Kate goes to California, Day 4: San Francisco (and Debi!)

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One of the highlights of the trip to California was that I got to spend a day with my friend Debi from Sacramento, and celebrate ten years of friendship.

The day started off with Debi texting me and saying, “I’m on my way. Do you have the Find My Friends app? If so, you can follow me.” So as I got ready for the day I watched the little “D” on my phone map get closer and closer until suddenly she was outside the condo!

One place I really wanted to go while in the Bay Area was Sausalito, and if I tell you why, you will totally mock me forever, but of course I’m going to tell you anyway. When I was about 13 or 14, I read a Danielle Steel book where the main character ends up living in a tiny little house in Sausalito and the way she describes it just had teenage Kate sighing dreamily. And that is why I wanted to go. Well, and because it’s pretty as hell, but that was kind of secondary. Luckily, Debi was kind enough to humour me and take me across the bridge to the town that dreams are made of.

(I don’t even know.)

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

I really hadn’t thought about what exactly we would do in Sausalito, other than adult Kate sighing dreamily of course, and in the end that’s pretty much all that happened. We took a little tour around the town and drove up the mountainside, marvelling at the crazy turns and houses stuck out on the edges of cliffs, and then found out to our surprise and with a lot of laughter that at the top of the mountain you magically come out on the highway! Très convenient.

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

#sausalito #kategoestocalifornia

Incidentally, there is a toll on the Golden Gate Bridge. You can leave San Francisco for free, but when you come back from Marin County, you have to pay. Except when Debi and I drove through, it was open and we were pretty much just waved through. We thought we might have gotten away with it and were pretty excited at the prospect, but several weeks later Debi told me she got a $7 bill in the mail. Thanks, San Francisco.

Once back in the city, we were going to find somewhere for lunch, but first, we passed the hill leading up to the winding part of Lombard Street and I asked if we could please go up it (and then down, duh).

The hill on the way to the crooked part of #lombardstreet. #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

But how do you photograph a twisty, turny, windy street? You don’t. I mean, you do. But first, you videotape it. Then you set it to music in order to edit out the part where you swear, but edit back in the part where you make a ridiculous comment and you and your friend giggle like fools (i.e. the best part).

Lombard Street. #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

Debi suggested we go to Boudin Bakery for lunch, and to avoid the crowds at Fisherman’s Wharf, we went to the one at Union Square instead.

Boudin Bakery #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

Boudin Bakery #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

Boudin Bakery #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

Delicious lunch at #boudin bakery with @thedeb83 today. #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia Lunch! Beautiful, delicious lunch.

Then it was time for an event I had been looking forward to for, oh, years? We went to the giant Daiso (the store I mentioned in this post). And there we spent, I would guess, close to an hour? wandering around the store while I added approximately one million things into my cart and Debi laughed at me as I did. I wanted literally everything in this store. And I bought most of it. Unfortunately I don’t think I took any photos in the store, but I do have a giant container full of purchases sitting in my living room that I paw through on a regular basis, and I’ll be sure to get a photo of that and some of its contents for you soon. We can sum up our trip to Daiso by saying that I was in Japanese dollar store heaven.

Then it was back to more real San Francisco things! As we wound through town, we made our way to, and past, the Painted Ladies:

#paintedladies #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

#paintedladies #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

I'm in love with every single house in #sanfrancisco. #kategoestocalifornia Not a Painted Lady but I wanted to photograph every single house in that city.

And then, the Mrs. Doubtfire house! Because why not.

Mrs. Doubtfire wasn't home. #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia
She wasn’t home.

And then, sadly, it was time to start heading home, because Debi had an hour plus drive home and I had a ballgame to get to. When we pulled up to the condo, we hopped out of the car to take a selfie, and realized that we had totally and completely sucked at taking photos the entire day. We could have taken a photo in Sausalito. We could have taken a photo in front of the Painted Ladies, or in front of the Mrs. Doubtfire house. We could have taken photos of the two of us together at literally any San Francisco landmark, and instead we were taking a selfie on a street corner in SOMA. Hashtag fail? Likely.

