Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cali Vacation: San Fran pt 2

We ended up spending three full days in San Francisco. I covered the first day, and our visit to the Golden Gate Bridge, in my first vacation post. This post is going to be a combo of days two and three. On day two, we rode a tour bus around the city . . . which was a great way to see highlights of the city. While we were on the bus, we made mental notes of places that we would go back to the next day on our own and tour a little more thoroughly.

We had read and heard a lot about Golden Gate Park. We weren't planning to go there, but our tour bus stopped there for about 30 minutes. Golden Gate Park is pretty much SF's equivalent of NYC's Central Park, and it was beautiful! This is the park's Conservatory of Flowers:
Brianna loved smelling the gorgeous flowers!
I really think our sweet girl was just happy to be off of the tour bus for a while :-).
Our tour bus also took us to some of the best city overlook areas. It was so nice since the sun had finally come out to play!
When I was younger, I was a HUGE Full House fan (and who am I kidding? I still like it.) Did anyone else watch that show? Our tour guide didn't drive us by the Full House house, but he did tell us where to find it. Much to Chris's dismay, I put the Full House house on my list of must-sees for the next day.

Here it is! The house is seen in the Full House credits and openers of many of the episodes:
It looks a little different, but I recognized it as soon as we drove down the street.

The next photo is another scene you may recognize from the Full House introductions (and I know there are other Full House watchers reading this :-). Do you remember the scene where the family is playing football in the park during the introduction? Well, this is the park! You can even see these houses in the background of the scene (if you can't remember exactly, you can find it easily on YouTube). These houses are a famous SF landmark, and are known as The Painted Ladies or The Seven Sisters. Yes, there are only six houses seen in my photo . . . my photographer cut one off *ahem*.
The Hubs will probably not appreciate this next photo, but I thought it was too funny. Parking is a HUGE issue in SF, but on this morning we were out very early and lucky enough to find a FREE parking spot on the street. However, Chris had to parallel park to get into it. He did his best :-).
While on our tour bus, we made a {very quick} stop at Ocean Beach . . . as in just long enough to jump off the bus, take a family photo, and hop back on. Ocean Beach is a Pacific Ocean beach, unlike many of the SF beaches which are SF Bay beaches. Since we had never been to the Pacific Ocean before, we put Ocean Beach on our list of places we would revisit the next day when we were out on our own.
It was super chilly at the beach the next day. B pretty much hated it.
After Chris put her feet in the ocean, she pretty much cried on and off for the rest of our visit. There were several surfers on the water, but they were all in wetsuits. The water looked pretty rough to me . . . no way would I have gotten in!
I did, however, put my hand in :-).
Another must-do SF attraction is Chinatown. We weren't able to drive through on our tour bus due to traffic issues, but our guide told us exactly what streets to go down to see the best of Chinatown. This is a gate into the "tourist" street of Chinatown, donated to the city by Taiwan.
B thought these creatures were great!
This street was certainly decorated for and geared toward the tourists. The signs were even in English and Chinese.
However, I wanted to see "real" Chinatown, so I convinced Chris to walk over several blocks away from the tourist area. We were so glad we did! It truly felt like we left the US and stepped into an Asian country! We don't have really any good photos of this area because it was super crowded, but it had outdoor markets, signs exclusively in Chinese, and very few English speakers. We were certainly getting a lot of looks from people who were probably thinking we were lost :-). 

We saw lots of cable cars walking around that morning, but we didn't ride one. Logistically, we just weren't confident in our ability to ride with an 18 month old. The one in the photo below if fairly empty, but it was still standing room only. Plus, we had the stroller with us. Anyway, we were happy to see this SF icon.
The photo below is of Lombard Street, the crookedest street in America. According to the locals, this neighborhood was having a big problem with people speeding down the street, so the residents decided to plant flower beds right in the middle of the street. In order to drive down, you have to weave back and forth all the way down, making it impossible to drive faster than 5 mph. Now, it has become a HUGE tourist attraction in the city, which I'm not sure is better than a few people speeding down the street :-).
There is also a fairly large area of the city known as Little Italy, and it smells AMAZING! When deciding where we wanted to eat lunch, it was a no-brainer that Little Italy was it! However, there are so many restaurants there that we didn't even know where to begin. So, we asked a local who worked in the parking garage where we parked the car, and he suggested Michelangelo Cafe'.
The inside of the restaurant was quite ornate. B loved it! We were eating an early lunch, so that is why the place is empty. I'm pretty sure we saw a couple members of the mob or mafia, posing as "bread" delivery guys. I tried to get Chris to capture a pic of them, but we couldn't get one without being too obvious, haha!
This is my YUMMY lasagna:
And Chris's chicken parmesan:
B really enjoyed this lunch! Unfortunately (for me), she liked my food much better than Chris's, so I left wishing we had ordered her a plate of her own!
This was our view during lunch, at the edge of a beautiful park:
Notice the houses on the side of the cathedral. There is a city ordinance that states there must be at least one inch in between all houses and buildings in the city. So, though they look connected, there is {at least} a one inch gap in case of fire. We did see a house that had burned to ashes, while the houses on either side of it were still standing. Apparently, the fire department will fill the gap with water in case of fire.

On the day we took the tour bus, we spent most of the late afternoon relaxing in our hotel room. That night, went to Joe's Cable Car restaurant for dinner. This is a semi-famous diner in a suburb of SF.
Brianna thought it was good eating and great coloring!
Chris and I both enjoyed the food! It was seriously one of the best burgers I had ever eaten.
Finally, this last photo is to show everyone what an awesome little girl we have :-). After we would return to the hotel in the evenings, she was GREAT to entertain herself before bedtime while we prepared for the next day. This night, she decided to do a little light reading.

I'll post the third (and final) blog about our trip sometime next week. We spent the second half of our trip at Lake Tahoe enjoying the GORGEOUS scenery, so I'm excited to share those photos with you!

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