April 26, 2016

I left my heart in San Francisco

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to visit what little family that I have left, in San Carlos. My uncle, cousin, step-aunt and step-cousins were all very happy to see me, and I, them. Since moving back to the west coast (I lived on the east coast for about 2.5 years) my uncle and I have tried to get together once a year, whether that means they come to Washington or I go down to California. Either way, it makes me genuinely happy. Even more so when I visit as I get my California fix, see my family and travel all at the same time. This time was my turn and I spent a beautiful four days in sunny Northern California.

Plane Ride! Plane Ride!

My day started early and I was out the door before 7am. My flight wasn’t until almost 12pm but you know. Security checkpoints plus getting to Seattle in the first place, it all takes time. But when I finally got on the plane and was buckled in and felt that exhilarating rush that always comes to me when taking off, it was all worth it. And I snapped the obligatory “I’m in the air!” photos. (By the way, if you time it right, Bloody Mary by The Silversun Pickups is literally the most perfect song to take off to. You’re welcome.) The flight was standard. Completely packed, but thankfully short. the guy next to me was very nice and we had a little bit since he was separated from his family. But an amusing thing did happen on my flight down. Freaking Danny Bonaduce was on my plane. Right behind me in fact. I giggled when I figured this out.

When I finally did land, my amazingly wonderful cousin Mira picked me up at SFO and we drove to her dad’s house where we had a few hours to talk and relax before everyone came home for dinner. It was really nice catching up with her. There’s a 10 year age difference between us but it never truly feels that large. We’re both pretty easy-going people (not that we don’t have our own issues/disorders to deal with) and it always feels like we just saw each other whenever we do get together, no matter how much time has passed between visits. She works as a hostess at a pretty fancy steak house called TOWN, which is where my uncle took us to dinner that night. Mira even asked them to fix something a little special in honor of my visit.

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I’ve never had a custom menu before! It was so sweet and yes, I kept the menu as a memento. The dinner, by the way? Freaking amazing. So if you are ever in San Carlos, go to TOWN. You won’t regret it. My steak was perfect. Absolutely perfect. And I’m pretty picky. It was a great dinner in general. Plenty of family time, lots of jokes, and since it’s my family there were plenty of inappropriate jokes too, which in my book, are always the best. My cousin’s boyfriend was there too and I’d met him before. We all get along. Well. Minus the fact that we are all baseball fans and my cousin, her boyfriend and my uncle are all Giants fans and I’m a Dodgers fan. Our teams are huge rivals. Oops. But I went to bed that night feeling happier and more relaxed than I had in a long time and with a tummy full of wonderful food.

The next day was a beautiful sunny day and my uncle and I spent the majority of it together. We walked from his house to downtown San Carlos to run some errands and talk. We had lunch at a beautiful Greek cafe and I fell instantly in love with their Lemon Chicken and Rice soup. I need to find a recipe and replicate it. It’s very light. savory with just a hint of lemon and perfect for spring. We both had gyros and enjoyed the sun. After a couple of hours we hiked back up to his house (it’s only about an hour from the town but it’s all uphill) and got ready to meet up with a couple of his friends for drinks. I was not expecting to go anywhere fancy, but oh man. We sure did.

Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay I could get used to this ...

We took a 25 minute drive to a little town called Half Moon Bay and ended up at the Ritz Carlton there to watch the sunset around the huge outdoor fire pits, drink a little wine and shoot the breeze. It was chilly but oh man, the view was worth it. And the hotel … oh that hotel. If I had $800 to blow on a hotel for a night, this is the hotel that I would choose. It’s so damn luxurious and beautiful and you can’t help but feel like a damn queen there. I sat by that fire pit and downed glass after glass of the fantastic Riesling that my uncle had me try. Perfection. After the sunset, we headed down to a local Italian restaurant and devoured a couple plates of the best bruschetta that I have ever had (and damn, I have had a lot of bruschetta in my life) and bowls of delicious homemade pasta complete with a couple bottles of Pinot that my uncle had brought.

The next day, my uncle had a special treat for me. He and I were to spend the day in San Francisco! I had never been to the city before, or if I had, I was so young at the time that I couldn’t recall it. We woke early in the morning and were in the city by 10am (it’s only about a 30 minutes drive from his house). Our first stop? You guessed it. The Golden Gate Bridge, which just happens to be on my bucket list. I am obsessed with bridges. I think they are absolutely beautiful and stunning pieces of art and my uncle apparently shares this belief too. We were both surprised to learn that. Anyway, we took a trip and drove the length of the bridge twice.

