There is a reason it's taken me a long time to write about this day. Let me preface this by saying we loved San Francisco. Loved the people. Loved the sites.
We were told we needed to pack for cool, chilly weather. We happily obliged. (Have I discussed the Hotter Than Hell Summer of 2011? I have? Well then.) We woke up early and I put on a long tank and leggings. Covered said leggings with leg warmers and boots. Covered said tank with a cute blazer and scarf. Michael bundled up in jeans and a sweater.
We walked outside. And nearly died.
I said something along the lines of, "Oh we'll be fine. Let's keep walking." Famous last words. It was SO HOT. Let's also keep in mind the topography of San Francisco. Hill after hill after gosh darn hill. By the time we got where we were going, I was a wreck. There are two things in life I absolutely hate and both immediately turn me into a 13-year-old brat:
1. Being extremely cold.
2. Being extremely hot.
Michael once said my comfortable temperature range is 77-82 degrees. This? Did not fall in that wide spectrum of comfort. I wore my ensemble for approximately one hour and then removed the blazer and draped it over my purse. Removed the scarf and draped it over my blazer. As I was walking I saw my reflection and stopped cold. I looked like Vivienne in Pretty Woman. And not "Big Mistake. Big..." Vivienne. Oh no.
Enough about that. Saturday morning was spent in the Mission District! We were told we must try Tartine Bakery so that was our first stop. This place was amazing. We had to wait in a short line but the food was completely worth it. I haven't met a chocolate croissant I didn't love, but this guy put every other one to shame. SHAME. Let me make sure I also include my husband's tiny order: 2 Mexican wedding cookies, 2 shortbread cookies, and one gigantic orange roll. They didn't even bat an eye.
Only picture of me in complete outfit. Would not be worn in its entirety again.
After breakfast we toured the Mission District. We were told it was "Hipster Central" so we knew what to expect. Except we didn't. This area was definitely rough around the edges. It was a bit strange because a very nice building would be right next to something that was begging to be burned down. And then, BAM! Tiny park in the middle of it all.
We walked by Dolores Park (large park) and took several pictures. It was there I encountered my first rude homeless person. As I was putting my camera back in its case I heard, "Hey take a picture of me and send it to my mom so she knows I'm not dead." Uhhhh....
Took a break for iced coffee and tea
We ate a very late brunch at Foreign Cinema. Very cool place. Michael accidentally ordered an appetizer, which was enough food for a tiny kitten. It was pretty funny. My meal was much larger so we were able to split it. And then I saw him. Michael and (my friend) Kreston's love child. It was spooky. I spent the rest of the time trying to take pictures of this poor waiter (without him knowing) so I could send them to Kreston. I'm not sure it was well-received by either parent but for those of you who know both, throw me a bone here. Love child, am I right?
I ordered a coke. This was the closest thing they had. Very cool. (And delicious!)
As we left the Mission, a homeless guy walked next to me and said something in my ear. I (obviously) jumped a bit. As he walked past he looked back and started YELLING at me. It was so bizarre. People all around us turned to look at the receiver of wrath so I looked at Michael and said, "Man, that guy HATES me." Got a few laughs from the group. Thanks guys.
Next was one of my favorite areas in San Fran: Hayes Valley. Loved this area. It was quite eclectic and still had the hipster vibe of the Mission but it didn't make me nervous. I was just happy not to have random people yelling at me. We got some made-to-order ice cream from Smitten and people-watched for a bit.
Afterward we browsed several of the boutiques in Hayes Valley before we continued walking to Haight-Ashbury. This is one of those areas you just need to see for its history. And then you need to leave.
At this point we headed back to our hotel to freshen up for dinner. We'd taken the BART (subway system) a few times so we were feeling pretty confident. When it was time to go to dinner at Blue Plate we hopped on the BART... and ended up in Oakland. Not good. If you're not familiar with the Bay area, grab a map. Once we got to Oakland we immediately got on the next available BART to head back. We were 30 minutes late and were a sweaty mess once we arrived. Luckily, the restaurant was the size of our bathroom, had no air conditioning and an open kitchen. There are few places in San Francisco that have air conditioning because it's (usually) so pleasant. They set a carafe of water on our table and we went through three. The food was absolutely delicious but it was a little tough to enjoy due to our ridiculously high body temperatures.
