I had this epic plan. I was going to drive 2:45 minutes down HWY 1 to Big Sur bridge and then make my way back. About 20 minutes into the trip I realized that probably wasn't going to happen. I was stopping to take pictures as much as someone would stop if they had a diagnosis of frequent urination. Every spot, every single spot, was jaw-dropping. The sound of the waves as they crashed onto the rocks was so blissful. The smell of the fresh ocean air and the gentle mist that would grace my skin as the wind blew is something money cant buy... unless you take that money and buy a plane ticket out there like I did.
I kept driving but I found that I was stopping about ever 1/3 mile: I couldn't pass up the view. Soon, I stumbled upon this beautiful lighthouse and I just had to drive up to it. Thankfully, it was open to the public and actually had a little free museum on the grounds. The lighthouse reminded me so much of my grandma, who, for as long as I can remember, has loved lighthouses.
I left the lighthouse and continued down HWY 1 towards Santa Cruz. I was still hopeful that I could make it to Big Sur. I had already planned out a coffee spot in SC to pick up some joe and keep on my way. However, I did not take into consideration that the coffee shop of choice was downtown and it would be the lunch hour when I meandered into the city. Took me a good 20-minutes to find a place to park. My plans were already beginning to unravel. I walked into the coffee shop and paid a small fortune to get a mediocre latte.
The coffee had a particular creamy taste to it which I figured was unique enough to warrant the ridiculous cost. However, upon drinking more of it, I decided the flavor was was not for me. I did walk down the blvd hoping to stumble upon a bakery that was on the same street. But I obviously was either not observant or just walked aimlessly because I passed it twice before breaking out my phone to guide me step-by-step to the front door.
Thankfully, I had found free 4-hour parking which allowed me to pretty much take my time meandering the pier. Once I was bored of the scenery I moved my car in the lot to get another 4-free hours and then decided to walk like a mad-woman to the all the surrounding sites. I had lots of places to see and only so much time. My first stop? Lombard Street.
Brett and I had already decided to drive the street together on the next day... so my mission was simply to walk up to it. I huffed and puffed my way up and stood there gawking at the street like every other Asian tourist there (seriously... I rarely saw a white person while I was in the city). From there I traveled to some random church that looked important... and then I set my eyes on this weird looking tone tower thingy. It was a ways away but, hey, I had 4-hour parking.
So, go back to Redwood city I did. I met up with Brett (who had now finished his work commitments for the duration of the trip) and we ate fancy burgers at the Greek restaurant Mandaloun. We packaged up half of them to eat for lunch the next day (Sabbath) and headed to our new hotel.
We were both tired and enjoyed another early night. Check out the (lame) video of my Day 2. Seriously, it's all me talking and rarely anything else so please don't have high hopes.
Day 4: TA DAA!!! Finally, Brett and I have a day to explore together! Our agenda includes:
- Walk the Golden Gate Bridge
- Drive down Lombard St.
- Go down the Seward St Slides
- ANYTHING WE WANT!
So, we set off for the Golden Gate bridge. Up until this point, I hadn't even seen it! I know, crazy right? So I was pretty excited. After almost missing our last (and only) exit for the bridge parking (before crossing the bridge and being tolled $6) we finally made it! :)
Walking the bridge was fun (well to the halfway point at least). I wish there was slightly less traffic because the noise was pretty loud. It obviously is a tourist destination and shouldn't be used for practical purposes! The weather was brisk and windy but it was still an enjoyable walk! When we were walking we could see people actually surfing the waves that came barreling into the bay. We also happen to look down and see this wicked awesome fort that we needed to check out!
The fort was awesome! Four stories of rooms filled with history and the views were amazing! It is definitely a must-see if you're in the area.
From there, we got in the car and drove to Lombard Street. Honestly, the hill was very scary. I mean, in the back of everyone's mind, they know that SF has steep hills. But you don't really know how steep the roads are until you're stopped at a 45degree angle behind 40 other cars. I just kept thinking "Laura, you got to switch your foot quickly between the break and gas otherwise you're name will be plastered across national news as the girl that caused a 50 car pileup". It's a bit weird to see the cars in front of you start rolling back towards you before their wheels get traction. As I sat there, waiting in line to get up the hill, Brett took a quick picture of me and the cars outside. You can kinda see the extreme angle at which they are parked. Honestly, pictures just can't do it justice and it's a feeling that you can't really explain.
It was really fun to see all the little places that Brett enjoyed as a kid. The best part: watching Brett relive his memories. It was fun to see him get excited to show me his past. It's been a long time since I had seen him smile so much.
Now, the day felt complete and we were both tired. We drove back to the hotel and took showers. We had planned on a fancy dinner but, due to some planning miscommunications, we decided to lay low and check out some of the fun, relaxed places. We were both famished and looking forward to some good grub. However, our trip wouldn't be complete without failing in this department too. Our top two places of choice: closed. It was Dec. 24th so, I guess, it makes sense but we were both so hungry that we considered breaking down the doors and helping ourselves to the kitchen stockpile.
We drove for blocks and blocks searching for an open establishment. We even parked the car and walked hoping to find some small open street shops. It was so cold and my foot was aching terribly. Finally, we found a pizza joint that was open... and so did the rest of SF. Tony's Pizza Napoletana was a happen'in place. Thankfully, they had a take-out store located right next door. The pizzas were cooked quickly and stuck in a glass window by the register to be sold to the hungry mob. When it was our turn to order, we both ordered the only things that didn't have pork: one margarita slice and one cheese slice. Our tummies were rumbling and our taste buds began to water. This was the first real food of the day. After paying and waiting a few minutes for our slices to be boxed up, the pizza guy looks at us and said, "sorry, just handed out the last margarita piece". I stared at him in confusion, hurt and angry hunger. How does an Italian pizza place run out of a key Italian pizza staple? The guy offered us other pizza slices since we had already paid. After some confusion, we walked out of there with 2 cheese pizza slices and a deep dish cheese pizza slice. We found an old, metal (cold, cold metal) table and chairs outside to sit and eat. I was content with the idea of eating a deep dish slice in place of my desired margarita. That is, until I took a bite. Rolled into the bubbling folds of the cheesy and saucey goodness were tiny sausage morsels. I looked at the pizza like it had betrayed me. It had only been a minute or two ago that it had whispered sweet nothings to me, telling me how good it was going to taste. Now it just sat in it's box looking at me with a devilish smirk. Well, that smirk led him straight to the trash. Plain cheese pizza slice it is. This night was a 0/2.
The only possible redemption was finding something hot or sweet. Dessert! Even that was an extreme challenge. Finally we spotted a place and after driving around the surrounding blocks 3-4 times, we found a parking spot. We walked into this authentic bakery. there were a few people in front of us which prevented me from seeing what they had. When it was our turn I asked the lady a few questions. Her answer came back to me in a broken-English garble served-up with a ripe attitude. So, I just 'froze' and ordered the easiest and most convenient thing with a point of the finger. Another pricey failure. Right next door happen to be a gelato shop. Brett loves, loves, loves his icecream/gelato. We stopped in and Brett was nice enough to pick a flavor we would both enjoy. We took spoonfuls of the dessert and let it melt in our mouths as we walked back to the car.