"If you're going to San Fran-cisco…" that song was stuck in my head all 10 days that we were in this amazing city. San Francisco is definitely one of our favourite cities after we really got to explore all its different areas.
My uncle's good friend let us use his apartment all 10 days which really helped budget wise - more importantly the apartment was located on the 7th floor of a modern building, in a cool neighbourhood, on the top of the hill of California street, with panorama windows and a view overlooking the entire city. It even had a rooftop terrace from where we could sunbathe and watch the sunset. Everything was just perfect. We can't thank them enough for letting us stay there.
So what to do in a famous city like SF? EAT and WALK. Which luckily are two of our favourite things. We went to so many amazing restaurants and walked our feet sore strolling through all the very different neighbourhoods that make SF so unique.
We spent the first couple of days just exploring and really enjoyed finding our local morning coffee shop, where to buy groceries (the idea was that we were going to eat in a lot to save money, now that we had a full functioning kitchen - hhmm that didn't really happen), and of course where to wine and dine. If you ask people from SF where you should eat they mostly start rambling on about at least 20 must-eat restaurants so we had our work cut out for us - even Yelp couldn't help us here. Also we of course did the big touristy things - fishermen's warf - check, Alcatraz - check, golden gate park - check, walk the GG bridge - check. And explored some of the surrounding cities: Napa Valley, Standford University, Oakland and Berkeley were all on our to-do-list and all got crossed of while we were in SF. So as you can imagine time just flew by so quickly. I will give you the highlights of our stay very briefly explaining what we did all ten days.
Day 1: Walking the city and take-away sushi at our gorgeous temporary home
Day 2: Fishermen's Warf, cable car ride (12Dollars??? WTF) and dinner on Polk street
Day 3: Meeting our new friend from the W trek in Patagonia for a beer and then Off-the-Grid for wine and food (Friday nights all kind of food and drinks trucks gather on Fort Mason with live music and DJs for a fun night). Finally too many drinks and drunk to bed.
Day 4: Hangover, picnic in Golden Gate Park, dinner with my godfather and his wife at Delfina (the best restaurant in SF that we tried) and exploring the SoMa neighbourhood AKA the Mission
Day 5: I had read about this dance performance interpreting the murals in the Mission so we walked about 10km to the spot just to find out that the dances were just too spacey and artsy for us. Got some good pics of the murals though. Sunday brunch in the Mission. Stay-in tapas and dessert at the apartment
Day 6: We thought we were going to six flags north of SF. I had booked the tickets the day before online but when we arrived at the park we found out it was closed. How could this be, we thought, since I had bought the tickets for that specific day? Well, I had booked the tickets for Six Flags Magic Mountain which was about a 5 hour drive South of SF - damn it! At least we can use the tickets once we get to LA . Instead we went to Berkeley university to see a real US college and had lunch in Oakland. Dinner at Flour+Water, the IT restaurant for the time being which is why we had dinner there on a Monday night at 9.15pm. Great restaurant but would still recommend Delfina any day.
Day 7: Alcatraz - greatest audio tour ever. Walking across the GG bridge to Sausalito where we had coffee with our new friends who where kind enough to drive us back to the city as we were exhausted from the 3 hour walk. Saw Book of Mormons in Orpheum theatre and laughed our asses of. Best Broadway production ever - we know everything about Mormons and their very interesting religion now.
Day 8: Napa Valley. Our Sausalito friends hooked us up with free wine-tasting in Sonoma and then we continued to Napa for more wine-tasting and picnic in the garden with yes - more wine. After a few hours of sobering up we were ready fro the drive home. Dinner at the local Italian pearl Nob Hill café - no wine.
Day 9: Stanford university visit followed by drinks with my dad's friends from MIT at their beautiful mansion in the Pacific heights with views of Alcatraz, GG bridge, Bay Bridge AND the golden dome. Burgers on Union Street for dinner.
Day 10: last day was spent sunbathing on the roof and ate mussels for dinner on Hayes street at Chez Maman.
