Long Overdue: San Francisco Part I- We Went to Jail.

I have wanted to go to San Francisco for years and just never made it out there. ¬†How could anyone not want to visit the Tanner family’s hometown? ūüėČ

I found this picture of random strangers online, because I didn’t actually visit this famous street. ¬†But pretty much everyone should remember this from the opening credits of Full House, and you might even be singing, “everywhere you look, everywhere you looook..” right now. ¬†I know I am. ¬†In my attempt to find a decent picture of that street to post here, I came across something awesome. ¬†Apparently it is widely believed that the Tanners lived in one of these houses, but they didn’t. ¬†Apparently some people believe it is one of the biggest myths in our culture. ¬†Check out that link, the post is hilarious. ¬†So apparently the Tanners did not actually live in one of these houses, but liked to picnic on the lawn across the street. ¬†Consider yourselves informed people.

Anyway… So finally,¬†Memorial Day weekend, I was still dating the guy from the Catalina trip, Dave, (still am), and we decided to go together.¬† We booked a hotel, and we were off. ¬†We decided to drive because we had plans to go to Napa and the Muir Woods, so we figured it made the most sense to just bring one of our cars.

Our drive up was very uneventful–no trauma like I had experienced with Meghan. ¬†When we arrived we checked in at our hotel, The Sir Francis Drake. ¬†The hotel was beautiful, the location was fantastic, the staff were amazing. ¬†However, two complaints: this is a historic hotel, so the walls are PAPER THIN. ¬†Expect to hear every word your neighbors say. ¬†We did. ¬†Also, valet parking is like $60/day (?!). ¬†So don’t bring your car… or park it somewhere else. ¬†We ended up just parking there because we got a great rate on the hotel ($150/night), and didn’t know what else to do. ¬†But I still feel a little bitter about it. ¬†REALLY, Sir Francis? ¬†REALLY?! ¬†On the bright side, an awesome doorman in the kind of doorman suits I’ve only seen on movies and in NYC helped us with our bags from the car. ¬†Almost made it worth it. ¬†Almost.

The first afternoon/night was pretty relaxing. ¬†We just walked around Union Square for some shopping, and then found a little pub to sit down and have an appetizer while we tried to figure out what to do for dinner. ¬†We found several recommendations on Yelp, but when we walked to the restaurants they were empty. ¬†I’m just not a big fan of being the only couple in a restaurant. ¬†I always feel awkward like we’re not supposed to be there. ¬†So Dave kept looking, and eventually found a recommendation for a tapas place. ¬†It turned out it was on this cute little alley/street that was very reminiscent of Europe. ¬†There were several restaurants on the street, but we went to B44 for tapas. ¬†The restaurant looked cool inside, it was packed, and the food was delicious. ¬†Perfecto.

Deep thoughts in the Pub... What to have for dinner? ... Hmmm...

How about a little slice of Europe in San Francisco? Yes, I think that will do.

Where are we? I hope they still take American dollars here!

Mmmm... Spanish tapas ‚̧

The next morning we had reservations for a ferry ride to Alcatraz. ¬†We originally planned to take the trolley down to Fisherman’s Wharf, but we started walking, originally to find a Starbucks without such a ridiculously long line, and we didn’t see another Starbucks until we ultimately reached the Wharf. ¬†Of course, we had decided to just walk the whole way anyway long before we ultimately made it down there. ¬†Choosing to walk to the Wharf is something you really have to commit to because GOOD LORD those hills are HILLY. ¬† But the views at each intersection were amazing.

And as a result of walking we happened to walk past the famous crooked street.

Down at the Wharf we found a great little place to have breakfast called Pergamino (I just used google maps to “walk” down the streets of San Francisco to figure that out. ¬†Yayyy technology!). ¬†We sat at a table outside, and the waiter was great. ¬†I had the smoked turkey omelette. ¬† Let me tell you, it was a party in my mouth. ¬†My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. ¬†I can’t remember what Dave had but it was also delicious. ¬†They also let you pick out your own mug to use for coffee and have a ton of different kinds to choose from. ¬†I don’t remember which coffee we chose, but it was also delicious. ¬†If you go to SF, go there. ¬†Do it. ¬†I hear all the food is awesome.

