We are back from our trip to San Francisco and have recovered enough from the laundry and the INSANE RE-ENTRY ISSUES of my children for me to edit photos and whatnot. Oh, what a lovely time we had! I think we made the trip too long (although with good reason-- Rob's conference was 5 days and we took a few extra days to see his family; add two days for the plane trips and all the sudden you have a LONG trip) but nevertheless it was really fun. We didn't rent a car and just used public transportation, which was definitely the right decision. Driving and parking in a dense, urban city is utter misery to start with, and it turns out the girls loved the streetcars and cable cars and commuter train and even the buses. Violet especially wishes, I think, that we could do all our transportation WITHOUT a car seat and WITH entertaining strangers. Public transportation is better for kids than car travel, after all. I need to figure out where we can get from our house with Salt Lake City's not-super-awesome public transportation system.
We ate so much wonderful, delicious food during our trip. Dim sum in Chinatown, wonderful Mexican food in the Mission District (actually we ate in the Mission a LOT because there were so many wonderful but also kid-friendly, not-too-fancy places to eat), grilled sausages, Peruvian, Salvadoran, fancy brunches, amazing ice cream... I could go on and on. One evening when Rob's parents had come into the city to see us, they babysat the girls and Rob and I went out on a date. We went to a speakeasy, with an unmarked entrance door and a password and secret passages and everything (it would have been even more fun if I weren't pregnant and could really drink but still, it was fabulous) and then had seven courses of beef at a ridiculously tiny, wonderful Vietnamese restaurant. I found this list in a local San Francisco magazine when I was researching our trip that was very helpful in deciding where to go to eat (although, as you would expect, many of the places on that list are way too fancy and/or inappropriate for kids). I put all the places I thought we should try as bookmarks on Yelp before we left, and then wherever we were in the city, I could look on my phone and see what was close by. Brilliant! Speaking of phones, I will now sing the praises of having a smart phone to anyone who will listen when it comes to navigating an unfamiliar city. Google Maps was my very best friend, and their public transportation and walking options for directions worked beautifully. Seriously, it went absolutely without any problems.
It rained a lot while we were there, which was kind of a bummer. Poor Rob's parents got some of the worst rain during their days in the city, and some long-time friends of Rob's (and now mine) who also came into the city to see us got pretty wet as well. Fortunately, it was usually just on-and-off rain with several hours or a whole day of sunshine interspersed here and there. Grace and I walked around with ridiculously curly, frizzy-yet-flat hair in the humidity (have I told you that I think Violet's hair is going to be straight-ish?) and I will admit that doing buses with a stroller AND umbrellas with rain coming down was challenging. I tried to avoid the stroller as much as possible on the rainy days and just go to places with minimal walking on our route and/or make Rob carry Violet if he wasn't in his conference. (For the record, we wished we had brought the Ergo; we never use it with Violet at home anymore but it would have been helpful on the trip.) I was wishing by the end of the trip that I had a nicer stroller (I only have cheap strollers) and Grace was wishing by the end of the trip that we didn't make her walk so much every day. But on the whole, on the non-rainy days, getting around was not tough at all.
And oh, did we get around! I am really happy with the things we got to see. We didn't see Pier 39 or Ghirardelli Square or some of the über-touristy places, but that's not really our style anyway. We saw the bridges and the Ferry Building, Fisherman's Wharf (the part with the actual fishing boats and disgusting but captivating puddles), the Palace of Fine Arts, Zeum (which was a big hit) and the Exploratorium (which was not). We got into those last two places free with our membership to the Salt Lake City planetarium; I think being a member of a local museum/planetarium/whatnot like that is such a good deal because you can use them when you travel at places with reciprocal deals set up. Where we did NOT get in free was the Academy of Sciences, which houses the good aquarium and a planetarium and a rainforest thing and whatnot. It was going to cost $80 to get in for the four of us! Can you believe that? We did not go in. Boo on you, Academy of Sciences...
Our last full day in San Francisco was sunny and beautiful and we spent most of the day in Golden Gate Park, which is so huge that there was no way to really see the whole thing. We mostly walked around the Japanese Tea Garden and Spreckels Lake and had a wonderful ending to a wonderful trip. Thanks for showing us a good time, San Francisco!