Wednesday, September 24, 2014

San Francisco to Napa: Part One

This past weekend Ryan, myself, and 16 others did a Ragnar race from San Francisco to Calistoga, CA (which is near Napa). Which is a 205 mile, 24 hour race. I'm going to save the explanation for my "Race Recap Post".

We decided to make a vacation out of it, and spent a few days in San Francisco before and after the race. And we obviously indulged in Napa as well.

If I recapped the trip in 1 post, it'd be a novel. So I'm breaking my reflections into 4 posts! We packed that much fun into the trip! Everything was wonderful, and I don't think  I'd do anything different!

Day 1: Arrive in San Francisco.
We arrived to the city by the bay shortly after 12pm. Our shuttle was already waiting for us! (In hindsight, I would recommend just taking the BART instead of a shuttle. BART=$10/pp. Shuttle=$17/pp). The BART is the train system in SF.

We stayed at an apartment in Nob Hill the 1st 2 nights. This apartment was found on VRBO, and it totally exceeded my expectations! Wish we would've had more time to cook - as the kitchen was delightful.
We dropped off our luggage, and headed out to explore. We were on a mission to see as much city possible!
We headed to a little Italian Bistro called Cesario's near Union Square for lunch, where we enjoyed delicious panini's. Next up was our start of the city bus tour.
The bus tour was through Viator, and it was one of the "Hop on Hop off" tours. Definitely recommend it to anyone visiting San Francisco for the 1st time. It was very informative, engaging, and took you on a great tour of the city. I also liked that we had the option to get on and off as we please. The tour starts at 8 am, and the last bus picks up at Union Square at 5 pm. The highlights include:
(This is a view from our tour bus - which was a double-decker)
-Union Square
-Chinatown (2 stops...because it's that big)
-Little Italy (otherwise known as North Beach)
-Lombard Street (the "crookedest street in the world")
-Fisherman's Wharf (the bus stops at 2 different piers)
-Golden Gate Bridge (crosses twice)
-Golden Gate Park
-The Presidio
-Haight and Ashbury (the hippie neighborhood of SF. Jimi Hendrick's house!)
-Through various neighborhoods looking at the different styles of architecture
-Back to Union Square!
Day 1 we only went as far as Fisherman's Wharf. We spent the majority of that day wandering around the wharf, checking out the sea lions (which naturally habituate there), and of course took a break for a cold beer while we gazed at yachts and sailboats!
It's hard to tell from this picture - but there were probably 30 sea lions sun-bathing on this dock! It was so funny watching them play "king of the mountain".

"Ahhh...the sun feels so good"

I was so happy to be comfortably wearing jeans! (In AZ, I would be sweating profusely in jeans) The weather was absolutely gorgeous every day we were there!!

I think I could gaze at these boats trying to decide which one I'd like to own for hours....


A panoramic view of the Bay from one of the piers. Be still my heart.......
The bar we stopped at was a piano bar, and we ended up visiting with a couple from Australia who were touring the US for 6 weeks. They were the nicest couple, and it was so fun to hear their experiences! They have us convinced to make a trip to Australia some day in our future! 
After our "thirst was quenched", we started our walk to Little Italy for dinner. We chose a place called Calzones, which was recommended to us by a tour guide. It was obviously known for their pizzas and calzones. Ryan and I shared the Margarita pizza, and it was divine!!
After dinner, we walked as far as Union Square, and took a cab to the Mission District to an underground Comedy Club. I happened to find it on a local SF website. It was little bit shady, but we ended up being pleasantly surprised by some high-quality comedy!
It was midnight by the time the show was over (way past my 9:30p bedtime) - so we cabbed it back to our apartment!
Day 2: More Touring
Thursday morning we slept in (!!!) until 7:30, got ready, and walked down the street for breakfast to a creperie called Honey Honey Café. We didn't even order crepes (lol). But our breakfast was amazing! I got the oatmeal and Ryan got a Crab Florentine Eggs Benedict. We enjoyed it with a delicious cappuccino.
This was Ryan's breakfast, which I got a taste of. It was incredibly delicious!!

We then headed to the bus for day 2 of our city tour to hit up all the other spots. We ended up learning so much about the history of SF. Such an interesting city!
Since we had seen the tour up to Fisherman's Wharf, we decided to walk Union Square, China Town, and Little Italy (which was about 1.5 miles).
San Francisco has the largest Chinatown outside of Asia. This was quite impressive to walk! Again, the people watching was entertaining.

Next we headed to "North Beach", otherwise known as Little Italy. 1st stop was Peter and Paul Catholic Church to do some exploring.

This was the church where Marilyn Monroe & Joey DiMaggio had their wedding photos taken. (They couldn't get married here since it was their 2nd marriage, which is frowned upon by the Catholic church)

It was beautiful!

We stopped in, lit a candle, and said a little prayer. Pictures don't do justice to how beautiful this church was.
We got back on the bus at Fisherman's Wharf to catch the rest of the tour! We were so busy exploring that we completely missed lunch!

It was very windy crossing the bridge, as you can see by my "hair-do"
We spent about an hour wandering Golden Gate Park, which is actually larger than Central Park (!). It was so peaceful and fun to look at all the plants and trees. It's a very impressive park. Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos! Derp!!!
The rest of our friends' arrived Thursday afternoon, so we took the bus back to Fisherman's Wharf for our dinner reservations @ The Franciscan Crab Restaurant.
Since we missed lunch, all the walking worked up quite the appetite! So Ryan and I shared a crab & shrimp platter. It was pretty dang delicious!!
But to be an honest food critic, I felt it was the a little too buttery. (even Ryan agreed. So this wasn't just a case of Abby being overly-health-conscious!) I would still recommend this restaurant. The view are insane, as it's all glass and looks out into the bay.
We completely forgot to get a group photo! I think we were all hungry and tired from a busy day!
After dinner, we headed back to our apartment with happy hearts and full bellies. We had to get all packed up for the race in the morning! We had a wake-up time of 4am!




Marlys said...

Great recap part 1! I am excited to see the next three! I've never been to SF so this was very intriguing!
Can't wait for the rest of the story!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

It's fun to read these recaps as I have seen a lot of what you saw either on this trip or my last one. The hop on/off bus would be a great way to see the city! I should have done that on my first trip! I am glad you guys had such a great trip!

Amber said...

Wow you guys fit in SO MUCH in just two days! I am bummed that we did not make it to Chinatown as it looks super amazing. I am hoping to bring Eric back to San Francisco next summer so we will have to try and fit in some of the things I missed this last time around!