Friday, November 20, 2015

Five Reason I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Golden Gate Park with Joe

Some of you may know that I recently celebrated my 30th birthday with a trip to San Francisco. Yes, The Marin Test Series takes place in the Golden City, but here's a little secret . . . it was my first visit.

I was so excited about the trip . . . in theory. But when it came time to leave, I was so caught up in my day-to-day, that I didn't feel like taking a week away from work and flying 3,000 miles away. 

It wasn't much better when we first arrived. By the time we landed, rented a car, drove to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, and found parking four blocks away from where we were staying, three hours were gone and I was hangry. (Yes, it's a real thing) 

Joe and I walked a couple blocks to Nopalito (delicious) and waited for a table. I watch the locals come in and out of the little shops next door, leaving their dogs tide to posts outside. No way in hell my dog would let me do that. She's a suburban dog and these cute pooches were well-trained city dogs.

By the time we settled in that night in our little rented AirBNB room after dinner with friends, a ride on the train, and passing homeless people on the street, I had seen enough. I was ready to go home. 

Then as the days passed on, I found myself absolutely smitten with the city. And here's five reasons why.

Haight-Ashbury Neighborhood
One: The Walking
It sounds crazy, but I loved being able to walk to the park, restaurants, and Whole Foods. I'm so used to driving and sitting behind a desk, that I forgot how good it feels to move on foot. The weather was chillier than I had anticipated, but once I learned to bundle up, the cool breeze on my face was wonderful. According to my phone's health app, Joe and I walked approximately 16,000 steps a day! Probably the only vacation that didn't result in weight gain.

Conservatory of Flowers
Two: Golden Gate Park
Between the lush trees, vast grounds, the Conservatory of Flowers, and the Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park is now my favorite park in the WORLD! There was something so peaceful about being there, thoughtful. I imagined I could walk around there for hours, or just sit with the sun shining on my face. If you're ever in the city, this is a must-see.

Conservatory of Flowers

Japanese Tea Garden
Three: The Food
We were fortunate enough to have a ton of highly rated (according to yelp) restaurants right in the neighborhood. The restaurants were local and almost all offered vegetarian or vegan options, which was great for me. Joe and I loved Street Taco on Haight Street, but my favorite what this tiny whole-in-the-wall called Lime Tree, a Southeast Asian restaurant. Their yellow curry sauce was to die for. 

The Painted Ladies
Four: The Architecture
I've always been drawn to architecture. Kinda random, but a beautifully designed bridge or house always catches my eye. San Fran has such a picturesque style, it's hard not to fall in love with the bay windows of the Edwardian style houses. The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood has rows of uniquely colored houses that look like they're out of a Dr. Seuss book. My favorite were the famous Painted Ladies. Incredible! The view of the houses stretched all the way to the downtown area, the tall Transamerica building peeking out from behind. You may recognize the houses from the show Full House. I could not get that song out of my head for two days!! "Everywhere you look, everywhere you look . . . " 
Golden Gate Bridge

And of course the freaking Golden Gate Bridge!! I totally teared up when we drove across on our way to Muir Woods. It was utterly breathtaking. 
Inside a Redwood Tree

Baker Beach
Later, we found ourselves on Baker Beach to get some good photos of the Bridge. As we got closer  to the bridge, we realized we were encroaching on a nude section of the beach. My husband asked, "You want me to climb the rocks and get a picture of bridge?"
His steps picked up ahead of me and a naked man drew closer. Joe had seen too much and immediately turned back. "Never mind," he said. "Let's go back." 

Five: The Lifestyle 
The number one thing I noticed about the natives is how active they are; walking, biking, jogging--all day! Everyone is fit, not Southern-California-bronzed-muscle fit, but healthy. Public transportation is the norm and encouraged, partially for environmental reasons and partially for the parking issues. Speaking of the environment, San Francisco and neighboring areas have outlawed plastic grocery bags!! Recycle bins are everywhere. I was in eco-friendly heaven.

When I got home and back to work my colleague noticed how sad I looked. He asked, "What's the matter? Did you leave your heart in San Francisco?" 

Yeah, I totally did. 

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