Sunday, June 22, 2014

A wonderful time
















The Bear and I are home from our little getaway to San Francisco. We had a lovely time! We left early on Tuesday morning. The small Bears stayed with my in-laws, starting on Monday night so that we could leave the house bright and early. We had a direct flight from Albuquerque to Oakland, across the Bay from San Francisco. We were using the Bear's mileage rewards on Southwest Airlines; he travels a fair amount for work and we decided to take advantage of the rewards for ourselves. He also had some hotel and car-rental rewards, so it was quite an affordable trip.

In San Francisco, we spent three nights at the Cow Hollow Motor Inn, which was recommended by my blogging friend, Carol, and it was a great place to stay. This hotel is on Lombard Street, which is one of the most famous streets in the city. This street has a section of hairpin turns, zigzag-shaped, on a very steep hill. We were a few blocks from that famous stretch, though, in a bustling neighborhood that had both commercial and residential elements. On a vacation, I like to try living like a local, either staying in a rental property or in a hotel that is situated where the people really live. Obviously, it's still mostly being a tourist, but it's interesting to eat in the local restaurants, visit the stores, have coffee in the neighborhood cafe, walk up and down the blocks looking at the houses...it's a lot of fun for me.

This neighborhood was no exception; we could walk one block down the street from our hotel to a shopping strip on a side street. Here, we had good coffee and tea, delicious pizza, sandwiches and ice cream and even did a little shopping. Nothing too fancy; I grabbed something in the tiny Walgreens and poked around in a few shops without buying anything. One of them was Paper Source, which I'd never visited before. Oh my goodness, what a store! I could have spent all day on the paper display-wall alone. And the stationery, the ink-stamps, the washi tape! The Bear likes this kind of stuff too and we didn't want to leave. The best part of staying near the residential neighborhood was the chance to walk around and check out the houses. We did the same thing the last time we were in San Francisco, almost ten years ago. I'm sure we couldn't afford to live there, but the architecture captures my imagination.

We did lots of touristy things too, including a long meander through Golden Gate Park, where I especially enjoyed the beautiful, well-tended Rose Garden as well as open meadow spaces full of tiny daisies and buttercups. We visited the de Young Museum, which was fantastic. My favorite area was the Department of Textile Arts. It was amazing. I think I'll write more about it another time, but suffice it to say it was exactly my bag. They currently have a breathtaking exhibit on lace. Just lace, through the ages and made by many different cultures. We also visited Chinatown, which is always an interesting experience. There are so many little shops to duck into. Having been there before, I was a little choosier about shops, since they all seem to sell the same kinds of things. But they're surprising too; it's interesting to see cheap tchotchkes alongside majorly expensive items. I bought a tiny plastic Buddha statue for 99 cents, to put in our printer's tray display in the living room. We ate lunch in a dim sum restaurant. I'd never had dim sum before, but it was fun! Chinatown is really pretty. It's color and noise all around you.

We spent a whole day on the Fisherman's Wharf. We visited the Ferry Marketplace in the morning, taking in the farmer's market and all the stands selling locally-grown produce, meats and cheeses, baked goods and prepared foods like tacos and barbecue. We ate a good sandwich with cured Italian meats and shared an ice cream cone and two exquisite macarons. Then we started walking: we wanted to see the rest of the Wharf over the course of the day, before making our way back down to board the boat to Alcatraz Island in early evening. I'd seen the Wharf before, on that other trip years ago, but only the northern end, near the Ghirardelli building. The Wharf is a lot longer than I'd realized! We walked and walked and walked. We ate more too; dinner was clam chowder in a sourdough bread-bowl at Alioto's, with a snack or two along the way. Hey, it was a long day and we marched for hours. The tour of Alcatraz was really interesting. I had no idea what to expect but it was the perfect combination of history and spookiness. We had a rare opportunity to explore the uppermost floor of the prison, which was once the inmate hospital. Believe me when I tell you that this place was scary. They still have some primitive-looking equipment up there, the (lead-based) paint is peeling off the walls, the windowpanes are broken out in many places with the wind howling through them. Yikes...I'm getting all shivery just writing about it. I recommend it highly, though. It was incredibly fascinating and well worth the ticket price.

