Last day in SF

January 20th, 2014

San Francisco, Mt Tamalpais, Sausalito, and Sonoma

Well I know I tend to start every entry with this phrase, but WHAT AN AMAZING DAY!! Give me a quick second to say, my friend Erica is truly THE BEST. It was so wonderful to have a tour guide that was not only full of interesting facts about the city, but also knowledgeable about the best areas to visit and places to eat, AND I didn’t even have to drive around the (sometimes scary) hilly SF streets. YAY!

After a quick stop at the AWESOME coffee place around the corner from Erica’s place, Coffornia, on the corner of Delano and Ocean (HIGHLY recommend!!), we began our day by driving over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was very exciting to drive over, of course, being such an international icon, and it is interesting to see that many people walk, bike, and run over it. It also apparently has a huge suicide rate (something like one every two weeks – another Erica fact), so there are call bells all over the bridge encouraging people to call for help rather than jump. Personally, I can’t imagine even bungy jumping, so this seems just so horrible to me! Anyhow, the GG is still a toll bridge coming into the city, but free going out, which is interesting. We stopped for a quick viewpoint on the other side, then continued on our way to Sausalito.

Golden Gate Bridge and a couple international pals

Sausalito, California is a small community just across the bay from SF. It has a really cute local feel to it, kind of like Deep Cove, for those of you who are familiar with North Vancouver. There are many small restaurants, cafes, and shops, and a marina, including a ferry you can ride across the bay. We strolled the main drag (Bridgeway), and decided on an adorable and quirky looking Mexican place, Sausalito Taco Shop, for lunch. We had a Cabo chopped salad and a veggie quesadilla, and some homemade chips and salsa, plus I tried Horchata. Horchata, also spelled Orxata, is a Mexican drink made with milk, rice, vanilla, and cinnamon. It was REALLY tasty! We were baffled and excited to find that their cocktails were mainly made with soju as the primary alcoholic component!! Erica selected a drink composed of soju, hibiscus juice (?!), and pineapple. It was rather good, in fact!

Sausalito Waterfront
Erica from America and the cool resto we ate lunch at.

With our bellies filled, we set off for a bit of exercise. Our destination was the Muir Woods/Mt Tamalpais area which is just up the road from Sausalito. The PCH (Hwy 1) picks up again here and the road is super twisty and fun to drive. Erica was also excited to show me Erica Road, which is on the way up there. We both agreed that she should probably live on that street and become the block captain.

We got lucky with parking at the first lot we got to, although we didn’t realize that the road did continue further up to a visitor’s centre. We accidentally ended up walking along the road for a while, until we realized that we had probably missed the trail head, so with that extra bit of exercise under our belt, we headed back to pick up the real trail. We had a gorgeous hike along a wooded trail, before turning up to catch some better views at a higher elevation. It was a truly beautiful hike and experience! I will say that trails are poorly marked at best, so it is best to bring someone who has been there previously or use the map found here.

Beautiful trees in the park
View from the top – Erica conquers the mountain


After the hike, we headed for some refreshment. We visited Ram’s Gate winery, which is right at the start of the Sonoma Valley. We were pretty impressed with the layout and decor of the winery itself, although I was surprised that they were charging $15 or more for the tastings. However, I will say that the servings were substantial, more than the usual small pours probably and the attendants were funny and knowledgeable. We ended up getting a bottle of wine (2012 Sauvignon Blanc) and bringing the dark chocolate we had in the car down to the small pond they have and enjoying a glass while the sun set. It is truly a lovely setting. 


Beauty sunset and heron in flight
Sitting by the pond at Ram’s Gate

For dinner, we went to the Mission, to a restaurant called Dosa. They serve south Indian cuisine, mostly focussing on dosa and uttapam with amazing side sauces. We found the service to be excellent (our waiter was adorable), the prices fair ($10 for the original masala dosa), and the food itself to be prompt and very flavourful. Props to them as it kind of seems like a hipster place on first appearance (ie – maybe expensive but not that tasty) but turned out to be awesome.

We retired home with two more It’s Its (cappuccino and chocolate flavours) to try. The cappuccino was quite nice – maybe my favourite of all. I will truly be sad to say goodbye to SF!!

On point in San Fran

January 18th, 2014

San Francisco

Today was an excellent day. We were super duper organized, thanks to our wonderful tour guide and friend Erica, who also provided us with many a fact throughout the day. For instance, ….oh dear… is late and the facts seem to have the flown the coop of my mind. Oh! San Francisco has 7 micro-climates! Tada!

Learning aside, we set out from the house nice and early, and stocked up on coffee at the super cute coffee shop just down the street from Erica’s house. We took so-called BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) downtown to Powell St, where we waited a short while to ride a trolley! It was most exciting. When the trolley gets to the end of the route, it stops and gets pushed around in a circle to be turned around, manually. Very cool!

Turning the trolley



It costs 6 dollars per trip to ride the trolley. We got the standing section, where you ride along the outside, so it felt very authentically SF.

Action shot whilst trolley riding


Gillian, aboard the trolley
Leah rides the trolley

We hopped off near Chinatown, and toured through there. It feels, sounds, and smells just like China pretty much. We made our way through the throngs of Saturday morning shoppers, enjoying the sights and nostalgia of being in Asia, as well as some awesome views of the city. 