At home, the summer days are humid and the summer nights are just the same. It’s pretty much hot and sticky the whole summer through. In San Francisco, although we had sensational, unseasonably warm summer weather and the days were absolutely gorgeous, in the evenings, summer all but disappears. The sun dips below the horizon and in an instant, all of the warmth and humidity is gone, and it gets chilly. It surprised me how quickly the change happened, but I liked it. There’s something really lovely about cozying up in a sweatshirt on a summer’s eve, something that I think reminds me of growing up poolside at evening swim meets, completing a race and then hopping into sweats to wait for the scores.

Essentially that’s what I did at the ballpark that night.

Same park, different day! #attpark #sfgiants #sanfrancisco #MLB #baseball #kategoestocalifornia

When the sun goes down in #sanfrancisco, that's it, summer is over. #attpark #mlb #baseball #sfgiants #kategoestocalifornia

Remember what I said about ballpark food in the States being way different than here in Canada? Best thing ever: a guy going through the stands with a backpack on his back filled with hot chocolate, and when you want a cup, which I clearly did, he pours one with a spout from the backpack, and then pulls a can of whipped cream out of his apron. It’s amazing. So I warmed my hands on a cup of hot chocolate while enjoying the ballgame.

And taking selfies.

Staying warm at the #sfgiants #mlb #baseball game at #attpark in #sanfrancisco. #kategoestocalifornia

#attpark #sfgiants #mlb #baseball #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

And admiring the beautiful sunset, again.

It seems like all I do is sigh at the beauty that is this city. Look at this #sunset. SIGH. #sfgiants #mlb #baseball #attpark #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis wrote, “friendship is born at that moment where one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself…” That essentially describes what happened ten years ago on a message board, when a strange and wonderful friendship began. You might not think that a girl from southwestern Ontario and a girl from northern California would have a lot in common, but most days it is like we are the same person. We talk nearly every day, about anything and nothing and everything simultaneously. I’m not sure there’s another person on this planet who knows more about me, or who I’m more honest with, than Debi. Chatting on gtalk 3,000 miles apart or driving down a crooked road in San Francisco together, making stupid jokes and giggling like idiots (exhibit A: the video above), it’s all the same to us: a truly genuine, truly pure friendship.

For fun, I sped up the video to 8x speed, and had a thought as I watched it. The twists and turns of Lombard Street are a lovely metaphor for the friendship Debi and I have. In a decade, both our lives have changed drastically, and we’ve been here, there, everywhere, and back again.

The truth is, I’m not sure what I’d do without her. I’m very glad, and indeed very lucky, that in ten plus years, I haven’t had to find out.

So this happened. #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia


Kate goes to California, Day 3: San Francisco

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I woke up on day 3 feeling a bit sore. This was because of two things. The first was that apparently 3 hours on an open air bus the day before had left me with a bit of a sunburn:

So it's possible I got a bit of a sunburn yesterday. #nofilter #justwokeup #sanfrancisco #kategoestocaliforniaI took this literally 2 minutes after I woke up, so I look absolutely terrific.

The other reason was that my injury from falling on the bus two nights earlier was now making itself known. I had noticed the evening before that my thigh was a bit sore. That morning, I realized why:

Bruise #kategoestocalifornia
Pretty, ain’t it?

We didn’t have anything planned that day, and we were considering wandering down to the afternoon ballgame but weren’t sure we wanted to sit in full sun for three hours. I desperately needed a manicure (because annoyingly, all the gel polish I had put on the day we left had all peeled off only days later), so I googled some nail places, found one not far away, and set off. I was back two hours later with pretty nails.

We sat around for a bit, talking about what to do. We thought it might be fun to go to Chinatown for a bit. But we were really tired, and in the end decided to lay down for a little bit. A “little bit” turned into several hours and when I woke up, I was surprised to see it was almost dinnertime. We shook off the sleepiness and hopped on a bus.

#chinatown #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

#chinatown #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

I was a bit apprehensive about eating dinner in Chinatown as I have a somewhat delicate stomach, but decided I could do it. We wandered up the main road a ways until we came to a restaurant we thought would probably be okay.

#chinatown #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

#chinatown #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

We ordered fried rice, pork chow mein and sweet and sour chicken. I texted this photo to a friend with a message that said, “I’m being brave!”:

#chinatown #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

Said friend replied, “Hahaha. Oh yes. The ever mysterious and exotic noodle and grain of rice.”

I would like to point out that at home, I go to a Chinese restaurant where they know my name and my order, so for me, this was adventurous. For the record: best sweet and sour chicken I’ve ever had.

