Spring break started with a string of days lying in bed, drinking coffee, spending more time on Pinterest than anyone should ever admit to, and relaxing pool side. Eventually; however, it came time to hop on a plane and meet my husband, Tyler, in California.
With my travel bug itching more than ever, I packed a backpack, called a cab, and flew to San Francisco. Two hours later, I landed in a new city. I've been to southern California a number of times, but the north was unchartered territory for me.
Tyler was in Palo Alto doing some research at Stanford, so we were going to spend his last day there together before venturing back into the city. The train ride was quite an adventure, seeing as everyone was forced to de-board and switch trains due to a mechanical issue. Imagine rush hour in a large city and everyone exiting a train simultaneously...nightmare!
Anyways, everything sorted itself out and I was relieved to step off onto the platform and see my husband waving at me once I'd arrived.
Dinner was on the mind and Tyler knew exactly where to go. After dropping my stuff at the hotel, we walked just down the main street, California Ave, and into a busy, dark restaurant and bar. This little gem is called Taqueria Azteca and offers quite an array of food choices, but we stuck to the classics.
A chicken taco, enchilada, rice, and beans for me, and two tacos with the same sides for him. It was filling and well seasoned. I could have done with a bit more spice, but after asking for their house hot sauce, all was well. In the restaurant where professors and students alike share some drinks and laughs, there is a bar called The Nut House. They make a decent margarita and serve a number of beers. It's nothing fancy as you can see by the red plastic trays, but it's worth a visit.
After a walk around Stanford's stunning campus and a nice long sleep, we woke up the next morning wide-eyed and ready for our next adventure. We couldn't leave Palo Alto though, without having breakfast a one of the popular morning joints.
Izzy's Brooklyn Bagels is AMAZING! It's run by Izzy himself and has all the bagel and topping combinations that any respectable bagel shop should have. I always go for the everything bagel. Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, garlic, onion, caraway...my mouth is watering. I was going to go fancy, but instead went classic with their plain cream cheese. My husband went all out with the lox bagel, which had him licking his fingers in contentment.
Palo Alto left a lasting impression on me and I'll be back. I could see myself living there, working at Google (hah!) and eating bagels every day.
To get to San Francisco from this college town, it involves a simple train ride, with no transfers required. We took our sun filled seats and an hour later we arrived in the city.
We had booked a room at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. I can't recommend it enough. Their bell hops are dressed as English Beefeaters, which is kind of corny, but at the same time I loved it. We made our way up the stairs that lead us into a grand room with enormous chandeliers.
In our room, which happened to be on the corner of the hotel where we could see Union Square and a part of the bay, we were greeted by a drawer filled with goodies. Shouldn't every drawer look like this one?
Wasting no time, we left our things, and started to walk around the streets of San Francisco. It's no easy task. My calves were burning walking up and down those hills, but on this particular journey, we mostly headed down hill towards Market Street and the famous Ferry Building. To me it was rather exciting walking down the street, as what is considered the first documentary was filmed on Market Street with the Ferry Building being the final destination. The journalism major in me nerded out a bit.
Inside it has been converted into a shopping area with small boutiques and restaurants filled with everything from olive oils to cheeses to art and small trinkets. It attracts tourists, but it doesn't feel "touristy". There were many locals, clearly on their lunch break, enjoying a meal with coworkers.
We came across this little fellow and simultaneously decided that it was time we both tried our first oyster. So with one in hand each, we squeezed a bit of lemon juice and tabasco on it, as the vendor recommended and dug in.
Tyler was very graceful and looked like he'd been eating these delicacies for years.
I, on the other hand, was a bit, how should I say, less suave.
But after I chewed it up and thought about it for a moment, I realized that it was quite good...strange, but good. Tyler agreed and we continued down the long building, proud of ourselves for trying it.
The next stop was Fisherman's wharf and a quick visit to the pier where we'd be leaving from on Sunday to visit Alcatraz. Fisherman's Wharf is definitely a tourist's hotspot and a bit kitschy to put it mildly. We were hungry for a substantial meal at this point in the afternoon and after a quick look on my phone, we learned that we were only a couple of blocks away from what promised to be some great fish.
Tyler sweetly waited in line while I grabbed two of the very limited number of seats. I had to have fish and chips and Tyler was feeling fish tacos. After 25 minutes (a bit of a wait for a food truck), our food came out, hot and steamy.
It was a lot of food and not the best fish and chips I've ever had, but when you've been to England, it's not really fair. The tartar sauce was generic, but the fish was better. They serve generous portions, so ordering a half basket would be plenty. Luckily, a long walk after a meal like this does the trick.
Lombard Street is said to be the crookedest street in the world. I'd like to see a street try to beat the eight consecutive hairpin turns. A plethora of tourists were already there taking pictures, standing in the middle of the four way intersection, surely to the pleasure of the locals. I stayed on the sidewalk and wished dearly that we had a car. I wonder how fast one can drive down that thing?
After a hop skip and a long stroll, we were back at our hotel for a little wine and a view. We scurried up to the 21st floor (after putting our poor feet up for a moment in our room) and were pleasantly surprised when we saw a swanky looking bar.
We took a seat against the window's ledge and and drank in the views (pun very much intended).
We ended our evening in China. We both were craving something spicy and very yummy!
We found a small restaurant down an alley that offered us both. I accidentally bit into a hot pepper filled with seeds at one point in the meal and had to wait a good fifteen minutes before consuming anything else. It was worth it in the end. I can't even remember the name of the restaurant right now, but I'll search my brain.
With a belly of Chinese food, we couldn't wait to see what the next day would bring us. Maybe a trip to France in the morning?