This was one of those days we will never forget. Will I remember it as one of the best days of my life? Absolutely not. Will I laugh anytime I think of being screamed at by two homeless dudes, sweating through a gourmet dinner, all while looking like a prostitute? Absolutely.
Friday began with breakfast at our hotel and a few more pictures of Healdsburg, which is currently our #1 retirement destination (sorry Greenville, you’ve been bumped to number 2). We picked up some drinks at Safeway and were ready to explore wine country.
I really didn’t expect anything fun to happen until we reached our first destination but the drive was just stunning. We were surrounded by vineyards, which were the most gorgeous fall colors. At one point we’d been driving under an umbrella of trees when we saw a rustic bridge. Once we made it to the bridge the trees disappeared and we could see for miles in all directions. We took CA-128/29 south from Healdsburg all the way to Napa and it was incredible.
The first place we stopped was Castell di Amorosa. It was a giant castle and the landscaping was so pretty. We didn’t have a driver for the day so we’d limited ourselves to three tastings. Regardless, we’d heard this place was gorgeous so we stopped for pictures.
Back in the car! We stopped at St. Helena to have a quick lunch at The Model Bakery and I also purchased a cute wool headband to protect my ears from the wind/cold when we went to Alcatraz. There is a reason I’m telling you this tiny detail—more on that later. Wish we would've had more time here, it was a neat town.
Our first stop to actually taste wine was Saddleback Cellars. It was as relaxed and laid-back as they come. We sat at a picnic table and they left us alone until our glasses were empty and then they magically appeared—it was glorious! They also had country (and I mean COUNTRY) music playing. Most of you know I am NOT a country music fan but it just fit here. If we didn’t like the wine we were told to “dump it on the ground—it’s great for the grass.” I don’t think either of us dumped anything, the wine was amazing. I believe it was my favorite time of the entire trip. Since I’ve been back at work I’ve had a few stressful moments and I just picture us back at Saddleback, sitting at a picnic table listening to "Luckenbach, Texas." Everything around us seemed to slow down a bit and in turn, so did we.
After tasting the-best-wine-we’ve-ever-consumed-and-had-to-turn-down-because-it-was-$60-a-bottle, we drove to Cakebread Cellars, which was just a mile away and recommended by my bff Summer. We were greeted with a glass of sauvignon blanc and given a really nice tour of the grounds. The wine was amazing here as well! One person in our group walked off to take a phone call almost immediately after the tour began. Of course he came back 30 minutes later and asked all sorts of questions that had already been answered. I believe they should ban phone calls in wine country. Or maybe just that guy.
After this wine tasting I was once again feeling a bit loopy. I was our navigator and got us lost approx 14 times. I’ve never been a good driver but I usually rule with a map in front of me. But no. Not so much. As I'm staring out the window Michael would nicely say, “Hey, shouldn’t we turn pretty soon? Merd? MERD!” Yeah, we were supposed to turn a mile ago.
...and then ended our tasting at Domaine Carneros. We sat outside on an enormous wrap-around patio, ordered a cheese and fruit platter and sipped champagne. I took a video and in the course of 30 seconds I tell you where we are twice. After the video I took several pictures of a bird. (Shaking head.) I am not posting either.
It was time to head back to San Francisco to check into our hotel and get ready for dinner. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge as the sun was setting, dropped the car off at the rental place and checked into our hotel. We’d wanted to stay in Union Square but not be forced to sell a kidney to pay for it so we chose The Crescent. It was a fine hotel but absolutely nothing special. The room was big enough to hold our bed and one suitcase. Location couldn’t be beat, but if we went back we’d probably stay elsewhere.
We walked to Epic Roasthouse and something magical happened that has never, ever happened to us before. We got the best seat in the restaurant (window seat with a perfect view of the Bay Bridge). Ok, I got the best seat in the restaurant. Michael was still screwed a bit due to the wall placement. For one reason or another, we are always given the worst table in a restaurant—it’s become a bit of a joke and I was positively giddy to not sit next to the bathroom, kitchen, or back corner. Our meal was as good as the view (I’m still dreaming about the halibut and risotto) and a perfect way to end the day.
(View from Epic--picture taken from their website...)