For those who guessed, yes we were in San Francisco this weekend. By "we", I mean the Dearest and I...sans les enfants terribles. That's right: 24 hours in a strange city by ourselves with no schedules to worry about but our own, no having to say "leave your brother alone", no wiping noses (or butts), no diapers, no hauling a bag full of someone else's stuff around, no conversations revolving around Legos or trains....
Can I just get a big WOOOOOOOOT?!?
I missed the small men, but I was soooo happy to have some time alone with the Dearest. We haven't been on a trip together since before Little Man was born 4.5 yrs ago. The last time I was on a plane, we were flying to Europe with LM when he was one year old. I'd forgotten how much easier it is to travel when children aren't involved.
As any parent knows, vacationing with kids is NOT a vacation. It's often more trouble and headache than it's worth. The Dearest has been talking about going on a family vacation for the last couple of years. When he brings it up, I just stare bug eyed at him and think of all the work it will take for us to get on a plane...it's exhausting just thinking about flying, nevermind getting around when we land. And dealing with two active small men in a strange hotel room? Umm....yah....that sounds about relaxing as a poke in the eye.
But a few weeks ago the Dearest talked to his mother (known around here as G'ma O) and asked if she could watch the small ones for a night or two if he could arrange for me to go with him to San Francisco. G'ma O jumped at the chance to hang out with the grandkids, and the Dearest got everything together so I fly up with him early on Sunday, then fly back late Monday night. It meant only about 24 hrs together in SF, but that sounded great to me!
San Francisco has always been one of my favorite cities. I've only been there twice but loved it both times. If I ever had to live in a big city, SF would be my first choice (Amsterdam would be my 2nd). Despite the fact that cities don't generally appeal to me (too much noise and too many people), something about the atmosphere in San Francisco makes me feel comfortable. Maybe it's the fog coming off the bay or all the crazy hills...who knows?
At any rate, we dropped the small men off at G'ma O's early Sunday morning and headed off to the airport. After a quick one hour flight, we landed in Oakland and took BART across to San Francisco proper. It's amazing that we traveled so far so quickly and for only a few dollars. Gotta love that public transportation (of which Southern Cal has practically none). The BART station was literally steps from the hotel so we were able to check in and drop our bags off within an hour of stepping off the plane.
Then it was off for some sightseeing. The hotel was right on Market Street, within easy walking distance of Chinatown, Nob Hill, Union Square and pretty much all the other tourist attractions.
So what did we do in San Francisco? We walked, took the trolley, walked some more, ate, drank coffee & did some uninterrupted people watching. Oh, and I also took photos (of course! LOL):
the view from our room (best viewed large)
First we headed off to Chinatown where we stumbled across an amazing park. There was a fun play structure in the shape of a pagoda and a great view of the Transamerica building (which I posted previously). Here's another shot of the building....you can see the pagoda play structure in the foreground-
And everywhere we looked, there were old Chinese aunties slapping cards and dominoes down on upended cardboard boxes...
We stopped at Grace Cathedral to catch our breath (I didn't realize that it's a replica of Notre Dame...no wonder it looked so familiar!):
Then it was down to Union Square, where our rumbly tummies reminded us that it had been quite a while since we'd eaten. Faced with a choice between Daily Grill and Lefty O'Doul's, we went with the latter when we saw the "children welcome" sign. We figured that any place serving beer and allowing kids must have decent pub food, and we weren't disappointed:
It was cafeteria style (where you grab a tray and are served from hot plates), but still pretty good and *very* filling. We wandered around some more after eating and then headed back to a coffee shop near the hotel for some cafe lattes and people watching before turning in.
Aren't city skylines pretty at night?
Sorry no photos of the delicious fruit tray and egg/sausage breakfast due to our state of undress and the fact that I was too lazy to actually move from my chair to get the camera. :)
Since we did so much walking the day before, we were determined to have the total tourist experience and ride a trolley/cable car. We got on at the Market Street/Powell stop. This is also where they have a cool roundtable to turn the trolleys around. I taped it just for Monkey Boy (who is obsessed with trains/trolleys and roundtables), but you can enjoy it too. If you turn up your volume you can hear all the background city noise.
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We headed down to Fisherman's Wharf, which is lined by dozens of amazingly ugly and colorful shops selling the same t-shirts & souvenirs. I loved the whole tacky, carnival-ish feel. We ate at Boudin: clam & corn/crab chowder in bread bowls. Yum. Perfect to warm us up on a foggy SF day. It was too foggy to see the Golden Gate Bridge (we could only see the bottom half), but Alcatraz was quite visible:
And caught a streetcar to the Embarcadero. The Dearest's client is in one of these big buildings:
Finally we decided to catch one last trolley ride up California Street and back toward the hotel. Here's a typical touristy shot:
And finally, a shot down California Street, looking back toward the Bay...
Then the clock struck midnight and the carriage horses turned back into mice and Cinderella the Princess turned back into a maid....OOPS, I mean:
Then it was time to pack up and head back to the airport. I got back to G'ma O's house around 7:30pm and the small men were overjoyed to see me. I was pretty happy to see them too, even if I did just have a wonderful time without them!
So now we're back to our regular schedule of school, swim and housecleaning. And if you were able to stick it out through all those photos, you should go get yourself a treat!