Day 1: Getting there, getting around & getting some sleep
Our flight out of Richmond took off at 6:36 AM. We made it to the airport and through security with time to spare and somehow we made it all the way to the other side of the country without a single delay. We touched down a little bit early even and had our luggage in hand by 11:45 AM.
We momentarily contemplated using San Francisco’s extensive public transit system to get us to our hotel but decided, because we were tired and had a 50 lb suitcase, to take a cab instead. The cab ride to the hotel was terrifying. We almost died approximately 18 times. Seriously.
We made it though. Amazingly. We stayed at the Argonaut Hotel in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco. It was the best, most fabulous hotel I have ever stayed at in my entire life. And, because they were awesome, they let us check in three hours early.
Considering it was nearing dinner time at home in Virginia, and because it was actually after lunch time by the time we took our bags up to our rooms and marveled at the views, we figured food would be a good thing. So we went to Lou’s, a restaurant featuring live music every single night that just happens to be up the road a tiny bit and across the street from our hotel. Andrew ordered, for the first of several times, clam chowder in a bread bowl, while I, being of the non-fish-eating persuasion, got a Cajun Caesar Salad that was absolutely to die for.
We intentionally planned very little before embarking on our San Francisco adventure. We asked for suggestions on what to do, what to see, and where to eat from friends and the internets* but ultimately we knew we wanted to have an adventure and not spend our days in San Francisco restricted to a schedule. Somehow the planner in me remained calm throughout most of this, though I think I calmed my nerves by telling myself I had planned on not planning.
After lunch, we just started walking. We didn’t know where we were going but we wanted to explore our surroundings and get a basic idea of what was near us. Below is the approximate path we took. Andrew and I couldn’t figure out the exact path, but this is pretty damn close:
We basically just headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge. We walked to the water and I took about 16 pictures of seagulls and dipped my feet in the (very cold) water. And then we walked to Fort Mason and took pictures of palm trees and flowers and each other. It was amazing and breathtaking and the whole time I couldn’t believe I was actually in California.
We hit up Ghiradelli Square briefly and wandered around a bit more before heading back to the hotel for the complimentary wine hour. We’re not ones to refuse booze, especially when it’s free. We ate dinner at a little Irish Pub around the corner from our hotel where a very sweet dog named “Monty” came over and let me pet him. It made me miss Sadie. There were dogs EVERYWHERE we turned and everytime we saw one it made me miss her even more. She might be wretched sometimes, but I love her anyway.
I’d love to say we stayed up late and had some nighttime adventures, but we didn’t. We were exhausted from the flight and the walking and the eating and the sun and the fact that – HOLY CRAP – we were in San Francisco so we went back to our hotel at something like 8:30 PM California time and passed the eff out.
Day 2: Alcatraz, chocolate deliciousness, Pier 39 & a some wine
The one thing we planned while on vacation to San Francisco, was a trip to Alcatraz. The internet told us to either take the tour at night, or to take the early bird tour to beat the crowds. We really wanted to take the night tour but, by the time we got around to purchasing tickets, the night tour was sold out. So we opted for the 9 AM trip, which sounds sort of early, but we were still very much on Virginia time and actually woke up WELL BEFORE our alarm and were awake, off and on, from about 4:30 AM on. Plus, taking the morning trip meant we could take as much time as we needed to explore the Rock.
Alcatraz was absolutely AMAZING. I highly recommend it, especially if you like history or creepy places or great views of San Francisco. Seriously, we spent about three hours on the Rock walking around, taking the self-guided audio tour and taking approximately 300 photos. It was awesome and the next time I find myself in San Francisco I will, without a doubt, go back. I’m glad we took the morning tour and beat the crowds and I’m even more glad we could stay as long as we wanted.
After we left prison we walked up the Embarcadero to Pier 39 for lunch and some sea lion watching. From the table at our restaurant I could see Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, wild sea lions and a slew of boats. It was incredible, amazing, breathtaking and totally surreal. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many super-iconic things from one vantage point before.
After lunch we went to stare at the sea lions for a while. They were hilarious and we seriously contemplated sitting and watching them for the entire day. Had they not smelled so bad we probably would have but there was a chocolate shop close by and it was calling my name and the smell of chocolate after the stench of sea lions was perfection so we bought some fudge and browsed the crazy tourist shops on Pier 39 and went to the Aquarium of the Bay to see sharks and anchovies and turtles and chinchillas and bees. They even let us touch a leopard shark. And a sting-ray. And a bat-ray. Super cool. After we had exhausted everything neat at Pier 39, we walked up the street to the USS Pampanito, a WWII submarine because we’re dorks who like things like that. We met some super friendly nerds there and spent approximately 30 minutes talking to them about random history tid bits. Everyone in San Francisco is SO NICE! I thought I knew about Southern hospitality, but over there it’s just a whole different sort of nice. I love it!
We ate dinner close to the hotel again and then, on a whim, checked out this cute little wine bar next to our hotel. We walked in just as they were closing but the girl behind the counter told us we could still have some wine and maybe, just maybe, we could help her finish some of the remaining bottles. So we stayed, and had a glass of wine and sat at the bar talking to this girl until her manager got there 45 minutes later and then we stayed a while longer just talking and helping them finish drink mostly empty bottles of wine. It was awesome. We felt so special because they let us stay after closing time and gave us little sips of really good wine and it was just awesome. We felt loved, to say the least.
We passed out after sharing a little bottle of wine from the mini bar at the hotel and were proud to have made it all the way until almost 11 PM California time.
Recap for Days 3 + 4 tomorrow!
* THANK YOU, thank you, THANK YOU to both anOCgirl and San for your fabulous suggestions! You have no idea how much I appreciate it and how many times I told my husband how excited I was that you both offered so much help!