Friday, April 25, 2014

I left my heart in San Francisco - Part 2

And we're back with days 3 and 4 of San Francisco! As I mentioned in the last post we had a big day ahead of us on Friday with plans to rent bikes and ride over the Golden Gate bridge to the town of Sausalito. The place we rented our bikes from was called Blazing Saddles and they had several locations all over San Francisco. It was really easy to rent from them and fairly reasonably prices. They charge $8 per hour with a max of $32 for the day. We kept our bikes for closer to 7 hours and it was still only $32 dollars. What they don't tell you initially though is that the $11 ferry tickets they "give" you to come back from Sausalito still have to be paid for when you turn your bikes back in. It's worth it to take the ferry back over though, especially if you're crazy like us and attempt to ride up to Muir woods on the bikes. But I'll get back to that part later :)

First thing Friday morning we took a cable car north toward Fisherman's Wharf since there was a Blazing Saddles location near the end of the cable car line. We were able to rent bikes very quickly and get on our way. Armed with maps from the bike rental place and our smart phones, we headed out towards the Golden Gate Bridge. The ride between Fisherman's Wharf and the Golden Gate was a nice mix of coast line, parks, residential areas and some great spots to stop and get some pictures of the bridge.

One of the only pictures of us together from the trip. Proof that we were there!

Not going to lie, the ride across the Golden Gate bridge itself made me a little nervous. The side walks along the side of the bridge are kind of narrow and you have to look out for other cyclists and pedestrians. As long as we were riding I didn't focus too much on how high over the bay were were, but when we stopped at a look out point it kind of hit me and I was ready to get on some solid land ASAP! I will say that the bridge is an awesome piece of Art Deco architecture and it was really cool to see close up how it was built. Unless you're really afraid of heights, I would definitely recommend riding or walking across the bridge!

That's a lot of rivets!

I believe that's Sausalito in the background. 

Once we made if off the bridge we started the mostly down hill ride to Sausalito. By the time we got there we were already getting a little tired so we decided to lock our bikes up and walk around a bit. Plus, it was almost lunch time by this point :) Sausalito is a pretty little town that is built right along the bay. There were lots of pretty little houses up on the hill and a nice downtown area full of restaurants and shops.

We walked around until we found a tiny burger joint that had some promising reviews online. The inside of the restaurant was just big enough for the kitchen area and two tiny tables at the back. Since it was still pretty early, Joe and I were the only customers and were able to snag one of the tables. The burger and fries were great! Joe got a burrito and he said it was good too. Once we refueled, we hit the bike trail again with the plan to get to Mill Valley park. We were told that we could see some giant sequoia trees there. We not only saw some beautiful trees but also some amazing homes up in the hills surrounded by these huge trees and all kinds of other plant life. It would be a pretty incredible place to live!

This is one of the Sequoia trees near Mill Valley Park. 

We made it to the park relatively quick and for some reason decided we could ride all the way up to Muir Woods. Big mistake! Muir Woods is a National Park where you can see some of the really impressive redwood and sequoia trees. According to our maps it looked like it should be a fairly short bike ride from Mill Valley Park. What we didn't realize was that the ride to Muir Woods was ALL UP HILL! And not just a slight hill. A "so steep you can't even ride so you have to walk your bike up the hill" hill. We persevered for a while but eventually gave up since we new we still had to make the ride all the way back to Sausalito. Luckily after our long uphill ride, were able to coast down the hills for a bit and get some energy back. Even though we never made it to Muir woods, I'm glad we got off the beaten path for a while and saw some areas that we never even would have known existed! Below you can see the path of our bike ride that day and the ferry ride home. Joe captured this with our Garmin watch, but he forgot to turn the watch on until we'd already been riding for a mile or so. The red line is our path, the blue area in the graph at the top is our pace, and the green area is our elevation change.

So we made our way back to Sausalito and chilled out on a park bench while we waited for the ferry. We were both pretty exhausted so we had zero plans to bike back over the Golden Gate Bridge.

The bike ride from the ferry landing back to Blazing Saddles was a quick one. Oh, and I think I know why they call it blazing saddles. It's because after sitting on that bike seat all day, it hurts to sit on anything at all :) hehe. After we turned our bikes in we walked to the end of the block to the Buena Vista Cafe for one of their famous Irish Coffees. If you go to San Francisco, you have to go to Buena Vista Cafe just for the experience!

It was much stronger than I expected and I had to ask for more milk in mine half way through! After the Irish Coffees we were still hungry for dinner so we decided to head over to Japan Town and find a place to eat. We settled on a ramen place and slurped some noodles before going back to the apartment and crashing. It was a long day!

On Saturday morning we woke up to rain, but there was too much on our itinerary that day to let that stop us!

We walked down to China town to catch a bus to Golden Gate Park where we were planning on visiting the California Academy of Science (this was another attraction included in the City Pass). I was hoping the the Academy of Science wouldn't be crowded since it was a rainy day, but it was still pretty packed with families, tourists and school groups. The Academy of Science is basically a fun science museum. Different than the Exploratorium though as it was less hands on and had more exhibits. There were some awesome aquariums, a butterfly and bird dome and an amazing green roof.

All the kids were yelling about seeing Nemo and Dory :)

We were also able to get seats for a show in the planetarium about dark matter and space. It was really cool with the giant screen that wrapped almost all the way around the room. After we'd seen everything there we decided it was time for lunch so we took a short bus ride out of the park to a nearby area that looked like it had lots of restaurants. Joe and I are very indecisive when it comes to which restaurant to eat at so it usually took us a good while to walk up and down the streets past all the choices before we finally just gave in and picked one. I'm happy to report though that we never ended up with a poor choice! After lunch we decided to walk back to Golden Gate Park instead of taking the bus. This time we were headed for the Botanical Gardens. It cost $7 to get in to the gardens but we really enjoyed just walking around and seeing all the different plants and specialty gardens. Plus, since it was a rainy day the gardens were pretty empty.

I named this hill "Donut Hill" since we sat on a bench at the top and ate the donuts we picked up after lunch. 

We were going to stop by the Japanese Tea Gardens, which are also in Golden Gate Park, but that would have been an additional $7 a piece so we decided one garden visit was enough. Our plan after that was to take a bus to a park called the Presidio, but our plans changed when I discovered that at some point throughout the day, I had lost my City Pass :( womp womp. Lucky for me, we'd already used all the parts of the pass that would get us into various attractions. The only thing we were still using it for was transportation. So instead of going to the Presidio, we bought me a single bus ticket and made our way to a Walgreens where we could buy a 7 day bus pass that would last me for the rest of the trip. Although I'm pretty sure we still got our money's worth out of my City Pass, I was still bummed. By this point, we were pretty tired and our shoes were soaked so we decided to head home. On our way we stopped at a Trader Joe's for a few more groceries, where I made my 2nd mistake of the day by buying whole bean coffee instead of ground. No coffee for us the next morning!

We hung out at home for a while and let our feet dry out while doing some research about where we should eat dinner. We settled on a place called Nick's Crispy Tacos, which I would highly recommend! They were delicious! Once again, we went home, drank some wine and went to bed :) Well, that's the end of days 2 and 3! Only one more installment of our San Francisco trip left. And it will be pretty long since it will cover 3 days. Thanks again for reading and I hope you all have a great weekend!

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