Thursday, July 12, 2018

San Francisco Trip Report - Part 2

I'm ready to finish my trip report from our June trip to San Francisco.  Part 1 covered most of our time in San Francisco.  So this post will cover our last day in San Francisco plus our time in Napa Valley. 

Tuesday - We had an early reservation for the ferry over to Alcatraz Island.  There was a sign that said all of the slots for the day were gone so definitely reserve in advance if this is something you are interested in.  We got to the ferry dock 30 minutes in advance and the line had already started for our 9:30 departure.  The boat trip itself was pretty quick, maybe just 10 minutes.

There were a couple options on the island.  There were special tours with in-person guides about the military history of the island and there was an audio tour with headphones about the prison itself.  That seemed to be what most people were interested in and that's what we wanted to check out to.  So we followed the crowd walking up the hill to the old prison building.  It was pretty crowded already and we were on the second boat that had gone to the island that morning.  So if you want to minimize crowds, definitely go early.

The audio tour was really well done.  The narration was good and they had added sound effects for extra depth.  But it was also pretty sad.  And weird to see people posing and smiling for selfies in such a somber environment.

After a couple hours, we took the ferry back to San Francisco and took a lyft to the Mission district.  We were pretty hungry so we stopped at a random taqueria for lunch and then walked over to the mission.  It was really cool to see it and learn about its history.  It's the oldest building in San Francisco and was there since before the city built up around it.  It's also where the only cemetery in San Francisco is.

This is what the land around the Mission looked like when it was first built

We also enjoyed walking around the area and checking out the street art in the Mission District.

After that, we walked over to the Castro for fun shopping and relaxing with a drink.  It was cool to see it all decked out for Pride, which was the following weekend.

And that's mostly it for Tuesday.  We were pretty tired after all that walking around so we went to the room for a nap and we just had dinner at the restaurant in the hotel that evening.  We did go out for a little bit after dinner to check out Union Square and hit up a random bar for a drink, and we also saw the cable car turn around on our way back to the hotel.

Wednesday - This was our day to drive up to Napa.  We started out the morning at the Ferry Building for breakfast since my mom wanted to try the vegan donuts.  They were so good!  After that we went to the railway museum since it was nearby and free.  It was tiny and didn't take long at all but we got some fun photos and cool souvenirs.

After that, we packed up and got in the car to head to Napa.  My mom was with us and she doesn't drink alcohol so we didn't do any wine tastings while we were there but we still had plenty to do.  About an hour from San Francisco, we hit the city of Napa and made a stop for lunch at Oxbow Public Market.  They had a place that had a vegan pizza offering and also a taco place that had multiple veggie taco options, that could also be veganized.  And lots of fun little stores.  We enjoyed browsing as well as an olive oil tasting.  We bought a jalapeno olive oil and a mango vinegar that we've been enjoying at home.

After that, we went up to our hotel in Calistoga, at the north end of Napa Valley.  So I think it took maybe another 45 minutes to get there.  It was a nice hotel with a natural hot spring on site.  The pool was actually fed by the waters from the hot spring and it was really a fun experience.  We spent some time at the pool in the afternoon and then got ready for our dinner at a nearby restaurant, SolBar.  This dinner ranks up there with one of the best meals I've ever had.  It was amazing.  Their menu doesn't look that vegetarian friendly but I called them in advance and they had a separate plant based menu. We also had a seat on their amazing patio, and that atmosphere was just perfect with impeccable service.  I would highly recommend this place to anyone in Napa Valley.

Thursday - The other nice thing about the hotel was it was really close to town.  So I got in a nice run in the morning and explored the main street of the town while it was still pretty empty, and then met up with my dad for a 5k walk.

We had leftover donuts for breakfast and then went to the spa for massages.  What a relaxing way to start the day!  After that, we met up with my brother and sister-in-law for lunch at the hotel restaurant.  They also didn't seem to have too many vegan options but were able to make up an off menu cous cous and vegetable dish for my mom that she said was amazing.

After lunch, it was time for another nap.  You can tell that Napa was the relaxing portion of our vacation!  And then we got ready for the wedding.  It was held at this really cool castle/winery.  Again, the service was really great.  They gave tours of the castle and winery and then we all went in for dinner in the main room.  They had a stuffed zucchini for the veggie option and it was delicious!  There was some dancing in the wine cellar after dinner and then off to bed.

Friday - This was our last full day in California as we were flying out Saturday afternoon.  That meant we had to make our way back towards the airport.  We started out with breakfast at the hotel restaurant and some more pool time.  We then checked out and went back toward San Francisco.  We hit a couple sights on the way, a local geyser and a petrified wood forest.  They were both fun little stops but I wouldn't recommend going out of your way for them.

We went back to the Oxbow Public Market for lunch and Mike and I also stopped at the distillery at the market for a tasting.  The guy did a great job of explaining their different products and we really enjoyed the tasting.

We were staying in Oakland that night since our flight our Saturday was out of the Oakland airport.  We had another amazing vegan meal Friday evening at Millennium.  It was super crowded and we have to wait quite a while in spite of our reservation, but once we got seated the service was great and the food was delicious, and came out quickly :)  I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone in the area.

So that was our trip to San Francisco!  We had a great time and it was a nice mix of on the go touring in San Francisco and relaxation in Napa.

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