I tried to make it short sweet and too the point - it will be nice to remember all this when we look back on this trip in years to come.
We had to get to bed early on our last night as we were getting up at 5AM the next morning to go on a 2 day rafting trip with some of my family. My brother arrived at the SF apartment at 2AM flying in from Denver - so after he had 3 hours of sleep we were on the road - sad to leave but happy to try something completely different.
After a 3-hour drive (Andreas drove - Freddy and I slept) we arrived in Groveland, California where we met with the rest of the 20 people group who were going on this trip. My dad, his wife and her youngest son Ori were going on the trip with us - it was so good to be with family again. At 11AM we were in the water in our wetsuits and helmets ready for an amazing adventure. Expectations were high but luckily they were met. It was a rapid IV trip with a lot of difficult rapids and a lot if fun. On numerous occasions we also got tossed out of the boat - but nothing serious happened. We camped by the river in the afternoon and the guys from OARS who were in charge cooked amazing food for us. We just LOVE glamping. Sleeping in nature without the hassle of cooking or packing your own gear.
Day 2 was just as fun as day 1 and when we arrived at the starting point at 5pm we were all completely exhausted - in a good way though.
Debbie, my dad, Ori, Freddy, Andreas and I went out for dinner together in Groveland before all going our separate ways.
We stayed the night in Groveland as our next stop was Yosemite, which was only 1 hour away. We spent two whole days hiking Yosemite - first we went up to the upper Yosemite falls (14 KM round trip hike - uphill) and on the second day we combined three hikes, which resulted in a 25KM hike with the most stunning views of Yosemite Valley. It was exhausting but sooooo worth it. Yosemite is our last national park so we really wanted to get the most of it and with 40KM of hiking in 2 days we felt we achieved that.
We drove back out to the coast from Yosemite and stayed the night half way, ending up with a 10PM dinner at Wendy's - oh well you win a few and you loose a few.
The next day we arrived in Santa Cruz on the coast - a fun city with a nice beach and good restaurants. It was frickin cold though - well around 15 degrees, we are spoiled by now. We thought we were going to spend the rest of the trip tanning on beaches but the "May-fog" as they call it here cools everything down so that May is actually not warm enough for sunbathing. In stead we went to the boardwalk amusement park and played in the arcade - we had a blast until I found out I no longer had my phone on me!! We ran around like idiots for an hour looking for the damn thing (somehow it feels like loosing your best friend - sad I know) before giving up and driving of. 30 minutes later we got a call from the lost and found office that someone had handed in my phone - god bless America!! We turned the car around and 45 minutes later I was again in possession of my precious.
Next stop was Monterey. We spent 2 days in Monterey and loved it. We did the 17-mile drive, had coffee in Carmel, champagne at Monterey Park Hotel, went to the cinema and saw Ex-machina (must see movie by the way) and did a lot of yoga. Andreas is getting somewhat of a pro by now.
We drove down the coast the next day taking in the beautiful scenery of Big Sur and had lunch at the famous restaurant Nepenthe - famous for its gorgeous view. It was just stunning and even though we had planned for a nice hike after lunch we decided to skip the hike and drink a bottle of cold chardonnay on the terrace of the restaurant in stead - good choice!!
We spent the night in Cambria just south of Big Sur with tapas overlooking the sunset wearing all our clothes as it gets freezing at night. The next day we went to Hearst Castle in Sin Simeon just north of Cambria. What an amazing castle - and what a crazy man Hearst was for building it. Our tour guide had many funny stories about the place and the people who used to spend their weekends here including Chaplin, Clark Cable, Carry Grant and so on.
Since we were in desperate need for some sun tanning time we decided to drive inland to Paso Robles - which is where we are now: Sun tanning in 20 degrees at the pool, writing the blog - once again life is good. Paso Robles is in the middle of 200 wineries so wine-tasting couldn't be avoided yesterday - and probably today either. But apart from that we are just going to hang out here for a couple of days and enjoy the sun and the peace and quiet before heading further south towards LA.
That's all for now.