We drove back across the bridge to Oakland on Friday morning, staying there overnight to be near the airport. I tentatively suggested seeing whether they had an IKEA store in the area. I'd never been to one and I've been dying to go for years now. I thought he'd laugh, but the Bear was completely on board. And thus, I visited IKEA for the first time. I can't believe that place! Up until this point, I'd only bought my little 99-cent plastic Buddha as a souvenir for myself, in addition to small gifts for the children from Chinatown. You'll think I'm crazy, but my souvenirs mostly came from IKEA. I only bought things I could easily pack in my travel bag. I'll have to show you another time, and share more of my impressions of this fabulous store. All of you with IKEA stores in close proximity have my undying envy.

The laundry is almost done, the kids are settling back in at home (they were only two blocks away and came back every morning for chicken duty, but I think they missed their beds), and I've already hit the grocery store. I missed my small Bears. We're having a quiet day at home together before the Bear needs to travel for work again this week. I'm so glad we were able to reap a benefit of his work-travel by having a nice little trip, just the two of us. It was wonderful to be mostly off the clock - sleeping in, eating when we were hungry, free to come and go in the evenings. I loved talking over coffee, sharing small plates of food, walking hand-in-hand, laughing a lot. I love him so very much.

41 comments:

  1. Welcome back! I'm glad you had such a good time. I enjoyed your pictures. My favorite is the one with broken glass - gets the imagination going!

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  2. It sounds like an absolutely fantastic trip! I remember having the same reaction to my first Paper Source and IKEA - especially IKEA; I still thumb through their (really thick) catalogs and get so excited looking at all the storage containers. Thank you for sharing a few snapshots of your visit with us!

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  3. Your trip sounds wonderful :-) I have to admit to loving Ikea but since we moved or nearest store is a two hour drive away. I shall look forward to seeing your purchases
    Tracey xxx

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  4. It sounds amazing! I am so jealous. You know that John and I spend out honeymoon in San Francisco and we have such warm memories of that city. Your photos are wonderful, bathed in light and colour, and you captured the spirit and bustle of the place so well. I'm really glad you had such a great time.

    You know, I have an IKEA 15 minutes from me so, if you ever wanted to pop over and visit, we could go there every day...just saying. xx

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  5. That sounds like a good trip. I had my eye on those macarons..

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  6. I love the last photo. Your trip sounds amazing, something special about heading off on a plane with the one you love. Did you know there is NO Ikea in New Zealand, terrible I know! Have a wonderful week xo

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  7. Your pictures are lovely! I am so glad you had a wonderful time away with your husband. I have never visited San Francisco, but hope to some day. I love the look of your cappuccino. Oh, and I am so happy you were able to visit Ikea. We have a store one hour away, but I don't get there as often as I would like.

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  8. A precious post, Jennifer...I'm so glad you made good memories on your SF trip :) This may not make you feel any better, but even though I have an IKEA 20 minutes away, you have had the pleasure of enjoying parts of SF that I have not! xx

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  9. What a wonderful trip and fabulous time you both had! I spent a lot of time in those places while attending MacWorld Expo 4 or 5 times. A bunch of us would share a room at the St. Francis Hotel - what a neat place! I really enjoyed reliving it again with you. We have an IKEA just a half hour from us and love it, but hubby refuses to browse around with me. I think I need a trip their with my sister. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  10. Fabulous Jennifer and loved the whole read and pictures xoxo

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  11. Now that is what I am talking about!!!! It has been ages since the hubs and I have been on a trip and after reading your post I am convinced we need to do this! The amount of things you got in is amazing! And that art exhibit sounds like my bag too... Looking forward to hearing more about that! Glad that you both had a wonderful time!!!! Cheers! Nicole xoxo

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  12. What a wonderful getaway. We also enjoy being right in the center of daily life whenever we travel to a foreign city/country. Makes getting out and about so much more interesting. I love dim sum! There's a restaurant in Dubai just for that and it is absolutely fantastic! Yum! I can't believe you've never been in an Ikea. We actually have one here. I love it for candles and postcards and frames, especially. And at Christmastime can get some really nice things for good prices. Have a great week. Tammy

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  13. That must have been a fantastic trip ! Really magnificent photos....

