I asked Matt what I should call this series of posts since technically Day One doesn't even involve a train, and his suggestion was "You're Doing What?" That's pretty much the response we got from anyone who hear us talking about this trip!
Day one started bright and early at Memphis International Airport and ended in San Fransisco by way of Minneapolis.
This was a trip we somewhat brainstormed together (read: I sent Matt a link to a blog post of someone who had done something similar and then he planned it.) but once we got it officially on the calendar, it became my birthday trip. I'm totally ok with that because Matt keeps pulling out birthday cards that have surprises in them! My first card treated me to a manicure during our layover in Minneapolis. Super exciting since I was bummed I hadn't had time to get one before we left. And Xpress Spa did better than I Xpected them to.
Our taxi driver from the airport to the hotel loved his car horn. And did not love the car in front of him. Ever. At our hotel they upgraded us to a swanky room on the 20th floor (did they not know we were using points??) and we dropped our bags and headed out to make the best of our time. But not before taking a selfie on our massive balcony.
Laura, the hotel concierge, was amazing and pretty much mapped out our whole afternoon for us. We basically did a four mile loop from the Embarcadero area to Fisherman's Wharf and Ghiradelli Square. The first attraction was the Ferry Building that has a really cool food market inside of it.
They had a big flipping sign for all the ferry departures. This picture taken specially for my Dad and his southern pronunciation of Vallejo.
We didn't want to be rude and not buy anything so we shared an organic swirl ice cream cone. It was quite tasty.
From there, we walked and walked and walked. The breeze coming off the water was very cool, but the sun was beating down on us and we both worked up a sweat. We could see the Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill but opted to skip it. (That's the Transamerica Building on the right.)
Our next stop was at Pier 39 where we could look out over the water and see Alcatrez. I had really wanted to tour it but our flight didn't get in in time for us to catch the last ferry over. We'll have to come back!
Pier 39 was also where we were first able to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Thank goodness it wasn't too foggy!
We kept walking until we made it to the Boudin Bakery on Jefferson Street, another recommendation of Laura the concierge. It was really fun to get to watch them make the sourdough bread!
They also had some pretty impressive bread animals - teddy bears, crabs, and an enormous alligator.
Following the map Laura drew out for us, our next stop was the beach at San Fransisco Bay. Totally counts as the Pacific Ocean, right? Same water?
My feet were dying to get some fresh air from the wool socks and boots I was walking around in, so I was more than happy to kick off my shoes to dip my toes in the water.
Way out there in the water we could see the Golden Gate Bridge again.
My feet were good and sandy so it was a good thing there was a lush green park for me to walk through to let the grass clean em up.
I was super bummed to learn that the Ghiradelli Factory doesn't actually make chocolate anymore. They still sell it but we didn't see anything different from what we can buy in the check-out line at Michaels, so we left empty handed.
We stopped at a nice restaurant for drinks and appetizers but I have no pictures to prove it. I don't even know what it was called! It had a spectacular view of the bay though.
We made an on the spot decision to skip Lombard street after eyeing the steep hill we'd have to climb up to get there. Maybe next time.
The second half of our 4 mile loop took us through Little Italy where we stopped for wine (Bellini for me!), calamari, and really tasty tiramisu.
By the time we made it to Chinatown, most shops had already closed for the evening. Not a huge loss since I don't really get the appeal of Chinatown. Maybe I need someone (Mom) to show me how to shop there.
The last stop of the day was at CVS to get snacks for the train ride. With a bag full of crackers, granola bars, drinks, and candy, we called it a day on San Fran and went back to our room.
Probably one of my favorites parts of the day was hanging out on our balcony when we got back. We were surrounded by office buildings and had so much fun being nosy and watching people still working in their offices. I was secretly hoping to catch a late night office romance, but the janitor emptying the trash and vacuuming was about as exciting as it got.
The lights on the Bay Bridge looked great from our balcony!
The picture below was actually taken the next morning when we got up since it was still dark outside. Doesn't the sunrise look so pretty behind that building?!
I'm pretty dang proud of us for making it so late - midnight our time! - after getting up at 4am and being on the go all day long. I definitely feel like we got a lot out of our short time there, but I'm also pretty sure I need to go back to see and do everything we missed!
Interesting tidbit of the day: Thanks to an abundance of herrings and a lack or white sharks and orcas, the San Fransisco bay has a ton of sea lions at Pier 39. Boats used to park there but there were so many sea lions that they eventually moved the boat parking elsewhere and let the sea lions have the dock. The weight of the lounging sea lions eventually sank the original dock so they rebuilt smaller ones that rise and dip with the tide for the animals. The sea lions are mostly males and some stay at the Pier year round. They were fun to see all piled up on the floats and to hear them barking, but they sure did smell! I'm sure not nearly as bad as they do in the summer when it's much hotter outside.
One last note: My plan on this 7-day adventure was to blog each day about the day prior. The worst part of the train ride has been that I realized we don't have Wifi like I was expecting. So this post was typed with my thumbs on my phone. It takes a bit longer and isn't as easy to do so I can't promise I'll get one posted every day. Also, since I can't do links or anything like that on my phone I'll do a big wrap up post when we get back home that has all the details of the train and our route, etc. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments of these posts and I'll answer them in my final post about the trip!