Sunday, March 29, 2015

Farewell San Francisco, for now

I've been told it's been a while since my last post, and yep, that's true! Not totally sure why it's been so long other than I have been busying myself, took a few trips, and was waiting to consolidate a few things into one before writing another post. I didn't intend to go three weeks, but oh well. I started a post while I was sitting on the floor in the San Francisco airport waiting in line for my once cancelled and twice delayed flight to New York on Friday and didn't finish it so now I'll resume...

Over the past few weeks I've continued to eat, drink, and see some of the San Francisco sights, sat on the beach and enjoyed the sun and heat in Santa Monica, enjoyed relatively rain-free days in Seattle, and started to finally get organized for the second major adventure of this six months - Europe! And yes, for anyone following the coffee research that has continued as well.

Speaking of coffee I think I'm settling on lattes as a potential go-to drink but I'm fairly open to other options. Regular coffee, cappuccino, pour over iced coffee, almond milk latte, flat white, and a few others have been tasted as well.  I'm not sure I'm a fan of the foam on a cappuccino so just the straight milk addition in a latte is much better. With the warm temperatures in SF and Santa Monica I went after iced lattes for a few days, pretty good but usually massive.

On Wednesday I finally went to Sightglass in SOMA - raved about by many in SF and around the corner from my friend Andrea so I thought I needed to check it out. This place is definitely way too hipster for me and it felt a little like a factory but not in a cool industrial way - sweatshop was my first though when I saw people lined up just folding little bags of beans on one side of the place, but I get it that the feel is that they're processing the beans and everything right there. I will say though, the drink I had was really good. Best part about it... it was small :) I haven't a clue of everything that was in it but it was their cold brew with vanilla syrup, milk, fancy ice cubes, and likely a few other things.

I'll continue to taste as I make my way through Europe and see if anything changes and if I have any ability to detect differences between the countries. So far I don't think that I've created a new bad habit so that I'll take as a success.

Moving on from coffee I'll take the focus back on where I ventured over the last few weeks. I spent a fair bit of time in and around San Francisco doing thrilling things like going to the dentist, dealing with getting my taxes done, remembering to pay bills and attempting to set up automatic payments, running 20 miles, and not to mention House of Cards and a new recent addiction of The Great British Bakeoff. While not glued to my couch or dealing with annoying real-life items I did actually see some things!

I went to Filoli, an amazing house and gardens in Woodside, with Leslie-Ann and her new and adorable baby Izzy. We had a lovely wander through all of the blooming tulips, daffodils, and zillions of other flowers. Spring had definitely arrived at Filoli! The house that's part of the estate is beautiful as well - a bit Downton Abbey with the call system from various rooms visible in the kitchen. We followed it up with lunch at Woodside Bakery and Cafe which was an old favorite of mine from Stanford - still just as good with amazing bread these days! For lots of flower pictures check out the album here.

The California Academy of Sciences has been on my San Francisco list for many years. For some reason I'd never been so with a chance at free admission and not loads of people (other than school children) I took a mid-week trip out there. It was fantastic and I'll definitely go back. Even with lots of kids they're all short so even if they're pressed up against the glass I can see over them :) I found that it wasn't as massive as I thought it was going to be so it was much more manageable. My frame of reference of science museums is the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia which is enormous and has many different floors and areas. I spent maybe two hours at the Cal Academy and got to see most everything - I just didn't do the Planetarium or the earthquake simulation. The rain forest with all of the plants, birds, and butterflies was amazing, and then I loved all of the underwater aquarium sections. Lots of pictures are here.

Some time off wouldn't be complete without a trip to Santa Monica. I picked a fantastic weekend to head down there - well fantastic in my mind, but probably not for those who were running the LA Marathon on the Sunday that I was there, because it was ridiculously hot. By chance of luck my mom also happened to be there for the weekend. This was the first time that I'd been down there and actually laid out on the beach and thought that going in the water might be a good idea (I made it mid-shin deep and that was it, definitely still too cold for me). I finally made my way to Manhattan Beach on the Friday I was there while Amy had to work and loved it. For fear of burning myself to a crisp, not wanting to just lay there and sweat all afternoon, and not get stuck in loads of traffic getting back up to Santa Monica I only stayed a few hours but thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt a selfie on the beach was a must...

After a day back in San Francisco I headed for one (likely) last hurrah in Seattle with my friend Lizzie as she finishes up her PhD there and will hopefully find her way back to the Bay Area. We spent our time eating, drinking, and checking out some touristy items that neither of us had done. One day we checked out the Seattle Underground (slightly bizarre but really quite interesting historically) and headed under the water looking at all of the fish and creatures at the Seattle aquarium. A hike followed by Din Tai Fung and lots of episodes of the Great British Bakeoff made up another. The last Din Tai Fung I went to was in Hong Kong so it was my first US experience - people are obsessed with this place! We stuffed our faces very successfully. We hoped to see the tulip blooms north of Seattle but we were a little early so I had to settle for checking out the flowers in Pikes Place Market - a favorite always. Pictures are here.

Following Seattle I was back to San Francisco for a week before heading off for good - well two months worth of good. I crammed a few things in during this last week and also spent much of it debating what I was going to pack for two months and what sized luggage would be appropriate. As good of a packer as I can be I didn't think that I could get everything I wanted into my normal carry-on bag :)

While not having anxiety about packing I finally made it to the Cable Car Museum (awesome for a quick stop in and free), caught the High Style fashion exhibit at the Legion of Honor (beautiful dresses and clothes and a museum I hadn't been to before), got some runs in (including a 20 miler over the Golden Gate Bridge and back to satisfy my need for running the bridge and feel slightly more prepared for this marathon), overly enjoyed an amazing fried chicken sandwich and strawberry shortcake at Bake Sale Betty in Oakland (A-Mazing and totally worth the drive, I might even wait in the normal weekend line for this), and got some French wine tips along with a few bottles of wine at Kermit Lynch (a wine importer in Berkeley). The list of San Francisco and area things to do is still really long but I'm feeling relatively accomplished in what I did get around to doing. When I'm back in June I'll have to see about ticking a few more off! There's an album of random SF things that didn't have enough pictures to make their own album so some of these are in there. Check it out here.

Cable Car Museum - the actual cables that run the 4 lines

Saying good bye and good night to San Francisco & the Bridge
With the time between major adventures nearly wrapped up the European plans are starting to take shape. The bags are packed, since I had to get to New York first, so hopefully I got most of what I'll need til June in. For now I'm headed out to the chilly streets to New York now to see what the city's got for me today! I'll share the NYC weekend re-cap and Europe plans soon. Stay tuned for two months in Europe that are sure to make you jealous :)

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