Valerie: After a short lay over in Philadelphia (where I met up with Adam to catch our US Airways flight), we headed west. We arrived in San Francisco and hit the ground running. That afternoon we were able to see a few of the sights before checking in to our hotel (The Hyatt Regency) and having a great dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown.
Adam: Although we travelled pretty far for good Chinese food it was well worth it. We saw both old (i.e., touristy) Chinatown and the "new Chinatown" on Clement street - both were pretty cool, and compared with Puerto Rico (or Columbus), the food was incredible - chinese broccoli in oyster sauce, beef chow fun with black bean sauce...my mouth waters even thinking about it!
Valerie: We next visited Coit Tower. The views from the base and the top of the Tower were well worth the hike up.
(A view of downtown San Francisco from the top of the Coit Tower. The triangle building is the Transamerica Building.)
Adam: Unfortunately, the tower itself is not that impressive. Basically, a crazy old lady decided that she liked fire hoses, and tried to build a two-hundred foot replica of one. There are some neat socialist-influenced paintings inside, but they compete with lots of Hawaiian-shirted tourists and tour-bus fumes.
Pictured: Coit Tower
Valerie: Our last stop on Thursday was San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Although similar to NY's Central Park, in that the park spans many city blocks and is an oasis in the middle of a large city, Golden Gate Park has a more "commercial" feel than Central Park.
Adam: That being said, there's plenty of free green space in the park.
Valerie: Our first stop inside the park was the Japanese Tea Gardens, located inside Golden Gate Park. The garden was nice but its tranquility was disrupted by little, wild children and loud tourists. Although considered the premier tourist attraction inside the Park, I was not particularly impressed.
Adam: They have some pretty neat old Buddhas and pagodas donated by the Government of Japan. I really enjoyed it - you really don't see as much Japanese culture out on the east coast.Valerie: After the tea gardens we headed to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, conveniently located across the street from the tea gardens. The Botanical Gardens were much nicer, and much more peaceful.
Adam: Here, Valerie took about a million pictures of a robin, which she claims do not exist in Florida.
Valerie: I admit I may have spent too much time taking pictures of a robin and a blue jay, but I did get a really great picture of a squirrel eating a peanut.
Valerie: Our last stop was the Dutch windmill located on the northwest corner of Golden Gate Park. The windmill is located on the corner of a small, but beautiful, garden. As you may have noticed from the pictures thus far, the weather in San Francisco was overcast, continuously foggy, and cold -- very cold. The sun did not join us until Erendira's wedding on Saturday.
Friday, May 25, 2007; San Francisco, California
Valerie: We woke up early on Friday, determined to see as much of the city as possible. Originally we had planned on renting bikes and biking the bridge early in the morning. This is a popular tourist activity in SF and thought to be a great way to explore the city. Because of the morning fog, we decided to put off our bike ride until the afternoon. The ride along the Golden Gate bridge to Sausalito and Tiburon provide amazing views of the city but only on clear days.
(A view from our hotel balcony of the pier and the Ferry building. Notice the overcast skies -- it looked like it was going to rain all weekend, although it never did.)
Adam: Instead, we decided to stretch our calves a bit first by walking around the city. San Francisco is, of course, famous for really steep streets - and this visit did not disappoint.
Valerie: We started our day with a walking tour of Russian Hill. The picture below is us at the top of Russian Hill. Notice the great view of the city in the background. This was a great walking tour to take (see Lonely Planet San Francisco) and provided an even better (butt) workout.
(In the background you can make out the Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco to Oakland, California.)
Adam: Note the temperature. In the picture above, I am actually defrosting Valerie.
Valerie: Towards the end of the Russian Hill walking tour you hit Lombard Street -- touted as the world's crookedest street. As you can tell, San Francisco has no shortness of spectacular views. From practically anywhere in the city, because of the hills, the views of the ocean, the city, the bridges, and Alcatraz are abundant.
Adam: It took us forever to find a tourist who could take a decent picture of us. Hint: if you are ever asked to take a picture of someone, consider looking at the screen/through the viewfinder before you click.
Adam: The cupcakes provided some interesting ideas for my cake-baking (see prior posts). They were both filled; one with lemon curd, the other with caramel and fleur-de-sel. The fleur-de-sel caramel provided a nice contrast to to the richness of the chocolate.
Valerie: After filling up on cupcakes and free chocolate samples at Ghirardelli, we walked a short distance to Blazing Saddles, to rent our bikes for what turned out to be a 6-hour bike ride. Tip: I don't recommend Blazing Saddles. Their map of the bike path left a lot to be desired and their rushed and skimpy directions for how to get to the bridge from the wharf left Adam and I on Highway 101.
Adam: There are a lot of other outfits that rent bikes at Fisherman's Wharf - I might consider going with them. Of course, I was also not paying particularly close attention to the map, being distracted by the views...
Valerie: Our first stop after crossing the beach was Sausalito, California -- located across the bay from San Francisco.
Adam: I liked this town a lot, but I'm still trying to figure out what it had to do with the Pepperidge Farm cookies.
Valerie: 16 miles later we finally hit Tiburon. I didn't think the ride would ever end. From Tiburon you can take a ferry back to Pier 41 in San Francisco.
Valerie: No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a ride on one of the city's famous cable cars. We took a ride on the Powell Mason line to Union Square.
Saturday, May 26, 2007; Sonoma, California
Valerie: On Saturday we left the city and drove north to Sonoma. Our hotel was in Napa and upon arriving we decided to check out the city. Napa was ok but nothing like what I had imagined. Napa is much like Orlando but without Mickey (which, if you think about it, makes it worse because Mickey is the sole reason for visiting Orlando). In any case, after grabbing a bite to eat at your run-of-the-mill restaurant, we headed half an hour west to Sonoma. Sonoma is everything you would imagine wine country to be like. It's a small town with very quaint shops (including a dog boutique: Three Dog Bakery) and beautiful surroundings (rolling hills and lots of vineyards). Both Adam and I agreed that we need to come back and visit Sonoma with more time.
Valerie: The highlight on Saturday was attending Erendira and Seth's wedding at BR Cohn Winery (Erendira is a friend of ours from law school and Seth is a brilliant scientist) . The wedding was one of the best I've been to. Even the wine was great (their Sauvignon Blanc was my favorite) and that's saying a lot because those who know me know I don't drink wine. The ceremony, performed by a Rabbi, was held on a hill overlooking the vineyard. The backdrop was very romantic: the Mayacamas and Sonoma Mountains, the cabernet vineyards, and a setting sun. Both the bride and groom looked terrific.
(Me, Erendira, Melissa, and Ana during the cocktail hour)
(Adam and I during the wedding)
Adam: Before I edited it, the caption above said "The Bride and the Groom under the Chutzpah." Chutzpah indeed!
Valerie: After the ceremony, the bride and groom walked down the aisle to the sounds of a mariachi band (the band snuck up behind the guests and surprised us all ). The dinner was also very tasty. The couple's wedding announcement was in the New York Times (see here) and I bet it will even make Legal Eagle Wedding Watch on Above the Law.
Up Next: Adam and I head to Chicago to visit Katherine and Rob on June 8th. Two blogs will cover the event!