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  14. What a lovely trip! I've bookmarked this posts lest I ever get to go to San Francisco, you never know. It sounds great and like it all came together. Laughing at the thought of you discovering Ikea for the first time! It's quite addictive, probably just as well your not too close! Heather X

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  15. What a lovely post, I really enjoyed reading about your trip, and you've sold me on San Francisco it sounds wonderful, you never know we might get back over the pond one day. Beautiful photo's as well.

    I have never been to an Ikea either, it is on my 60 things to do before I'm 60 list. I have many things from Ikea, either bought online or picked up by friends when they go, but never been myself. There is one about 3 hours away, I will get there one day, but I think I will need to hire a van for all the stuff I will buy! It is so cheap, I have just bought a little 2 seater sofa from them for less than a lot of people spend on a weekly shop.

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  16. Sounds like a wonderful trip, San Fransisco is somewhere I'd love to visit one day. Glad you both had such a good time. CJ xx

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  17. What a wonderful trip, and how lovely that you got so much grown up time alone together. Alcatraz fascinates me, I'd love to take that tour, it does sound a very eerie place though. We have an Ikea nearby but we very rarely visit, it's always so crowded and you have to work your way through the whole store in order to get out once you're in. I must be the only person who doesn't have any Ikea furniture in my house.

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  18. What a wonderful trip!!! Alone time is always so precious!!! Someday I would love to visit San Francisco!!! Love the photo of the bridge in the far distance!!! Alcatraz sounds creepy but it one of those must do things just like our Robben Island!!! Have a great fun filled happy and fab week!!!
    Love
    AMarie xxx

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  19. You have had a great trip, Jennifer. I have never been to San Francisco, but would love to. You have captured the spirit of the place very well indeed with your words and pictures. So many lovely sights, but I do love the white marble lady statue - she can come and live in my garden!

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  20. Wow - it sounds like you had a wonderful time. Lovely to see your photos and read your words to gain an impression of your trip. Such a wonderful opportunity for you both. J9 x

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  21. So glad you have had a nice holiday! Your photos are great! Love the paintings with the statue in the middle! Hope summer hides some other lovely getaways like this!
    Olympia

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  22. Fantastic photo's Jennifer, thank you for sharing and making me feel quite envious with your tales of your holiday, I'm so glad that you had such a lovely time. :)

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  23. WOW! Thank you for taking us with you on your little vacation. I've never been to San Francisco and you make it sound very lovely. The pictures are great too. Welcome home. I'm sure the Little Bears were happy to see you. :-)
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  24. Hey Jennifer,
    What a wonderful trip you and the bear had. I have always wanted to visit San Francisco, partly because of our photos capture the vibrancy and colour you described. I'm with you on the IKEA front. The nearest one to me is in Bristol, about three and a half hours away. I get very giddy whenever I know that I'll be going. If you do ever get to stay with Gillian, could I tag along to IKEA too?
    Leanne xx

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  25. Sorry I think part of my comment has been deleted!! What it was supposed to say was that the film What's Up Doc? instilled a desire to visit San Francisco, and that your photos capture the colour and vibrancy that you described in your post. I think my computer is having a moment xx

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  26. I am glad you had a lovely holiday Jennifer. The photos look really nice. I particularly like the macarons photo, so colourful. I visited SF when I was about 20, which was in the last millennium and I would love to see how it has changed.I live less than 10 min from Ikea and if you ever decide to visit Scotland, we could have free coffee there every morning. Our house is big enough for 4 bears. Have a lovely week. x

