Surviving San Francisco - Day Five

     Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen! Matthew here.

     We apologize for the delay in posting this, but we were pretty worn from our journey last night, so my body decided you fine people could wait an extra day.

     Our last day in San Francisco was a short, but busy one.
     After checking out of our Airbnb (which was an interesting one - see Day Four's entry), we began the day (as is usual) with a coffee run. This morning's choice was Biscoff Coffee Corner on Pier 39. 

     This gave us the opportunity to experience the piers during the day. We had briefly walked along The Embarcadero at night, so we got to see a few of the lights and peeked into a few of the shops, but most of them were already closing, so we couldn't stay long.

Us at Pier 39

Pier 39 with some birds making their way into our photo.

     It's a carnival atmosphere. People are everywhere. Little shops cover every square inch, lights are strewn about overhead in a haphazard fashion, music is playing and sea lions are barking in the distance. Yes, sea lions! We got to see to the famous Pier 39 Sea Lions. They were absolutely hilarious to watch and hear. They get riled up and shove each other off the docks all while barking like mad at one another for reasons unknown to me.

     Next, we headed out to find North Beach Gyros. This was quite a walk and I had tweaked my knee at some point the day before, so it was a slow walk. If you've been out and about with us, you know our normal walking pace is anything but slow. We're not quite sure why that is, but moving that slowly was torturous. Either way, the trek was very much worth it.

     This was absolutely phenomenal, and receives top marks in my book. If "the toppest of marks" was a valid phrase, I would have used it there - it was that good. We started with a Falafel order, which was a first for both of us. I am very proud of my wife for sampling (and enjoying) this. Her culinary decisions tend to lean toward the adventurous side when we are on vacation. No complaints here!

Our Falafel

My Lamb and Beef Gyro plate

Valeri's Chicken Gyro plate

     As you can see in the photos above, alongside the Falafel appetizer, I had the Lamb and Beef Gyro plate and Valeri had the Chicken Gyro plate. (I'm not saying mine was better ... but mine was better!)  If you're ever in the North Beach area, definitely check this place out. The service was great and the food was amazing. This was the perfect last meal in San Francisco.

     After cramming our faces full of gyros, we had to make the trip to the airport. We didn't have the rental car today, so we hopped on BART. This is how the natives travel, so it's always kind of fun (as long as you can secure a seat).

     There isn't much to say about the journey at this point, so I'll fast-forward to the airport.

     San Francisco International (SFO) is a very nice airport - especially for being as big as it is. The layout is logical and very easy to navigate. As an added bonus, the TSA agents actually smile! We had arrived a few hours early, so we milled around the airport for a while, then sat and waited ... and waited ... and waited. Finally it was time to board!

     Fast forwarding again...

     Three hours later, it was wheels down at Kansas City International (MCI). Our friend was at the terminal gate waiting for us (in his new Mercedes C250, no less), so making the journey back home was underway. All of this put us in at around 2 a.m. this morning, which is why this blog is just now being posted. We like sleep.

     I can officially sat the Pearons have survived San Francisco! Or did San Francisco survive the Pearons? I'll leave that decision up to you.

"San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth."
- William Saroyan

To view our PhotoStream, click here.

Surviving San Francisco - Day Four

     This is Val and oh my word, where do I even begin to tell you about our day?
     Well, after finishing our second blog post at 1 a.m. Sunday, we noticed we had yet to pack our stuff to leave the AirBnB. So we decided not to leave at 8 a.m. Sunday morning, rather we left at 9:30-ish to head into San Francisco.
     We decided to drive the rental into the city and park it at one of the piers rather than later in the day having to make our way back out to the AirBnB to get it before taking the Rockleys to the airport.
     Well, plans fell apart fast when traffic took up quite a bit of our driving time into the city. So we decided to just drive the Rockleys to the airport so they'd arrive on time. Yeeeeeaaaaah ... we arrived at the airport about five hours before their flight was scheduled to leave. Oops.
     No problem, we'll just go get some food. What better place to get food than an hour south of the airport in San Jose. Alyssa was in the mood for Mexican, so we set out on a search. We found one place via Yelp in San Mateo, but when we pulled up, Matthew and Ricky quickly decided the area seemed sketchy. So the next place we found was called Iguana Burritozilla in San Jose. This place was what looked to be a two-story house and was painted purple ... the purpliest of all purples.

