West Coast Trip: San Francisco

Out of the three culture-saturated cities we visited during our trip, I have to say that San Francisco was my favorite.  It might be because we had good friends to keep us company and show us some of the best places or it might be because I just love the city and all it has to offer a traveler.  My dad and I were in San Francisco over 10 years ago during our California vacation one summer, and I remember being mesmerized by the hills, the views, the architecture, the different parts of the city that each reveal something new and special, but when it all comes together, it creates the most masterful puzzle.  Going back to San Francisco and experiencing it as an adult, I can honestly say I still feel the same.  I just love it.  Now, with that said, I could never ever live there.  It's a little overwhelming.  If I did ever choose to live there, I would definitely ditch my car.  They have a more than decent public transportation system, and I was stressed out just being in the car while Jason was driving up and down the hills, dodging crazy city drivers and attempting to navigate the interesting intersections and road bends.  Why drive, you ask?  Well, there is basically only street parking and pretty much every space requires you to move after two hours between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. so we didn't have much of a choice with the rental on our hands until our departure date.  It worked out alright though.  

Driving frustrations aside, we had a marvelous time, and it was so wonderful getting to spend time with Krista, Kyle and their lovable cats Ender and Willis. 

We got into San Francisco around 6 p.m. on Monday hoping to get some good pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge, but the fog was super dense so we just drove straight to Kyle and Krista's place.  Their apartment is in a really nice neighborhood, and they are on the first floor with an enormous outdoor patio space that is basically unheard of in San Francisco.  They got really lucky with the patio and with the square-footage of their apartment; It's much larger than others in the city.  We got settled in and chatted with Krista while waiting for Kyle to get home from work, and then we all headed out for dinner and a few libations.  On the way to dinner, we walked through Chinatown and Union Square, which were both very nice, impressive areas with lots to see, and then we had the pleasure of walking down "Strip Club Alley" just before we reached our dinner destination - Kirimachi Ramen.  This was our first time ever to try out a ramen restaurant.  They're becoming pretty popular all over, including Austin.  I ordered the Spicy Miso Ramen and added corn.  It was SO delicious!  I am officially an addict.  Everyone doubted my ability to handle the spiciness, but I kept telling them I love spicy food, trust me I can handle this, and sure enough,  I did and wished I could've gotten another helping!  After dinner, we walked through what is considering to be the "rougher" part of the city, the "Tenderloin" to get to an island-themed bar called Smuggler's Cove.  A few of our friends had really hyped this place up, and I have to admit, it certainly didn't disappoint.  The drink menu is a beast and features about 80% authentic tropical island style rum cocktails.  I tried a frothy Cora Middleton and a creamy Jamaican Milk Punch.  The milk punch was my favorite, but the Cora Middleton was also a tasty little treat.  We all ordered different cocktails and sampled each other's choices, but that milk punch is still at the top for me.  After Smuggler's Cove, we called it a night and just went back to their place.

The next day, Krista had class and Kyle had to work, so Jason and I went out exploring.  Our first stop was Corona Heights Park in the Castro, which has some of the best views of the city - great for taking panoramic photos.  Next, we walked around the Mission District where we got to check out Mission Dolores, Mission Dolores Park and Clarion Alley.  One of my all-time favorite movies, Vertigo, by Alfred Hitchcock, was filmed in San Francisco, and some of the best scenes were set at Mission Dolores.  At one point, one of the main characters, Madeline, visits her grandmother's grave in the small cemetery beside the mission.  I snapped a couple of pictures of the cemetery that you can find below.  Clarion Alley is home to the Clarion Alley Mural Project, where local artists are free to express themselves without charge or penalty.  That had to be one of my favorite spots that we visited.  So neat!  I literally could not stop taking pictures of all the colorful artwork!  We also ate lunch in the Mission district at Mission Chinese, another phenomenal Asian dining experience.  Jason got the salt cod fried rice, and I got the egg-egg noodle; both of our meals were delicious!

After lunch, we drove over to the Golden Gate Bridge Visitor's Center to snap a few quick photos of the iconic San Francisco symbol before heading over to get a glimpse of the world-famous crooked street - Lombard Street.  The street is actually quite long, and the crooked part is only a small part of it, but it's well-known for its eight "hairpin" turns that make the steep hill vehicle-friendly.  Next up, we made our way over to Alamo Square Park.  Across the street, you'll find the Painted Ladies, the row of houses seen in the background during the Full House opening credits.  "Everywhere you look..." haha.

By that time, I was aching for some ice cream so we walked over to a rather sketchy area of town (thanks, Yelp) to get some old fashioned ice cream cones at Miyako.  Happy to have survived that endeavor, we went back to Kyle and Krista's for a quick cat nap before another night out on the town.

This time around, Kyle and Krista took us down to Hippie-land, better known as the Haight.  We got off the bus at Upper Haight and walked down the street to Lower Haight where we ordered some sausages at Rosamunde and devoured them at the bar next door called Toronado.  I tried the Merquez (spicy lamb) sausage, and LOVED it.  Way better than Banger's on Rainey Street here in Austin, I must say.  At Toronado, I got a couple of beers - a German Hefe and a local SF brew, Anchor Steam.  Once again, we were ready to call it a night after just one bar.  We had a nice time chatting and laughing about silly things for a couple of hours back at their place before crashing.  

The next day we only had a few more hours to enjoy San Francisco before heading to the airport. We had sushi for lunch with Krista, and then she showed us around the Japan Center East & West Mall in Japantown.  One of the stores in the mall is Daiso, and everything in it is $1.50 unless otherwise marked.  It's similar to a Dollar Store, but the stuff they sell is Japanese and way better!  We browsed a few other stores in the mall and strolled past a ton of little sushi restaurants that had fake food props in the windows.  It was hilarious!  I couldn't help but to snap a few pictures of the plastic food on display, haha.  Sadly, time flew by, and before we knew it, it was time to get to the airport to return the rental car and board the plane.  I can't wait to go back to San Francisco and spend more time exploring.  Two days just really isn't enough time to take it all in!

(Sad to report I found out yesterday that sweet Willis passed away quite suddenly from cancer just a few days ago.  Much love and many thoughts pour out to Krista and Kyle.  I'm so happy I had the pleasure of meeting him. xoxo)


RIP Willis :( 



  1. I love all the pictures! It looks like y'all were able to squeeze in just a couple of days.

    Those houses in SF are gorgeousss. Wouldn't mind a little hillside beauty of my own ;)

  2. Thanks, Em! Yeah, we did a lot, but I wish we could've spent a few more days there. Next time! It's awesome having friends that live there - free place to stay and free tour guides :)


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