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  27. Your trip sounds just fabulous, Jennifer - San Francisco is still on my list of places I'd like to visit, so thanks for sharing all your lovely pics and tales of your travels. I love wandering around Ikea too - we're lucky enough to have two within a 30 minute drive, and I regularly look for an excuse to go. Glad your little bears were safe & sound whilst you were away too, enjoy your time back together again & have a happy week.
    Hugs xx

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  28. How exciting, your trip sounds wonderful! I love San Francisco Jennifer, and out of all of the places we have travelled, this is one place I want to go back to. Just reading your blog has made me long to be back there! I love Alcatraz, it is so interesting to listen to the history of that place and also to learn about the inmates. And I know the crooked street you mean, it is so beautiful. I am sure we actually drove down it...but I cannot remember now as it was quite a few years ago! China town is interesting, I found it to be very busy and noisy, the hustle and bustle of it was fascinating. I am glad you had a lovely time, I bet the small bears are happy you are back. Have a great week! :)

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  29. How wonderful to take a little break together, it sounds like you had a wonderful time.

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  30. I'm so glad you two had such a wonderful getaway! I think it's so important for couples with children to have time away together once in awhile. I love San Francisco...my husband and I went there for our 25th anniversary almost 5 years ago. We didn't go to those museums you mentioned, nor did we take the boat to Alcatraz, but we visited the other sites you mentioned. I have a Paper Source store 25 min. away and IKEA a 45 min. drive. :-)

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  31. We had an IKEA when I lived in Seattle, but it was a mad house all the time, I never had enough patience to wait over a half an hour just to park :) It's a fun store though. I haven't had great dim sum in so long, I am super jealous. San Francisco is one of my favorite cities I went there about every two years when I was younger. It's a beautiful place to visit, and your photos are gorgeous!

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  32. What a lovely post, it sounds (and looks) like you had the best of times. I've never been to Ikea, but it's on my wishlist!

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  33. So lovely that you could get away together and I'm happy the time was so good for you both; lovely job with your pics Jennifer, xoJoy

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  34. Loved seeing your pictures, Jennifer. Definitely made me want to go back again soon! You did a lot of the same things we have done, but we have never gone on the Alcatraz tour, and I want to do that on our next trip. I am so glad you had such a good time!

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  35. I'll bet you had a GREAT time!
    Well deserved...
    So....you are an IKEA virgin, eh Jennifer?
    I have 2 within about 15 minutes...love it there!
    Enjoy your week...
    Cheers!
    Linda :

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  36. What a great time you had!! Sans les enfants made it all special & romantic I'm sure ;) You put that little 99 cent Buddha on your printer's tray, and forget all about the fact that I have three Ikea stores within an hour's drive of my home. Seriously. I have Ikea overload from sending my daughter to university. I think it's cute that you are new to the store ... awww ;) Enjoy your week. Wendy x

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  37. Your break away sounds so lovely Jennifer, I'm really glad you had a great time. Your photos are amazing. San Francisco is definitely on my (long) list of places I would love to visit one day! How great that you managed to squeeze in a little trip to Ikea too...I love Ikea, we live around 40 minutes drive from one and I really love going there as does Miss M, although I think the part she likes best is when she is allowed an ice cream cone on the way out!
    Marianne x

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  38. We are going to San Fran in November! Your pics get me so excited! :) xoxo Jen

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  39. I read this when you posted it but didn't have time to comment. It sounds like such a perfect trip.

    We still walk hand in hand when we can, to the great embarrassment of our young adult children. But nothing beats time off the clock with the guy you love x

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  40. What a wonderful, memorable trip, Jennifer. I love your photos, which really capture the spirit of what you experienced. It reminds me of the time my mother-in-law looked after our two so DH and I could have a weekend in Paris - our first trip away without the children. :-)

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  41. The most beautiful photos Jennifer. Love the tomatoes especially.

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