Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Travel Tuesday: Adventures in San Francisco!


Beware of picture overload! I took so many pictures and it was hard to choose which ones to post. Today I FINALLY want to share with y'all our adventures in San Francisco! We decided several months ago to plan a 30th birthday trip for my amazing husband JP! Instead of throwing a party, we saved our money for something we do best, travel!


We left Houston at 6:00am on Friday, May 20th and were in SF by 8:30am! It took us a little while before we dropped our stuff off at our hotel, but by 11:00 we had rented bikes and were off exploring! There are TONS of bike rental locations in SF for self guided or tour guided tours. We opted for the self guided option because we wanted to see things for ourselves at our own paces.


It was a crazy windy day, but the sun was out and we could see the entire Golden Gate Bridge! I hear it's usually covered some by fog, but we got to see it all! We rode our bikes from Fisherman's Wharf to The Presidio and Chrissy Field where we stopped for some awesome pictures!


We kept riding on to Fort Point. It's an old Army fort that sits at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge. Since both of us have parents and grandparents that served in the Army, we really enjoyed looking around the Fort, reading and seeing what conditions and life was like there during the Civil War era. The views from the Fort weren't too terrible either!



We could see Alcatraz off in the distance, waves crashing upon the rocks and the gorgeous architecture of the bridge from below. The civil engineering nerd in me LOVED this! {Some of you may not realize, I studied civil engineering for 2 years before switching to and graduating with a degree in industrial distribution.}



After visiting Fort Point, we had quite a hill to ride up before we could actually cross the bridge. As JP and I took off, we decided it was every man for himself! Since I teach cycling class once a week, I had at least built up some sort of stamina for a climb like this. My goal was to make it to the top without stopping, and I did it! JP hasn't been on a bike since he was 10 and he was only a bit further behind me. It was definitely a workout and this personal trainer loved it!




Riding across the bridge was a little on the interesting side. We had to slow down quite a bit and watch out for all the dumb people that pay zero attention to their surroundings! I may be a hyperaware person, but man some people are oblivious. If a bike is coming at you and you have plenty of room to step aside, you may want to do that right? There were several occasions I thought there was impending doom, but I managed to dodge them. JP ended up getting off and walking towards the end. We made it though!

After the bridge, we got to cruise downhill straight into Sausalito! We rode around a bit and found some bike parking where we stopped and talked to the attendants about where to eat. Then we were off to The Seafood Peddler for a super fresh seafood lunch!  


Oh my goodness y'all. I had the Salmon Mediterranean Salad and it was to die for. Granted I was pretty hungry. It was a late lunch for us since our bodies were still on Central time. I'm still convinced it was amazing regardless of how hungry I was that day. The salmon was cooked perfectly. The ingredients were light and fresh. The decor of the restaurant was adorable! Not to mention, it was very reasonably priced. It was a great recommendation by our bike attendant friend.


After stuffing our faces, we walked around the bay to see the Army Corps of Engineers Bay Model. We're nerds and like things like that! It was a HUGE model of the entire bay laid out in an airplane hanger. It was free to walk around and self tour or you could pay for an audio guide. There were plenty of videos and things to read to understand everything without the guide if you ask me.


The Bay Model was a great way for us to escape the elements for a little while and still be able to explore and enjoy Sausalito! It was a crazy, windy day and a bit chillier than we expected. While we were dressed appropriately, that wind will still get you!

After spending about 20 minutes viewing and learning about the Bay Model, we walked back to the main street for a little shopping before taking the Ferry back across the Bay. We decided to take the longer ferry ride down to The Ferry Building to get a little extra time back on our bikes. This allowed us to ride all the way along the piers. The Ferry Building is Pier 1, to the left are all of the odd piers and to the right are the evens. We were headed left and passed by Pier 39 and headed on down back to Fisherman's Wharf where we returned our bikes after several hours of exploring! It was one of my favorite things I've done on a vacation and HIGHLY recommend it!