     I had some nachos and Matthew had a specialty burrito, which were both good. We sat outside and enjoyed the nice weather. The last few days had been a little too warm during the afternoons, but today was perfect.
     After filling our tummies, we hopped back in the car to take the Rockleys back to the airport and returned the rental car, so we could head to our next destination.
     We wanted to see an overlook of the city. We had a few options, but we decided on Twin Peaks since it was on our way back into the city. To get to Twin Peaks we decided on riding the BART about halfway there and then getting an Uber to save on time.

Overlook of San Francisco from Twin Peaks

     Twin Peaks definitely gave a captivating overlook of San Francisco, but the journey back was a bit of a hassle.
     The first thing you need to know is that we had our luggage with us, which we planned to drop off at our next AirBnB location after Twin Peaks. The second thing you need to know is that Twin Peaks is up on a very high hill (hence the overlook spot) and the streets are a crazy mix of jagged and steep. The third thing you need to know is City Mapper (an app using google maps) likes to torture us.
     We set City Mapper to get us to the ferry station, which first meant walking to the bus stop ... no biggie. Ha. Ha. Ha. BIG biggie when that walk includes extreme stairs and by extreme I mean three different extremely steep flights. Poor Matthew had our big suitcase (~40 lbs) and was having to carry it down the stairs. We also came across a few areas that you wouldn't think would be on a map ...

I'm not really sure how this can be considered part of a road, but City Mapper seems to think it is. Before walking over to it, we seriously thought it had led up to a dead end. This little dirt pathway then led us to the infamous stairs.

     Something I find funny though is that the stairs we had to walk down had a street name ... even though it was only wide enough for one person. Strange.
     The coolest part about this little side adventure was that we got to wander amongst the houses in the hills. These houses are stacked on top of each other in rows and I was afraid I wouldn't get to admire them up close, but thanks to City Mapper's adventurous side, I was able to.:)
     Once we got to the bus station, we had to wait about 20 minutes, but the view was awesome while we waited. We finally got to the ferry building and made our way across the bay to Oakland.
     I had never ridden a ferry before, so I'm glad I was finally given the chance. It was such an experience and the views of San Francisco and the Bay Bridge were jaw dropping.

     We then made our way to the boat we'd be staying in for our last night. It was parked in a little marina in Oakland.

The Andiamo

     We were able to see the beginning of sunset from the boat before we decided to head back into the city for a night walking along The Embarcadero.

     We started at the San Francisco Ferry Building and walked up the coast.

San Francisco Ferry Building

     Our first stop was actually inside the ferry building for a Blue Bottle Cold Brew Float, which is Vietnamese cold brewed coffee with Tahitian vanilla ice cream and hot fudge. If you EVER have a chance to try this, DO IT! I can't really find the words to describe it, but it's extremely delicious.

Blue Bottle Cold Brew Float

     Speaking of extremely delicious things, just a little further down The Embarcadero, I came across the best chicken tacos I've had in my life. My mouth is just now getting the feeling back, but I'd come back to San Francisco just for those tacos. It sounds extreme, but it's true. They were cooked in some kind of Cajun sauce and the soft taco shell was made out of sourdough, which was something I wanted to try while in San Francisco since that's a food their known for.

My tacos and Matthew's Chicken Pesto sandwich with tomato soup in a sourdough bread bowl

     The tacos were the perfect way to end the night.

     I'll leave you on that high note so I can lay down for a snooze before having to wake up for our early morning start.

"San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth."
- William Saroyan

To view our PhotoStream, click here.


Surviving San Francisco - Day Three

     Hello again! Matthew here, reporting in from Walnut Creek, California!
     This entry is to chronical our third day in California. We had a blast, and I hope I'll be able to convey that in the next few lines.

     Our day started at 8 a.m. with the normal 30-minute trek into San Francisco proper via BART and landed us in the hands of Ritual Coffee Roasters on Octavia Street. Ritual is based in a very small walk-through kiosk-style building with ordering at one end and pickup at the other. Valeri had a Latte and I had a Macchiato.

