Wednesday, September 30, 2009

San Francisco - Day 4

I had intentions of walking everywhere today dancing through my head. I was quickly reminded that this is no flat Chicago. We started in the Mission District with Mission Dolores. Then walked over to the Castro neighborhood. Then headed towards Haight-Ashbury after stopping at Buena Vista Park. If you'd like a workout hike up to the top of the park for great views of the city. I wished there was an escalator. By the time I'd hiked up to the top I was too sweaty for a picture. We're going to need a personal trainer and a year's worth of training if we ever decide to hike Machu Picchu like we've been talking about.

At this point we'd had enough walking for the day so we took a bus over to Alamo Square to see the Painted Ladies, otherwise known as the houses in the intro to Full House. Honestly this was quite disappointing. There were only 6 or so houses and while charming, not worth a separate visit. We saw adorable houses all over the city. It was nice to see where Uncle Jesse and Danny Tanner lived.

We had lunch at the Woodhouse Fish Company which was a great lunch spot for seafood. I had the clam chowder and crab cakes and The Husband had the giant lobster roll. The lobster roll was definitely the star of the show.

We only had a little bit of time before we had to go back to the hotel so we hopped on the bus and decided to take it all the way to the Pacific Ocean. It was way too cold to actually get in the water and too windy for anyone to go to the beach and enjoy themselves, but I wanted to say I'd seen the Pacific on what was my first trip to California

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

San Francisco - Day 3

e rented bikes to bike over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. We used Bike and Roll. There's a 10% discount if you book in advance on the internet. We walked over to the location in North Beach from our hotel, grabbing breakfast at an Italian place on the way.

The bike path was crowded with lots of other bikers. Make sure to bring water with you even if it's not hot. We made that mistake and had to wait until we got to the Golden Gate Bridge gift shop and by then our out of shape asses were dying.

It's about 10 miles from where you pick up the bikes to Sausalito. We learned we are not in shape. We had to walk our bikes up several hills. The serious bikers in their spandex blew past us. I'm sure they were laughing at us. At the end of our bike ride our butts were extremely sore.

We had a great time though. At first the bridge was covered in fog. Then halfway over the bridge it disappeared and we could finally see the other side. Then we biked along the shore in Marin County where we got some great views of the city and the bridge.

We were famished by the time we got to Sausalito so we decided to go to Scoma's since it was the first restaurant we saw. I had a bowl of the clam chowder which was the best I had all weekend and then the dungeness crab salad sandwich which was decent. The husband had a cheeseburger. In reality we should have looked around town a bit more to find something a little more casual for lunch.

We high-tailed it out of there to make the next ferry back. Good thing too. We were exhausted and it was a very long process of waiting in line for the ferry, loading the ferry, the ferry ride, unloading, returning the bikes, and walking back to our hotel from Fisherman's Wharf.

After taking a long nap, we headed out to dinner at Tropisueno per a recommendation from our concierge. Originally we had been planning on going to a seafood restaurant but after lunch I was tired of seafood.

We were able to walk from our hotel to dinner and it's also near Union Square. There was also almost a crisis as they told me they don't have strawberry daiquiris. Or anything with fruit. They had a drink menu that sounded delicious, except everything was made with tequila. And I hate tequila. The waitress had the bartender substitute another liquor for tequila in a fruity girly drink and I was happy. If you are a tequila lover, their margarita and drink menus were excellent.

We decided to just get a bunch of appetizers to share between the two of us so we could try some different things. We had guacamole which was pretty good but a little too spicy. Then the tostada de camarones. It was good but messy to eat the hard shell. We also had the chicken flautas which were delicious. And finally the molotes de papa y chorizo which was also very good. All in all a solid restaurant.

After dinner we headed to another wine bar, First Crush, in the Union Square area. Something about the decor was just too clubby and dated so the ambiance was a little off. But I enjoyed a wine flight of champagne and The Husband enjoyed one of the red wine flights. All the wines they carry are California wines and are probably easy to find in a store. We also had a cheese plate that was pretty good.

It still wasn't very late so we decided to head up the street to another concierge recommendation, the Starlight Room in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. Our concierge made it sound like this was a great place to just grab a drink and look at the view as it's on the top floor.

