Sunday, 30 August 2009

San Francisco: Day 1 - Sunburn & Sore Feet

Ugh, I’m not feeling my best this morning. Since arriving back from San Francisco I’ve been alternating between waking up really early – 4:30am – and quite late – 10am – well, that’s quite late for me anyway. I thought I would have acclimatized to the east coast by now, especially since I didn’t exactly acclimatize to the west coast – I was up before the larks at 6am most days and fighting to keep my eyes open by 9pm - so I am not sure why my sleep pattern is so disrupted now that I’m back. This morning I woke up at 2:30am and slept fitfully from that point onwards. My tiredness causes me crave coffee and sugary things to keep me awake, but it probably wasn’t the best idea to consume the double chocolate cookie I received last night as a post dinner treat, compliments of The Redhead restaurant, for breakfast. It’s sat like a stone in my stomach now!! I think I need to get out and about for a walk to burn a few calories. My poor stomach is not up to my usual Pilates class today.

As for San Francisco, well our flight arrived at 10am last Friday, 30minutes early and after fiddling about getting tickets for the BART from SFO to Powell St - what is all that subtract $1, add 5c etc nonsense you have to go through to buy BART tickets San Franciscans? - we arrived at our Union Square Hotel by 11am by 11:10am we were checked into our room. Whoo hoo, nice one!!! I love it when hotels let you check in early. I thought that we would only be able to check out bags, so I was thrilled that a room was already available. Admittedly not the room could have done without the 2-inch step up into the bathroom that caused me to go flying a couple of times during our stay, but nevertheless checking in early was worth the risk of a twisted ankle and I have to say the complimentary Terra Pure toiletries were divine, especially the green tea body lotion. I secreted a couple of minis back with me to NYC.

Happily ensconced we headed for the Westfield shopping center where I planned to check out Martin & Osa, a store I’ve heard a lot of good things about, but which has yet to materialize in New York City, once I had some food in my grumbling belly. Unfortunately, despite a multitude of restaurant recommendations from friends who’ve lived in San Francisco I lacked a recommendation for good cheap eats around Union Square and Yelp wasn’t that helpful in identifying anything other than delis. We were way too hungry to wander and find something so we decided to make do with whatever was on offer inside the Westfield Center. Now, it could well have been the fact that I was so hungry I could have eaten a scabby horse, but the tri-tip thin sliced beef sandwich I had from the Buckhorn Grillin the food court of the shopping center was unbelievably delicious. I can highly recommend it, oh and by the way that noise you hear in the background are the friends who know me as a food snob keeling over backwards at my admission that I ate at a shopping center food court and liked it. Oh the shame!!

After lunch we popped upstairs to Martin & Osa and I have to say I was pretty impressed although most of the clothes are cut so that they are too long on 5ft 1 me, I get that great look where the bit that is supposed to fall at my waist instead falls at my hips and everything above sort of balloons out attractively. Not!! They do have nice stuff though in a very similar vein to Banana Republic and J Crew and I found a cute green top on sale that I was tempted to buy before I realized I’d left my wallet and the 25% off voucher back at the hotel. Doh!!

Since shopping was out of the question we decided to head down to Fisherman’s Wharf. Not my favourite spot in San Francisco, but Sara was keen to stop by so after stopping by the hotel so I could pick up my wallet we walked down – or should I say up and down and up and down – via a meandering route that took us up Nob Hill, by Grace Cathedral and down Russian Hill, a part of San Francisco that I find surprisingly barren, at least on the streets I walked down. A few more trees or shrubs would improve the area enormously. Sara postulated that the lack of greenery could be earthquake related, but I’m not convinced of that, since things clearly grow - have you seen The Presidio or Telegraph Hill - but for some reason there are areas completely devoid of a few trees. We arrived at the tourist laden Wharf quickly skirting the most touristy bits to an unusually quiet pier, opposite pier 39 where other tourists flocked to photograph the basking sea lions, and breathed in the sea air and the view across the bay. Stunning!!

Unfortunately we sat there a bit too long as we both started to smart a bit from sunburn. I fared a bit better than Sara, since I’m in the habit of slapping on a daily sunscreen first thing which probably hadn’t completely worn off – I’ve become a total wrinkle-phobe this year, you should see all the lotions and potions taking up the top shelf of my fridge – but Sara’s sunburn was quite painful, likely as a result of the antibiotics she was taking for bout strep throat which made her more sensitive to sunlight. Take heed of the warnings on your medications kids as she was really was quite unwell as a result. I have to give her credit though as she didn’t let it spoil her vacation even though she must have been sorely tempted to curl up in bed.

After a stop in a tourist shop where we armed ourselves with a strong sunscreen we headed away from Fisherman’s Wharf and over to Fort Mason where we stopped and admired the view of the fog rolling in over the Golden Gate bridge.

Afterwards we looped back around skirting the edge of the Marina district and up to North Beach via Columbus Avenue.

Phew we deserved a drink after all that walking and the lovely Jake at 15 Romolo - a nice little spot up an alley around the slightly seedier bit of North Beach - was more than happy to oblige with a Pimms Cup for me and a Sauvignan Blanc for Sara. We sipped at our drinks while taking surreptitious glances at Jake's loveliness. Seriously it was hard to look away. I’d turn to talk to Sara only to find my eyeballs trying to escape out of the side of my head to further drink in his scrumptiousness. Sara who was positioned at the end of the bar and turned in to face me was in a much better position to ogle without being obvious about it.

Sadly hunger forced to tear ourselves away from the lovely Jake and we trotted around the corner to Franchino, an Italian restaurant on Columbus Avenue between Grant and Vallejo recommended by Yelp. I have to say that if I'd been going on looks alone - yes I am that shallow - I would have walked right by it, but I am so glad we didn't since we hard the warmest welcome from the family that ran the restaurant and the food was delicious. I dare say the pasta I had with salmon, asparagus and what was described to me as 'pink sauce' - what's that? Tomato sauce with a touch of cream? - was even more scrumptious than Jake, it was heavenly.

We walked back to the hotel via the hill free Financial District with a quick stop at Martin & Osa so that I could get the top I liked. By 9pm we were back at the hotel collapsed in a heap in front of What Not To Wear, but towards the end of the show I needed a couple of matchsticks to keep my eyes open and had to give Monk a miss.

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