Monday, November 4, 2013

West Coast Wedding Extravaganza - Day 1

This post has been a long time in coming!  Sorry about that, and many thanks to the wonderful people who gave us ideas for what to do on the West Coast, and especially to Kristin and Drew, who hosted us while we were in California!  More posts to follow soon.

Saturday, August 17, 2013: San Francisco, CA
Roger and I left for Newark airport straight from work on Friday evening, and after an uneventful plane ride and getting a little lost with our rental car, we arrived at Kristin's house, where we were staying, around 1am.  I've known Kristin since middle school (and she's even more talented now, if you're in the market for amazing prints or cards), so I didn't feel too awkward, but it was the first time we met her awesome boyfriend, Drew, and it would have been nice to be a little less sleepy for that.  But it was great to see them - living on opposite coasts makes it hard to get together! - and spending time with them was one of the highlights of the trip.

When we woke up, Drew was making breakfast (another amazing constant throughout the trip), and we all hung out a bit before Roger and I braved our first type of San Francisco transportation: the streetcar.  The streetcars in San Francisco are from all across the country and vintage, so it was really cool to see one in action.  We got off at Powell Street and wandered around Union Square, stopping in at an H&M to buy Roger a jacket.  Turns out San Francisco in the summer is chilly!  (Which, honestly, was kind of a nice break from the New York August heat.)  We spent the day on our own personal walking tour, which was wonderful (though, if you mapped it out, not exactly efficient), and started with wandering around Chinatown.

On the suggestion of one of Roger's colleagues, we headed to Bob's Donuts.  Apparently it's in one of the less savory areas on San Francisco, but our walk over there was nice and the donuts were very good, though Roger was upset that he ordered bread pudding (thinking I wanted to try it) instead of one of their donuts.  Ooops.

After that, we hiked north to Ghirardelli Square.  We wandered around admiring the square (there was a beautiful hotel with a fire-pit overlooking the square) and the view, and then stopped into their Ghirardelli chocolate shop to split one of their World-Famous hot fudge sundaes.  (Yeah, we ate a lot of sugar instead of lunch - it was a vacation!)  It was really, really delicious, and it was fun to watch the chocolate-making process there, too.  We passed on our chance to buy Train-themed chocolate bars, sadly, and headed down to the bay to take in the view of the Golden Gate Bridge and (to Roger's dismay) Alcatraz.

From there, we continued our walk to the San Francisco Art Institute, where we looked at the Diego Rivera mural, "The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City," which was lovely.  There are a lot of great murals in the Bay Area, and it was really cool to see this one in particular.  The institute also has a nice courtyard where we sat and rested for a bit.  We continued on our way and passed by Lombard Street's famous switchbacks, which was actually really amazing to see.  I was surprised at how beautifully manicured it was, although I'm not sure why.

From there, we headed to Fisherman's Wharf (see what I mean about not taking the most efficient route?) and wandered around the Musee Mecanique, which was filled with the most incredible vintage arcade games and automatons.  Some of them were seriously cool (a pin-up viewer), some were seriously strange ("what every married woman cannot avoid," with a portrait of Virginia Woolf on the outside and a doll of a man surrounded by bottles inside), and some were seriously creepy (a crying baby automaton).

After that, we stopped at Boudin Bakery to split one of their famous sourdough bread bowls and a Red Trolley Ale.  Even though it was a little crisp out, we ate on their patio.  The food was really good and it was nice to do some people watching outside.  After, we walked over to Pier 39 to watch the sea lions, which was definitely a highlight of the trip for me.  I'm really into what is common wildlife for other places but feels very exotic to me.  Plus they seemed to have such personality!

After our day of touring around, we took one of the trolley cars south and then hopped on the Bart to meet up with Kristin, Drew, and some of their friends at The Chapel, a really cool music venue/bar that is a converted church.  We had some fancy cocktails and then finished out the evening at a Mexican restaurant.  We had such a blast doing all the touristy things around California, but a definite highlight of the trip was seeing so many friends that we never really get to see.  Kristin and Drew were so wonderful to host us in their gorgeous apartment for the better part of a week, and we loved every minute we got to spend with them!

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