a fuller life

adventures… eats… laughs… life

Red Sox Destination: San Francisco

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1In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, we set off on another adventure… and once again, because it involved a plane, we had to be at the airport long before it’s decent to be awake… so we could catch a flight to a real airport with more than one gate (OK, technically we have “four” but they all go out the same door)… and then off we go… about 14 hours in transit (in which we especially enjoyed that the tvs in the back half of the plane didn’t work for the 5.5 hour flight from Toronto to San Francisco, and the stewardesses gave up trying to figure out why fairly quickly), and a 4 hour time difference, and we’re in San Francisco and to our hotel (Marriott Marquis on 4th street) mid afternoon… and we’re pooped already…

We wander off to explore the city for a while, because if we rest now, we’re doomed for the trip… first thing we note is that home is currently a lot warmer than San Francisco… and since we live on the east coast of Canada… we didn’t really expect it to be warmer than California… oh well… we can handle whatever the weather throws at us, and we did…

3We wander around the area by our hotel… have supper at Max’s on the Square, a few blocks from our hotel and nothing fancy (decent food, portions are too big, menu is too big, large assortment of deserts)… including a very tasty strawberry shortcake… wander around some more… stumble upon a ½ price ticket booth in Union Square, where we purchase tickets to see Wicked the following night… I had always wanted to see that one, we haven’t been to a show in a while, and we had nothing planned for the next night… so it worked out perfectly. We were both too busy before leaving for this trip to check out anything above and beyond making sure we had our ball tickets and getting tickets to go to Alcatraz… called it an early night after a bit of store browsing so we could adapt to the time change…checked out a Whole Foods store too… we both really liked it, and we stopped there a couple more times en route to baseball games for snacks 🙂

The real day 1: Tasty breakfast (though overpriced, as one would expect from Marriott) at the hotel, and we grab a cab down to Pier 31/33 to take a trip out to Alcatraz… this was on my list of things to do/places to see for a very long time, so it was pretty exciting to get to cross this one off… I know next to nothing 2about the place, and have only seen it in shows and movies… but it was just one of those things I always wanted to see… Apparently there’s just one company (Alcatraz Cruises) that can actually stop on Alcatraz Island and everyone else just boats around it, so heads up if you are thinking of going there… we did the early bird tour and it was $28 PP… the ferry left the pier around 9:15 (which isn’t really early to us, especially since it would have been 1:15 in the time zone we were still in) and you could come back on any ferry you wanted… they go about every 30 mins until shortly after supper… or at least they did the day we were there… so the early bird route consisted of about 2 ferries full of people when we went, so that’s not really beating the crowd like 5they advertise… since another ferry came along just about right behind us, but it’s not the end of the world… we didn’t buy a map or a guide or anything, and we just wondered around on our own, which is always my preference… they had maps there for a dollar, but the site isn’t big enough to need a map (about 12 acres in total)… and audio guides were available in the price of the tour if you wanted them… I can’t look and listen at the same time… Greg partly listened, but the following the audio makes people congregate in the same places too much and then you get stuck…

A fair chunk of the island was fenced off when we were there as it is breeding grounds for seagulls and other birds, so that left a trail section in the front and a number of buildings you couldn’t get to… though several of them are just the4 remnants of buildings, so they likely wouldn’t let you in them anyways, birds or not… but they are also my favorite kind of buildings, and Greg always puts up with my need to take pictures of dilapidated things 🙂 We saw what remained of the Officer’s Club, the quartermaster wharehouse and power plant, industrial and laundry buildings, the guard tower, and the morgue. You can actually go inside the main prison and see the cell blocks, shower room, dining area, kitchen, warden’s office, recreation yard, isolation area, library, visitation area, and the armory (this area was also the military disciplinary barracks before Alcatraz was a penitentiary). We also saw the remnants of the warden’s house, staff housing, etc. There were lots of places on the island where little baby seagulls where chirping away, and I had as much fun watching them as visiting the site… Greg is excellent at spotting them.

