When three of my great Florida friends planned a five-night visit to San Francisco a few months ago it seemed so far away.
It came up so fast, it was incredibly awesome, and then it was over. 🙁
Last Wednesday, Melissa, Shannon and Yolanda flew in to begin their West Coast adventure. None of the girls had been to San Francisco before and they didn’t quite know what to expect.
“Gorgeous”; “even prettier than I would have expected”; “every building is so incredibly different”; “there is so much to do”. True statements all around.
I planned an hour-by-hour itinerary for their visit to make sure we saw a little bit of everything.
The first day featured a tea at Samovar Tea Lounge in my neighborhood, followed by shopping on the trendy Union and Chestnut Streets in the Marina neighborhood, a bit of shopping in the popular Union Square area, a live BODYPUMP class taught by yours truly and dinner at a casual San Francisco eatery known for local food called Restaurant Lulu.
Friday began with a champagne toast on the rooftop of my building, followed by a guided tour of Sonoma with a great company called Terrific Tours. While we didn’t want to have a completely touristy experience when exploring wine country, we did want to have transportation and the help of an expert. This tour was the greatest combination for a group of four ladies who had never been to Sonoma before. We went to a large estate winery and toured the backstage tunnels and wine-making process, checked out the first Mexican winery owned and operated by a Mexican immigrant, stopped for a lovely lunch at a French restaurant called The Girl and the Fig in Sonoma Village, and then went to two additional wineries before being delivered to the ferry stop to make our way home. Our tour guide, Dan, was a local expert and also a winemaker so he offered real-world knowledge about the wine lifestyle at every stop. Our fellow tour patrons (there were eight of us in the van total) were also a good time. After quite a bit of wine, we chose a casual dinner in North Beach at Cafe Divine to end the day and went to sleep with smiles.
Saturday included a must-do stop at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market. We sampled cheese and fruit and walked around all the vendors and stores. Then, we boarded the ferry to Sausalito. It was a lovely day to be outside and the views of Sausalito did not disappoint. We walked around the coastal town and then had a late lunch at Trident restaurant on the water. After we returned to the city we walked down to the Pier 39 building so Yolanda could see the large congregation of sea lions that call the pier home. She was enthralled. Saturday continued with a dressed up evening of fine sushi at Zushi Puzzle in the Marina neighborhood and martinis and live music at the Top of the Mark, the rooftop lounge of the famous Intercontinental Hotel, where many visiting dignitaries and celebrities have stayed.
Sunday came quickly, and we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a picnic in Dolores Park. I doubt I could have picked a more “authentic” San Francisco experience than this particular park day. After a quick brunch at the Grove below my building we walked to Whole Foods to gather picnic supplies. Then we took a cab to the park and began quite the people watching adventure. At first the park was crowded, but we were able to find a nice spot on the grassy area. There were hipsters, kids, families, couples, loners, artists, musicians, cheerleaders, dancers, weirdos and so much more. The park continued to get more and more crowded as the day went on and the diversity of the San Francisco population became clearer than ever. While hanging out we kept seeing people walking up to the park with soft-serve ice cream and identified this delicacy as coming from the Bi-Rite Creamery on the corner of the park entrance. Shannon and Melissa offered to stand in the line for us, and after about half-an-hour returned with four incredible cones of cold delight. Most of our time at the park was spent chatting, eating far too much cheese and bread and commenting on our fellow park-goers. By the time we began to pack up, there wasn’t even a bit of green space left. Although we didn’t have the crazy libation-full St. Patrick’s Day we had in years past, we had a great time relaxing and taking in the city park experience. Our final activity on Sunday included a big Mexican dinner at a nearby place called Tropisueno before we called it a night.
Yolanda was incredibly excited to see her new favorite beverage, Matcha Tea, was available on the menu at nearly every corner coffee spot. Apparently she tried it once and has had trouble finding it in her hometown of St. Pete. She was also over-the-moon for the sea lions. I bet that encounter will make her want to return again.
Shannon liked the fact that the sidewalks and neighborhoods were so walkable and not as daunting as larger cities like New York City. She also liked the fact that it was unseasonably warm while they were visiting so she was comfortable in a regular winter coat without shivering.
Melissa was in awe of the perfect photo opportunities. As someone with a design background, she took a ton of great photos to document our experiences. She also already started planning her next visit.
The girls seemed to enjoy spending time in the city that Dave and I now call home. While we haven’t lived in the same cities since college, we’ve remained great friends. This trip reinforced the fact that no matter the distance we’re just the same. I felt great having some of my favorite familiar faces in my little apartment for several days, getting ready together, eating great food, drinking great wine, and talking about everything under the sun.
The girls left early in the morning on Monday and headed back to the Eastern time zone, and Dave and I went off to work.
Thank you girls for flying out to see me. Your visit not only brought in the warm weather, but it brought a big smile to my face.