Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bay Area Adventures Part II

Saturday afternoon we headed into San Francisco for sister (+Sergey) adventures. Our parents booked us a night in the Union Square Hilton with reward points, and we were pretty impressed with the view from our tower room on the 38th floor. We settled in, went to H&M and then got ready for a night out in SF. Our first stop was Bourbon and Branch, a speakeasy a few blocks from our hotel. From the outside it is just a nondescript brick building with a sign that reads "Anti-Saloon League." When we knocked on the unmarked wooden door, a hostess peeked out and asked for a password. Once we gave her the password we were ushered inside and seated in a booth in the dimly lit front room. The atmosphere was fantastic, complete with rules banning cell phones, cameras, and ordering Cosmos. The drinks were yummy and not as expensive as they could have been (mine were each $11). The place felt like an authentic temperance-era speak easy right down to the cloth hand-sewn coasters (upon which I fixed and plan to replicate) and the fedora that Sergey was wearing. After that we went out to restaurant where we had wine and good seafood, and then we went back to the hotel to hang out and enjoy the view of the city.

I had planned to visit Glide Memorial UMC (of Pursuit of Happiness fame) Sunday morning, but instead we slept in and Erin and I used our complimentary breakfast vouchers at Starbucks in the lobby (which got us each a grande drink, a pastry, a piece of fruit and a juice. You can't beat that!) Then we left Sergey in the room to sleep and study, and we took a bus up to the Presidio where I was in search of Fort Point and more NPS passport stamps. It was pouring by the time we reached the Golden Gate Bridge visitor's center, and we were without rain jackets or umbrellas. Undeterred (mostly), we walked around until we found the path down to the fort. It was a cold and wet walk, but fortunately it did not take us long, and we laughed most of the way. The joggers passing by seemed to be evenly divided between those who were impressed with us and those who wondered what the heck we were doing. After we narrowly missed being dragged to sea by a giant wave, and being hit by cars dodging said wave, we finally made it the fort, a civil war period fort right under the Golden Gate Bridge. Even though it was still raining we explored, looked at exhibits, took pictures of the architecture and the fog rolling in over the water, and (of course) I got my passport stamped again. After that it was back to Cupertino to dry out and eat soup while watching The Polar Bear King.

I didn't do much with my last day of vacation, but it was pleasant and relaxing nonetheless. I walked to Panera for lunch and then to Asian grocery heaven - a market nearby where I got supplies to make sukiyaki for dinner. Our sukiyaki experiment turned out well, and we had a nice Japanese dinner with a delicious tempranillo wine that was left over from an even at Sunset that day. A perfect way to end my quick stay in California.

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