San Francisco is up there on my list of favorite U.S. cities. It reminds me of Austin in so many ways: a culture of open-mindedness and acceptance, diversity, and, of course, good eats. I had a fun, super-packed three days in SF with my family. Here's what we did.
We landed in San Francisco around noon, checked into our hotel, and went to grab some lunch. San Fran has one of the best food scenes in America, so obviously I was excited for every single meal! First meal: Thai food. I know I always claim that Houston has the best Asian food around but... this was the best Thai I've had in a very long time. The restaurant was called Osha, and I ordered the Pad Kee Mao, a vegetarian dish with stir fried rice noodles. I also tried my mom's Pad Thai – the litmus test of good Thai food – and I wasn't disappointed. Not too sweet or salty… just right. Shout out to Yelp.
After lunch, we rested for a bit and then took the trolley to Fisherman's Wharf. Guess where we went first? Ghiradelli Chocolate Square. There are lots of things I love in this world… and one of them is chocolate, especially of the Ghiradelli variety. I bought a tin of dark chocolate squares with sea salt. How could you not? At Ghiradelli Square, I got a sea salt caramel hot chocolate and shared expresso ice cream with my mom. Yummmm.
We roamed around Fisherman's Wharf and took in all the sights. I wonder how San Franciscans feel about the constant stream of tourists in their city. I heard every language imaginable spoken on the wharf.
In the evening, we went to a seafood restaurant for dinner. I had lobster bisque, fried calamari – another favorite thing, and linguine with mussels. Basically the highlights of San Francisco for me are food-related… And, you know, spending time with my family! Of course.
I'm working out hardcore when I get back to Austin. Seriously.
After dinner, we went to Boudin's Bakery and Cafe, the Holy Grail of bread making. It was shame that we didn't get anything, but witnessing it was enough. Boudin had an intense bakery with a conveyor belt of baskets to deliver their intensely crafted artisan breads. They even had breads in the shape of crabs, turtles, and koalas. Yes, koalas.
Day 2 consisted of a full day at Yosemite National Park. Since it was 3 hours away, we took a tour bus there and back. Our bus was culturally diverse; we had tourists from the U.S., Spain, Puerto Rico, and – you'll never believe it – Brazil. It's weird snatching up bits and pieces of Portuguese everywhere I go. It's like having a subconscious language radar that's always on.
When we got to Yosemite, it was threatening to be one of those bad family vacations – the ones where everyone is hot, tired, and cranky. After walking around the uber touristy attractions, my brother Donny and I decided to rent bikes. It was the best decision we made that day.
Biking through Yosemite Park was stunning: granite mountains, blue sky, and frolic-ready fields. I think to really appreciate Yosemite Park, you need to spend a few days biking and camping there. One day isn't enough, but I'm beyond grateful to have been able to share that experience with my little brother.
After our bus ride back to San Francisco, Donny got to pick where we would go for dinner. Since he loves Italian food, we went to Little Italy. We chose a random restaurant at the corner of Stockton and Green, and it turned out to be delicious. Donny's fetuccine alfredo was the best, and I got a walnut pesto pizza with cherry tomatoes. Afterwards, we went across the street to Mara's Italian Pastry to get a cannoli. The best cannoli I've ever tried was at Mike's in Boston. Mara's was a close second.
On our last day, my mom and I decided that we would do everything that my brother wanted to, which included going to the zoo. So, while my dad went to visit some friends in San Jose, I took my mom and brother to the San Francisco Zoo. (My constant solo travels have drastically improved my ability to read a map and to navigate public transportation.) We spent a few hours there taking pictures of animals and awkward selfless – my brother and I are experts – and probably walking 7 miles around the zoo. For lunch, we went to an Indian-Pakistani restaurant for some good curry, tandoori chicken, and mango lassi.
After lunch, my mom, brother, and I walked around the famous Golden Gate Park. We admired the beautiful scenery, took some more pictures, and walked some more. Later, I went to the de Young Fine Arts Museum located in the park. I've glad that he enjoyed the exhibit as much as I did. can I just say that my 10-year-old brother is the most entertaining travel companion ever? It's awesome being able to do cultural things with him like appreciate art museums, play hangman in Portuguese, and read Byron together. I think I've making him abnormal...
Finally, we ended our last day with a French dinner at my brother's request. What a cultured kid.
San Fran, you been great. Aside from touristy Yosemite food, you have not disappointed at all. And now I'm going to run and go work out like there's no tomorrow.