It is an interesting feeling, returning to a place you visited years ago. Familiar scents, sounds and sights restore memories that we might have thought lost. Its like finding a box of photos gathering dust in an attic. Time may have changed this place, but it remains in your mind as it was before. This is a chronicle of my second trip to San Francisco. Hopefully not my last.
It was in the summer of 2005 that I stayed with my aunt in Fairfield for the first time. Travelling back allowed me to pick up many things I’d forgotten. Rediscovering old memories is best done while making new ones. Allows you to see everything from a new angle. I recommend it.
The first morning in Napa was wonderfully chill. I slept in and had a leisurely breakfast with Aunt Eileen and Uncle Ken, discussing sight-seeing-strategies over eggs and toast. We only had two full days to travel together, so we couldn’t waste too much time. The first day would be spent exploring a couple corners of San Francisco. The Second would send us out to St. Helena and Inglenook, a fantastic little winery with an even better film-making connection.
Now I was pretty stoked about San Fran, mostly because the last time we were there, we barely spent any time at all. In 2005, we jumped into the city, had lunch at a cool Croatian Seafood Restaurant, and jumped out. This time we would have a few hours at our disposal between ferries, giving us plenty of time to look around.
Driving to the nearby town of Vallejo, we grabbed a ferry ticket and found a window seat as the ferry started to fill. A few short minutes later we were scooting across the bay past little Islands and under one massive double-decker bridge.
I didn’t even know such bridges existed. I’m such a country bumpkin.
I kept my eyes fixed on the horizon. It was a nice day, just a little of that famous bay fog diluted my vision. Suddenly it appeared like a ghost from out the waves. The city emerged from the fog.
I much preferred this approach to driving across the bridge. We also passed by Alcatraz, but I was so fixed on the city that I completely missed it. Sorry. Ten points from RavenClaw.
Once on the pier, our first bit of business was to get a lunch reservation at a certain restaurant, The Slanted Door. My brother and father had raved about it during their last San Fran Adventure a couple years ago. Best lunch ever by the way. We’ll get to that later.
With our reservation locked and some time before lunch, we plunged into the bay marketplace. Holy crap this is why I need to move to a big city. The market was a long, trendy, busy bustle of wine shops, bakeries, fresh produce and seafood stalls and even a few dessert boutiques. It was all organic, local, and incredibly awesome. It was incredibly over-priced too, but given what I’ve heard about this city I wasn’t too surprised. Many free samples were enjoyed though.
After perusing most of the shops in the market, we jumped over to join the quickly swelling line forming in front of the Slanted Door. A couple years earlier my brother and father had happened upon this little gem while exploring the city. They had raved about it. They didn’t do it justice.
The Slanted Door is a Vietnamese restaurant that prides itself on showcasing local produce in traditional Vietnamese style. The place was hopping, but the service was great and the food was amazing. Everything is served family style and shared among everyone at the table. We started with spring rolls and spare ribs, then moved on to jalapeno chicken and grilled shrimp with lavender rice. Lizzie also had this bizarre tea that was just hot water and a lotus blossom. As the lotus bloomed in the glass, the tea slowly gained flavor.
Next we flagged a taxi and floored it to Japanese Town. Lizzi is a little bit obsessed with Japanese culture so she couldn’t miss this opportunity to dip her toes in a little bit of that world. The moment the taxi stopped it felt like we had stepped into a different city. Tiny little shops lined the streets and unfamiliar scents wafted from little eateries sprinkled here and there.
Each little shop had a cool alien character to it. Granted most of it felt pretty touristy but it was a different type of touristy that I hadn’t seen before. We spent most of our time in one of the larger malls, going from toy shop to bookstore to stationary store. Lizzi found a Japanese symbol dictionary she was looking for…thing was a tome the size of my head. The price was fittingly large as well. I think she’ll kindle it later.
As our taxi pulled up, Lizzi and I both whimpered. There was so much to see and we’d seen so little. But what can you see in a few hours? In that short time we explored the huge bay market, had an unforgettable lunch, and ventured into a new world tucked down the alleys and side streets of San Fran. I know I’ll be back here again.
San Francisco seems like the kind of city I’d love to visit over and over again, maybe even the kind I’d like to live in. Of all the cities I’ve visited in Cali, It is my favorite hands down.
For photos click me face:
Next up, I explore a couple corners of the Napa Valley proper!
Onward to Glory!