We woke up on our first morning in San Fran, well-rested after our long drive the day before. Ian popped down to Starbucks for coffee and chai then we headed out to explore.
After over a week in the desert, the chill of San Francisco caught us slightly off guard and it felt like we were back in the UK again! All week, the weather was really unsettled, going from bright sunshine requiring t-shirts and flip flops to chilly, overcast grey skies needing a coat and scarf. I decided early on that wearing layers was the way to go although I was sad to pack away my summer dresses for the rest of the week.
We were staying in a very central location which was great for getting around and we had a wander around our neighbourhood that morning, indulging in a spot of shopping before exploring Chinatown.
One thing I absolutely loved about this city was all the different neighbourhoods they had; Chinatown, Japantown, Little Saigon, the Italian District…all with their own distinctive styles, shops, smells and restaurants. On a normal street too you could wander past restaurants offering 7 or 8 different cuisines which helps make San Francisco a truly unique melting pot of cultures.
Another thing I noticed very quickly was just how hilly this city was. These hills weren’t marked on our map (total tourists!) so our legs got a very good daily workout this way!
We walked through Chinatown and Little Italy, past Coit Tower, all the way down to the seafront to explore Pier 39. Now this is totally touristy but I loved it. Wooden decks, great views over the bay of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges and great seafood restaurants.
We stopped off for an amazing lunch here, starting with some local brewed beer and oysters. Ian then had a mixed seafood platter but I had one thing on my mind since we left the UK…clam chowder! Served in a hollowed-out sourdough bun (which was also delicious) this creamy, fishy soup was the best.
Feeling very full, we carried on wandering along the pier to see the famous sealions (very funny to stand and watch), a sourdough bread factory, visit the Ghirardelli chocolate factory (and pick up a few free samples!) before riding the cable car, one of San Francisco’s famous street trams. There was a bit of a wait for this but totally worth it as we went bombing up and down the hills with the bell ringing…Ian had to hang on for dear life!
That evening we had tickets to our first ever baseball game to watch the San Francisco Giants against the Milwaukee Brewers. We walked to the AT&T stadium, through a rather questionable neighbourhood, but made it in one piece, had a few beers, met up with my friends Lu and Ellie (who had also got to San Francisco that day!) and sat back to enjoy the game.
Despite not really knowing what was going on, the atmosphere was great, the views over the bay were stunning and we had such a laugh together. My highlight was the KissCam on the big screen…hilarious!
We got home that night to find a piece of ‘towel art’ waiting for us on the bed. We got a new animal every day and we started to look forward to coming back to the hotel to see what was waiting for us next!
The next day, we had booked a wine tasting tour so were up early to be picked up by what looked like a normal coach but inside was like a party limousine! We were sat by another couple on their honeymoon from Australia, a couple of other Aussie travellers and a pair of girls from New York and we quickly became firm friends. We had breakfast on the bus, with me rather awkwardly trying to butter my croissant as the bus flew around the corners, followed by mimosas at the Golden Gate Bridge (all before 10am!)
We spent the day stopping off at various wineries in Sonoma and the Napa Valley. If you’ve ever seen the film Sideways you will know what to expect! Lots of the wineries also sold great quality olive oil and balsamic vinegars so there were lots of tasters to eat and drink at every stop. We also popped into a local cheese and fudge shop for a few samples.
After our third winery and tasting session, we had a delicious lunch in the gardens with the most amazing falafels and stuffed vine leaves from our Egyptian bus driver, Abe, who was an absolute star all day, telling jokes on his microphone and making sure we had everything we could possible need.
By our 4th vineyard and a full day of drinking, it all got a bit much for me and I embarrassingly nodded off at whilst sat on the most comfortable sofa sampling some rosé…you cannot take me anywhere!
We said our goodbyes to our new ‘wine buddies’ and got back to our hotel where we planned to have a quick nap before dinner but I unfortunately woke up with the most horrendous hangover which turned into me being sick for most of the night. I’m not sure if it was the wine or something I ate but it was enough to hear my usual declaration of “I’m never drinking again!” Poor Ian had to go out for a burrito alone that night too so it wasn’t the romantic evening of our honeymoon!
The next day, I woke up feeling rather delicate although I did feel lots better after some tea…the elixir of life! We had planned on hiring bikes to cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge and visit the beautiful town of Sausalito but I wasn’t really feeling up to it so we decided to see the rest of the city on one of those hop-on/ hop-off tour buses. I know some people think these are cheating slightly but I love being shown around the city with a local telling me all the stories about different places that you just don’t get when you do the sightseeing yourself. Apologies for how hungover I look in these pictures!
We went to In-N-Out burger for lunch and I was furious with myself for not feeling well enough to eat anything because Ian’s burger looked amazing! I made him promise we could go back the next day though…which we did!
After lunch, we jumped back on our tour bus to see a bit more of the city.
That night, we got dressed up and set out to meet Lu and Ellie for dinner. We stopped off first of all at the Thirsty Bear Brewery company so Ian could continue with his beer tasting efforts then walked across town to Nopalito, an amazing Mexican restaurant included in the Guardians Top 10 Restaurants in San Francisco. The food and atmosphere was excellent although the tapas dishes were definitely my favourite over some of the mains we shared.
Afterwards, we headed to another brewery (are you sensing a theme?!) where Ian tried the beers and us girls had the pomegranate cider. Then Lu took us back to their hotel which was a full-on hippy flower-power affair with the creepiest doll that was kept at the top of the stairs!
The next day, we had a bit of a lazy morning then hit the Cheesecake Factory for breakfast. I had planned on going to this place in Vegas with my Mum but we just ran out of time so I was determined to get my cheesecake fix in San Fran! I had a ‘White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Cheesecake’ with a pot of Earl Grey while Ian had something chocolatey with a beer and Oh My God they were incredible!
After that, we decided to check out the areas of the city we hadn’t seen yet, including the Golden Gate Park, the Victorian Houses and Haight-Ashbury, where we saw a naked hippy – sorry, no pics!
We also climbed up a huge hill to see Lombard Street, the ‘crookedest street in the world’ with several hairpin bends to get around.
It was a beautiful sunny day, so we walked along the pier before taking a night-tour around the city (where they gave us blankets to snuggle under!) and spending way too much time and money in Forever 21!
For our last night, I found a great bar on our street called Hops and Hominy, serving great cocktails (one that included bacon-infused bourbon!) and southern-style cooking. I had an amazing macaroni cheese and jalapeno corn bread and Ian had buttermilk fried chicken.
The next day, we packed up our suitcase and had a final wander through the city. We stopped at a great little Italian place for lunch (especially with the prospect of aeroplane food to come!) and said our fond farewells to San Francisco before flying home to start life as husband and wife.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about our American adventures. Even writing these posts made me relive all those fun times and I have such fond memories of being around loved ones and of course, marrying my beau. xxx