Californian Honeymoon: San Francisco
This city. Seriously so cool.
Let me just answer your first question now- No. We are not moving here. Don't get me wrong, we loved every neighborhood/borough/area that we walked through. But, when we realized that the "higher standard of living" rumor actually meant that we would pay three times as much as we do now for our 1400 sq ft apartment close to downtown Des Moines for a ROOM in A HOUSE, that was a pretty big turnoff.
We landed in the city the evening after our honeymoon. As we made our way from the outskirts toward downtown, I noticed the inflated number of anorak jackets and scarves blowingggg in the wind. I realized that even though I thought I was queen of packing, I may have over estimated the temps with the sea breeze that shoots through every street.
Our hotel, the Marriot Marquis, was located downtown in the "Tenderloin District" of the city. I was pretty surprised at the downtown feeling, I pictured the city to be all Full House looking and lots of trolleys. Though that was the case elsewhere, being downtown made me feel no different than my time in NYC or Chicago.
Since we didn't know anyone in the city and weren't going to throw a rager, we actually spent most of our time outside on the balconies that overlooked the AT&T Stadium and the harbor. We did have the honeymoon moment where I stood in my terrycloth robe and watched Zach pop our champagne, which was followed by a toast to the week and to our new marriage!
Here come the beginnings of the areas of the city we saw. We wandered around Chinatown and Little Italy that night. It was what you imagine-chinese lanterns strung between air dried laundry windows, men playing mysictal flutes, women handing out advertisements for MSG free Chinese foods, slippers for sale, and noodles galore.
We can attest most of these awesome days to what we found in the Wild Sam book. This company gathers the "best of" for about anything you could want to find in a city, quirky maps, essays written by locals about what it's like to experience a day there, and historical/cultural facts.
But then. We crossed Mission Ave to this dog park/party district and got tattoos! We went to Idle Hand Tattoo because it was in the book, and they have nothing but awesome reviews online.
Zach got a Koren folklore tiger, and I got two arm bands around my bicep. You have to have an explanation ready for a tattoo, so here it is:
Both of my other tattoos I have gotten while traveling, and they have represented a season in my life. While I was in Italy, I really wanted to get a tattoo. I noticed a lot of Italian people with various sized and placed bands around their arms. I asked Giovanni-the coffee shop owner on my street-what his were for, and he told me most Italians get them for their family members. I wasn't sold on the cleanliness of the parlors in Florence, and wanted to spend my money on traveling, so I held off...until the day after I had Zach to call my family!
That night we grabbed a cocktail at a beautiful European looking bar on our way home.
We were in town when the NBA finals were happening, so we grabbed pizza and cheered for the Golden State Warriors with the locals.
The next day was a "heat wave" it was actually about 80 degrees, and we walked 15 miles in and out of areas and boroughs.
We started at Blue Bottle Coffee downtown in the Mint Building. They specialize in the brewing technique of syphons. We met an awesome guy named Felix there. He was so nice to us and chatted with us about life in San Francisco and moreso, he and Zach nerded out about coffee. We had said syphon coffee and breakfast before hitting the pavement.
We decided to try out the Fisherman's Wharf. We quickly realized this was not the place for us. No offense to those that love it, but Zach and I found that we like to eat and drink good foods and just walk more than we do like to be with a million people and eat food that we could find anywhere.
But you know what? That trip to the Wharf provided us a trip on the trolley, and that is all I wanted that morning.
We found lunch at a Korean food truck in the Financial District. I tried bibimbap for the first time, and it was SO SO GOOD. Look at those colors! The flavors were way too good.
We wandered to one of the piers and had an afternoon cocktail at an oyster and bourbon bar called Hard Water. We chatted with the bartender and he explained more of the housing problems in San Francisco. I'll just stop here and say that everyone we met in the city was extraordinarily nice to us. They weren't just servers, they asked questions and formed conversations, and it was like being at home. I thought that most people would roll their eyes when they heard we were from Iowa on our honeymoon-everyone comes here on their honeymoon sort of vibes. But the opposite! Most people we met were so excited for us and took time to write out suggestions of shops, bars, and secret spots.
We then backtracked up to Pier 39. Again, very very touristy. But ya know what, I also really wanted Salt. Water. Taffy. And we found it. Tucked away at the back of the pier with the sea lions. And I ended buying $30 of taffy.
We wandered through Nob Hill (finally the Full House looking houses).
We walked through the Financial District.
Probably a lot of other districts we didn't know we were in.
And then we ate dinner at a restaurant in Japantown. The center was really cool and had a ton of interesting shops. Japanese people have a remarkable part in San Francisco history. Find a library and read about it!
And just because we can't stop. We walked through Dobace Triangle and Hayes Valley districts to go look at Muji (the Japense version of Ikea).
[The next few days we spent traveling California, look for those posts later this week.]
It's only fair to include our trip to the John Muir Woods the day we got back to the city. The woods are seemingly close to the city, but with traffic on the Golden Gate and in Sausalito, it took us forever to get to the park.
After being in the car all day, we popped out, and seriously scaled up the mountain and back down. We had so much energy ready to go as we weaved in and out of the redwoods and up to the top of the hill. Everything looked like Planet of the Apes and Jurassic Park. We ended up somewhat jogging down the mountain like we were on some Amazing Race episode. People were happy to let us by, so maybe we fooled them into thinking we were.
We spent the night inside and cozy back at the ole Marriott Marquis. The next morning was such a treat, we saw Mary Bunting at Blue Bottle Coffee! She was in town visiting some friends.Then we walked over past the AT&T Park and through all of the super modern apartments and buildings.
We walked through the Dogpatch District and had lunch at the Hard Knox Cafe. We also had ice cream at Mr. & Mrs. Miscellanious. Sadly, we have no pictures of the beautiful space-it was perfect. Also-not my hand :)
We wandered home through the Design District. It is basically blocks and blocks of old warehouses turned into elegant showrooms for Italian and Japanese furniture designers. There are also pretty things like this.
To commence our last night in the city, we had sushi and sake at a place in the FInacial District called Ozumo. Our concierge who "never recommends places to eat because it's too much pressure" recommended this one sushi place to us. It was a pretty penny, but was really cool looking and had amazing sake. I have really liked my experiences with sake. It's the perfect pairing to sushi. It's warm and cozy. But, we found out more than was ever thought to be found about how sake is produced and served. Ozumo has the largest sake inventory on the west side of the country. Sadly, no pictures because, well it's not that kind of place.
We walked a few blocks home and realized it was time to head back. We were ready to make our apartment into a home, change my last name (GILBERT?!) and get back into the swing of things in the greatest city in the Midwest.
However, San Francisco holds a seriously sweet spot in our hearts. We fondly talk about it with other people who have visited and encourage everyone to consider going.
Stick around for Napa Valley and Santa Cruz!
Signing off from the evening comforts and noises of Pleasant Street.