water. Now the numbers are down and even more sparse in the fall.  However, while we were there, there were still about one hundred sea lions to keep us entertained.  There is more information on Pier 39 at www.pier39.com  Also if you’d like to check out the live web feed of the sea lions just visit www.pier39restaurants.com where you can also find out info on other eating establishments located on the pier.

Trent posing with a Pony Express rider at the
Wells Fargo Museum
San Francisco 2012

Our next stop was a freebie!  Getting a cab was a breeze since we started our day at such a touristy location.  Since I have been to so many of the museums of this area I looked on expedia.com and found this little gem, The Wells-Fargo Pony Express Museum.  It actually wasn’t too bad for a free site to see while visiting San Fran.  Of course in most cases you do get what you pay for, but maybe because the idea of a Pony Express intrigues me so much I thought this was a little gem.  It is located in a Wells Fargo Branch office at 420 Montgomery Street in the Financial district. More info can be found at www.wellsfargohistory.com

Our stagecoach ride in the museum
San Francisco 2012

We enjoyed reading all the facts on the Pony Express, the gold rush that brought so many people to California in the 1850’s, and even sat in a real stagecoach to watch a video presentation on stagecoach journeys back in the day.  There were exhibits of the different golds found in the region, and even a little info on women in banking, and the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.  My mom and I especially loved getting our picture taken in a display they have that makes it look like you are on top of the Golden Gate.  The machine in the display can take your picture and either print it out or email you a copy at home.  It was kinda cool and worth a stop since it was free.

China Town
San Francisco 2012

From the Financial District it was a quick walk over to China Town.  Well for Trent and I it was quick, but as the hills started to go up and down the walk began to get slower and slower with my mother in tow.  (Sorry Momma, I sure love you though!)  The food and shopping in China Town is fun but the reason I went this time was to find the famous Fortune Cookie Factory.  Ok, haven’t heard of it?  Either had I before this trip, but it was another find on my internet browsing at www.sanfranciscochinatown.com, so I thought it might be fun.

The Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
San Francisco 2012
My mom “S” was enjoying some of the samples
Gotta love that lady!
San Francisco 2012
Cool process of Fortune Cookie making.  Like the sign in the background?
San Francisco 2012

It’s actually fascinating to see how a fortune cookie is made and the machinery it takes to make them but I have to admit I was a little concerned about the level of hygiene displayed at this place that makes a food product.  Its located in an alley of China town.  There is an old Chinese man that stands at the door and points to a sign that asks for fifty cents for every picture taken.  He also sells vanilla and chocolate fortune cookies at the door.  With a free sample we knew they were genuine, edible fortune cookies that were sold in both, folded with the fortune, or in a round disc shape without a fortune.  It was interesting to say the least.

Missed the tour at TCHO Chocolate Factory but still enjoyed the gift shop and cafe
San Francisco 2012

After yet another web search I decided I wanted to visit the TCHO Chocolate Factory just off the Embarcadero.  Had we been a little faster in our walking the up and down hills of China town we would have made it for the 2:00 tour but it was not meant to be.  However, there is a cute little gift shop featuring this delicious chocolate and next time I go to SF,  I’ll be sure to make either the 10:30am or 2:00pm free tour.

We asked our rick-shaw driver to take our pic but he missed getting our little bike/rickshaw in the picture…oh well
San Francisco 2012
Best Fish in California is sold here at the fish market
San Francisco 2012

At about this time of our trip we knew my mom was running out of energy.  The 0.8 mile walk to the Chocolate Factory from China town had been a little much so we needed to find a way to get to our next destination without walking.  When we went out to hail a cab there were none to be found but there were lots of bicycle/rickshaw riders.  We prayed one of them could carry all three of us and sure enough he could so we were off again.  Our bike rider was great and as he huffed and puffed pulling Trent, my mom, and I on the back of his bike.  We actually had a very nice trip up the embarcadero past Pier 39, past Fisherman’s Wharf, the shopping that lines the embarcadero, and up to Ghirardelli Square.  Yes I know from one Chocolate destination to another, I’ve got problems!

My mom and I in front of the Golden Gate just down from Ghirardelli Square
San Francisco 2012
Love this place!
San Francisco 2012

We did some more browsing, took pictures of the water, and the Golden Gate from the park located just in front of Ghirardelli Square, ghirardellisq.com.  We stopped by Kara’s Cupcakes, www.karascupcakes.com,  located there and picked up a few of these delicious treats.  From there we went on the the Ghirardelli Chocolate bar and enjoyed hot chocolates, ice cream sundaes, and basically the sin of gluttony.  By this time we were ready to be rolled back to our hotel rooms.

Kara’s delicious cupcakes up at Ghirardelli Square
San Francisco 2012
Lombard Street, this picture doesn’t do it justice
San Francisco 2012

On our final taxi ride from Ghiradelli to Union Square we past Lombard street, the most crookedest  street in the world, www.sftravel.com.  I’ve driven down it many times, and after posting a picture of it on my Instagram it was fun to hear of all my local friends stories of getting their cars stuck on the street, or taking out a hedge or two trying to get down it.  It it was fun to see it again through the eyes of a “tourist”.  We went down the steepest hill in San Fran, 22nd street.  It was a thrilling cab ride to say the least, but we finally made it back to Union Square.

Trent enjoying mussels at Grand Cafe
San Francisco 2012
Our awesome restaurant in the Union Square district
San Francisco 2012

Union Square hosts some of the best shopping in the city.  Its a great place to take in a show or find a great place to eat.  While we were there we found a place called Grand Cafe, www.grandcafe-sf.com.  Trent and I both enjoyed the ceviche, mussels and some great soups and salads.  After our long day of sight-seeing we didn’t do much else.  After looking at the website www.unionsquareshop.com it made me wish we had spent more time shopping and hang out a bit more in this district of the city.  However, it was not to be this time around.  If I had had a chance to see all I wanted to in the 24 hours I had in the city I would have walked the Golden Gate, taken in a theatre production in Union Square, ridden the cable cars, visited Alcatraz for my first time, and spent a little more time finding some great outlets and looking for deals.

View of the Golden Gate and the bay
San Francisco 2012
Alcatraz off in the distance, someday I’ll make it there (as a tourist of course…)
San Francisco 2012

San Francisco is such a small city, at only 46.9 square miles, and is the only consolidated city/county in California.  Its the 35th most popular city in the world to visit and it does have so much to offer.  When I think of SF I can’t help but remember the days before Banana Republic was the high end store it is now, and how we would go the the alley entrance of the store to dig through boxes and boxes of clothing looking for the unstained or the not as noticeable irregular items.  I think of our days in the open dressing rooms of Jessica McClintock changing clothes among strangers and being so lucky to find that perfect Laura Ashley dress that made it to the outlet.  My mom would also take us to the old and then the new Espirit outlet where clothes were sold at bottom barrel prices, but mostly I remember the feeling I got when I was in San Fran.

The Sir Francis Drake Hotel, where I went to prom in May 1992
San Francisco 2012
Gotta love this city!
San Francisco 2012

It was a city that represented many of my firsts.  First step into fashion, first date, the first and last Prom I ever attended was at the Sir Francis Drake.  San Fran was the first city I’d ever ridden public transportation into the city on the B.A.R.T. or public transportation in the city on the cable cars.  The ocean, the weather, the culture of San Francisco kept me looking at what other great cities in the world had to offer.  So as I travel the world with my husband and kids just like the song says, “My heart belongs to San Francisco!”

Safe and happy travels!