Travel to San Francisco and Back…

Golden Gate Bridge

My husband had to go to San Francisco and I was able to join him and I’m still putting my feet back on the ground from this whirlwind trip.  If you ever travel with us to a new area, it’s not always relaxing – lol!  Our perspective?  We’re here & we don’t know when or if we’ll get back, so let’s squeeze it all in!

We only had 3 1/2 days & here’s what we did complete with a few unexpected twists & turns, my ‘deer in headlight’ experience & all of the magical moments that became part of our journey…

Golden Gate Bridge IMG_0942 IMG_0909 IMG_0934     

Day One:  We landed later than anticipated & the original plan was to go straight to the Muir Wood Forest, which is the Red Woods, but due to the governmental shutdown that was crossed off the list.  We traveled in to San Francisco for a quick grab to eat & to check in to the hotel.  We stayed at a little boutique hotel, The Hotel Carlton & it ended up to be extremely charming with its eclectic spirit and multi cultural flair (pics below).  After checking in we went straight to the Golden Gate bridge.  I can be corny sometimes & have to tell you it was a verklempt moment for me walking over it with my husband…and, I’ll embrace my corny-ness and tell you I loved every choked up moment of it (pics above).  However, I did find the view of Alcatraz disturbing & wondered how I would have felt living back in the day when it was in use.  You can see it from many views while in San Francisco & I thought how creepy to know what was over there…now it’s just an empty ruin & another tour closed by the government shutdown, and although I’ve heard it’s an interesting visit, it wasn’t on my ‘squeeze in’ list.  After a bit of sightseeing, we ate our first Arabic Fusion food for dinner in the Saha Restaurant located in the Hotel Carlton and then crashed!

Hotel Carlton LobbyHotel CarltonHotel Carlton Lobbyarabic fusion food - san francisco

Day Two: I was on my own for the day with my husband on business.  I went down to the front desk for advice on where to go.  Now, let me preface that most of the staff at Hotel Carlton sent us in the right direction, but this morning the woman at the front sent me walking in the wrong direction.  San Francisco is funny, you can be on one block & be fine & the next block can be not so fine.  After a block into Polk Street & with several comments from men on the street, I knew I wasn’t particularly in the right area.  I had two choices, keep walking & act like I knew where I was going or turn around, show my mild fear & walk back past them.  I decided to ‘fake it’ and keep walking until I found a place to eat that was acceptable and I did.  It ended up being great & while I was sitting there I saw a quaint little bakery kiddy corner to where I was sitting, Lotta’s Bakery, and decided they would have to be able to put me on the right road….I wandered in & met Earl.  ‘E’ ended up being the letter of the trip with Edgar, Earl & Eric all playing a role in my trip :)! Earl sent me to the RIGHT street (steep, but correct path)….However, on my way to where Earl sent me I had my ‘deer in headlights’ San Francisco experience.  As I walked I looked up & there was a man sitting on the ground with his pants to his knees and yes you can only imagine the rest…So, I crossed the street & kept acting like I knew exactly where I was going – OFF OF POLK STREET (at least the section I was on) and on to California Street where I hiked up a steep hill, found Grace Cathedral, fabulous architecture, amazing views and just the San Francisco experience I was looking for (pics below).

 Grace Cathedral San FranciscoAcross from Grace CathedralThe Labyrinth at Grace CathedralStained Glass Reflection Grace CathedralRibbon Project at Grace CathedralGrace CathedralCourtyard at Grace CathedralWalking the LabyrinthPark next to Grace CathedralSan Francisco TrolleyCalifornia St San FranciscoGate - California St San Francisco

 After I left the top of California Street to head down the other side of the steep hill, I actually missed the street Earl sent me to next, but am happy I did.  I ended up in Chinatown.  Then, I finally found the street I was supposed to be on & made my way into the Union Square area for some more city shopping before meeting up with my husband.

Chinatown San Francisco Artist in ChinatownChinatown - San Francisco Entrance to Park at Union Square San Francisco 

Thankfully we had a rental car!  We went in search of the famous Lombard Street & drove down it.  None of my pictures actually depict the true steepness of the hills in San Francisco, but they are kind of fun to drive over with a few ‘hold my breath’ and ‘clench onto the car’ moments!  We then wandered around the city and magically stumbled upon Coit Tower that we had no idea existed just as the sun was setting.  All of the views breathtaking.  Then, we accidentally drove right into the North Beach area where I’ve always wanted to go for dinner, it’s their little Italy & we found the perfect bistro waiting for us…

 Lombard Street - San Francisco San Francisco Bay at Sunset Sunset over San FranciscoView from Coit Tower San Francisco