     Next, we were off to enjoy our coffee whilst enjoying a view of one of San Francisco's most popular attractions: The Painted Ladies. Due to some untimely renovation works, we weren't able to recreate the Full House introduction image, but we did get a picture that should give you the general idea.

     You might look at these and think to yourself, "Well, those are just little houses crammed together in a line" ... and you would be correct. The thing that you might not be able to tell by the photos is the meticulous decoration. Each house is unique - perfectly so. Both in design and in color. It's odd, because as a collective group, they all match; they look like they were designed to sit right there together; but the closer you get, the more you see the personality of each one and how different it looks compared to those adjacent.

Side note:
During this entire portion of the morning, the theme song for Full House was playing over and over in our heads - and at times aloud from our mouths. 
For that last bit, I apologize to the fine people of San Francisco. You didn't deserve that.

     ... and then there was food! Good food! For breakfast, we wandered just down the street to Eddie's Café on Divisadero Street. This was a tiny little shop, built into the corner of a block of buildings.  There was quite a line and that meant we had to wait quite a while to be seated.

Valeri had the eggs, bacon and hash browns and Matthew had the eggs, hash browns and salmon patties.

     The place was tiny, but was oozing with quirkiness. Every mug was different and the decorations were so random that the word "eclectic" brings too much order to the situation. There was just no way to tell what they were trying to do. Whatever it was, it worked.

     After breakfast we made our way to San Francisco's Japanese Tea Gardens. The grounds were filled with all sorts of plant life - including bamboo! There was quite an extensive Koi Pond, a traditional Japanese Pagoda and a few scattered bridges - one of which was very large and very steep so we avoided it at all costs. Near the end, we found a little café on the grounds and placed a quick order of Miso Soup and Mochi Ice Cream. The soup was absolutely phenomenal and the ice cream was interestingly prepared and fun to eat.

     Valeri had never been to the beach before today, so this was a first for her and we have it well documented! Beyond the normal sand/water combination most beaches are so proud of, this beach had ruins of what once was the world's largest public swimming pool: the Sutro Baths. This is odd to say, but the story behind this place is actually quite fascinating and I recommend you peruse the Wikipedia article. The statistics for the facility alone are astounding.

Just a small portion of the Sutro Bath Ruins.

     After climbing about the ruins for a while, it was time for a late lunch, so we hiked back up from the beach and paid a visit to the Lands End Café. The place had great food and a great view to accompany it.

Turkey, tomato, avocado, lettuce, aioli and honey mustard on ciabatta bread.

     Our next leg brought us to Japantown, which was in the same vein as the Japanese Tea Gardens. All things Japan seemed to be the theme for the day. Japantown was filled with cool little shops packed with clever trinkets, extremely ornate cookware and the likes. My absolute favorite part was experiencing Dragon's Breath. If you don't know what this is, definitely look it up, because it's neat.  The shop that sold it had to have a warning sign with evacuation procedures - that's how neat it was.

Dragon's Breath

     Technically, this was the end to our planned day - but we decided to keep rolling as we walked, rather. We walked, walked, walked and walked some more - bringing our day three total to just about 10 miles, and landing us near Fisherman's Wharf just in time to see an epic sunset over San Francisco Bay. We used this time to FaceTime our parents and share the sights.

     On our way back to Walnut Creek, we were fortunate enough to get a ride on a classic Street Car rather than a bus. It was very neat, but very crowded - which had diminished the effect on the "fun factor" of the ride itself. One redeeming factor is that, while waiting, we met a lovely British couple (they hailed from Northampton, specifically) that we were able to share the experienced of last year's  London trip with. For me, this was one of the highlights of the entire day.

     Anyway, that is day three for you! We survived it and we came away with lots of photographs and videos that we will share with you soon. Thank you for sticking with us!
This is Matthew, signing out.

"San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth."
- William Saroyan

To view our PhotoStream, click here.


Surviving San Francisco - Day Two

     This is Valeri and I'm here to fill you in on our day. Simply put, day two was a success!
     I'm sure most of you think "The Pearons'" first stop was for coffee, however, that wasn't true this morning. You see, on our way to In-n-Out Burger last night, Matthew saw we were mere blocks from an Aston Martin dealership ... so yes, that was our first stop this morning.