After dinner, we decided we’d wander about a little bit more and see what we could come up with. When we came out of the restaurant, the lanterns were all on, and I was delighted by them.

#chinatown #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

#chinatown #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

#chinatown #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

#chinatown #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

We popped into a few shops, where I purchased a cute little compact mirror that has a bunch of San Francisco landmark names written on it in colourful text (incidentally, the only California “souvenir” I brought home), and we found a little tea light holder similar to this one for my mom, who was dog sitting Allie.

The only souvenir I brought home. #kategoestocalifornia

By that time on a Sunday night, the stores were beginning to close, so we left Chinatown with no particular destination in mind, and ended up on Telegraph Hill, on the corner of Broadway and Columbus. Walking two blocks west, we found ourselves staring up one of San Francisco’s many crazy hills that seem to come out of no where. We were at the corner of Broadway and Kearny, looking up, and this is what we saw:

#sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

#sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

A street that is so steep it requires steps on either side to assist pedestrians in making it to the top.

1. Walk up these 8,000 steps. 2. Want to die. 3. Find tiny hidden garden with amazing view. 4. Decide mountain climbing was worth it. #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

We started up, stopping every so often to take pictures of the cute houses built into the hill (I was in love with every single house in the city), and to marvel at the driveways and garages that jut out of the street. We couldn’t imagine backing out of one of those driveways in traffic, but I realized afterward that in my head I was picturing doing it in the middle of a Canadian winter, and you sure as hell would never make it up that hill on an icy day. Of course, that’s not so much a problem in San Francisco, is it?

So many cute apartment buildings in this city. #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

I can haz, plz? #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

At the top, we had to stop and admire whence we’d come.

#sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

Just climbing mountains. The usual. #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

I keep imagining this hill in an icy Canadian winter. #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

From there we had to decide where to go. We were on Vallejo Street, and to the east, we knew there wasn’t tons we wanted to see. To the west, eventually we’d get to Fisherman’s Wharf, but first we stared up another mountain. Figuring that was the direction we ultimately would prefer to go, and having conquered one mountain already, we set up it. At the top, the driving road ended and on either side of the street were little sets of steps that began to lead down, and every so often it would level out into a terrace that stretched from one side of the “road” to the other and connected the doors to houses on either side. We made our way carefully down the uneven steps and ended up stopping on one of the terraces where there was what seemed to be a tiny hidden garden.

Remember the other day I said I’d prove that the Bay Bridge was prettier and more impressive than the Golden Gate Bridge? Well, what brought us to a stop in that tiny hidden garden was this:

#baybridge #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

From the view down the hill to the bay and the bridge in the distance, I was a bit mesmerized. I was in awe of the people who lived in those houses and saw the pretty lit up bridge every single day. The hill and steps were a bit treacherous but my goodness, that view would make it totally worth it.

Bay Bridge from a tiny hidden garden at the top of a very very steep hill. #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

I thought it made such a pretty picture (the setting, not me – okay, me a little bit) that I Instagrammed the same picture in black and white just so I’d have both of them:

This one too. #sanfrancisco #kategoestocalifornia

Magical.

From there, we slowly made our way south and eventually ended up back at the condo. It hadn’t been a long day, given that we’d had naps that afternoon, but as I got ready for bed I thought about what we’d done that evening, and the moment those photos above were taken.

It was one of those things that was just supposed to happen. I hate to say “meant to be” but it kind of was. I had been hesitant to climb to the top of the steps on Kearny, feeling tired and still a bit sore from my bus fall the other night. Finding myself in that little garden on Vallejo, hidden by the hill above it and surrounded by greenery, with that view, I was really really glad we’d climbed that mountain. You know that feeling when you feel like you’ve found kind of an unknown, hidden gem about a city? I used to feel that way living on the plateau in Montreal. Tourists would spend tons of time downtown in the clubs and in the old port. I would wander down residential streets in my own neighbourhood, delighting in the brightly painted houses, or buy fresh fruit and veg in the little produce shop nearby, or enjoy lunch by myself on a terrace on the pedestrian street half a block from my house, or sit by the fountain in the square half a block further than that, and feel like I really knew the secret to Montreal.

That’s how I felt that night on Telegraph Hill, and it’s remained one of my favourite memories of the whole trip.