golden gates and cable cars

We finally made it in to San Francisco on Monday. Monday was beautiful. First we traveled down into Muir Woods to see the Redwoods and they are big! At first we didn't think they were even going to be as big as the piney woods in east Texas.

We were wrong. They are pretty amazing trees and it's understandable why people make trips out to see them and walk among them. We stopped up on Hawks Hill to look at the Golden Gate Bridge then drove down to Point Bonita and walked over to the light house out on the edge of the continent. This was by far the best view we will get the whole time we are here. It was breathtaking and amazing. Just as we were driving up the hill it started to get foggy. It was simply amazing. We were both in awe that something like this existed and it isn't all that talked about.

The Golden Gate is an amazing structure but the Lighthouse has the real views. You can look back at the bridge, or off into the ocean, or down at the waves crashing on the rocks. It almost feels like you're off in New Zealand. It was a surreal afternoon.

Then we took the scenic drive back, made a stop at Sausalito beach and headed through a tunnel to get back to the bridge. We made one more quick stop at Fort Point for one last look at the bridge. Then we made our way over to our hotel which is awesome and just west of Downtown and Union Square. We are staying at Hotel Vertigo (which was once the York Hotel, which was the building called the Empire Hotel in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo). It has recently been renovated (well halfway, they haven't finished yet). We both think it's got a lot of character. It's definitely a cool place to stay.

That night we made our way down into the mission, which turned out to be quite an experience. Lets just say its a very diversified and not the safest feeling place at night. First we headed over to Bi-Rite to try the famous Ice Cream. It was pretty good, actually really good. But, I have to give Austin credit on this one. We both felt like Amy's Ice Cream was a better experience and was more fun to go to. After that we walked over to Weird Fish were we waited for our table outside on a bench. Well we enjoyed the people watching until we were approached by a really, really drunk hobo who was preaching on love. At least that's what we think he was talking about but being Hispanic and drunk, he was a little hard to understand. Oh well, we got a good laugh out of it before dinner. Weird fish didn't really meet my expectations. It was a cool place but the food wasn't as great as I thought it was going to be. Oh well so far we were striking out in the SF food scene.

The next day we attempted to eat breakfast at Mamas in North Beach only to find a line at 9am on a Tuesday that was about 30 people. Instead we opted for Cafe Greco and had some good coffee/chai and a smoked salmon bagel. We did the normal peir 39/fishermans warf tourist thing and enjoyed the seals for a while.

These guys are loud and boisterous. They just lay around and yell, climb on top of each other, and fight. We could probably have stood there for a couple of hours watching these guys.
We checked out Ghirardelli square and had a cupcake at Kara's Cupcakes (Delicious -watch out Sugar Mama's). Then we headed to the Ferry Building (The last operating World Fair Building) and strolled through the farmers market. Snacked on fresh cherries and fruits. We had lunch there at the Slanted Door (also good, very fresh, but not up to expectations). Maybe our expectations were just too high. After visiting a few shops and riding a bus through Chinatown we ended up strolling around in some cool galleries and checking out Union Square. It was busy and full of tourists. I think it is one of those things you have to do while you are here but I don't really care for the hustle of it. For dinner we headed over to Little Star Pizza, who gets the Best Meal of San Francisco Award so far, and is way up there in our Top Pizza places ever list.

The pizza had this thick, crunchy cornmeal crust that held all the toppings in place. It was deep dish but you could it eat with your hands without it all falling off the crust. Perfect, was good. We then walked over to Alamo park to check out the Painted Ladies and the "Full House" houses (although it wasn't actually the house they lived in). We took a few fun pictures and enjoyed the scenery. Claire was enthralled with the detail of all the Victorians. This area is a stark contrast to the mission area.

More coming soon!

sonoma, muir woods, and the golden gate bridge

So far it has been a whirlwind of a vacation. We have packed in about a week's worth of vacation in two days. Two days ago we ate at La Note for breakfast, shopped around Berkeley, ate at Chez Panisse for lunch, tasted at The Cheese Board, explored Berkeley campus, did a tour of the Pyramid brewery, and ate dinner with Shawn and Mandy. We got to see little Sutton for the first time and that was exciting. Thanks to Rick (Claire's Dad) we got to enjoy a nice dinner out with them.