Day Three:  After advice from my friend Karon, a free-lance journalist who often writes travel, and Edgar from the front desk at Hotel Carlton, we decided to hop the double-decker Big Bus & sit on top & see the sights. It drove us around to many key areas around town including an EXTREMELY windy, take your breath away ride over the Golden Gate Bridge.  There isn’t enough time in the day to make it off at all stops, but it’s a great way to see the entire city & learn about some of its nuances.  We did take in part of Golden Gate Park with a tour of the Japanese Tea Garden & my husband entertained my whim to have green tea in the garden :).  We made a brief stop at Chinatown and then we took off to the Wharf for lunch at the pier, a little shopping, a peek at the infamous Sea Lions & a walk to Ghiradelli Square.  We later landed back in Union Square so that my husband could see it, which ultimately lead us to a detour in the most beautiful Williams-Sonoma that I’ve ever been in with four flours of displays and fabulous products where we met Eric who worked there, but is a transplant designer from NYC.

Lori's Diner San Francisco Japenese Tea Garden - San Francisco Japenese Tea Garden - San FranciscoTea in the Japanese Tea Garden

On top of the Big Bus - San FranciscoSea Lions at Pier 39Street Performer - San FranciscoGhiradelli Square San Francisco

 Day Four: Not part of the original plan, we realized that we were only 45 minutes from Napa Valley, which has been a life long dream to visit for both of us!  It was so funny, because a colleague had just been there the week before & when I shared with her it was on ‘THE LIST’ of someday ‘to-do’s’ I never imagined I would be there so soon.  We got up early & drove in, stumbled upon a Farmer’s Market in Napa’s Downtown area, which was spectacular & so worth every minute.  We then wandered on & landed at an excellent tour & wine tasting at Robert Mondavi; the estate alone is worth the visit.  I had mentioned that someday I want to sit at one of those long wooden tables in the middle of a vineyard for a meal & before our tour ended, we landed at a one wooden table in the middle of the vineyard (inside, not out, but still….) for tasting and a lesson on four different wines.  We then continued our drive through Napa and landed at Beringer’s & just as we were wandering the very different, but equally amazing grounds, I told my husband how I have seen weddings at some of the vineyards in magazines and out walks a bride & what we got to see was a planned photo session prior to the wedding where her & her groom got to see each other for the first time.  The wedding was on the grounds later that day & perfect weather they had.  I stole a few shots & felt a little like the wedding crasher :).  As we continued our drive through Napa we discovered the Culinary Institute at Greystone where we had lunch outside over looking Napa Valley, I am still in disbelief as I write this how the trip transpired, it wouldn’t have gone this smoothly if we had planned it – lol.  After lunch we drove up to Castello Di Amorosa, which is winery that has been built as a 15th century italian castle replica.  After touring we tasted five more wines.  Part of the movie Bedtime Stories was filmed there.  Having had enough of wine country, if that’s possible, and too exhausted to travel up to the geysers, we turned west to pick up part of Pacific Highway One for a drive back to San Francisco.  As luck would have it, we drove right through some Red Woods that I had wanted to see earlier in the trip.  Again, our accidental timing couldn’t have been more perfect with the sun setting as we met up with Pacific Highway One that brought us unbelievable views.  Magically once again we landed in the city just in time to find a place to pull over so that I could run in for a Ghiradelli’s Famous Ice Cream for each of us to taste as our celebration in wrapping up our trip & as we pulled down towards the pier to leave, instead we were met with fireworks over the San Francisco Bay where we sat and ate our sundaes; all unexpected.  It was the perfect end to a whirlwind trip that was filled with ‘wing it’ moments we couldn’t have planned any better.  

But all things come to an end & when we got home we had two kids waiting with running temps….and my husband’s car had a flat, which lead to more repairs than expected…oh well, back to reality :), but I have the pictures and memories to take me back whenever needed…. 

 Pasta - Napa Valley Farmers Market Flowers at the Napa Valley Farmers Market Napa Valley Farmers Market Cayenne Peppers at Napa Valley Farmers Market

grapes in napa valleyRobert Mondavi Winery - Napa ValleyRobert Mondavi WineryWine Tasting in Napa Valley

 Beringer's Estate - Napa Valley Beringer's Winery - Napa Valley Bride & Groom at Beringer's Culinary Institute in Napa Valley

Lunch at the Culinary InstituteLunch at the Culinary InstituteCastello di Amorosa - Napa ValleyCastello di Amorosa - Napa Valley

Sunset along Pacific Highway One Views from Pacific Highway One Us along Pacific Highway One Views from Pacific Highway One

 This post featured at:  Turn it Up Tuesday! at Adventures of a JayHawk Mommy…. and at Recipe & Ramblins Tailgating Saturday


22 Comments on “Travel to San Francisco and Back…”

  1. Great post! I love San Francisco. I lived there for a little bit right after college and the vibe was just so different from the East Coast – if it didn’t cost an arm and a leg, I would probably still be there. I never made it to Napa Valley though, and I always wanted to, so I’m a little jealous ;o)

    I hope your kids are feeling better and the car’s back up and running!