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After the Golden Gate, we headed downtown, found a place to park and started walking. I wanted to do all the touristy things and my uncle was only too happy to help. We rode the cable car. We travelled on the BART. We walked miles and miles. We went to Fisherman’s Wharf. We saw the sea lions sunning themselves. We talked and talked and visited Pier 23 where I literally had the most amazing and horrible sandwich of my life. Horrible because, oh my god, the calories and the fat. I had a Monte Cristo. But this was no normal Monte Cristo. This was done on French freaking Toast. Oh man. It was soooo good though.

SEA LIONS Alcatraz

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We watched fresh sourdough bread being baked and shaped into animals. We bought a massive buttload of chocolate at Ghirardelli Square. We got blisters on our feet. I splurged on a tacky as fuck (sorry but no other way to say it) shirt for my roommate, postcards for friends and a magnet for myself. We saw love locks. Stared at Alcatraz. And I got sunburned in the worst way. Literally the worst sunburn of my life. Three weeks later and I’m still peeling! And remember how I told you that my uncle is a Giants fan? Well, he insisted on buying me a Dodgers hat that I saw because I have always wanted one. Even though I said I was going to get it, he became a traitor to his own team. Awww. What a sweetheart of an uncle! We ended the night by eating a homemade gyro dinner by my step-cousin, watching SpaceBalls and then quality time with my cousin Mira and my uncle looking through old family photos. There were some tears, but it was a very happy and special moment and I am thankful for everything and all of the time that I spent with them.

Mt. Shasta from the air Hello Seattle

Unfortunately, I had to leave the next day. I was sad for leaving them, sad for leaving California and upset that I had to go back to work, which has continued to be a ridiculously stressful environment and sadly, I’m hating it there more and more every day. But that’s a story for another day. Even though I hated leaving, I have to say that it was wonderful flying back and getting a couple more airplane pictures. Mt. Shasta and Seattle both look amazing from the air. This is why I love window seats!

How has your spring been treating you? Any vacations that you have taken or plan to take? Leave a comment and tell me all about your plans!

  • It looks like you had a wonderful trip! The food looks delicious, and I would love to have that sandwich :) My husband is originally from San Jose and he still has some family there so I think we will have to take a trip over there sometime. It looks beautiful and I really want to snap some pictures of the golden gate bridge!

    • Yes! You definitely should. If you drive over the bridge there’s a vista you can park at to either walk the bridge, which is next on my list for another visit, or just get out and snap pics. On a good day you can see Alcatraz and even downtown San Francisco from there!

  • aw, how fun! I loved reading this. I have heard good things about TOWN but I’m not over that way too much! Would love to try when I am! And I love the menu thing, I think it’s such a nice touch. I did that for my husband’s birthday one year and it made his eyes well up! ha. It just makes you feel special. Love your musings from your trip. Sounds beautiful. San Francisco is such a neat city. And yes, plane seats can be beautiful during the day! Glad you got to spend time with your Uncle. Also, sorry about the post-vacay depression (the worst). At least, you’re right, the west coast flights from one city to another are never too bad. But always hard to leave.

    • You definitely should check out TOWN if you’re in the area. Worth every penny. The custom menu definitely makes you feel special, I’m not surprised your husband teared up! That’s so sweet of you to do for him!

      Oh man, I fell in love with San Francisco. To be fair I fall in love with pretty much any city I visit lol. The trouble of wanderlust :D

  • That’s so awesome! I think we must have been there just a week apart! Small world! I wanted to go to Half Moon Bay, but we ended up driving further south. We went to Carmel and Big Sur instead. Perhaps you could if you have more time next time! I loved those stinky sea lions. Glad you had so much fun with your family, and got to try some great restaurants.. I want that Greek food… like now! :P Xo – Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

    • That’s so funny! Small world, eh?
      The Greek cafe was so adorable. I wish I had gotten pictures!

  • Michael’s parents live in a suburb of Oakland so I’ve gotten to explore SF a little bit, but Golden Gate is still on my bucket list! His sisters LOVE Half Moon Bay and suggest going basically every time we’re down there but it never happens, and I need it to!!

    Side note, I had no idea Danny Bonaduce lived in Seattle! Then again, I think the only reason I’d heard of him is some VH1 reality show.

    • I didn’t realize he did either until I googled him after that lol I knew who he was because my mom had loved the Partridge Family but he wasn’t really relevant to me. I was still pretty amused though :D

      Oakland is beautiful! My uncle used to live in San Jose so I’d fly into Oakland and we’d drive around and explore. By this was when I was a teen. I know it’s changed a lot since then.

      You should definitely go to Half Moon Bay. Go to the Ritz Carlton and enjoy the views like we did. It’s free because the beach is public access so you can walk right through the hotel and chill amongst the guests outside. So wonderful. Just bring a jacket. Tends to get chilly.