If I could go on and on about London and how it’s one of my ultimate favorite places in the world, Ken has the same thing about San Francisco, his favorite city. He loves the weather, the vibe, the tech culture, the food and everything else. He’s always told me he can’t wait to bring me there. He even jokes to me before even before we got married, that he’ll name our son, Francis, so that he can say “San Francis Co?” hehehe! He claims I’ll love it too most especially the houses, it’s old world style and Victorian architecture. So I was pretty much looking forward to our US trip there last year. It’s exactly a year ago since our trip and it’s been so much fun and memorable that I had a hard time putting all our photos and experiences together into a blog entry. But today, I’ll do my best to put it into words. Beware for a lengthy post with a gazillion photos! 😀
Last year, we went to the U.S. for the Surf Expo that Lagu joined. We were the only Filipino company that was part of last year’s event in Orlando, Florida. It gave us a chance to finally do a short side trip and explore San Francisco together. We flew via Eva Air from Taipei and after a 12-hour flight, we finally landed but only had a short stopover there before catching the flight straight to Atlanta for another stopover before finally reaching our main destination, Orlando, Florida.
The first thing I adored about this city the moment we arrived, are the quaint and charming houses! I absolutely loved everything in our neighborhood! I felt right at home especially in the cozy little house we rented for our stay. We got a 1-bedroom flat in Masonic Avenue in Haight Ashbury via Air BNB and our host’s name is Sara. It was our first time to try Air BNB and when we booked Sara’s place she was also new in the site. Her place is newly renovated and I loved the classic design. I also loved how clean and well put together her place is. It’s packed with all the essentials — really good toiletries, tissue, linens, blankets, maps, books, drinks, etc. etc. It’s so cozy and lovely and I just wanted to stay there longer! Saying that was music to Ken’s ears as he always wanted to live in San Francisco too.
The next day was our one and only day of exploring downtown SF with my uncle. The rest of the days we’ll be driving to Silicon Valley, Napa Valley, meetings, shopping, etc. So we went to bed early the night before as we were tired from the Surf Expo in Orlando plus all the traveling. We wanted to have enough energy to last us as we excitedly do a whole day tour of San Francisco. It’s my first time in this city while Ken and Nar have both been here before with their family when they were kids. Since it’s been a long time, we were all pretty excited to explore.
We got out of the house early in the morning at 730am to catch the bus to meet my uncle. But we just couldn’t leave without taking pictures again. I simply couldn’t get enough of the pretty houses! It’s also nice to walk around in the morning with the fresh air while nobody’s around hehehe.
We took the bus from Masonic Avenue to Powell street where we met my uncle and we all had quick breakfast at Peerless Coffee & Tea. Their pastries are good and we quickly finished as we were all excited to get the sightseeing started. We crossed to where the line for the cable starts right across Forever 21, Sephora, etc. There was a singer who’d serenade tourists while waiting for the line. It was so much fun riding the cable car and seeing the main streets and sights of the city! For a first-timer like me, it’s really the best way to get around for the best experience! I wanted to keep riding it again and again haha. Too bad it was just a short ride to Lombard street where we walked up going the crookedest street of the world.
My Tito Jaime who’s like my 2nd father, has been living in San Francisco for as long as I can remember. He became our designated tour buddy and caretaker. He met us in the airport during our layover, kept some luggages for us so we don’t have to bring it anymore to Orlando, picked us up again in the airport when we arrived, brought us to Sara’s place, and toured us around all over the city. Thank you for everything Tito!
After Lombard, we walked all the way to the bay area going to the Palace of Fine Arts. That stretch along the bay is a good spot for biking and jogging. The air is so fresh, cold and crisp that we really didn’t feel tired at all from all the walking that morning. I also particularly enjoyed the sights of nature around — the beach, greenery, sky, nicely designed low rise homes and buildings, parks, etc.
Seeing the Palace of Fine Arts is also a feast for the eyes. I’ve always loved old world architecture so I really appreciated the dome, the structures and the intricate designs of the pillars there. It’s all so beautiful!
From Palace of Fine Arts, we crossed to the bay and went down the beach to see the Golden Gate Bridge. That morning was very foggy so it was partly hidden but the view is nonetheless beautiful. We walked all the way from the bay going to Ghirardelli Square (where I went mad with all the chocolates!) to Fisherman’s Wharf (where we had the best seafood lunch) at Crab House! Oh, thinking about this is making me want to go back right now! Reminiscing (while currently 6 months pregnant) about 2 of my favorite food — chocolates and crab, in what became one of my favorite cities in the world — San Francisco, is quite challenging!
After lunch we continued our tour and went to Moma but it was closed for construction so we just took pictures around and headed to Union Square and then ended our day in Westfield for dinner. I love the buildings we saw especially the mint green vintage looking one where Palomar Hotel and Old Navy is. And I also loved the intricate colonial design of Westfield’s dome ceiling. So chic for a mall! 🙂
On our last day, we were set to explore some more and do last minute shopping the whole day. We checked out early in Sara’s guesthouse and since our flight was still at night she so kindly and graciously offered to keep our luggages for us in her own house until we need to get it at night. We were really impressed with her hospitality. She won’t be home that night but she gave us a key to her main house so we can get our luggages even when she wasn’t there. Imagine being so trusting to strangers! We really enjoyed our stay with Sara that I gave her a 5-star review on Air BnB. We’d love to stay with her again for every visit we’d make!
When nighttime fell and it was time to go, we just grabbed our bags at Sara’s and took Uber to the airport. It was our first time to try Uber then and it was so convenient! Now, a year later, Uber is a big thing here in Manila.
Overall, our 6 days in San Francisco was just not enough time to explore more of the city and try out all the food we wanted to eat but it was enough to make me see that this goes on the list of my happy places, my favorite cities in the world. But I’m glad we were able to maximize this weeklong stay. We were able to visit Silicon Valley, celebrate my birthday in Napa Valley, visit all the must-see places in our itinerary and a lot more. I told Ken that what I love about SFO is there’s a comforting familiarity to it that just makes you feel at home so easily. It’s so chill and beautiful. It’s charm sort of reminds me of my other favorite city that I also want to live in someday, which is Melbourne. It’s laid back, the architecture and culture is a mix of old and new and everything is just lovely. (Yes, my top three cities are London, SanFo and Melbourne). Someday soon with our little one, we’ll come back here! Ken was right, I’ve fallen for you, SFO! ❤
Up next on my blog — Napa Valley! ❤