Friday, August 30, 2013

Californian Summer: San Diego to San Francisco

This has seriously been one of the best summers of my life, and I've been so busy enjoying it that I've neglected this little blog.... anyone still out there? :) I've checked a lot of things off of my 30 before 30 check list, and have enjoyed a lot of trips around California. It started back in May when some girlfriends and I headed up the beautiful Southern California Coast to Santa Barbara. We were celebrating our fabulous friend Erin's upcoming nuptials with a wine tasting Bachelorette weekend. Here are a few photo highlights...

Then a month later, I road tripped up to Yosemite with a couple of friends for Erin and Doug's wedding, and it was an absolute blast! This will take a whole other blog post (or a few) to share some of the photo highlights, or you can look on my Facebook page for the several albums of beautiful pictures of the amazing wedding and Yosemite Valley. It was a really special weekend celebrating with the happy couple, and spending time with some awesome friends that I've made out here in San Diego. The day after the wedding we did some hiking and ended at Glacier Point at sunset, where you can see a panoramic view of Yosemite Valley and its famous Half Dome. We toasted to the newly married couple and shared our favorite moments of the wedding weekend. This will go down in my life as a pretty amazing memory.

And here's me and the beautiful bride.

Then, just a week and half after returning from Yosemite, I headed back up to Northern California to San Francisco! I had a conference to attend for work and my family decided to meet me out there and we'd make a vacation out of it. So the conference ran Sunday-Thursday, and my parents and brother flew out from Virginia on that Wednesday. So we had 4 days of fun together exploring San Francisco and they flew back to San Diego with me to spend a few more days.

The conference was for a database that many arts organizations use to track ticket buyers and donors, and several of us from my theatre went. I use the database heavily in my work as Annual Fund Manager. I met some incredible people from all of the world (used in US, Canada, Australia and UK) and left feeling inspired and reinvigorated about working in fundraising. 

After the conference wrapped up Thursday afternoon, I moved my luggage over to the beautiful Fairmont Hotel where I'd now be staying with my family, and I met my Mom for lunch at a cute Italian restaurant near the hotel. My Dad and brother golfed, obviously :) We enjoyed catching up over great food and a glass of wine (we're on vacation, why not?!) The area we stayed in is called Nob Hill, and as the name suggests, it was a very hilly walk back to the hotel. Here's me feeling victorious after making it up a VERY steep hill, with the Fairmont Hotel behind me. 

When the guys got back we headed down to Fisherman's Wharf to check out the touristy shops and get some Happy Hour drinks and snacks at a bar overlooking the Bay. Here's my brother and I on Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf, with a great view of the city. 

And from the end of Pier 39, you have an amazing view of Alcatraz, the famous former prison. Unfortunately, tickets were sold out for the weekend months in advance, so we weren't able to tour it. 

That night, we went to dinner at an amazing restaurant called The Big 4 at the historic Huntington Hotel, also in Nob Hill. I had the Truffled Ahi Tuna Tartare with Roasted Golden Beet Carpaccio, and for my entree the Pan Seared Diver Scallops. AHH-MAZING! The scallops melted in my mouth. The restaurant was really cozy, all dark wood and antique decor. It had a very 1950s feel to it. 

On Friday morning, we headed over to Golden Gate Park to visit the California Academy of Science and the De Young Museum. The Academy is an amazing place, with a simulated rainforest, acquarium, penguin exhibit, IMAX theatre and "Living Roof" by famous architect Renzo Piano. It is a 197,000-square-foot rooftop that accommodates a living tapestry of native plant species.

Me on the Living Roof, with a view of the De Young Museum.  

A view of the California Academy of Sciences and the Living Roof from the De Young Museum. 

It was a fun morning and afternoon in Golden Gate Park! Mom and I did some shopping afterwards in Union Square and ditched the boys for a bit. Hey, they golfed, so it was our turn :) Then my brother and I went to get a drink at the Top of the Mark, in the Mark Hopkins Hotel, another old Nob Hill hotel. It was fun to just catch up the two of us :) Although it was foggy, the San Fran norm, it was a nice view. 

Then we met back up with our parents for dinner, and went back to the Italian restaurant near the hotel that we'd gone for lunch the day before. I had some delicious pasta and we drank great wine. We had to prepare for our day wine tasting in Sonoma and Napa Valleys!

We woke up early Saturday morning and left on a guided tour up to Sonoma and Napa, which takes about an hour from San Francisco to get to. Here's us crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, with lots of fog per usual.                                                                                     

It was such a fun day and beautiful weather! We had some fantastic wines, and even met up with a friend who lives near Napa who we'd traveled to Italy with 10 years ago! I haven't seen her since, so it was so great to catch up! Here's a few picture highlights.

My wonderful family, a rare photo of all of us.

Mmmm, I love wine! 

We were pretty exhausted from the day after getting back to the city, and wanted a really low-key dinner. So Nick did some google magic and found us the perfect place, Tommy's Joynt. It was even featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives! Here's the clip of the episode:


For under $10 dollars, you get a pretty massive plate of food. I had the "World's Best Turkey" with veggies and potato salad.  It was delicious.


Afterwards, we went to the movies and saw The Heat, with Melissa McCartney and Sandra Bullock. It was pretty hilarious. I haven't laughed that hard through a movie in forever. The theatre was right across the street from Tommy's Joynt where we had dinner, and is a really awesome building that used to be a Cadillac dealership. 

 On Sunday, we were leaving in the afternoon to fly back to San Diego. We went for breakfast in the North Beach neighborhood, San Francisco's Little Italy. It was such a quaint area! We then climbed a HUGE hill to Coit Tower, that has amazing 360 views of the city from the top.

Climbing uphill!

Nick and I at the top of Coit Tower

View of San Fran and the Transamerica Building (pointy top)

Then it was time to head back to the hotel and head to the airport. It was such a fun week and I can't wait to go back again! Here's Nick and I in front of the Fairmont Hotel before leaving. 

So, that concludes my summer travels. If you've made it this far through this novel of a post, you're awesome! I can't believe that Labor Day is Monday, and the official end to summer and wearing white. But on the bright side, summer never really ends in sunny San Diego :) Actually the hottest weather in San Diego is to come in September and October. Beach, here I come!

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