California Vacation – Part 2

The Coachella Valley is a quiet place that smells of citrus and flowers. The palm tree lined streets are wide and clean. Few buildings are taller than two stories and nestled between the San Jacinto, Santa Rosa and San Bernardino mountains, it feels cozy and safe. The people are generally laid back and friendly. It’s a relaxing vacation destination, so the pace is slow. After spending the first few days of my holiday there, I found myself experiencing culture shock when I deplaned in San Francisco.

The first thing I did was find a taxi to take me downtown. The driver, a skinny kid, who looked barely old enough to get a licence, tossed my luggage into the trunk of his hatchback without so much as a hello. As we got in the car and left the airport the silence continued. Not sure where we were headed, I gave him the address of my hotel. There was still no response from the driver’s seat.

Finally, he mumbled. “Do you mind if I listen to music?”

“Fine with me,” I shrugged.

Then he proceeded to crank base heavy techno at about 100 dB for the remainder of our trip, as he sped though town like Steve McQueen. That’s San Francisco. It’s loud, weird and a little scary. It also smells a bit like pee.

Don’t get me wrong, I really love this city. It’s just a different pace than I’m used to.

I made it to the hotel with minimal hearing loss but a little shaken. Thankfully, Jeremy was waiting there for me. He’d arrived there a few nights before to attend the Web 2.0 conference with some other people from his office.

For my first full day in San Francisco I was on my own because Jeremy was still at the conference. It was actually kind of nice to have some time to myself to wander. I went to Alamo Square be a cliché and take that painted ladies photo before returning downtown for some shopping and people watching.

Architecturally, San Francisco is one of the most visually stunning places I’ve ever been. The colourful Victorian houses cut into the hills along with the more modern buildings gives it a landscape like no other I’ve ever seen. it’s eclectic and weather-beaten. Some of the streets have such harrowing inclines, you have to wonder why anyone would bother building there. The views are incredible though.

When the conference was over, we all hopped on a cable car headed to Fisherman’s Wharf for ice cream.

We started the next day at the Blue Bottle Cafe where I ordered vacuum syphoned coffee.

We’ve been fascinated by this process since we found a vintage vacuum coffee pot a few years ago. The coffee we’d made at home with our pot was mediocre.

The coffee at the Blue Bottle Cafe was amazing. One of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had. Plus, it looked like a science experiment.

Next we headed north to Muir Woods. We’d been here a few years before but the weather had been terrible. We’d walked around anyway but it just wasn’t fun. This time the weather was beautiful. I’m so glad we got to go back and see the coastal redwoods without the cold wind and rain beating down on us.

On the way back we stopped in Sausalito and Berkley, before heading back across the bay.

On our last day we took a boat to Alcatraz.

Alcatraz had never been high on my list of San Francisco attractions, but for one of our travelling companions, it was a top priority. I’m glad we went though. It was an interesting tour.

After returning to the mainland we went to the Aquarium at Pier 39.

Now I have about a hundred new reasons to stay out of the ocean.

That was it for our San Francisco adventure. We flew home early the next day and thus ended our month of jet setting. We’ll be home for a while now but I’m already thinking about our next destination.

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  1. Gorgeous photos! I’ve never been to san fran, or to the west coast at all, but I really need to visit! Looks like you had a great trip!

  2. I went to California a few years ago, and spent 2 days in San Fran. These pics make me want to go back!

    I really loved Alcatraz, it had such pretty foliage and a great view of the city

  3. I loved the contrast of ruins and decayed buildings with all the pretty gardens on Alcatraz.

    This was our third trip to San Francisco and I haven’t seen or done half the things I want to. I can’t wait to go back again.

  4. “It also smells a bit like pee.” ahahah!
    The hills scare the hell out of me. Richmond, VA is full of that Victorian architecture and I can’t get enough of it!

    Ack! Luxirare just did a post with that coffee pot! Here it is:
    The one she uses is the brand Hario. Maybe a new one would work better? I’m loving the concept, had never seen one before.

    So, where to next?

  5. I had no idea you could buy those little coffee pots. Ours is vintage from the 30s and it scares me. Applying high heat to 80 year old glass just seems like a bad idea. I’m curious though, if was just better coffee beans at the Blue Bottle Cafe, or the process.

    I just googled Richmond. It looks beautiful. I’m going to have to put it on my list of cities to visit.

    I think our next trip is going the White Mountains in New Hampshire. We drove though that area years ago on our way to Maine and have been longing to go back. We’re grounded for a while though. Too much stuff to do at home and work.

  6. It probably was the beans.
    Maybe you can order some!
    Richmond’s main tourist attraction is all the historic Civil War stuff. I have little interest in all that.
    Def let me know if you’re at least passing through!
    Oh man, that area in NH looks gorgeous!

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