Last week I went on a girls' trip to San Francisco. I went with my friend Cindy (with whom I went to Chicago and New York) and our other friend Megan (although she met us the next day).
We were up bright (it was not bright) and early on Thursday morning to go to the airport. We chose our seats by leaving one in the middle of us and hoping no one would come and no one did, so we had a comfortable flight. I watched two movies and had a nap, and it didn't feel too bad.
We arrived around 10:30 and got our first of many Ubers to the hotel. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in Union Square. Small room but clean and a great location. I don't think I'd want to stay anywhere else by the Union Square area. I had to snap a photo of these warning signs on the wall of the hotel by check in. Aren't they strange? We saw another one later on a parking garage that basically said that exposure to the fumes from the parking garage can cause cancer and birth defects, which is valid, but I mean, how much time do you have to spend there for it to be an issue, do you really need to warn the people walking by? I guess it's a way to stop lawsuits.
Our room. We were lucky we could get in right away.
Our first stop was to grab something to eat. We went to Jane on Larkin. It is a cute spot right in the Tenderloin neighbourhood.
Then we went for a walk towards North Beach where we had a food tour booked. We stopped in at Trader Joe's to look around on the way, so many neat things.
We knew that SF was a city full of hills but I still couldn't stop commenting on them for the entire trip.
Just a pretty entry to a condo.
This is Grace Cathedral. We could also see this from our hotel room.
Cable car photo op!
We got to North Beach a little early so we walked around to a few shops before meeting up with our group. We did this food tour with our lovely guide Blondina. She was quite the character - a New Jersey native with conservative parents who came to San Francisco in the 1970s where she has made her living as an artist and doing various odd jobs. She has lived in the North Beach neighbourhood since she arrived and she knew everyone!
Our first stop was Cavalli Cafe for an Italian coffee and biscotti.
And then to Palermo's for a tasty sandwich. This is the owner who came out to sit with us in the sun.
Then we stopped in to see this beautiful chapel next to the St. Francis of Assisi church on Vallejo. It is only about 10 years old and is the exact replica of a chapel in Italy. All of the materials were brought over from Italy as well.
Then we went to Z Cioccolato for some fudge.
We didn't actually eat anything at this little shop, Giovanni, but it was such a cute spot.
Our next step was Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe for a meatball sandwich. This was such a cozy spot, particularly since it was starting to get cool outside with the fog rolling in.
Washington Square Park was closed for renovations, which was too bad, as our tour guide said it is like the local living room where people hang out all the time. We did go into Saints Peter and Paul Church (and ran into 100 year old Father Armand, bless his heart, on the way). This is the church (and school) that Joe DiMaggio attended when he was growing up. He had his first wedding here, but couldn't marry Marilyn here because he was a divorced man. He did have his funeral here though, officiated by the same Father Armand we met.
The statues had such realistic features and details not the clothing.
Our final stop on the food tour was Mona Lisa for pizza. Plus we had a cannoli from Stella Pastry.
We went back to our hotel after that and warmed up. We had plans to go out somewhere but decided not to because we were tired. Instead we walked up to Union Square to check out the shops. The Christmas tree wasn't lit up (that happens on Black Friday) but the skating rink was open and Macy's looked great!
The next morning we hit up Mr. Holmes Bakehouse for (first) breakfast and coffee.
Such beautiful things. I had the most delicious croissant with manchego and prosciutto.
We walked down to Target, since it was open early and set a few things aside to buy later. And then we got on the cable car. We took it all the way to Fisherman's Wharf.
We had second breakfast at the Buena Vista Cafe, home of the first Irish Coffee in the US. I had a couple, they were damn good. I also had the lobster roll with waffle fries, best second breakfast ever.
We wandered over to the Ghiradelli chocolate factory. It had some cute shops, but we didn't buy any chocolate since we can just get it here.
Like Times Square, we weren't very impressed with the actual Fisherman's Wharf area, but we did need to get a photo here.
The Boudin sourdough is famous and they had a nice place to get a sandwich and other treats. We popped in but decided not to buy anything.
Instead we went to a little brewpub while we waited for Megan to join us, as her plane had arrived that morning.
Then we walked down to Pier 33 for our Alcatraz Tour. We booked these tickets as soon as we booked our flights as we heard it sells out. That is true, we were there on a Friday and there was a sign that said the next available tickets were for Tuesday.
It was a pretty neat tour. I knew of Alcatraz, and saw the movie The Rock way back when it came out, but I didn't really know that much so it was neat to learn about.
Like the day before, it got quite chilly later in the afternoon so we were freezing when we got back to the hotel, even after dressing more warmly. We all rallied and headed out for our dinner reservation at Hops and Hominy. The food was really good and it was a cozy place to eat; I would highly recommend it!
Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.