The day after Jordan and Brittany's wedding, we took off with Scott and Bekah to tackle the winding, forested, carsickness-inducing highway to San Francisco.
We squeezed a lot in approximately 10 hours, starting with the Golden Gate Bridge. It's strange to think a work of engineering has become a tourist destination, but it is elegant, with a stunning backdrop.
After some photos to prove we were there, we headed back downtown to Ghirardelli Square. The wait for the actual restaurant was 2+ hours, so we paused at the much faster chocolate shop further in the square to squeeze in our sugar break before wandering down Fisherman's Wharf in search of a good dinner spot, since it happened to be Ian's birthday.
After feeling overwhelmed by the large numbers of tourists shuffling around the wharf, we headed back to the car to track down one of the many recommended restaurants on a handy Google map crafted by one of our coworkers. After three strikes (closed, completely booked for the evening, and unlocateable) with lots of driving between, we settled on the mall in Japantown.
This is where we gained a new appreciation for what Bekah and countless others with food allergies have to deal with. I've never realized how hard it can be to find gluten + dairy free options. Fortunately, we were able to locate a family restaurant in the mall with a chef who was happy to create a special dish that met Bekah's dietary needs. The restaurant specializes in Japanese American fusion of the variety originating in Japan. It was interesting to experience a Japanese take on American food (as opposed to the other way around). Plus, we got to flip through anime while we waited.
After dinner, we drove around SF. I couldn't get over how steep the roads are; photos don't really convey the extremity. We took the time to both drive and walk down the switchback block of Lombard Street, made famous for the way the residents decided to address a 27 percent incline.
We also made it to Twin Peaks Summit for some amazing night view of the city.
After a successful day of sightseeing, we dropped Scott and Bekah at their hotel so they could get some sleep before their early flight back to Kansas. Ian and I headed back to San Jose, which was serving as home base for our exploration of the bay area over the next two days.
Sunday was beach day. We drove to Santa Cruz after a lazy morning watching a replay of the controversial Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley fight. We aren't boxing fans, but he's Filipino. (Yes, that's a valid line of reasoning.)
As we were planning our mini vacation, we were inspired to make Santa Cruz a destination by a blogger I follow + her artist husband (the brush behind the Paris painting Ian got me for our anniversary). We'd followed along on Instagram as they posted family vacation photos of the beach and boardwalk, and later paintings inspired by the visit. It was fun to see the places they had photographed and painted as we lounged on the beach and wandered around the boardwalk.
We picked up new Rainbows for Ian, wandered around a local bookstore, enjoyed an authentic Mexican dinner while watching the Miami Heat game, and took a drive along the coast. Before heading back to San Jose, we made sure to stop at Verve, per recommendations we got at the wedding, and were not disappointed.
Monday before our 8pm redeye flight back to Boston, we planned to explore San Jose. We caught a movie then headed to the Tech Museum, but after seeing the ticket prices and kid focus, decided we'd do a little Silicon Valley exploring instead. We geeked out and visited both Google and Apple headquarters.
We had just enough time to browse the Apple Store before heading to the airport to catch our flight.
Once again, we were glad we flew JetBlue: they provide free earplugs and eye masks for red eye flights. We were able to catch a few hours of sleep before touching down in Boston. A cab home, 3 additional hours of sleep, and we were back at work like we never left. Except maybe a little more tan...