I proposed to Nancy in Sausalito back in 2010 when we were on a trip to San Francisco. The following year we got married in Curacao and had an incredible wedding with our friends and family. For our first wedding anniversary we decided to head back to where it all began.
Our flight from Dulles left at 7am, I don’t need to tell you, it was an early morning for the two of us on Friday. We spent all Thursday finalizing our packing and getting ready for our trip so we could simply getup and leave promptly at 4am. We made it to the airport and onto the flight with no problems at all. A flight this early does suck, but it gave us an entire day in San Francisco to do things which we certainly took advantage of.
Our flight landed at 10:30am so we had plenty of time left in the day to do stuff. We hopped on BART and got to the Marriott Marquis and fortunately they let us check in early. Its located near Union Square and centrally located within a couple of miles of many attractions. Our first stop was Alcatraz Island. Last time we visit we skipped The Rock so this time we made it a priority to visit. The tour sells out in advance so we bought our tickets about a 4 weeks out. We walked a block from the hotel and took the MUNI #30 bus towards the Fisherman’s Wharf. For $2 on a Clipper Card you can travel anywhere in the city. Nancy didn’t care much for it, but I thought the public transportation was fantastic.
Down at the Wharf we got our first beer and some food at the Wipeout Bar and Grill. As we made our way to Pier 33 for the ferry to Alcatraz we were buzzed several times by jets. It was Fleet Week and the Navy was doing some practice flying over the Bay for their Saturday performance. The entire time we were on Alcatraz we got a great show from an F22, F16, and the Blue Angels.
We ended up spent several hours on the island walking around everywhere we could. We walked across the yard with its concrete “play field” and giant stairs you always see in the movies. Then there are of course the cells which are so tiny. It is hard to imagine people living in such a small space for the rest of their lives. It was great walking around and seeing all the history of this place. While it is dilapidated, I think that aspect adds to the charm of the tour. It is not a pristine facility, the concrete is crumbling and any metal pipes that are exposed have almost completely rusted through. Several of the buildings that once where on the island have been demolished completely. With some others only the exterior walls remain. While the park service is continually doing upkeep on to the facilities, they limited what is replaced to pieces necessary for public safety.
For dinner we meet up with Aaron and Carla who moved to San Francisco earlier in the year. They suggested Off the Grid which is a local food truck festival held every Friday at Fort Mason along the bay. There must have been 30 or so vendors selling all sorts of food items. Nancy and I tried four different trucks and were impressed with everything we ate. We later checked out their new house which they are getting ready for a new arrive in late October or earlier November. After 22 hours of being awake, getting back to the hotel that night was awesome. My body was so exhausted from the day’s adventures but it was well worth it.
Saturday the only thing we had planned was Yoshi’s for dinner and a show, the rest of the day was free and clear. Nancy wanted to take me to a local brewery so we hoped on MUNI and headed down towards the baseball stadium. There we spent several hours at the 21st Amendment Brewery drinking their local offers. Surprisingly to many, several of their beers are offered on the East coast.
Here we meet three really cool people, Phil, James, and Tannya. They were seeing the Giants game that evening, the first game of the National League playoffs. We shared several rounds with them before heading back to their car for some tailgating. Free beer is nice but we needed a bathroom eventually, well except for Phil and James, they kept peeing between the cars. After offering to buy everyone a round of beer we headed back to the bar. Not surprisingly Nancy made two more friends, while in the bathroom no less, Jen and Steve. I don’t know how show does it, but everyone loves here.
We needed to get back to hotel to prepare for dinner and a concert at Yoshi’s. We skipped public transit to the venue and went straight for a car service. It was expensive but there is nothing like arriving in a big Cadillac to the show. We sat down to enjoy a nice bottle of wine and some wonderful sushi. Nancy is not a fan but she is a trooper and tried everything at least once. In fact we never got past the appetizers, I just kept ordering more fish.
When showtime rolled around the place was backed. We saw Confunkshun which is a local R&B/Funk band. This would not have been my first choice for a show, Pat Metheny played a week earlier and that would have been a kick ass. After about an hour Nancy couldn’t take it any longer and went outside to the bar. Thankfully the show didn’t run to late and we got outta there. For a long time I have wanted to eat and see a show at Yoshi’s. For jazz lovers, it is an iconic bay area establishment that everyone should visit at least once. I can at least check Yoshi’s off my list.
Sunday we had absolutely nothing officially planned, not even dinner. We took MUNI down to Golden Gate Park for an afternoon of leisure. We started off at the Botanical Garden’s and walked around for a while. We picked the wrong season to visit as not much of anything was in bloom. It was peaceful and relaxing and when we walked through the Succulent Garden it smelled just like maple syrup.
From here we headed to the California Academy of Science. I love science and nature so these two stops were a win-win for me. This museum is relatively new and offered a lot to see and do while there. We caught Earthquakes Happen at the planetarium with its massive screen. There is a spherical enclosure that represents a rainforest which was cool. They have butterflies and small birds just flying around. In the basement there is an aquarium with several cool exhibits. Then the living roof which is completely covered in life. We even at ate an environmentally friendly, seasonal, and organic lunch in their Academy Cafe. For finer dinning the Moss Room in the basement is a must. You can easily fill an entire day at the museum.
Happy hour was spent at the top of the Marriott Marquis at The View which is on the 39th floor and features some great view of the city. Here we plotted our dinner options over drinks and decided on the Thirsty Bear Brewery just down the street. I always love beer so that was great but Nancy choose it because of the food they offer, Spanish tapas. I must admit it is a unique combo to have organic craft beer and Spanish tapas. We sipped beer while enjoying a wide variety of tapas. As an added bonus on Sunday nights, they have Flamenco dancing which was really neat.
Monday was our actual anniversary and we planned to head into Sonoma for wine tasting. We got a Mustang convertible and first drove to Sausalito to enjoy some breakfast at the Sausalito Bakery and Cafe while overlooking the San Francisco skyline. We started our wine tasting at an old favorite, Gundlach Bundschu. This place has great wines and spectacular views of the valley below. From there we headed in the direction of the Russian River to include stops at Mayo Family Winery, VJB Vineyards and Cellars, Paradise Ridge Winery, St. Anne’s Crossing, and finally Landmark Vineyards. We tasted some great wines, shipped nine bottles home, and meet some great people in the tasting rooms.
By the end we were exhausted and headed back to the city for some rest and relaxation. Tuesday was going to be a travel day for us and after the amazing weekend we had, we needed some sleep to prepare us for our journey home. We saw a lot and did a lot while in the San Francisco. The people we meet along the way each had their own story to tell and I am glad we got to meet them. Now with two trips to San Francisco, I still feel we haven’t experienced all that the city has to offer. I think Nancy and I might make this a regular destination for us, this city by the bay.