Three Days in San Francisco

Hey guys - way back in March, about one minute before the coronavirus blew apart our world, I flew to San Francisco. One minute is a little bit of an exaggeration, but seriously --  only a little bit. Things came crashing down around us within the day and I was officially 3,000 miles from home during a declared national emergency. 

No biggie though. Still had a blast. It wound up being a really weird phase when nobody knew what the fuck was going on, so it was business as usual with a heavy dose of hand sanitizer. I remember seeing people huddled on corners with their masks pulled down so they could smoke, like that respiratory illness ain't shit. 


So we land in San Francisco at roughly 11am local time and it's 60º and it's a pretty nice departure from the snow and cold we left in Michigan. Oh and "we" is my sister-in-law Sara and me. We hop off the plane, get lost trying to find the rental cars, almost jump off the wrong tram stop, but because alls well that ends well, an hour or so later,  we're cruising down a highway that looks straight out of the Full House opening credits. I can see why so many people want to live here because a lot of people do live here. It's houses on houses on houses. And they are really cool looking. 

So it's probably 1 or 2pm in Michigan and we get off that plane hungry, so object number one is finding some tacos and Coronas. We didn't mean to make light of the virus situation. It just sort of happened that we wound up at a place that had a cooler full of bottled Corona and limes. I honestly wish I had made a better note of the name of this place. It was a classic dirty hole in the wall where everything tastes phenomenal. I crushed that ceviche and broke back out into the sunshine like a fresh new gal. 

Ceviche and Corona in San Francisco |

Day one was all about exploring downtown. We hopped on one of those classic cable cars and personally, I was the touristiest of tourists, snapping my iPhone all over the place going "look at that!" "Oh my god, look at that!"

Outdoor Fruit Market in San Francisco |

We wound up at Pier 39 and I should have been more grateful because I honestly think it was the last time the pier was open until pretty recently. It's pretty kitschy down there, kind of like Mackinaw Island but on the west coast. The same kind of tchotchkes that are fun nonetheless to check out. Also, there are sea lions just hanging out in the bay. 

Sea Lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco |

That afternoon, we went to the Vesuvio Cafe in Little Italy for an afternoon cocktail. Apparently, a few celebrities make this their watering hole, so I was on high alert. It was empty until we went upstairs and awkwardly passed two people making out in a booth in the corner. No worries - we got this cool window seat to watch people going about their normal lives like living this close to a neat bar is no big deal. 

This is another example of a hole in the wall place where everything is really old and a little dusty, but the drinks are strong. I had one -- my go-to Titos and water -- and I walked out with a swimmy head just ready to tackle the heck out of those sideways, super-steep sidewalks. 

Vesuvio Cafe in San Francisco |

Now here's something neat: there is a place called the Palace of Fine Arts that I thought would be some kind of academic building, and instead wound up looking like I might run into Nero in Ancient Rome. And while I'm still collecting my jaw from the floor, people are just casually going for a run and walking their dog through the columns. 

Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco |

Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco |

Can you believe!? I say "awesome" all the time, but this was this place was that in the literal sense. My awe was positively struck. 

So final pitstop of the day was Hog Island Oyster where I spent $50 on one drink and a handful of oysters. It was fine and if there's anything I'm willing to invest in on vacation, it's good food and good experiences, but honestly, the $10 ceviche and Corona I ate earlier in the day was far more thrilling. Can't beat the ambiance though. It's right on the bay with these giant barn doors and just feels very hip for a 30-year old suburban mom like me. 

Hog Island Oyster in San Francisco |


Sara and I are good travel partners. We both want to hike a lot and eat really good food. Same goals, so it makes for a highly satisfying trip. Day two we set aside to climb a few hills and see cool stuff. And obviously, you cannot go to San Francisco without checking out the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Here's something I did not know - it's basically shrouded in fog all the time, so you have to get their early to see it in all its golden glory. We did and it is worth its reputation. 

San Francisco Bay |

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco |

We crossed that sucker and headed to Muir Woods where you have to make an appointment to park your car. I cannot believe the population in this small pocket of the world. An appointment! To park!

Anyway. The weather was kind of crappy - misty and cold -- but we hiked a ton and climbed a couple of hills that made us both question our cardiovascular fitness. Mediocre is my conclusion, but I only speak for myself. 

