I don’t know if some you still remember the New York travel series I wrote some months ago, but before all that happened, I did in fact spend a bit of time in San Francisco. I guess since it was my first time visiting New York, I was more excited to write about it. It wasn’t intentional that this post took forever to get written, but looking back at the photos sure stirred some pretty good memories. 🙂
I haven’t really toured America in a capacity I would call proper, but I developed a fondness for San Francisco when I went to the States for the very first time early on in my youth. Among the places we visited in the West Coast back then, it was the first city that left a lasting impression on me.
While the way that I see things have changed over the years, San Francisco still has a special place in my heart. Certainly New York has etched its way in there as well, but I adore both cities for very different reasons. And frankly, comparing NYC and SF is like comparing apples and oranges.
Although it has been almost 10 years since I last went to San Francisco, I can still feel that fairly relaxed and creative vibe I picked up from before. I find that I still love challenging myself to “defy gravity” by pretending to be walking in a straight line every time I have to climb up or down the streets of SF. (Damn good exercise, that is.)
When my Dad and I went to San Francisco last year, we were lucky enough to have people take good care us throughout our stay. We had a place to live and friends who drove us everywhere. It was probably one of the most relaxing trips I’ve ever had in any foreign country thanks to two cool aunties: Auntie Aida and Auntie Beth. The shoutout is necessary, because they took time out of their busy schedules to be with us. They opened their homes to us too.
So today I’m sharing with you a list of my favorite experiences in San Francisco, all of which Auntie Aida and Auntie Beth were kind enough to accompany us to.
Grabbing a cup of Irish Coffee at Castro Street.
I’ve always remembered Castro Street as one of the most colorful because of all the rainbow flags perched outside. I don’t recall these rainbow pedestrian lanes being here before but I certainly love walking across them. Aside from that, I also have a new favorite memory from this area:
So there we were, my Dad and I, two weirdos drinking Irish Coffee early in the day. Auntie Aida sat with us, mixing her designated-driver’s cranberry juice with a straw. Because it was like 10 in the morning, there were literally five of us in the bar plus the bartender. It was fairly quiet, with the happy hockey chatter between the bartender and the other two patrons serving as a commentary to the game on the TV.
I’m not recommending drinking Irish Coffee in the morning, but for those who aren’t familiar, it’s basically (small) part coffee and part Irish whiskey, with whipped cream on top. Get it mixed up and you’ll find it’s actually quite a treat.
I drink super occasionally so I felt a bit buzzy after finishing up the whole mug. In any case, I feel like I hit some sort of daddy-daughter bonding achievement here lol.
Getting a taste of Tartine’s heavenly Lemon Cream Tarts.
After having some spiked coffee, we went over to the super famous Tartine Bakery for brunch. We’re doing things by impulse at this point but whatever right? 😀 I was sooooo happy to be able to come here because I’ve been dreaming about this visit since before our flight took off from Manila.
The bakery is smaller than I expected but there was nothing small about the selection of baked goods on display here. I wanted to buy all the tarts and yeasted breads I set my sights on!
Practicing restraint, we instead asked a group of ladies having a brunch meeting what they would recommend, and it was none other than the famous Bread Pudding. And then my inner lemon monster took over and I also decided to get some Lemon Cream Tarts.
The Bread Pudding was indeed a great pick. Everything from the flavor, to the sweetness, to the way the squishy bread pudding complemented those berries was perfection. No wonder almost every table inside the bakery had a bowl of it.
Meanwhile, the Lemon Cream Tart was SUBLIME– tart and tangy, extra creamy, with a nice buttery shell. OMG. I still dream about this luscious Lemon Cream Tart on occasion! I impatiently wait for the day I get to go back and eat this again. (Or you know, I’ll try to make it since I have their baking book now.)
Stopping by Bi-Rite Creamery for second dessert.
I was already a happy owner of the Bi-Rite Creamery ice cream book before coming here, so naturally this was also on my to-visit list. I’ve heard a lot about how long the line can get here and I don’t have much patience for such things. Thankfully, since it was the middle of the day on a weekday, the line wasn’t long at all.
Once I got inside however, I was faced with a very real challenge: picking a flavor! This is always the hardest part in any respectable ice cream shop, but more so in Bi-Rite Creamery.
You can actually sample the ice creams they have before making a decision, but damn it was still tough. We ended up going for an ice cream sandwich and their all time best-seller Salted Caramel ice Cream, but after getting off the line and coming face-to-face with this freezer, I was immediately faced with some sort of buyer’s remorse.
