After our busy 8 days in Whistler Canada, Steve, Jess and I have headed to San Francisco for 6 days to chill out!
Kidding, an after thought was for a little bit of warmth after our snow trip in Canada and as we are routed through Vancouver, we couldn’t go too far as the flights to and from make travel days hazy.
We flew out of Vancouver after another game of awesome ice hockey that Steve got to enjoy with his son Josh and partner Lizzy. Great game and Ive decided I’m a real fan of ice hockey, and straight into Downtown SF and spent 4 nights right on Union Square.
Our accomodation is the Chancellor hotel which was built for the expo in 1915. It’s a little bit kitch and a little bit like staying at Grandmas house! It’s just lovely and within walking distance of the ice rink, festive tree, Macy’s and The Westfield shopping centre, that has circle style escalators that Steve remembers coming to see 30 years ago when he worked for Westfield shopping centres! A little bit of a time warp for him!
For Jess and I, it’s just shopping heaven and new favourite Golden Arches! ( not the McDonald’s kind) the Christmas kind!
There are all the usual suspects stores here- Anthropologie, Macy’s, Nordstrom…… mmmmm I didn’t think this through! Steve and I are sharing a suitcase to save dragging excess bags down here …. oh well a new bag it will be!
Our first night we arrive late, have dinner at a dodgey dinner, Steve loves the chocolate milkshake and Jess and I share a cheesy steak roll. Seriously the food is sooo big here in the US. Unlike New York, it’s hard to find a healthy choice.
The cable cars are crazy busy, with long lines waiting over an hour and a half for a ride, up the steep hills of the city. Then one was broken down and it all went to custard!
We shop till we drop the next morning before joining Blazing Sladdles bike tours down at pier 39 on the water front, but not before a 3 kilometre walk up very steep hills, through Chinatown and down to the pier!
Our bike ride takes us 16 kilometres along Fort Mason and the waterfront. Steve gets a flat tire so before embarking onto the Golden Gate Bridge with 4000 other tourists, he gets an electric bicycle as a replacement, as it was at the location where the flat tyre happened …….
I am one lucky lady because Steve ever the gentleman gives me the electric bike. I’m soooo excited because my knees and achilles are giving me grief after a week skiing and walking these steep hills.
Before we get to the Golden Gate bridge there is this rather large hill – the 3rd one of the ride . The electric bikes are incredible and literally take off so you need to be careful. I push number 3 on the bike and see ya later guys, I’m moving fast and I’ll see you at the top! It’s my new favourite thing! And who knew they even existed….. It’s a cool crisp and clear day in San Francisco and the bridge is a picture postcard!
Anyways we wind our way down into Sausalito- the prettiest town ever on the other side of the Bay. Our 3 hour tour ends at 4:00pm and our guide Anya then tells us, you HAVE to get the 4.30 or 5.30pm blue and gold ferry back across, because they won’t take electric bikes on the other ferries. So we have to quickly cycle back to the ferry terminal and spend the next 2 hours in a queue to try to make one of these ferries. We don’t really have anytime enjoying Sausalito. Oh and the ferries are running late ……
You have to appreciate holiday dramas as they really are a first world problems, but with the sun setting and the temperature dropping and us in lighter clothes to bike ride, seeing everyone waiting for the ferry hopping from one foot to the other to try and keep warm for 2 hours is a little bit like a gym class…… well a low impact class, but you get the idea, everyone gently moving to keep warm!
The seat on the ferry has never felt so warm and comfortable as the crew then loaded over 400 people onto a ferry and approx. 160 bikes, for the ride home. It was then stopping at Tiburon on the other side of the peninsula before heading back to pier 39 and some people were whinging and are just plain rude! Chill out, we will all get home eventually and as the crew said the night is young!
This week is the Regional College Football Bowl week! 6 college regional games over the New Years week and Steve is beyond excited to find a great beer hall with a massive TV to watch the “Orange Bowl” from Florida. All the names are funny! The orange bowl has a trophy that is a bowl style trophy filled with oranges , a couple of the other bowl names are the sunshine bowl and the potato bowl in Idaho…..I wonder what their bowls have in them?
