DD and I were a bit ambitious when it came to our first holiday together – we tried to cram waaaaaaay too much in.
By the time his conference finished – halfway through the Thursday of the first week – we only had seven days to see Cape Canaveral, Savannah, Lake Tahoe, the Napa Valley and San Francisco.
The smart thing would have been to ditch the Napa, but we’re already booked accommodation, so we bravely soldiered on. Poor us!
We drove through the quaint town of St Helena at dusk, towards our final destination of Calistoga.
The Napa Valley was just gorgeous and we immediately regretted not having enough time to explore it. But there was barely time to do more than check in to our sweet B&B, Brannan Inn, then amble down the atmospheric main street looking for somewhere to have dinner. The next morning we were on the move again, bound for San Francisco via a cool place DD had discovered on a Google search called Oxbow Public Market.
After I gobbled a breakfast taco we followed a tip from DD’s boss to enter the city via Sausalito and Point Bonita Lighthouse.
Sausalito made a gorgeous lunch spot – we nabbed a table looking out over the bay to San Francisco for another serve of crab cakes – and the views at Point Bonita were spectacular. Our only disappointment was that we couldn’t walk the suspension bridge to the lighthouse itself as it’s only open to the public on weekends.
As we wended our way through the gorgeous scenery we stumbled across the most amazing spot for a Golden Gate Bridge selfie at Battery Park. Snap, snap, snap, snap!
Then we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and into the city.
I LOVED San Francisco. It had this weird feeling of home about it.
DD had used his hotel loyalty club points to score us a free night at the Intercontinental on Nob Hill, which was very flash in a crumbling grandeur sort of way. Actually, lots of San Fran seemed like that. We had sunset drinks at the Starlight Room at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel on Union Square – highly recommended for wow factor – and it had the same old-world feel to it.
It made me think that maybe hotels in Australia are too quick to erase their past and give themselves flashy makeovers. There’s something incredibly charming about a grand hotel that retains its sense of history.
We didn’t have much time to explore the city. The next morning we headed to Ferry Terminal Marketplace for a delicious brekkie, then up to Coit Tower for stickybeak. It was built using a bequeath from Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a wealthy eccentric and patron of the city’s firefighters. Coit died in 1929, leaving a substantial bequest “for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city I have always loved.”
I’m not sure Coit Tower entirely fulfils that brief, it’s quite the odd, phallic structure, but the views are pretty spectacular.
Then we wandered to the tacky but requisite Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf to see the sea lions, who were totally fabulous.
It was at that point, around lunchtime, that I realised I was getting old and only have half a day of sightseeing in me these days. Confronting.
So I wanly told DD it was imperative I have a long sit down in a nice restaurant with wine.
We wobbled to McCormick & Kuleto’s Seafood & Steaks at Ghirardelli Square for stunning water views and … more crab cakes.
DD had his heart set on a trolley car ride back to our hotel afterwards but the queues were insane, made even worse by the fact we’d managed to arrive in San Francisco for Super Bowl weekend. Go us!
So we caught a cab back, grabbed our hire car and decided to tackle Lombard Street, the zig-zaggy street made famous by the car chase in Bullitt.
DD asked me to video us twisting and turning on my phone. I started to harangue him when I realised he was taking photographs on HIS phone as we negotiated the hairpin turns. “If you don’t stop taking photographs THIS MINUTE I will stop videoing because it is DANGEROUS …” etc etc.
A moment later I realised that my video had a soundtrack and I was being a shrew during my once-in-a-lifetime trip down Lombard Street.
As we exited the street, I started giggling. And couldn’t stop for 10 minutes – the tears were pouring down my cheeks.
DD thought I’d gone quite mad.
When he replayed the video all you can hear is me going on and on, he doesn’t say a word until we get to the bottom, where he calmly announces: “Well, that’s 20 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.”
Not because of my whining, he assures me, but because it didn’t quite live up to his expectations.
But it was still quite fun.
Then we drove to the beach to watch the most amazing sunset, followed by dinner at a cool place called Palmer’s Tavern. We ended up there quite by accident. DD knew how much I wanted to see a Marc by Marc Jacobs sale rack so he Googled the store and drove me there. It was getting pretty late but he figured even if the store was closed it would be located in a groovy area with good dinner options.
Wasn’t that sweet of him?
Marc Jacobs had just closed – damn – but Palmer’s was pumping.
And then, all too soon, it was time to head to the airport for the journey home.
Loved San Francisco. Loved my holiday.
So many blissful memories.
Thank you DD.
Song of the day: Tony Bennett “I left my heart in San Francisco”