San Francisco |

San Francisco |

That night, we went to a place called Camelot Fish and Chips and as non-Catholic folk, went in totally blind to it being Friday in the middle of Lent. We waited an hour and a half but did not mind for a second. Sincerely. This place is the tiniest alley of a restaurant with no more than 8 tables and about 75 people waiting in line to make their order or pick it up. This is day two of the coronavirus right, and nobody knows what the fuck what we're supposed to be doing with this information, so we're all just crammed in there, friggin' elbows touching, breathing all over each other, all just basking in the shared experience of good smells and salivating over our future selves crushing some fried fish. If I were going to catch a virus, it was definitely in that building. 

Camelot Fish and Chips in San Francisco |

Roughly 10 seconds after scarfing down crab cakes and fried clams, I was very in the mood for a donut. Sara is not deterred by a 2-mile drive that GPS is projecting will take 40 minutes, so we hop in the car. The first stop sucks -- we go in, look at their boring donuts, and leave again. 30 minutes, a brief altercation with a man probably on drugs, and some yelp research later, we're standing in line outside Bob's Donuts, a place that has truly earned every single person waiting to make their order. 

They make your donut fresh right in front of you and sell tiny pints of whole milk. If that ain't a sales pitch. 

Bob's Donuts in San Francisco |


Last day and man was this one a shit-show. Mostly good though! 

First of all, it friggin' poured. I mean, drenching rain that even our raincoats could not stand up to and it made walking a little bit sucky. Also, a national emergency was declared while we're wandering down a street looking for the place that sells Irish coffees to go (more on that in a second). 

Sara works in healthcare and I was working in the event industry: two careers that were kicked in the face by the pandemic. Different reasons obviously, but pretty simultaneously, we both got lengthy emails from our jobs and we literally plopped down on the sidewalk to read them. I think I pulled out my sanitizer and got suddenly got a little more committed to using it.  

Anyway, it's raining like a bish, so we buy a ticket to ride on one of those hop-on/hop-off tour busses, which was 10000% worth the investment. Primarily, it's transportation all over the city and they run a zillion busses. But also you can hop off anywhere you see a decent looking coffee shop or neat attraction and be assured that another bus will roll by in 15 or so minutes. 

Coffee Shop in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury District |

We jumped off in the Haight/Ashbury district and it was definitely my favorite stop of the day. I grabbed some coffee in this grubby little place (dirty, but great coffee -- I stand by my hypothesis about hole-in-the-walls) and we wandered into a Goodwill where we both scored some hoodies. I forgot to mention that it was significantly colder in SF than we had been anticipating. I literally layered up and wore all the hoodies and coats that I brought on the trip every single day. 

Girls Call The Shots Mural in San Francisco |

Dog Mural in San Francisco |

We also made a stop to see the painted ladies, which was honestly a let down for me. Just a couple of houses painted in shades of pink and purple. I think the murals down the street were more interesting IMHO. 

The houses have some historical significance, which I don't want to downplay, but just LOOK at those murals. Tell me those don't just absolutely steal your attention. 

The Painted Ladies in San Francisco |

Okay, now let's talk about the place that sends you out the door with a tiny bottle of Jameson and says "don't pour this until you're OUT of the building." One of my customers from work told me this was the place for Irish coffee and it was on our way to Ghirardelli Square anyway, so we hit it up. The Buena Vista was jammin' - seriously standing room only, and we were happy enough to get out of there, crouch on the sidewalk and pour a tiny bottle of whiskey in our coffee at 9am. It was still raining and the burn was pleasant. 

The Buena Vista in San Francisco |

Speaking of Ghirardelli Square, look how subtly they suggest you share a brownie sundae. LOL forever. 

Brownie Sundae at Ghirardelli Square in  San Francisco |

Ghirardelli Square in  San Francisco |

Our other SIL, Christy, flew out to meet us and we scooped her up in the early evening and went out for our last night in San Francisco. We landed in China Town and wound up ordering more food than we realized and crushing absolutely all of it. 

San Francisco at Night |

We left the next morning, just as San Francisco initiated their stay-at-home order. 


Coming up next time- driving down the Pacific Coast during the coronavirus pandemic and all the weird things that came with it. 

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