Dave's mug choice. That's right... He's mine ladies ūüėČ

Afterward, we started walking down to the actual wharf to get down to the pier where we would catch the ferry to Alcatraz. ¬†We had plenty of time when we started, but we made a few stops for Dave to buy sunglasses, and me to buy a sweatshirt in case the ferry ride was cold. ¬†That sweatshirt would come in very handy later in the day, but that’s a story for another post ūüėČ ¬†Due to our shopping detours, suddenly we realized we only had about 10 minutes until our ferry was supposed to depart, and had to RUN down the street quite a ways to make it. ¬†We were at Pier 47 and our ferry left from just past Pier 35 which may not sound far, but it sure felt far, especially given that I hadn’t worked out in… who knows how long. ¬†Not fair that my military boyfriend is forced to stay in shape and left me in the dust. ¬†But alas, we made it. ¬†I made it, huffing and puffing, but I made it.

Pulling away from the pier.

The ferry ride was beautiful. ¬†You can see all of downtown and the golden gate bridge, and lots of sailboats out and about. ¬†I was snapping pictures like crazy with my iPhone. Somehow we both forgot to bring real cameras, but the pics from my iPhone tend to turn out pretty good as long as I don’t need zoom and there is plenty of light.

Approaching "The Rock" aka Alcatraz.

On Alcatraz Island, you have to walk up some fairly steep switchbacks to get to the prison and take the self-guided tour (you get headphones that tell you interesting facts while you walk along.. is that still “self-guided”? I don’t know). ¬†The tour was really interesting and highly recommended. ¬†Before going, I would recommend watching Clint Eastwood’s “Escape from Alcatraz.” ¬† It was filmed at Alcatraz shortly after it was shut down, and is based on a true escape story.

Even if history and prisons aren’t your thing, it’s still worth it just because it’s a fun little island to explore and the views are amazing. ¬†Apparently the hardest of hard criminals got sent there. ¬†Maybe the ocean view would suck if you knew everyday it was that pesky ocean trapping you on the island forever, but in my mind I was like “this wouldn’t be a bad place to be locked up.” ¬†Except for the part where I was too tall for the prison cells. ¬†It would get annoying having to duck all the time ūüėČ

After returning from Alcatraz, we rented bikes and went on what turned out to be a fairly epic bike ride. ¬†But that is a story for another day! ¬†In separate posts, I also plan to recap our bike ride, our trip to Muir Woods, and our Napa Valley Wine Train ride. ¬†Stay tuned ūüôā

Sailboats on the way back to San Francisco

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Long Overdue Part II: Catalina, an Epic First Date.

I have actually been to Catalina twice before–once¬†for a weekend and once for just a day trip.¬† However, both trips were work-sponsored trips with coworkers.¬† I always thought it would be a fun place to go for a day with a date.¬† And back in April, I finally got my chance.

I felt a little hesistant about posting about my Catalina trip here,¬†because¬†it wasn’t just any date, it was¬†for a first date.¬† What kind of crazy person traps themselves on an island for 10+ hours on a first date?¬† This girl.¬† In hindsight, besides the lack of wisdom in not providing an exit strategy (if I didn’t like the guy, I was stuck with him for 10 hours instead of 1 or 2 for the traditional coffee or lunch date), it was also unwise for safety reasons.¬† I “met” him through an online dating service, so technically we had never met in person.¬† He was a stranger.¬† And ladies, we should all know that hopping on a boat to go off to an island with a complete stranger is not a good idea.¬† However, we had been communicating for about 3 weeks at that point.¬† Two solid weeks of daily, lengthy emails followed by a solid week of daily, multi-hour talks on the phone.¬† After so many emails and 3-4+ hours of talking on the phone per day, he didn’t feel like a stranger to me at all.¬† Basically, and I know this is crazy, I was already falling pretty hard for the guy so my thought process was that a long day date would be perfect, so I could see if we could actually put up with each other before I fell any further ūüėČ

So alas, there I was on the morning of Saturday, April 30th, exhausted from our late night chat, excited at the possibility of spending a fun day out on Catalina, and a nervous wreck at the thought of finally meeting this guy.¬† For some reason it did not dawn on me until that morning that maybe he wouldn’t like me or maybe I wouldn’t like him or maybe he would be super shy in person and how awkward that would be to be stuck together all day (However, still not worried about the safety issue).¬†¬† I couldn’t stand to eat, but I grabbed some fresh cut¬†mango slices to bring with me just in case I gained my appetite back.¬†