Bartlett Hall in Downtown SF is fabulous and was recommended by our hotel which is just around the corner, has fabulous food we watch the game and we have an early night.
The following morning is New Years Eve and as all our friends and family are seeing in the New Year as the clock strikes midnight in Sydney Australia at home, we have hired a car and are headed approx. 40 minutes away to Muir Woods, an amazing National sanctuary for redwood trees that almost have their own little family circles, just incredible to see.
The 3 of us spend a few hours here climbing up and over the hill to get to the other side and back along the creek that runs through the woods, which is also a memorial to President Roosevelt. This national park spans from the California/Oregon border all the way down to Big Sur further down the coast covering acres of the old growth redwood trees, that really have to be seen to actually be believed and with what is happening at home with all the smoke from the fires that have been burning in Australia since September, it’s just lovely to smell fresh air, hear bubbling running water and see lush green under growth and tall trees that have also seen their share of fires which we can see with lots of new growth.
A must visit if you are ever over this way, so close to the city, go early like we did to avoid the bus tours and make sure you book a car space as they are also limited and have to be pre booked.
For New Year’s Eve we venture back over to Sausalito for a little wander and a fabulous New Year’s Eve dinner at Salito’s a Crab and Steak restaurant that keeps us all well fed! I’d love to say we were out till 3 in the morning but I didn’t hear the fire works or anything past 11:30pm So Happy New Year.
New Year’s Day is a cruisey easy morning a bit of a sleep in… a little more shopping at quirky Haight-Ashbury so cool, eclectic, funky, groovy and weird! And we fit right in! Except we aren’t smoking weed!
Lunch at this pub was FAB and we met some friendly Cali peeps to chat to.
Love on Haight………….. what a cool store
Our afternoon is again tackling the steep hills and we walk 4 kilometres this time all the way to Fort Mason to meet a couple of my friends that I met when I went to Morocco- Lisa and Sally and also a lady Cary, that like us had met Sally when she went to Morocco all via the social media platform Instagram! Sally’s husband Dan also joins us at this cool bar called RadHaus, which has an eclectic industrial feel about it with long wooden benches all made from the same large tree, and amazing light fittings from both Las Vegas and Chicago! Very cool.
We had such a great couple of hours chatting and drinking, before Sally, Cary and Danny head off for a pre planned dinner and Lisa drives us to Chesnut and we all have dinner at Tacolicious which was amazing Mexican! We farewell Lisa and head on back to our hotel to pack our bags as tomorrow we are heading down the coast to Monterey!
Our week here has had the most amazing weather blue skies and we are off again with in a short amount of time on their crazy spaghetti style freeways, you are out in the country!
Poor Jess has now got a head cold and feeling quite unwell, but she is sucking it up like a trooper. She has a little sleep in the car while Steve and I walk out along the Santa Cruz pier to see the sea lions. The mist hasn’t burnt off in the winter sun as yet so it looks quite foggy.
We wind our way down the coast to Pebble Beach and the 17 mile drive, fully intending to get to Big Sur, but the golf course is calling and its a magic day so we watch a little golf, enjoy the sunshine and coastal views, check out the visitors centre and then head to Carmel by the sea for late lunch ………. The drive has just been spectacular.
It’s late afternoon, so we decide to give Big Sur a miss and take Jess to the Aquarium this afternoon from 4-6pm, which turns out to be a great time. Less crowds, and a fabulous experience, including the sea otters ……. OMG we could just watch them for ever!
Our accommodation overnight is the fabulous Intercontinental on Cannery Row. The hotel and part of the pier actually sit out over the Pacific Ocean! It’s our last night as we lash out a little on great big rooms and beds with big fluffy doonas and pillows.
A nice Italian meal and its lights out for these little ducks !
Out last day today, was a wonderful drive back along the coast which reminds us of the south coast of NSW and also the 12 apostles drive in Victoria , with craggy cliffs and pounding surf. The sea mist is hanging around as it does in San Francisco due to how the ocean currents circulate.
This trip has been amazing in fact my whole travel year has. I’m truly blessed to have a wonderful family who love to travel with Steve and I and also have the opportunity for a girls trip ( or 2).
Here’s to 2020, a new year, a new decade and adventures to be had!
Mrs Wong xx