7So after the ferry ride back to the pier, we walked down the Embarcadero to the old ferry terminal building, which is now a swanky market place. We didn’t go in to many of the shops, but we had some fish tacos and roasted red pepper fish chowder at the San Francisco Fish Company… and then we tried an organic donut with green tea icing from Pepples. I also snagged some organic dried mango as a snack for later… and there was a food/farmers’ market set up in front of the building, so we walked through that as we were leaving, and tried some cookies 🙂 Then we wandered down a bit futher and walked out one of the piers to watch some people fishing… and then we headed back up to the hotel.6

We rested a bit at the hotel, and then headed out to see Wicked. We were a bit tight for time, so supper ended up being cheapo pizza/pasta at some store in a mall… Our half price Wicked tickets were pretty good – a few rows back at Mezzanine level, with nothing (and fortunately no one) really in the way of our viewing… the set for the show was really great, and we both really enjoyed the show… it was raining when we left, so we booted it back the 4-5 blocks to our hotel pretty quick.

Day 2: We had a ballgame in the evening, but we had plenty of time to explore during the day. After another overpriced hotel breakfast, we decided to check out Chinatown. it was also only a couple of blocks from our hotel, 8and we were getting there as most places were opening. We stopped at a couple of jewelry stores, only because I’m on a mission to find a hair clip like the one I got in Japan… but no luck. We stopped at a neat little tea place and bought some green tea powder to bring home with us, and some beverages for the walk… Greg tried hot ginger honey tea, and I had some strawberry pearl ice tea (the one with the tapiocha pearls in it… pretty tasting, but awfully filling)… other than that, we mostly checked out markets… it was interesting to see the variety, and how much fresher and better looking produce they have than that we can get most of the year here. I’m not really down with the dried fins of animals that are getting killed just for their fins though.

After Chinatown, we checked out the ourdoor art show in Union Square and relaxed and did some people watching for a bit… then we checked out a mall nearby our hotel because it had a local chocolate store in it and because we like to go to stores that sell candles in other cities to see what trends they’re hitting on… but even better than all that, on 9the bottom floor of this mall we pretty much stumbled across a food court that puts a lot of our best restaurants (and we don’t really have many) to absolute shame… there was a dozen or so different options for food… Mediterranean, seafood, soups, vegan, Thai… etc etc… all of them touting fresh, locally sourced, organic ingredients… I had organic southwestern corn chowder and Greg had a club sandwich.

Another quick visit to the hotel to change, and we headed down to the ball park… the park was about 5-6 blocks from the park… mapquest claims its just over a mile, but having now walked it 6 times, and knowing how fast I walk 5 km just about daily at home, I know that’s not right… anyways, it was fine, the walk was easy… we went to Pete’s Tavern before the game – very close to the park… just about across the street… they were very short on servers, so the service was super slow… but the food was pretty good… Greg had a pulled pork sandwich and I had an open face turkey pot pie with cheddar biscuits… had a couple of beers too of course.., it was a neat pub tho… great place for 11watching sports, and love the high ceilings and round bar… then over to the park… the park is pretty nice, but being only 10 years old, it doesn’t really have much personality… we got there early so we could check things out… we walked around to McCovey cove to see the kayakers, checked out the marina behind the park, and then headed in… watched a bit of batting practice, found our seats (section 129, row 39 – so right field), had some beer… it had been warm enough down that way until the fog started to come back in, and then we were freezing!! Lost that game, and lost our second baseman to injury to boot… arg!

