One of Janetta’s friends from university had moved to San Francisco a few years ago, so he took us out last night for dinner and then invited us to join him at his friend’s birthday party in the Castro District. We had a fantastic time, but it certainly wasn’t conductive to waking up early this morning.
And when I saw early I mean early. We had to be at the airport by 5 am in order to catch our flight to Seattle, where we’d meet Kate, pick up our car, and drive about 5 hours to Oroville for Aidan and Cam’s wedding.
But we made it. I was pretty sad to be leaving SF, but excited to have our mini-Ireland reunion. We plotted our route while waiting for Kate’s flight to arrive in Seattle, and then off we went! We arrived in Oroville later that night, just in time to order food at the resort restaurant before they closed.
Oroville is really lovely. Cam’s family has a cottage up here, which is why they chose this spot to get married. It’s just south of Kelowna, and absolutely stunning. We were staying at Veranda Beach, a 1950s themed resort, which rents out little cottages on the water, has a pool, and would be hosting the wedding. If I could, I’d go there every year.
Continued access to a place like this might even be enough to turn me into an outdoorsy person. Seriously this place has it all.
We decided to get closer to nature for our final day in SF, and headed down to the Golden Gate Park.
I never fully realized just how big this park was until we arrived. It’s actually massive. Included inside is a botanical garden, so we headed that way, also hoping for a spot to sit and read for awhile. Janetta and I have very similar interests, and one of them is reading in parks.
From here we went down to Haight Ashbury, checked out some vintage clothing stores and Amoeba Music, and had lunch at a very delicious but super hipster restaurant.
The only thing we hadn’t done yet was Coit Tower, but I really had no interest in climbing any more hills. So instead we went to the Exploratorium and it was awesome. It’s a hands-on museum of science, art and human perception and definitely not just for kids. We would have gone to the SF Museum of Modern Art but it was closed, but that worked out in our favour in the end.
This is going to get repetitive, I know, but everyday in San Francisco was awesome. We started Day 3 with a cable car ride down to Fisherman’s Wharf, and walked down to Pier 39.
Our next stop was Ghirardelli Square for some chocolate!
And then back down the way we came, to get to the pier for Alcatraz. I bought tickets over 2 weeks before we left, and there was only 1 time slot left for the 3 full days we’d be in San Francisco. This thing sells out fast! But it was completely worth it. Apparently the audio tour won an award, and it’s well deserved. Let’s be real, usually audio tours suck, so when you find a good one you have to tell everyone you know. So if you’re in SF and have some time, definitely go to Alcatraz.
From here we walked down to the Ferry Building, did some exploring, and had a super fancy (and delicious) meal at The Slanted Door.
This morning we got the bus to Fort Mason, and then walked all along the coast to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was beautiful, but we had to make a few stops to by water and sunscreen because it was boiling. Apparently we had arrived during a heat spell. I had packed pants and jackets because I had always been told that is was cold here. Instead I had to make time to go shopping to buy summer clothes.
But back to the point, the Golden Gate Bridge was awesome. I wondered how many photos you could take of a bridge, but the answer is a lot, so I’ve tried to spare y’all, and limit it to the ones below.
From here we backtracked to get some lunch, and headed over to the Palace of Fine Arts.
Our next stop was Lombard Street, i.e. San Francisco’s most curvy road. There were two different bus routes we could use to get there, but we decided to go with whatever one came first. That was a mistake. We had to climb the steepest hill I’ve ever been on. There were many moments that I thought I would just tumble down this road.
It was really steep.
But then we made it to Lombard Street! And it was very curvy.
Everyone had told me I needed to go to City Lights Bookstore, so we made that our next stop (after stopping at some hipster cafe to get more water).
And then we just explored Chinatown on our way back to the hostel. This would also be when I picked up some more weather appropriate clothes, because it was steaming.
But all in all, one awesome day.
Remember my friend Aidan who I recently met in Ottawa? Well she was getting married in Washington State near the Canadian border and I had decided to go.
Let’s back up a little. Aidan and her then boyfriend Cam came to Ireland together for a semester abroad. They knew Janetta from school, and so she decided to go to Ireland as well. I met them my first night in Dublin, along with Kate who was from Virginia. We did lots of travelling together, and became lifelong friends. I think you’re all caught up now.
Kate, Janetta, Aidan, Cam & me circa 2011
So Aidan and Cam were getting married, and Janetta, Kate & I were all going to go. But if I was going to fly all the way out to the west coast, you bet I was going to do some additional traveling. Kate couldn’t get any more time off work, but Janetta was able to, so we went to San Francisco for 3.5 days. I had never been, and Janetta had only been once as a kid, so I was super pumped.
I arrived a few hours before Janetta, so I explored around Union Square (where we were staying), and when Janetta arrived we headed to AT&T Park for some souvenirs and then over to the Mission District for dinner. Our real explorations would begin in the morning.