San Francisco 2014 Days 1 and 2

If you happen to follow my adventures on Instagram, you might know that I went to San Francisco, CA three weeks ago. I went to SF for four glorious, quiet days full of hiking and self-contemplation. I traveled alone, which is something I’m still getting used to. The more I do it though, the stronger and more confident I feel about keeping myself entertained and I end up enjoying myself immensely. Here are some of the highlights from the first two days of my trip.

I arrived on a Thursday early in the morning. After stowing my luggage at the hotel, I ate a big brunch and stole away into Nob Hill to visit Grace Cathedral.

The highlight of this place are the tall ceilings and lovely light coming in from the windows. There is currently a most ethereal installation by artist Anne Patterson called Graced with Light. It is a music-inspired installation of colorful ribbons meant to symbolize light pathways from heaven to earth.

That afternoon, I hiked up to the top of Bernal Heights Park to see the city at sunset. The fog started to come over the city in waves, but every once in a while the sun would peek through and illuminate the grasses. The picture of that black lump on the ground is how I set up my camera for a shot on the hill. I like to remember places I’ve visited by taking a photograph of myself with it–call it my narcissism/guilty pleasure, but it makes me happy.

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The SF skyline featuring Bernal Heights Park and Karl the Fog, the San Francisco fog who has his own name and an Instagram account.

After the hike, I wandered through the town leisurely on my way back to the hotel.

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Cheerful flowers on the porch of a home in Bernal Heights, SF.

I’m always fascinated by public transportation–especially since I come from an area that is heavily car-centric. The different methods of transportation available to me in San Francisco are still interesting to ride, such as the MUNI light rail.

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MUNI Castro Station, on Castro St and 17th St.

The next morning I woke up to more fog, which made for a lovely misty hike up Mount Davidson.

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Eerie, haunting fog filtering through the trees at Mount Davidson.

Mount Davidson is a gem of a forest located near the geographical center of the city, south of Twin Peaks and Portola Drive and to the west of Diamond Heights and Glen Park. It is the highest natural point in the city. Getting here without a car was ok–the bus dropped me off about a mile away from the park entrance, but that mile was a fairly steep climb just to start the hike! I sat down once or twice to just catch my breath. I learned my lesson from last year–I wore a sports bra and Uniqlo Heattech and layered my clothing so I wouldn’t freeze. I still sweated my butt off, but it was a lot more manageable.

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At the top of Mount Davidson is a clearing where a large stone cross towers amidst the trees. What I found more fascinating was this lone fallen tree. Nicknamed #thatsftree on social media, this tree has been the subject of countless photographs. I really wanted to see this tree after viewing it from my favorite SF Instagrammers’ feeds. I took a few pictures with it that I will later make into a wall poster for myself. I was lucky to have such dense fog that morning–it made for an excellent flat backdrop to throw the tree into a silhouette.

Later that morning I wandered over to nearby Noe Valley to take a peek into Mill Mercantile. As far as I know, they are the only place that carries Dieppa Restrepo loafers and Anniel flats in California–perhaps there is a boutique in Los Angeles that does so, but I was already going to be in the area, so I thought why not?

This is only a snippet of what they offer. There are a lot of lovely simple pieces; I especially liked this wall full of indigos and blues. Unfortunately I also learned that my feet are too small for Dieppa Restrepo or Anniel. The 36s/37s were too big length- and volume-wise for my narrowish feet.

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After lunch I paid a visit to Four Barrel Coffee in the Mission District to pick up some coffee beans for my mother. I don’t drink much coffee, but I would like to try their mocha and hot chocolate in the future. I like visiting coffee shops because they’re usually well-lit, they smell great, and it’s very relaxing to hear the dull whirring of the grinders and the crisp shifting of the beans against the metal walls of the roaster. I may not quite yet have the taste for the product, but the environment is soothing and I like to watch people as they sit and enjoy their cups.

Later that day my friend Erin arrived and we headed over to Fort Mason and the Marina district for dinner.

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View of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marina District.

Enter the single best food truck festival ever, and it happens every Friday night at Fort Mason:

Off the Grid has been operating in SF since 2010, and you can tell that the years of experience have really helped them hone the atmosphere and logistics necessary to pull off such an event. I’ve been to a few food festivals last year and this year in Orange County and Los Angeles and nothing compares to this. Granted, those were inaugural runs, and Off the Grid has been doing this for four years. There were lines, but they were tolerable. There was great live music, a convivial atmosphere, and most importantly, the food was top-notch! (For a food truck, that is.) Erin and I decided to split and share so we could sample as much food as we could; here were our top eats of the day:

These were so delicious! The paella had a little bit of kick, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Sisig is a Filipino pork dish that is marinated in some kind of lemon juice or vinegar, then seasoned with salt and peppers. It should traditionally be sour and spicy. This particular rendition of sisig served atop fries with guacamole, cheese, sour cream, and pico de gallo reminded me of carne asada fries except with sisig as the meat. It was good, but the guac-sour cream-cheese trio rendered the whole thing mild, and you couldn’t really taste the sour/spicy marinade. Still very good though, and I would definitely recommend it to people wanting to try it out. It’s not the true Filipino taste but it’s very good and filling.

That’s it for the first half of my SF trip this year; more photographs and anecdotes to come in the concluding post. Thank you for reading and reminiscing with me; I already can’t wait to go back!

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11 thoughts on “San Francisco 2014 Days 1 and 2

  1. It’s very cool to see SF thru a visitor’s eyes. Haven’t done any of those things and I’m a native. Didn’t even know about the tree. I don’t live *in* SF, though, so I’m still a tourist in some ways when I go there. Love your pics. Keep traveling solo when you can. Waiting for others to get on board…well, you’ll just be waiting in many cases.

    1. Oh very cool! SF is ever changing, and yet the same. I like exploring up there very much, but I’ve really yet to see the rest of the Bay Area–I’d like to go to Berkeley and Oakland too.

      Indeed if we wait we will never get to go.

    1. Yay! You should go! It’s so doable (and I didn’t even rent a car.) I just got a Clipper card and threw money on it and beeped my way around the city. I could have even walked from one rail stop to another, but I was lazy so I paid the fare. Still cheaper than taking a cab!

  2. this really makes me want to visit sf! not like one of my girlfriends moving there isn’t enough reason already. that anne patterson installation is nuts, love it, and that tree too! i can’t believe it has a hashtag of its own! i’m off to stalk it some 😉

  3. Love SF! I’ll be there for a few short hours on Friday to visit friends before heading down to Monterey for the week. I wish I could spend a few days!

    1. Ooh! That’s still some time to eat something tasty. Or maybe look at a few cool things while driving around. Either way all the more reason to come out to the West Coast 🙂

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