Oh no. It's more like a nightclub. An old time nightclub with guys working the door in tuxes and people going in wearing fancy dresses. And a cover charge. Honestly not sure what our concierge was thinking suggesting this place as we were wearing fairly casual outfits of jeans and nice shirts as we asked his advice before leaving for dinner. Definitely not our kind of scene.

Turkey Itinerary

Since I'm still waiting for our pictures from San Francisco and I'd like to blog about something I thought I'd give an update on our planning for Turkey.

So we are all booked for our trip to Turkey over Thanksgiving. We leave late on Friday, November 20 so that we can work a full day and then return Sunday, November 29. And the best part is we only have to use 3 vacation days!

We are staying in Istanbul for 4 nights. This is our hotel in Istanbul: It's located near all the major attractions and is 69 Euros a night.

Then we move on to Cappadocia for 3 nights. We're flying into Kayseri. This is our hotel in Goreme: We are booked for room 4. Our second choice was We decided on the Kelebek Hotel because it's located in Goreme which many on Trip Advisor recommended over staying in Urgup, the other major hotel location in Cappadocia.

Our last night we will be flying back to Istanbul pretty late so we will be staying at either the Holiday Inn or Courtyard by Marriott near the airport since we have rewards points we can use. No matter what trip we go on, we can't seem to escape the Holiday Inns.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

San Francisco - Boulevard

Boulevard was to be our big meal of our trip as we were celebrating our third anniversary which is about 2 weeks from now. We were very excited about our first Michelin star restaurant experience.

We arrived a little bit early and had drinks at the bar. While we were there we saw a couple come in with a baby. To a fancy restaurant. And it was almost 9 at night. I was giving them the side-eye.

I started with the Crispy Maryland Softshell Crab with toasted garlic rice noodle salad, lime vinaigrette, red curry, and green papya relish. Absolutely loved the crab. Thought the noodles had a great taste. The Husband was not a fan of the noodles though.

The Husband had the Organic Heirloom Tomatoes with Italian bufala mozzarella, Bellwether Farms ricotta, Padron peppers, olive & fresh garbanzo relish, olio verde, and basil. Some of the best tomatoes we have ever tasted. The bufala mozzarella was to die for. And the ricotta was wonderful as well.

For dinner I had the Butter Poached New England Lobster with creamed Brentwood corn, summer frying peppers, fritto of cornmeal crusted baby corn & Padron peppers, and lobster nage. One of the best meals I have ever had. The lobster was amazing. Buttery and tender. The Husband was in love with the corn. It might have been his favorite part of the entire meal.

The Husband had the Wood Oven Roasted Angus Filet Mignon with fondant fingerling potatoes, blue cheese, celery salad, crispy bacon, spinach wilted with roasted shallot & trumpet mushrooms, warm mustard vinaigrette, and red wine beef jus. This was the disappointing part of the meal. We're from Chicago which is known for it's good steaks. This one just did not measure up. It was overcooked for what was requested and to me it just tasted bland and not very tender. The bacon was delicious though.

For dessert I had a cheese plate. I had the Melange cheese which came with some grapes, bread, and nuts. Heavenly. I just wish they gave you bigger pieces of cheese. I could eat just cheese for dinner.

The Husband had the stuffed chocolate chip cookies. He loved them. I'm not a huge chocolate fan so I thought they'd be better stuffed with vanilla ice cream to make ice cream sandwiches.

After dinner we headed to RN 74, Michael Mina's new wine bar for a drink at the recommendation of our concierge. We liked the hip but relaxed vibe of the place. They had a great looking menu that you could eat at the wine bar and late-night dining. Late-night dining is usually my favorite while drinking but Boulevard had stuffed us. I also liked that you can order smaller tastes than a whole glass which meant I could try more.

RN 74 is pretty upscale though. They had a glass of wine on the menu that was $65. A freakin' GLASS! That's like the same price as our bottle of wine at Boulevard. And most of the bottles we drink at home are $10 from Trader Joe's. So obviously a different class of place than we usually go to. Very nice though and I'd recommend it to wine lovers. Or even wine novices like myself. They had plenty of other wine available for reasonable prices.