Day 3: We had breakfast at the hotel again, and then we pretty much spent the rest of the day at the ball field. We 10had to be down there at 9:15 for our tour of the field (included in the Red Sox Destination package we did)… It was after 9:30 when the Destination guys showed up with the AT&T field tour guides… we split into 3 groups and got shown around the field… we started with them showing us the Yankee line on the floor inside… the guide told us that when the field first opened, the first couple of teams had no problem finding their way from the door they come in to the door to the visitor’s club house (it’s literally just around the corner from where they come in)… but when the Yankees first came there, a bunch of them got lost… so they painted a yellow line on the floor from the door they come in to the door of the club house and they call it the Yankee line… we got to see the indoor batting cages, and to go out on to the field and go in the visitor’s dug out… we saw the press boxes, and all the displays at club level… and then we went to our reception… normal food… there was chicken, salads, hot dogs, fish cakes, homemade chips, and cookies… and an open bar for a couple of hours… so we sat around and had some beer and ate… and then we got to do a signing/picture/QA session with Marco Scutaro… listening to what the players have to say is interesting if they get asked interesting questions, but this time they didn’t really (where are you from, who are your friends on the team, is Pedroia ok)… we’re also not the type that care about getting our picture taken with a player or about getting something signed, but when everyone in the entire group is doing it, we didn’t want to seem like assholes… so Greg got his hat signed and I got our visitor pass signed… as an aside, our destination package also included game-used balls and jerseys and a red sox magazine…

13After the session, they kicked us out of the park for an hour until the gates opened for the game… so we just went and found a bench and watched the boats and stuff until it was time to go back in… and then back in for batting practice… in this field, they rope off the seats in certain sections behind both dug outs and you can’t get to them unless you are actually sitting in them and have the ticket to prove it… but we were able to watch some of the warming up/practice… they also don’t let you back to your seat while someone is at bat… kind of nice not always having people walk in front of you actually… Before the game started, the Giants had a ceremony to retire Monte Irvin’s number, and some famous former Giants were there (including Willie Mays)… that’s the second one of these we have been at a park for (a few years ago, we were at Fenway when they retired Peski’s #)… We won this game, but lost Buckholtz to injury early in the game…

We had tickets to go to a cancer benefit at some pub after the game, but we were tired and decided to go back to the hotel and then go out for a nice dinner since it was our anniversary…. so we went to Puccini and Pinetti a few blocks from our hotel… delicious food…I had Tuscan lasagna and Greg had spaghetti and meatballs, and then we shared the best ever bread pudding for desert… then back to the hotel after that.12

Day 4: We had another game today, but we went down to Pier 39 for a while first. The Pride Parade was going on in San Francisco today, and we had gotten a note in our hotel that there would be an extra 350,000 people in the city for it… and it was close to our hotel, so while it would have been interesting to see, we had to be in another part of the city later and wanted to get there easily… we walked around Pier 39 for a bit, went to see the sea lions… and then we did a boat tour out to see the Golden Gate Bridge… we’d only caught glimpses of it so far because of the fog… and the weather was beautiful so we thought we’d give it a go… it was neat to see, and the weather was great, so that was nice… we also sailed around Alcatraz, so we got to see some views of that that we hadn’t seen on our tour… after that, we wanted to catch a cab to the ballpark (it’s a 3 mile walk, it was hot for the first time since we got there, and I was just being lazy), but the pride parade traffic had the traffic in that direction backed up so bad, we ended up walking it faster than cars were taking to get there… I got a sunburn that day from only a couple of hours outside… through sunblock… that was really the only hot time we had in San Francisco though… ate some crappy ballpark food at the game… won this one, but our catcher broke his thumb… San Francisco was pretty bad luck injury wise for an already busted up team, that’s for sure (the other catcher has since broke his foot at well)…

14Back to the hotel after the game, and then we headed out to Johnny Foley’s for supper… pretty great food for a pub… I had chicken, champ and veg, and Greg had cottage pie… and we shared a fresh berry dessert afterwards… wandered around more after supper, got some cupcakes from Cako to try (lemon raspberry and chocolate peanut butter)… got some hot drinks and went back to the hotel to relax for the rest of the night… we were starting to get pretty pooped at this point