Aston Martin DB11

     Those of you who know Matthew know we spent a good amount of time there ... which is always well worth it just to see him act like a kid in a candy shop.

     After seeing his beloved cars, we made the trek into San Francisco.
     Our Airbnb place is in a town called Walnut Creek, which by BART (the metro) and Bus, it's about a 40-minute ride from San Francisco. So after seeing the Astons, we walked to BART and made our way into the city.
     We arrived in San Francisco just in time for brunch, so we made our way to Mazarine Coffee. This place was delicious! I had a latte and Belgian-style waffle; no syrup needed and that's saying something since syrup is my third love (after Matthew and butter). Matthew had an Americano and Basil/Ricotta/Tomato Toast. Now, you may be thinking, "Toast? Like ... toast, really?" Ohhhhhh ye of little faith. Try to expand that imagination of yours and then look at the photo below this paragraph.

Matthew's "toast"

     After brunch, we made our way to Union Square. I'm not really sure what I was expecting, but I was expecting more than what we saw. The center of the square had a tall monument with loads of open space surrounding it where people could sit, eat and enjoy the weather.
     I thought the coolest parts of the square were the buildings around it ... Macy's (which we couldn't help but visit after we looked through their windows and saw their top floor was Christmas heaven), Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co. and Apple (which we visited later).

The view of Union Square from Macy's fourth floor.

     Next on our list was Chinatown. Hmmm ... how can I describe Chinatown? Mainly it was filled with neat buildings, but we did come across a little shop with some interesting things. We originally thought we'd just eat lunch in Chinatown. I mean, it just seemed like the best idea, until we actually saw Chinatown.

     It just seemed untrustworthy. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for hole-in-the-wall places that look horrible, but their food tastes amazing, buuuuut this seemed sketchy. So we opted for going back into the financial district to get lunch at a Nepalese place called Bini's Kitchen.

     Let me tell you a little something about Bini's Kitchen: Scrumpdillyicious. Yes, that is a real word. The experts at urbandictionary.com say so.

Chicken Curry with rice and turkey momos.

     Our next stop was a big one: Golden Gate Bridge.
     We'd been walking all morning, so we hopped on the bus to head toward Fort Point. There are few things in life where you just stand in awe and this was definitely one of them. I swear in every photo I took, the bridge easily looks like it was photoshopped in because it just looks too perfect. I'm still not over it.

     After spending some time with all the other tourists at Fort Point, we decided to make our way down to Crissy Field, which is this big open grassy area where you can sit back and look at the beauty that is the Golden Gate Bridge. On our way to the field, we stopped at a pier. Once again, a beautiful view of the bridge, but also a great location to spot a couple seals in the water.

     After seeing everything there was to see at the pier and Crissy Field, we started thinking about heading back into the bigger part of the city for the GoCar Tours. Well, in order to get where we wanted to be, we would've had to hike all the way back up to Fort Point to catch a bus. We quickly decided that wasn't an option our feet were willing to let us make, so we unanimously voted on Uber.
     What an excellent decision.:)
     It was our first Uber experience and it went very well and was much faster than the 30-minute bus ride back into town.
     Our Uber took us straight to the GoCar Tours, which we found out had just stopped running for the day. Big bummer, but nothing to get too sad about when we had fish and chips on our minds.
     Alyssa has a friend who told her about a place with great lobster rolls and fish and chips. We knew we wanted to have fish and chips while in San Francisco, so we started our very long walk to Woodhouse Fish Co.
     Now, do you remember those stories your parents told you that included the line, "We walked (in the snow) uphill both ways ..."? I'm pretty sure whoever was the first to coin that phrase (minus the snow part) grew up in San Francisco because WOW. We had hills coming at us from every direction. I'm pretty sure Siri wanted us to have the full experience of San Francisco because she had us climbing hills so steep that we almost called another Uber just to drive us up them. *Note: For those of you who read our first blog posts from Seattle, you might remember us talking about a hill that Matthew said (and still says) I tried to kill him on by making him climb it. Well, the hills from today were that hill times 10.

Sunset on our walk to dinner.

