Monday, March 31, 2008

Hey there San Francisco

Did you miss me? Bet you didn't even know I was gone. That's one of the perils of less frequent blogging I suppose. More good stuff per post, but less daily tracking.

Well I've been gone, and man oh man was it a good gone. S and I jumped on a plane ...

did a little of this along the way, and ended up here...

Yep... San Francisco! S had a conference there this weekend and we decided to make a vacation out of it. We stayed in the Union Square area in the most amazing little hotel, The Maxwell. They call this a personality hotel and it did have personality! It was a fun little art deco style, 1920s building and we loved it. Close to everything, right in the middle of downtown. If you like something a little different, we'd recommend it.

We started our trip with a stroll down into Chinatown.

Even on a Wednesday afternoon this place was bustling. And on this very first day, our very first meal, we had what I think was our very best meal.

Those are mushrooms (left) and shrimp with fresh spinach leaves (right) and they were DELICIOUS! We ate at the House of Nanking and following our guidebook (which was a winner in terms of recommendations), gave the waiter (you can see him in the pic at the restaurant review) a general sense of what we wanted and he ordered for us. De-lish ... I almost licked the plates!

After lunch we walked up to Coit Tower, got our exercise there, and got a great view of the city from Telegraph Hill. The weather was beautiful so we could see for miles. The top picture is actually taken from the hill.

After walking back down into Chinatown, we decided to go do a tea tasting at Vital Tea Leaf. We must have tried 15-20 teas while we were there and ended up bringing home more than our fair share ... Blue People (a green tea with ginsing... very zingy... an energy booster), a Pu-ehr (a black smokey tea supposedly good for digestion), Jasmine Pearl (a white tea), and Angel (a hand picked 3 to 4 days old green tea good for cleansing, diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure, antioxidant, daily prevention tea). In fact, we bought and tried so much tea that the guy made us a Fairy Plum.

3 flowers inside tea leaves... quite lovely and nice to drink too. All of this can be bought online in case any of you are inspired.

Now if we hadn't already eaten and drunk more than we should have, we had to have dinner. Another fabulous meal at the Millenium. A great restaurant serving sustainable, organic food. A great meal was had.

You won't be suprised to hear that by the end of the day we crashed into bed and slept hard. All of this in our first partial day!

Thursday we rented a car so we could drive out of town to the Muir Woods. Along the way we drove around the Presido and Marina areas and stumbled onto this amazing Palace of the Fine Arts. We didn't go in but did have to stop to gawk at the spectacle.

After this brief detour, back into the car and over the Golden Gate bridge, which is truely impressive.

And onto the forest we went. Now you know your trip is going to be a good one when, as you first arrive at the park, one of the park rangers has a banana slug for you to see up close and personal.

Yep, I know everyone thought that banana slugs were only a fictitious mascot for UC Santa Cruz, but no, they are real live slugs and as you can see above they are huge and yellow and look for the life of them like a banana. Crazy!

So after admiring the wildlife, off into the redwood forest we went. (Now I have to tell you that the entrance area and the first part of the walk -- where the paths are finished/wood was terrible ... hoards of people, yelling kids! Thank god we had planned to go for a bit of a hike because you had to get off into the real trails to escape the noise, but once you did... amazing nature to see. Moral of this story ... don't go on the tour bus...take a car and plan on walking out into the trails for a couple of hours).

When you get out and hike, you get to see this.

This is definitely a place to stop and listen to the quiet and appreciate the slowness of life.

After our hike, we climbed back in our car and took another short drive to visit Muir Beach and Stinson Beach. Along the way we stopped for lunch at the Mountain Home Inn. Food was acceptable, but the view from the deck, where we ate outside, was well worth the cost of the meal!

And then the beaches themselves... breathtaking.

This is my kind of beach. Rocky cliffs, blue water, green grass.... bright sun.

This is definitely a sight not to be missed!

On our drive back, we stopped at Green Apple Books... a very nice book store with a fun supply of used books (including knitting books). Finally, as though we weren't done yet, at the end of another lovely day, we had to eat once more and this time visited the Greens in the Presidio. Again, great food in a super location with beautiful views of the marina. How can one city have so much great stuff?

Friday S did start to do conference things but played a little hookey so we could go to the Castro district that afternoon. We had more yummy tea at the Samovar Tea Lounge which I would highly recommend for a leisurely sit down (try the honeycomb platter...yummmmmm). And then we did a little shopping. We stumbled onto two different Tibetian/Buddist type stores on/just off Castro street and picked up some souveniers for ourselves (my favorite was Dolma, Inc., 530 Castro St.). We wrapped up our evening with a lecture at City Lights bookstore.

Saturday S did more conferencing and I had a nice quiet day all to myself. All and all, a great little vacation.

And you want to see the picture that was most inspirational for me?

This little handmade sign was posted on a fence guarding an empty lot for sale on our walk up to Coit Tower. Here are words to live by... "if you can do no good, at least do no harm." Words for all of us to live by.

Can't wait to see even more? Our full set of 77 photos is on flikr.


Queen of the froggers said...

What a great trip that looked. thank you for sharing the pictures.

Macoco said...

That sounds like it was a fantastic trip! You hit all of my favorite spots in SF. :)

Ellen Bloom said...

Northern California is really gorgeous. We were just in SF, about 3 weeks ago. I hope you had a chance to stop at one of the City's great yarn shops: Artfibers, Imagiknit?

Knitting Bandit said...

I've never been to California, thanks for sharing your trip. Now it moves up higher on my must see list!

amanda said...

Looks like a wonderful trip!