Day 5: Our last day in San Francisco… had breakfast at the hotel and then back to the room to pack… we stored our bags at the hotel and decided to check out the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for a couple of hours since we didn’t have to head to the airport until late afternoon… some interesting pieces there, but I don’t always get modern art, and I’m not pretentious enough to stand around having bloated conversations about what I think the artist intended… I either like it or I don’t… was neat to see a couple of Warhols pieces.. and Jasper Johns… I really liked a couple of pieces by Jay DeFeo 15and one by a young artist named Leslie Shows… the ceiling of the museum was windows, which meant fun shadow/light/line pictures for me… after the SFMOMA, we had some lunch at that awesome food court again (I had organic smoked split pea soup and Greg has a shrimp sandwich), and then back to the hotel to gather our luggage and then to the airport…

Waited around in the airport for a couple of hours in a convenient window seat where Greg could watch the planes take off (pretty busy spot actually)… flight from San Fran to Vancouver was uneventul on a super nice new plane (with working tvs!)… Greg started watching Shutter Island thinking he could finish it on the next flight, but there were different movies on the next one…

The Vancouver airport, at least when you have to go through customs, is STUPID! Cleared customs, got our bags, went out a door…and then had no clue where to go next… and we travel enough that we can easily find our way around airports… but this one is messed up… so we 16followed some signs with a Canada flag on them (lots of signs are in some Asian language… I won’t pretend I have a clue which one)… asked people three times along the way where we’re supposed to drop off our baggage again… and finally found the damn place IN BEHIND a ticket sales counter for Air Canada… stupid!! After that, it was fine… and fortunately we were able to get our boarding pass for our last flight there, since we weren’t able to get it in San Francisco… we’d need it later… Had something to eat in the airport, sat around… at 11:00, the lights were still off on the plane for we were leaving on and our flight disappeared from the list of flights.. great… apparently we were waiting on a pilot… so we finally left around 1am after 4 hours or so there… most of the plane got rebooked in the air since they missed their connections… I slept this flight for the most part… when we got to Montreal, we had about 20 minutes to make our connection… and we were in the last seats of the plane (damn rewards flights)… we talked to the stewardess who checked to find out our gate had changed… and another one announced to please stay seated if you don’t have to catch an immediate connection… about 1/2 the plane ignored this announcement, but more stayed seated than I thought would… and once we got off the plane, we booked for the next gate… because anyone who lives in the maritimes knows that the gates for real cities and the gates for us are NO 17WHERE NEAR EACH OTHER… and for those who don’t, the Maritime gates are always off in some horrible section of the airport with one shitty store that closes at supper and a bathroom on the same floor if you’re lucky… but we made the flight… and so did our luggage (and the flight ended up being delayed because there was so much luggage to load… we only had one each, so it wasn’t our fault 🙂 We were back home around 1:00, after about 18 hours in transit

So, as per usual, another great trip… San Francisco seems like a great city, and I’d love to go back. The people there are friendlier than anywhere I have ever been… random people you meet, people in bars and restaurants, etc… there’s also more people there begging for more than anywhere I’ve ever been… and apparently the cost of stuff has been inflated because they aren’t asking for change anymore… they want $5, $10.. etc … normally they back off if you ignore them or say no, but there’s always a couple of weirdos… but I can assure you, I’m not giving money I worked hard for to someone who’s wearing clothes that cost more than mine… by a lot

18We were SUPER impressed by the food there and all the organic/locally grown options that were available both in the grocery stores and in restaurants… there was a mushroom store in the old ferry terminal building that I would love to have access to on a daily basis… since we’re lucky to have 2-3 types of mushrooms available at any given time, most of which drive a long way to get here…

We didn’t ever feel unsafe walking around the city… and we definitely did a lot of walking… I’m guessing between 10-20 miles every day… good exercise for sure… and thankfully we were in a flat area 🙂 There’s lots of things I would like to get back to see… but since we were there for ballgames, I was super happy with all of what we did get to see…the weather is crazy, so it’s kind of like home…we each brought a hoody and a jacket, but we each bought another hoody just so we wouldn’t have to wear the same stuff for 5 days…19

So that’s that… next up, another quick trip to Boston (for ball and visiting) in August… and we’re back to the Caribbean in January… safe travels all…

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