     A million hours later, we finally made it to our destination without keeling over.
     Do you remember me saying Bini's Kitchen was "scrumpdillyicious"? Ha. Ha. Ha. That was child's play compared to Woodhouse Fish Co. I'll just throw this out there ... it was better than the fish and chips we had in London. For those of you who know just how much we loved everything about London, you know by that last statement just how good this place was.


     Now that I've written an entire book about our day, I think it's time to sign off.
     We're loving San Francisco. The atmosphere, architecture and liveliness of this city has definitely not disappointed and we've only just finished day two.

     *Note: I apologize for any errors, my editor has fallen asleep. [insert FRIENDS reference here]

"San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth."
- William Saroyan

To view our PhotoStream, click here.


Surviving San Francisco - Day One

     Hello! Matthew here. I would like to welcome you to another adventure with the Pearons!

     If you've joined us before, you know the drill - but if not, just try to keep up. Generally, we try to alternate blog entries, so you hear a bit from both of us, but there are exceptions made to this rule (ie: one of us wimps out and goes to bed early).

A little background:
     This year, we decided to stay stateside and venture west to San Francisco, California. We're lucky enough to be accompanied by two very dear friends (we'll leave them nameless for now, as to not make them accomplices to whatever we end up doing here).

Now that you know where we are, I'll tell you how we got there.

Don't mind the blur ... we were too excited.

The Flight:
     The day involved quite a bit of travel. Note that when I use the phrase "quite a bit," I really mean "99.998%". There were multiple busses, planes and cars involved, and everyone came out unscathed.
The day came with an early start - 03:00 to be exact. There was a bit of preparation to be done the night before, so not much sleep was had.
     We made our way to the valet service, who then shuttled us and a few other tired travelers to our port of departure, Kansas City International Airport (MCI). This was simple enough, as we are pretty familiar with the facilities and have become accustomed to the ritualistic torture that is TSA's Security Checkpoint.
     Whipping our way through security and into the concourse, we each split off to acquire the one thing absolutely necessary to make the first leg of our journey a success: Food. After that, it was all pretty run-of-the-mill. We boarded, we slept, we ate cookies, we slept more, some time passed and we landed. Pretty simple, eh?

While the rest of us slept, Val did some reading while watching the sunrise.

The Drive:
     After landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), we made our way to the Rental Car Depot. For LAX's purposes, these are all off-site, so we were shuttled there by an employee of the rental agency. Again, this was very simple - but there was a nice surprise. Our rental agency offers an exotic lineup and I found this beauty:

Explains itself

     Stunning, isn't it?

     I will say at this point, (under much protest by yours truly) I did not rent the Aston, but instead opted for an economical Toyota Camry. Bummer.
     We made our way out of Los Angeles via the scenic U.S. 101, stopping for breakfast in lovely Malibu. We decided to eat at Ollo - which was definitely a good choice. I had their Eggs Benedict with potatoes and Valeri had Buttermilk Pancakes with strawberry butter.

My Eggs Benedict. Val's was just pancakes ... no photo needed.

     After breakfast, we hit the road toward Cupertino and Mountain View. Can you guess what our plans were there? If you guessed that we were there to see Apple and Google, you will have guessed correctly! It was neat to see the campuses that birth such amazing technologies and innovations! We were not able to do tours in either location, as they are closed-campuses, but we did catch a couple of photos at each:

At Apple, 1 Infinite Loop

At Google ... there are palm trees that you can't see behind out head.

     After another 90 minutes, we were in the middle of San Francisco traffic and crossing the Bay Bridge. It was a bit unnerving, but we all survived. I can't say I wasn't slightly frazzled by the end of it, but I think I performed admirably. (If any of my passengers argue that point, they are not to be trusted.)

A little bit of the view we had while driving through Malibu.

This was just south of San Francisco.

     By the end of the day, we had flown from Kansas City, Missouri, to Los Angeles, California, then had driven from Los Angeles to San Francisco. We had also tired ourselves out by doing this - which is why I'm bringing this blog entry to an end.

Thank you for sticking with us through this first day and thank you in advance for joining us tomorrow! This is Matthew, signing off.

"San Francisco itself is art, above all literary art. Every block is a short story, every hill a novel. Every home a poem, every dweller within immortal. That is the whole truth."
- William Saroyan

To view our PhotoStream, click here.