Monday, April 13, 2015

San Francisco: First "Family" Vacation

Thanks to Alaska Airlines' $42 sale on airfare, we were lucky enough to go on an impulse vacation to San Francisco!  Days after booking the flights and hotel, we found out we are expecting a baby too so this turned into our first family vacation!

Hotel Whitcomb: our home!  While the airfare was amazingly cheap, hotels were anything but.  We had to share a room with a hobo just to keep it under one paycheck.  We booked it right away when we saw a decent price...before looking it up on Google.  (Note: don't do that.  When we later typed 'Hotel Whitcomb' into Google, the first auto-finish suggestion was 'Hotel Whitcomb haunted'.)

(It really does look haunted, by the way.)

The lobby is gorgeous though!  It used to be an extremely fancy, highly rated hotel--it just hasn't been renovated in...well, ever.

Unfortunately, the area on Market Street where the hotel is located has gone downhill since its heyday.  When we got to our first trolley stop we noticed flames billowing from a trashcan across the street. 

Turns out someone set it on fire.  (Naturally.)  This is how the firemen left it.

Also in our first few minutes down by our hotel, we saw a homeless man running down the street yelling incomprehensibly; mid-stride, he grabbed the back of another man's electric wheelchair and pulled both the wheelchair and the old man in it to the ground.  That was the moment we determined to always be back in our hotel room before dark. 

The trolleys that went from our hotel out to Fisherman's Wharf were really fun!  Each one is an original trolley from different cities around the world.  They all still have the original paint work so you can tell where the one you are riding came from.

Port of San Francisco Ferry Building

We found the water!

Pier 39!

San Francisco takes public restrooms to a whole new level.  Self-cleaning after every use!

While walking down the street looking at shops, a bush jumped out at us yelling!  Somewhere on YouTube I am sure you can find Caitlin and I jumping a mile in the air in terror.  As soon as we came to our senses again, we realized there were people all around laughing and recording us on their phones.  Above you can see the culprit preparing for his next victims. 

Everywhere we travel, we try to bring back a wood animal for our growing collection.  It is an easy task in Mexico, but proved more difficult in San Francisco.  Fact: there are only so many miles you can walk, and so many shops you can scour in search of a wood animal before a pregnant lady will rebel and just sit down wherever she is.  (It was sheer irony, however, that she happened to give up and sit down on a giant wood animal.)

Next we took a bay cruise out to the Golden Gate bridge and around Alcatraz.

Famous San Francisco sea lions on the way out of port.


When we got back to our hotel that first night, it was hosting an apparent "men in head-to-toe black leather" convention.  We were pretty bummed that we left all our leather at home.

The second day we wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge again, so we found a bus line that took us all the way out there.  On the way out, we didn't realize that the bus wouldn't just magically stop at the best bridge lookout without us mentioning we wanted to get we just rode the bus all the way to the end of the line.  The end of the line turned out to be a beautiful beach though, so not all was lost!

We are quick learners, and managed to get off the bus at the right place on the way back at least.

The bridge is HUGE!

One, two... makes three!

After the bridge, we went to Alamo Park to see the "painted ladies" (iconic Victorian houses in the city).

City Hall

Day 3: back at Pier 39.

Fun story: Caitlin cannot keep her eyes open during pictures if the sun is shining somewhere in the world.  (Sure, this picture may actually look sunny, but I have similar pictures in the cloudy rain with a similar result.) 

Aquarium at Pier 39 was a little underwhelming, but the touch pond sting rays made up for it!

This little guy would literally come straight for Caitlin flapping his fin out of the water as if waving "pet me!"

Clam chowder in a bread bowl from Boudin for lunch!

Bread bowls are not the only shapes they make.

Lombard Street!

Turns out that you have to walk up a LOT of hills to get to the curviest street in also turns out that pregnant ladies don't enjoy walking up lots of hills...not even a little bit.  I  learned a lot about pregnant ladies' preferences on this trip.

From the top.

I made up for the hills by taking Caitlin to Ghirardelli Square immediately after.  It was a good move.

Strawberry chocolate ice cream sundaes make Caitlin happy.  Always.

From Ghirardelli Square we took the famous San Francisco streetcar to Chinatown.

They made me wear my backpack on my front while holding onto the streetcar.  I thought it was dumb and unnecessary...until we passed another streetcar going the other direction.  (They didn't engineer the track lines for very large people holding onto the sides.)

Transamerica Pyramid


Inspired by the countless Chinese menus thrust on us while walking the streets, we decided we needed real Chinese food for dinner... we walked to the coolest mall I have ever seen to get Panda Express from the food court!

We don't do well with cuisine experimentation.

Day 4: Golden Gate Park

The California Academy of Sciences (in the park) is awesome.

They have a rainforest exhibit with parrots, butterflies, and all sorts of other things!

And a huge aquarium in the basement.

And green stuff growing on the roof.

De Young Museum

The observatory tower at the de Young Museum (also in Golden Gate Park) is an awesome AND FREE place where you can see the entire city in all directions.

It also happened to be the second Tuesday of the month, which is free entrance day to the Botanical Garden.  I kept peaking through the gate to try to see as much as I could without going in; meanwhile Caitlin keeps pointing off to the side.  Finally she gives up on trying to get my attention and says, "Idiot, it's free today."

Redwoods in the park!

Japanese Tea Garden: not free.

We became public transit pros.

Day 5: Coit Tower!

Pier 39 and Alcatraz from above.

Please note two things: clouds and Caitlin's eyes.

Saints Peter and Paul Church

Waiting in line for Mama's!  Caitlin is the tiny one in the red coat at the very, very end.

Last stop before heading to the airport was the Exploratorium.

Infrared camera.  Finally there is proof that my nose is constantly freezing!

Giant bubble reflection.

And so soon, we were heading back to the hotel to check out.

Goodbye, Hotel Whitcomb!  It was such a fun trip!