We decided to shower off and rest up for just a bit before going to dinner. We decided to hit up a local restaurant in Fisherman's Wharf that was recommended called Cioppino's! It was just a few blocks away and we heard their seafood was on point. I'm pretty sure it would be hard to get bad seafood in Fisherman's Wharf!


We figured it was best for us to get their signature dish...the Cioppino! It was a delicious assortment of seafood from fish and crab meat to calamari and shrimp to muscles and clams all in a light tomato based broth. Plus we got to wear some pretty sweet bibs.


Even though we were stuffed to the brim after eating most of the Ciopinno, we had to end the day with some ice cream...because vacation. You always end vacation days with dessert. That way you know you're getting the perfect ending to a fabulous day!

Saturday we woke up early and headed out to Sonoma Country for all the wine fun which I'm saving for another post. So we're going to fast forward to Sunday!


Since we have a habit of getting up earlier than needed, our Sunday morning started early a walk around Ghirardelli Square before jumping on the trolly!


A cable car trolly ride was an absolute must in our books. Since we arrived early, the line was short so we only waited about 10 minutes! We met a sweet family while in line and were able to help out and take pictures for each other.


The trolly ride was a great experience. We were able to see all around the city and enjoy the crazy hills without having to walk up and down them. We took the Powell/Hyde line from Ghirardelli Square into the Financial District.


We got off at the end of the line and walked down Market Street back to the water where we ended up at The Ferry Building and a cute little farmer's market! We grabbed coffee at Blue Bottle Coffee and walked along the water to Pier 39.



Pier 39 was definitely a happening place. I'm glad we arrived earlier because later in the day it was insanely packed. We walked through some shops and explored before visiting the sea lions! I could watch them all day. They were so funny to watch as they were playing and fighting on the docks. Some of the sea lions were not having playtime and some were just itching to pick a fight. We stayed and watched for quite a while because I was in awe. I just love animals.



We grabbed some fresh fruit and savory crepes for a light lunch before getting ready for our Alcatraz tour! For the tour, you meet at Pier 33 to take a ferry cruise to the island.


Once you get to the island, they briefly go over what to expect. You have all the time you want and need to explore the island. Everything outside of the main building is self guided exploration and inside the actual prison is an audio guided tour that comes with the whole experience!




It was so interesting and it was JP's favorite part of our trip! Seeing the old buildings and reading about the stories was fascinating and put you right back into the 40-60's.

The views of San Francisco weren't too bad either!





While from a far the island looks like nothing but rock, once you're on it, you'll see so many gardens with flowers everywhere. It's such ironic beauty on an island known for one of the most well known federal penitentiaries.



Did y'all know that Alcatraz Island is also home to the oldest lighthouse on the west coast?


We decided to do all of our walking around outside before heading into the actual prison itself. I'm glad we decided to do it this way. It allowed for some pretty awesome build up before going in!



We got tons of great pictures and learned so many fun facts. The audio guide is actually recorded by 4 former guards and four former inmates. It's interesting to hear things from both perspectives. Plus their accents take you right back to the 50's-60's!




We were on Alcatraz Island for a few hours before we took the ferry back to mainland. We walked around Fisherman's Wharf some, picked up a few souvenirs and then went to our hotel to get cleaned up for dinner!

We went to Zazie and loved it! We heard it was amazing for brunch/breakfast, but we opted to go for JP's official birthday dinner celebration.


As always, dinner was followed by dessert at the Ice Cream Bar which was just down the street! It was set up like an old fashioned soda shop and it was to die for.

We finished our trip Monday morning with a 3 mile run along the water, with a pit stop to see the sea lions again, and ended it walking up some hills to see Lombard Street!




Our final hoorah was a delicious brunch at Pat's Cafe! It was around the corner from our hotel with rave reviews that didn't disappoint. I had the chocolate peanut butter pancakes topped with fruit and I wish I could eat it every single day!


San Francisco was amazing and I can't wait to go back some day!


If you made it to the end of this, I'm impressed. Thanks for sticking around, reading my rambling and looking at ALLLLL the pictures. This isn't even half of the ones that I took!

Have you been to San Francisco?
What is your favorite part about the city?

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