Once through Chinatown, we ended up in North Beach area of town, where we decided we had done enough walking to earn lunch. Our awesome amigo Erica directed us to Giordano Bros, an awesome sandwich place, home of the Pittsburgh style All-In-One sandwich. This essentially means, provolone cheese, vinegary slaw, and fries on delicious bread (see website for photo). Basically, to die for, and super reasonably priced. To top off lunch, we stopped for gelato and some greeting card shopping in this super cute store called Lola (maybe. It is just up the street from Giordano Bros).



With that out of the way, we went by Lombard Street, which is known for its wiggly nature, and then down to Ghirardelli Square, where the chocolate factory is. We were remarkably restrained there! Erica took us to this super cool old wharf building, called Musée Méchanique, which now houses a multitude of old carnival games that cost 25-50 cents apiece. I tested my strength and found it to be that of a little man, which is stronger than a pensioner and a girl, so I suppose that is something to be proud of!

With a great friend and tour guide
Some of the old machines
Gillian shows off her strength
Leah gets her fortune read.

A quick stop at Pier 39 to see the sea-lebrities, aka the resident Sea Lions, and do a bit of souvenir shopping, and we made our way to Pier 33 to catch our tour to Alcatraz. Ok, so essentially, you can google Alcatraz yourselves to read about its history (there is A LOT!), so in terms of what we actually did there, the tour was great. You do the audio tour by yourself, which is well-narrated and then they offer various talks throughout the day on top of that. The park rangers were very interesting and well spoken, and clearly passionate about their work! Overall, I would rate it as a very informative and interesting experience. Especially since we went at sundown and were treated to the best view of both bridges and the city at sunset!

Pier 39 sea lions






I mean, does it get any prettier!!

So, to end off our evening, we tried the must-eat, the clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl from the Fisherman’s Wharf, then headed to the Ferry Building to catch BART to the Mission District to have dinner at La Cumbre, which is an AWESOME burrito place, home of the quote unquote Mission-style burrito. Basically, it was SO GOOD, could NOT finish it all it was so large and a really reasonable price. They also have a huge variety of homemade salsas to dip your chips or burrito in. YUM!

Driving the PCH-ish

January 17th, 2014

LA to San Francisco

Alright, super sorry, but there aren’t really any photos to accompany this blog post, and this is kind of more to account for our day, and of course, what we ate, mainly because I was doing the driving. There should be some food and scenery pics up on FB tho, especially under Leah’s account.

We left LA around 0845 in the morning and headed out to take the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) up to San Francisco. We started out well, enjoying the scenery up through Malibu and stopped for a pretty delish coffee at Cafecito Organico (, then continued on, fully caffeinated. We had lunch at In n Out, apparently a Cali staple. I had just some cheesy fries and a vanilla shake, while Leah had a burger & fries and chocolate shake. I am told the burger was VERY delicious. The shake was certainly good, although I felt like I could hurl after, it was so rich! They make their fries on site, which is pretty cool, as we saw the poor sop whose job it is to take the freshly peeled potatoes and put them through the fry splitter machine.

We kind of got side-tracked from the PCH here, as Park Gar Min lead us astray and we must have missed the street signs directing us to the 1 (aka PCH), but it was still a pretty drive, through the farmlands of Cali. Lots of moos and neighs along the way, and no, I have still managed to not pick up any animals to take home with me! We eventually made our way back out to the 1, and ended up coming into San Francisco through San Jose-ish and a very, very windy mountainous road (lots of fun to drive!). Elva also turned 13,000 this drive. She is holding up admirably!

Itinerary of the Itinerant wanderers – subject to side routes and meanderings, of course

Here’s the synopsis of our travels so far. Hopefully we’ll pretty much keep on track…but you know what they say about the best laid plans! Please let us know if there is anywhere we MUST eat, anything we MUST see or do, or any other awesome recommendations. We are planning on couchsurfing in: St. Louis, Kansas City, and Las Vegas, if anyone out there has a super comfy couch, or better yet, spare bed for us to crash on. We are super fun and will have heaps of good stories – promise!

Also! If anyone has tips for the best routes to take….we LOVE scenery! Whatever scenery you can get in the dead of winter that is…

December 26th: Depart Moncton, NB. Arr New York City

December 27-29th: Livin it up in NYC

Dec 30th: NYC to Germantown, MD via Philly and Baltimore. Cousins reunion!

Dec 31st: DC New Years! Touring the Pentagon, National Mall, the Whitest of Houses, Smithsonian… HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

January 1st, 2014: Chincoteague, Assateague … Wild Ponies!

Jan 2nd: Knoxville – Smokey Mountains, Grandfather Mountain

Jan 3rd: Nashville – Grand Ol Opry, here we come! Korea reunion numero 1 with Alex!

Jan 4th: Louisville via Mammoth Caves. Korea reunion numero 2 with Brian-san.

Jan 5th: St. Louis and Cahokia Mounds

Jan 6th: Kansas City

Jan 7th-8th: Denver. Korea reunion numero 3 with Miss Lija.

Jan 9th-10th: Grand Canyon

Jan 11th: Las Vegas

Jan 12th-16th: LA!!! Disney, Rodeo, Hollywood, and the Fam Jam. Planning on tickets to Ellen and maybe a little POP Pilates with Cassey?!

Jan 17th-19th: San Francisco. Another Korean reunion with Erica from America herself.

Jan 20th: Depart for Portland, OR

Jan 21st: Vancouver, BC – Back to the Homeland!

That’ll be it for a bit…..must make it through this last few weeks of school before heading out. Keep watching from Dec 26th for photos, stories, travel quotes, and daily musings.