Parts 3 and 4 of our Valentines Staycation are getting combined! Mainly because there’s not TOOO much to write about, but surprisingly those days were light on pictures :O
I take the bus to work at least 2-3 times a week, but since Brian’s office has a parking lot, he drives every day. When we were planning our weekend, we thought it would be a good chance to get him used to the public transportation system in SF (also, AFAIK there is no convenient parking in Golden Gate Park).
The bus ride from our apartment to GGP was surprisingly easy, considering the last time we had attempted to bus to CalAcademy, we got lost and ended up spending over 1.5 hours on the road. I guess that’s the difference between one end of the park and the other… This time, the bus dropped us off almost right in front of the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Like many of the other attractions in GGP, the Botanical Garden runs a deal for SF residents – free tickets with proof of residency!
I’m a huge sucker for arboretums – something about the wide open space and abundance of flowers draws me in. I could probably spend hours, camped on a grassy expanse or wandering the different regions, sketching, taking pictures, and reading.
Unfortunately, we had just missed magnolia season, so most of the magnolia trees had only a few limp, dying flowers. Under one such tree, we found this super cool-looking leaf, and spent almost 5 minutes examining it and speculating about how it had decayed in such a manner.
Around 1pm, we headed back to the entrance of the park to wait for the free docent-lead tour of the grounds. There was only one other person waiting, so we ended up having an almost private tour! The docent was an elderly man who was extremely knowledgeable (albeit a tiny bit forgetful / wandering ) about the horticulture and history of the plants in the garden. He taught us that in the countries where magnolias originated, the natives often cooked and ate the flowers as part of the regional cuisine! He even picked a flower off of the ground and broke the petal to show us how meaty it was.
He also showed us the sticky fluid inside aloe buds, and explained how many of the trees at Land’s End were planted there to help guard against the bay’s violent winds. We covered more than half of the arboretum’s 55 acres, at a slow and exploratory pace. It was an exercise in patience, for sure, but well worth it for all of the docent’s tidbits of knowledge, as well as the specimens he pointed out that we might have not otherwise noticed.
The primary attraction we had planned for the day was actually a boat ride on Stow Lake, so as soon as the tour was finished, we jetted over to the boathouse. Before planning this weekend, I didn’t even know that there was a lake inside GGP, much less that you could go boating on it! The rental rates weren’t bad ( $20/hr ), and you can easily make it all the way around the lake in an hour without feeling like you signed up for surprise cardio.
Brian and I took turns rowing; turns out I’m better at rowing straight than he is 😉 While we were floating around trying not to run into the other boaters ( didn’t work; we got tangled with at least one other boat ) we discovered that there was an island inside Stow Lake that you could walk around on! There’s even a cute little pagoda! That’ll definitely be on the ‘to-do’ list for a future visit to Stow Lake.
We wanted to check out the Japanese Tea Garden as well, but unfortunately by the time we returned our boat and hurried over, it had already closed 😦 We’re definitely planning on biking back to Golden Gate Park sometime to munch on rice crackers and sip tea while overlooking the garden!
A tourist trip in San Francisco would not be complete without a trip to Fisherman’s Wharf! Nor could we bypass one of the most San Franciscan pastimes – brunch. Luckily, there was an adorable cafe just off the bus stop, called Hollywood Cafe.
Look at that generously sized helping of fresh berries! *mouth waters* And that ridiculous hash brown!
Luckily, we got to the cafe pretty early, so we scored a seat inside, out of the glaring sun. While we waited for our food, we admired the Hollywood-themed posters (of course) adoring the walls.
Our first stop at Fisherman’s Wharf was actually the Maritime Museum’s Visitor Center. It’s small but densely decorated rooms illustrated the history of the San Francisco bay, as it’s shores were sculpted and developed to accommodate the growing population of the city. It was absolutely fascinating, and we learned so much – for example, I didn’t know that the building I work in ( just a few blocks from the Ferry Building ) is built on top of sunken ships and other debris! Or that BART actually runs straight through the hull of one of these ships, which is why there’s a section between the Montgomery and Embarcadero stops where you can’t get any cell service – the signal can’t penetrate through the ship’s iron hull! It’s well worth a visit, especially when you consider that it’s free 🙂
The other part of the exhibit, the Historic Vessels docked in the Hyde Street Pier, does cost a nominal fee, but you get to step aboard and tour the ships!
Exhibits on the ships detailed the lives of the sailors and the cargo they helped ship across the world. It painted a rather bleak portrait of the sailors’ lives. I think, had I been a man living in the 1800s in early San Francisco, I definitely would not have wanted to be a sailor.
To write about the picture below, I tried googling ‘What is the steering wheel of a ship called’. I got as far as ‘What is the stee–‘ and Google auto-completed my question. I guess it’s a popular factoid that isn’t common knowledge! Turns out… it’s just called a wheel.
Anyways, when there’s a wheel that you can actually spin, of course Brian, being the kid-at-heart that he is, had to stand there and pretend to steer! But look how happy he is
I was really happy with how our staycation turned out. A giant group of our friends went to LA together and rented an AirBnb together, and all the girls went out to the spa while the guys stayed in and cooked dinner for them, so I was feeling a bit left out. Actually, the primary reason we decided not to go was because Brian and I had reservations at a cute little French place by our apartment that was running a Valentines prix-fixe menu, and we’re such suckers for tasting menus.. But after our adventurous weekend discovering all the nooks and crannies of San Francisco, I think we made the most out of our weekend, and I haven’t regretted my decision one bit!
Until next time! 😀