Exactly one year ago today as I write, I was enjoying my third trip to San Francisco to spend time with my middle son. In fact, that is also where I was two years ago and three years ago today, give or take a day.
This is poignant for more reason than one. Not only was it the last trip we took before the pandemic dramatically shrank our world, but unbeknownst to me at the time, it was likely my last trip to San Francisco for years–because my son switched jobs and cities and likely the next trip we take will be to Boulder, Colorado, whenever it is safe to do so.
And while I am excited to go somewhere I have never been, and to have the chance to fall in love with a new city, I love San Francisco and at the moment have almost a visceral feeling of wrongness as I sit here in cold and dreary Knoxville. Therefore, I will cheer myself up by sharing last year’s trip with you.
No pictures here, y’all! This day was spent almost entirely in airports and planes, as flight delays up north grounded us in Knoxville for a time and caused us to be moved to a later flight due to a missed connection. However, this resulted in the most pleasant cross-country flight ever. Noting that our new economy seats were not adjacent, but that there were adjacent seats in a pricier area of the plane, I asked to be upgraded for free and they did it! We had no row in front of us and it was amazing, making up for not getting to our hotel until about 11 p.m. Teddy, bless his heart, came to greet us and we walked to a nearby Indian restaurant for a very late supper.
Teddy had to work, of course, but we got up bright and early for an event we had pre-arranged: a ferry ride around the Bay and under the Golden Gate Bridge!
On our previous trips we stayed in the Financial District. This time we decided to stay near Fisherman’s Wharf, so it was a short walk to the pier.
We arrived super early, but that was okay because it gave me time to find coffee at Biscoff.
Our early arrival paid off because we were first in line, and had our pick of seats–which for us was outside and upstairs.
This was our first time to see San Francisco’s famous sea lions.
The bridge is beautiful from every direction but my favorite is the picture I took directly underneath it. It was a nice complement to our first visit, when I walked across it.
I got some good shots of Alcatraz. Our tour of the island was a highlight of our second visit.
The sun was emerging from the clouds by the time we landed. One thing I love about San Francisco in February, is that it is already spring. We enjoyed the flowers as we headed to our next destination.
After our first two trips we are Uber pros now, and we took one to the Financial District where we were meeting Teddy for lunch. What was even more exciting was that we were meeting Molly, his girlfriend, for the first time. We walked to a nearby salad spot for a quick lunch. That would be the last time we saw them that day, because it was also Valentine’s Day and we made separate dinner plans.
After lunch, I decided to walk back to the hotel. At this point I am pretty familiar with some areas of the city. I found Columbus Avenue and was on my way, John having opted for an Uber back to the hotel.
There are some places I had walked by many times and always wanted to investigate further. This was my chance. My first stop was the National Shrine of Saint Francis.
Below is an actual replica of the church Saint Francis restored in Assisi.
Just a little farther down the street is Saints Peter and Paul Church. This is a very Italian parish, with all the saints within labeled in Italian! It is staffed by the Salesians, founded by Saint John Bosco, which was special since he was my saint of the year in 2019.
What a blessing it was that I was able to steep myself in churches and saints that day. I could not have known or even imagined that in just a few weeks churches would close due to the pandemic. I have not been to Mass in person since some time in March 2020.
Eventually I arrived back at our hotel. And it was time for more coffee which I enjoyed at the fire table below, definitely one of the highlights of our hotel!
John wanted to take another double-decker bus tour of the city, something we had enjoyed on our last visit. This trip was not as fun, as it was later in the day and chillier, causing us to retreat inside the bus for warmth at some point.
So I did not take many pictures of note. Above is the closest yet I have come to seeing Hamilton in a theatre though. 😉
Teddy and Molly had several restaurants planned for our visit so we decided to do Chinatown for our one night on our own. Just look at this insane fried crab that we got. Thank goodness that the waiter warned us that we only needed to order one!
We met Teddy and Molly for breakfast at a diner they like, and from there took an Uber to Golden Gate Park, where we started our sightseeing at the Japanese Tea Garden.
From there, we headed more or less next door to de Young Museum.
We left via the sculpture garden, and then John opted to return to the hotel while we walked to the Conservatory of Flowers.
After that, Teddy, Molly, and I went to Ocean Beach for awhile, before grabbing a quick lunch. They sent me home and we planned to meet for dinner to celebrate Teddy’s birthday.
We met later for a tour of Teddy’s apartment–he lived in a different location each of three years in San Francisco–then rode together to our fabulous dinner at Kokkari, a Greek restaurant Teddy took us to on our first visit.
We reconnected with Teddy and Molly the following morning in the Mission District, where they treated us to a fancy brunch in the outdoor courtyard of this theatre-turned-restaurant.
Next we toured the Mission District itself, including checking out some cool shops and some very fancy graffiti:
Per my request, our next stop was the Mission itself. The smaller church pictured below is the oldest building in San Francisco. Exhibits onsite show it standing all alone surrounded by countryside with the San Francisco topography all that is recognizable.
There was a graveyard too so Molly got a chance to find out how weird I actually am.
Finally we walked to Mission Dolores Park. Climbing the hill was worth it for some beautiful views.
I needed to do some shopping for gifts for the kids we left at home, so after some discussion we agreed to meet later for dinner at a restaurant that had piqued my interest on earlier visits.
I like garlic, y’all, but garlic ice cream is a step too far. We took it, though. It was an experience but not one I expect to repeat.
After dinner we went to a very cool bookstore down the street for awhile before saying our good-byes and heading back to the hotel.
At least, I thought we said our good-byes but Teddy actually came by in the morning and sat at the fire table with me for awhile before we left for the airport. Thankfully we did NOT take the red-eye this time, and made it home by nightfall.
Quarantine has been good to me, but I do miss traveling, and Teddy, and San Francisco.