Then yesterday we headed up to Sonoma. Beforehand we checked out the Alameda Aniques by the bay.

It had an awesome view, and Claire was in heaven with billions of vendors selling old antique stuff.

Surprisingly, even I enjoyed myself. Then we began our tasting at about 8 wineries (I think that would make Howie proud). Our favorites were Kaz and Imagery. Imagery does a unique artists' label for each bottle and Kaz is the smallest in Sonoma. Both had great wines and at Kaz the winemaker is the pourer so it was fun to chat with him. Before anything we stopped at Cornerstone Gardens, which is about 15 different intepretations of the word "garden". It includes a dead tree covered in blue christmas balls.

After that we had some amazing and delicious sandwiches at Angelo's Deli. That place is a great cheap lunch stop in Sonoma. From there on out we did our winery tour.

At Benzinger we did a awesome tram tour and then by about 6 we were worn out and ready to head back to our hotel in Tiburon. The hotel turned out to be awesome. It had a 2 person Jacuzzi tub in the room. Very sweet!

For our last stop of the day we headed over to Sausalito for Sushi. Although it was slightly disappointing food it was still good to get some food before bed (We might have made a stop afterwards at In-N-Out Burger for a burger and a shake). Today we are off to Fred's coffee for breakfast, and then we are sightseeing at Muir woods, Sausalito, and the Golden Gate bridge. By tonight we will be in San Francisco. Woo Hoo!


Its 6am day 3 and we are about to be off to Alameda Antiques by the Bay. Nothing there under 20 years old. Claire is excited. Then we are off to Sonoma for the day for some wine tasting.

I don't have pictures up yet for yesterday but we did a lot of shopping at CB2 and Urban Indigo and a few other places. We had breakfast at La Note, lunch at Chez Panisse (INCREDIBLE, in the top 5 meals of my life), and dinner with the awesome Shawn and Mandy at Levende East. It was a good day, a very good day. I should be back soon with more pictures.

twin peaks and dosa

We got to San Francisco at around 7pm on Friday night. On the recommendation of our fellow passenger and San Franciscan (who was once a Texan, and also had a very unique proffesion) we rushed through renting the car to get to the top of Twin Peaks to catch a great view of the city. If you can't tell from the following pics then let me just tell you it was AMAZING. It was the perfect start to our vacation and I couldn't have found a better view of this city.

After traversing the steep hills to get to Twin Peaks we made our way down into the mission for our planned dinner at Dosa (Indian Food). It was excellent food. We started with a teeny-tiny $9 cocktail, it is expensive here! Then we had a couple soups, one was a spicy tomato broth, the other a creamy, smoky cauliflower dish. Of course we had to actually have the dosa at Dosa. So we went with the traditional masala dosa and added an extra 5 chutneys. All in all it was delicious and we were stuffed and exhausted. We were going to attempt dessert but both were way too full. So we headed across the bay bridge to our hotel in emeryville. Then it was night night.

Today we are off to La Note for breakfast, then we are gonna check out all the shops in Berkeley. Were also gonna hit up the Berkeley Campus, the gate at Pixar, just for a picture, Pyramid Alehouse, Chez Panisse, Beard Papas, The Cheeseboard, and CB2. By the end of the night I am sure we will be exhausted but it will probably be our only chance to see Shawn and Mandy, so we are having dinner with them at Levende East.

california here we are

We arrived safely in San Francisco today. Now we have 8 more days! I couldn't be more excited to be off from work and at a place that has so much going on as far as shopping, food, tourism, culture, and a just plain cool factor. Not only are we going to SF but we are doing one day stops in Berkeley, Sonoma, and Saulsalito/Muir Woods. I have a about a billion places that I want to eat and Claire has a billion she wants to shop at so combine we have a jam packed 8 days. If you are really curious you can check out our google map for our trip. Just go here. Don't be too shocked. If you know Claire and I you know we had to plan every detail of the trip and this map is proof. I think we both plan on trying to update while there and allow you to travel with us through photos!

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