San Francisco Part 1 – China Town, Muir Woods, and Sausalito

2013-03-20 18.44.09Well hey there!  Long time no see!   I am sorry for being the absolute worst blogger on the planet and neglecting you all for so long.  I really don’t even have a good excuse.  I wish I had something dramatic to share but I got nothin’.  Life has just been happening and I have been really busy at work.  BUT, I did have something interesting that happened during my hiatus.  I went to San Francisco with my mom!  We were there for three days total and we did SO MUCH while we were there.  I think I am going to break it up and just talk about the San Francisco part of it for now, and then for another post talk about our Napa day trip.

I flew in on Wednesday after work, and on my four-hour flight I was sitting next to two of the nicest people.  Their daughter happened to be in the same sorority at U of I but we had just missed each other in college.  She is a few years older, but guess what, she is also a blogger.  Her blog is Life Coaching, Lauren and it is a really positive and upbeat blog about everything from babies to books.  They are a family of life coaches which I thought was awesome.  I have to tell you that therapists and life coaches are my favorite people to find myself next to on an airplane.  They are always down for a good convo.  So after a black light and wine filled flight with the nicest people on earth, I finally landed at 9:30 California time.

I headed straight for the hotel to meet my mom.  We stayed at the W on 3rd and Howard which is right downtown.  I set my bag down and we decided to go explore a little bit.  I pulled out my smaller bag for walking around and turned around to see that my mom had pulled out the exact same bag.  Yep, it was THAT kind of trip.  We may as well have had matching outfits the whole time.  So we dorked out, put our matching bags on and set out to find the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Well after about a half hour of walking in a less than ideal neighborhood in the middle of the night, we found out that the bridge we had been walking towards was NOT the Golden Gate Bridge, but the Bay Bridge.  We were told that walking across the Bay Bridge would be a very bad idea because it is really long and all that is on the other side was Oakland, which is apparently dangerous.  It still looked pretty nonetheless.

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Bright and early the next morning we set our sights on Chinatown.  San Francisco Chinatown was the first and is still the largest Chinatown in America.  This is literally like stepping into another country.  They have their own hospitals, dentists, grocery stores and banks.

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We walked up and down the streets for a while and then ended up seeing a sign for free tea tastings at a place called Vital Tea Leaf on Grant street near Washington.  This really nice lady showed us how to brew the tea and the process you have to use.  Did you know that you need to rinse loose tea?  I didn’t!  When the farmers are picking the leaves they just pick them and throw them on the floor where they get collected.  So there can be dust and yucky stuff on your tea so you have to pour in hot water stir it around for about 20 seconds to open up the leaves and then dump out that water and start over with fresh water.  Then you just steep the leaves for about 20-30 seconds and then pour it in your cup and enjoy!

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After we bought a bunch of tea, we asked the lady where else we should go and she told us about the fortune cookie factory that was in the alley behind us.  It is called the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory and you can literally see the machines they use to make the cookies and the little chinese ladies who put the paper in and fold them.  It was quite the experience.

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After that we set out to find Dim Sum.  Now, this is like a serious Chinatown.  As in, it actually is not terribly touristy.  I was kind of worried about the food thing.  As you recall, I am terrified of things as simple as vegetables so strange meat was really going to put me over the edge.  But, we found a place called Great Eastern Restaurant and it had decent reviews so we thought we would try our luck.  I tried to stay away from the scary stuff, but if you are the adventurous type, I hear their pigs feet is to die for. The steamed custard dumpling things changed my life though.  They were like a hot custard filled doughnut. Life-changing…..

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So after feasting on a meal of bbq pork rolls, steamed chicken dumplings, steamed mushroom, shrimp and chicken dumplings, pumpkin fries, and steamed custard buns, we were pretty full.  By that time, we needed to find our way back to drop off our stuff at the hotel and find the Ferry Building to meet up with our tour guide for Muir Woods.  We finally made our way to the Ferry building and found our tour guide then proceeded to drive through the city’s intense hills in order to get to our first sighting of the REAL Golden Gate Bridge.  We drove over the bridge and then went to a peak that overlooks all of San Fran and the Pacific.  The views were stunning!

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So then, we made our way to Muir woods to see the Famous redwood trees.  Now, for some reason, I had it in my head that the trees we were going to see would be those gargantuan wide trees that you can drive a bus through.  These are not those trees.  Those are also Redwoods, but they are in Yosemite and a different kind.  The kind of redwoods we were going to see are the really, really tall ones, not the really, really fat ones.  But once we got there, it was really nice spending some time outside.  These trees really are humongous.

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I think I spent more time outdoors on that one day than I have collectively over the past few months.  It was terrific.  I still don’t like bugs, or the elements, but I got my nature on so that’s all that matters.  After Muir Woods we stopped at another gorgeous cliff where we could see the entire pacific coast.  Another amazing view.

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Then we made our way to Sausalito.  A tiny little town right across the Golden Gate Bridge.  It seriously looks EXACTLY like the Amalfi Coast in Italy.  The whole strip was full of little shops and restaurants.  We decided to stop for dinner instead of taking the ferry back with our tour group.  We went to a really pretty place called Scoma’s.  It is really close to the ferry so we didn’t have to worry about missing it.  The food was amazing and it looks like a little blue cottage on the water.  The views were spectacular so we watched the sun start to set with a glass of sparkling wine and good seafood.   After dinner we strolled around, shopped a little and then went to a great little wine bar across from the dock for a taste.  It was called Bacchus and Venus .  There were really nice people working there and we had great conversation while waiting. The ferry finally came and we set sail back to San Fran.  Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about Napa, because you can’t get that close to wine country and not see it!

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6 thoughts on “San Francisco Part 1 – China Town, Muir Woods, and Sausalito

  1. I did NOT know that about loose tea. Gosh, I have been doing it wrong for months now. Sigh! 🙂

    Sounds like a great trip. I will be calling you soon to get all the details on exactly what I can’t miss. I leave in 3 weeks.

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