Actually it was more like a sadness over the idea that it was going to be impossible to appreciate Bi-Rite’s amazing flavor inventions with just one visit. I especially regret not getting the Balsamic Strawberry and Brown Butter-Blue Bottle flavors as well.
These ice cream sandwiches are a bit sweet so we decided to split them, but the combination of thin cookie and creamy ice cream was too hard to resist. The Salted Caramel Ice Cream was certainly a scene stealer. The moment you feel the kick of saltiness, the sweet buttery caramel laces its way into your tastebuds. YUM!
This is yet another spot I cannot wait to come back to. For now I’ll have to settle with making stuff from their book. I have made their Cookies and Cream Ice Cream recipe before and it was THE BEST version of that flavor I have ever eaten. And I don’t say things like that lightly.
Watching the Warriors play on home soil.
Let me preface this by saying I am not a follower of the NBA/Golden State, nor do I regularly watch basketball. However, since I watch a bunch of other sports, I understand what it’s like to cheer for your team especially in your own turf. I don’t remember the name of this place we were having our early dinner in, but the moment the Warriors game came on the energy in the room shifted to new heights. It was fun to just bask in it.
This really made me miss my university years and those times I’d watch our different sports teams play on a big screen inside the school. I remember how the cheers would erupt each time we scored and won! What a great feeling to share a common moment with so many people. 🙂
Revisiting the Golden Gate Bridge.
I guess this is a no-brainer for any visitor to San Francisco. I don’t seem to remember the bridge being this stunning during my previous visit, but then again it might be because I’m seeing it from different viewing points this time around. I love gazing at bridges! (And I think it was less foggy this time.)
The Golden Gate itself isn’t my all-time favorite bridge, but I love how it’s framed by lush hills. The gorgeous cerulean waters sparkle underneath. Because of the cool SF weather, it’s nice to just walk or cycle around this area, and a lot of people were doing just that.
Funny story I just want to share with you about why the spot below is so memorable for me: As I was taking this photo with my camera, I was holding the lens cap in my left hand when a really strong gust of wind suddenly blew the cap away. It fell at my feet, precariously close to the edge of the bridge, and just as I was thinking that one wrong move could send it spiraling down into the waters, I moved my foot and it was all the nudge the lens cap needed.
So basically, my lens cap fell from this spot, but thankfully not into the water. It landed in a grassy area below. But since I am unfamiliar with the area, we didn’t search for it anymore and instead bought a lens cap from Best Buy. I must say, it attaches itself onto my lens even better than the original one did. What a silver lining haha!
Going for a long drive through the Golden Gate.
Windows rolled down, wind blowing through my hair. Oh what a pleasurable drive it was! Obviously the bridge isn’t just some sort of spectacle. You can and should use it to get to other interesting places near San Francisco, like the one I’m about to mention below.
Getting lost in the Muir Woods.
Muir Woods plays into my fascination for forests in a really good way. This National Monument is located 12 miles outside San Francisco in Marin County, but since it is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, I’m going to just lump this in here. It was my favorite tourist location we visited after all.
I loved being in these magical woods. Anywhere you turn, the tall redwood Sequoia trees stand imposingly around you, but instead of feeling threatened, you kind of feel… I don’t know what the word is… Protected? Being in here feels incredibly peaceful.
There’s a light fog that constantly drifts between the trees since these woods stand close to the Pacific Ocean, and because of that taking photos is always a pleasure. The fog does some interesting things to the light! Literally no filters required. Obviously it’s nicer to see the woods with your own eyes, but I attempted to snap photos to take home with me nonetheless.
It’s almost as if sunshine is being poured like liquid gold between the redwoods.
As a last photo, I feel like it is appropriate to leave you with a rainbow, just to brighten up your day:
This post turned out longer than I expected! It didn’t feel like I did a lot of picture-taking while I was in San Francisco so I was a little surprised when I saw that I had a good set after all. It was difficult to whittle the photos down!
What annoys me every time about writing these blog posts is that I start missing the places I am writing about very strongly as I go along. As a very sentimental person, it’s hard to control the memories that suddenly pop into my head. They make me want to go back and create new experiences. But you know what? I might just go ahead and plan another visit in the next couple of years.
600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110
3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
1 Muir Woods Rd, Mill Valley, CA 94941