    1. THANK you!!! Everyone was better within 24-48 hours & well the car, that has been a different story….one fix, has lead to another all month long & it has been way more than a flat tire in the end :(. In fact, it’s in the garage again right now – lol! OH WELL….

      Yes, very expensive to live in SF, but so fun to visit. I hope you get back to Napa someday…it wasn’t part of the original plan, but am so glad we took a day to do it. Hope you’re having a good fall ~ jodie

  2. Glad you enjoyed your trip to San Francisco. I’m originally from there and actually used to work at the Hotel Carlton so your pics caught my eye 🙂 San Francisco has so much to do and so much to eat! Love your site Jodi!

    1. It’s a small world isn’t it? Can’t believe you worked there……we loved it & having no idea what to expect were pleasantly surprised. It was a very busy, but much needed get away…would love to go back & even take in a bit of Sonoma….so much to do & we had such a short time. 🙂 ~ jodie

  3. Hi Jodi, Your trip sounds amazing & full. I grew up in the SF bay area & learned to drive stick shift on those high steep hills! No photo can do some justice. I love it there & always want to move back closer. I am 3 hours south of there now. We try to do the same when we go places that might be the once in a lifetime or even when I get back up that way. I’ve been on Alcatraz & in the cells when they used to close the cell doors, but they quit doing that. Then Napa & down hwy 1 vs 101 great choice for site seeing! SF is amazing & loved looking at your pics & post.Glad your back safe & hope all the kids feel better, tire is fixed and things getting back to normal. All my best, Theresa

    1. I can’t believe you learned to drive stick shift on those hills. I don’t think I can drive stick shift on a flat street – lol! It’s funny, I met some people in the hotel who had never been to the East Coast….but there is so much to see in do in CA. It’s a great place to visit, but I don’t think I could afford to live there :)! The kids were better within 48 hours – you are so sweet to ask. And, the car has been a different story. One fix has lead to another since we’ve been back – it’s back in the garage again…oh well…this too shall pass – my husband is more stressed about it than I am :). I’ll let him handle the stress on this one… 🙂 have a great weekend! ~ jodie

  4. So, not only did you hit San Fran like nobody’s business, you also made it to the Napa Valley! Now that’s a whirlwindy trip. I love San Fran but missed the Napa when we were over there. Next time we visit (we’re in Australia so it might be a while!), it is definitely on the list.

    I’m visiting you from Melting Moment’s Friday linky – Melting Moments is a new blog for me and here I am on another. Nice to meet you. x

    1. HI – yes we are whirl winder travelers without doubt! SOME DAY, maybe we will take a vacation to just sit & relax for a week – lol. I so hope you get to visit Napa. We didn’t get to take in Sonoma, but we were out of time….like you, hopefully next time! Australia is a HUGE trip…..
      THANK YOU for stopping by 🙂 ~ jodie

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    1. THREE TIMES – holy cow! I would like to go back at least one more time (my fingers are crossed my husband has to go for work again – lol).

      Have a great weekend ~ jodie

  6. Thanks for linking your whirlwind trip to Saturday Dishes. I made a trip,very similar to yours. This brought back some nice memories. You’ll be featured on Saturday. Drop by with some tailgating grub.

    Wishes for tasty dishes,

  7. Pingback: Tailgating Saturday Dishes (linky party) | Recipes and Ramblings with the Tumbleweed Contessa

  8. I love San Francisco, been there many times it almost seems I belong there LOL. Was there just this last summer and had a blast. Your trip sounds like fun too 🙂

    1. Isn’t it funny how we do have attachments to certain areas….I have had that feeling about other places! We did have a blast, but it was exhausting. I wish I could have taken a day to lounge when we got back – lol.

      Have a great weekend ~ jodie

  9. There is so much to do in San Francisco, although, admittedly, I’ve seen more of the surrounding areas (Muir Woods, Point Reyes Lighthouse and a lot of the beaches and coastline) than I have inside the city limits. One of my favorites is the old military bunkers above the city. Amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d love to go over and just wander around (the good parts!) of the city. Looks like you had fun and hope things are back to normal at home!

    1. I so wish we could have actually walked Muir Woods. There are quite a few wonderful spots within the city & during the day I felt safe & only had that one mishap, but stayed on the ‘beaten path’ the rest of the time. The double decker is a great way to see a lot of the city & a great way to learn where to go & where not to go :).

      Have a GREAT weekend ~ jodie

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