As soon as we found each other at the dock, I felt totally comfortable and normal.¬† He didn’t feel like a stranger at all, and it didn’t feel like a first date at all.¬† I instantly felt hungry, and opened up the mangos.¬† I remember offering him some, and¬†he claims I ate most of them and only let him have a couple.¬† I WAS HUNGRY PEOPLE.¬† So anyway, all was well.¬†

We took the Catalina Express out of Long Beach around 9:30am.¬† It takes around an hour, and I think costs about $35 each way.¬† But it’s TOTALLY worth it.¬† It really feels like you are getting away for an island vacation, even if just for a day.¬† I don’t think it’s possible to pull up to the harbor and not feel excited.¬† Oh, and on the way over we saw a huge pod of dolphins swimming along the side of the boat.¬† I’ve never seen so many dolphins at once.¬†

Since I had been to Catalina before, I ended up being the tour guide for the day.¬† We started with lunch at Steve’s Steakhouse.¬† I had been there twice before, and loved it because it¬†overlooks the harbor, has a nice, laidback atmosphere, and has great, reasonably priced food.¬†¬† (The photo above was from our table).¬†

Afterward, we walked off our lunch by walking down the boardwalk all the way past the casino and to the beach at the far end.¬† By the way, do not be led astray Vegas fans, the casino in Catalina features a movie theater, not gambling.¬† But the town of Avalon is just so quaint and cute!¬† And walking down the boardwalk just reminds you that there is SO much to do!¬† You can lay out on the beach, play in the water, go kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, you can go out on boat tours of the water, bus tours of the island, hiking, backpacking, and most recently they have added an awesome zipline.¬†¬†¬†I definitely want to go back for a weekend sometime and do more of the active stuff.¬† I am trying to work up the nerve to try the zipline.¬† It’s ok mom ūüėČ

Anyway, after our walk it was time to head back to the main pier to board a bus for our tour.¬† When I¬†came¬†as a summer associate, we went on a tour on a bus that was AWESOME.¬† It takes you way up into the mountains and to Catalina’s “Airport in the Sky.”¬†¬† The tour guide tells you all kinds of interesting facts and history about the island and the views are AMAZING.¬† Also, the cookies at the airport gift shop = HEAVEN.¬†¬† AND, you get to see buffalo!¬† Since I loved the tour so much the first time, and my date was (still is) a pilot, I bought us tickets to the tour as a little surprise.¬† It was just as great the second time around.¬†¬†

Once we got back from the tour, we strolled around the town of Avalon for a little while (off the boardwalk area), and checked out the beach houses.

Then found a place to sit down for a drink and relax for awhile.¬†¬† I can’t remember the name of the place but it had outdoor seating overlooking the water.¬† I am always a fan of water views ūüôā

For dinner we picked a place that ended up being a bit of a bummer: The Lobster Trap.¬† It has great reviews online, and the food was pretty good, but something was just off.¬† I don’t know if it was just an off night in terms of the ambiance or what.¬† Maybe later at night it gets really lively or something, I don’t know.¬†¬†But honestly,¬†to me it just felt like a hole-in-the-wall bar with white-table-cloth prices.¬†¬† If I’m eating at a “hole in the wall” place, the point is that the food is supposed to be delicious and cheap.¬† But there, while the seating and general ambiance reminded me of a bingo hall, our dinners were somewhere around $25 each.¬† Maybe that is cheap for dinner in Catalina.. I don’t know.¬† Anyway, I was not a fan.¬† On the bright side, we both still had fun.

After dinner it was pretty much time to head back to the dock and take the boat home.¬† It was SO cold on the ride back.¬† Note to self: if you are taking a night shuttle back, bring a hoodie or coat.¬† Despite the coldness, the ride back is nice too because you can watch the sunset as you ride back to the mainland.¬† I highly recommend picking the sunset ride back ūüėȬ†

When we finally made it back and dethawed, neither of us were quite ready to go our separate ways yet.¬† So we looked up a local wine bar in Long Beach, and we drove over there together in my car¬†to have a glass of wine and chat a little more.¬† We closed the wine bar down.¬† They didn’t kick us out but I eventually noticed they were closing down around us.¬† When I drove him back to his car at the pier, everything had been locked down,¬†including the¬†parking garage.¬† Luckily, we were able to track down an on-call security guard to get his car out, and we parted ways.¬† But lesson learned–don’t go gallivanting off to Long Beach with your car at the Long Beach landing.

NOTE: All pictures (except for first one) were actually taken on a prior trip to Catalina.