Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Much Needed Christmas Vacation Part 3: San Francisco

After a few days in Napa Valley we left the wine country for downtown San Francisco. My family has been to San Francisco quite a few times so we've done most of the sight seeing. We did a lot of shopping and wandering around. It's always a pleasure to come back to San Francisco. I love the diversity: you could go from the beach to the mall or Chinatown to the Golden Gate bridge. We stayed there for five days and I loved every bit of it!

Link to Part 1
Link to Part 2

Day 1

Before heading into the city, we made sure to visit the Muir Woods because we've never been there before! In case you don't know, the Muir Woods are famous for the ginormous Redwoods (the same ones mentioned in the song This Land is Your Land). They really were beautiful! We took so many pictures that it took me forever to select the ones to show you! There were quite a few paths that we could choose to take and we saw a few groups of people hiking. I'm so glad we stopped to see them because they're a national monument and I can check them off my bucket list for sure.

Hayley and Phoebe posing.

Inside a Redwood.

A shot of the gigantic trees.

After seeing the Redwoods, we made another stop just before we drove onto the famous Golden Gate Bridge. Getting up to the scenic area was a struggle because it was hard to find parking, but once we parked and hiked up the hill, we were greeted with a fantastic view of the bridge and the Pacific Ocean. The last time we came to San Francisco, we took pictures on the other side of the bridge so it was nice to get a different perspective.

 Me and my better half.

Great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

We took in the amazing view for a little while and then realized we hadn't eaten in five or six hours. So we all jumped into the car and drove to the hotel. The hotel we stayed in was the Courtyard San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf. I would definitely recommend it because even though it was small, the facilities were very nice and the staff was excellent. We actually knew their names throughout our stay because we asked them so many questions! The location was also great because the pier and bus stations were within walking distance. We arrived on a Sunday: Steelers Sunday. Thus, we found a sports bar and watched the game (Note: I am a die-hard Steelers fan so there was no way I was missing this game).

Snapchat selfie while watching the game with Mom!

Cheering on the Steelers and screaming at the referees on the TV took a lot of energy, so we decided to go back to the hotel and get some rest.

Day 2

The next morning, my dad and I continued our fitness craze and went for a run along the pier. We're both morning people so it was nice to get of bed and get a view of the empty boardwalk and the ocean. We spotted a bakery on the way back and got breakfast. I think it was called Boudin Bakery. I've never heard of it so if it's famous let me know! They had all kinds of bread and breakfast to try; I opted for a plain bagel and a coffee.

After breakfast, we went back to the hotel to shower and gathered the rest of the gang to begin our activities. Under popular vote, we went to the pier to do some exploring. I found Morgan Freeman along the way and my mom found her best friend.

Posing with God.

She found her chocolate-loving buddy.

After roaming the pier, we decided to go to our favorite attraction: Chinatown. I honestly don't know why we love it so much. After all, we are from China. I guess it's the fact that it's "home away from home". Anyway, our friend told us that there is a famous, moody old lady that makes fortune cookies, so we decided to go check it out. It turned out to be a few moody old ladies and a dollar photo charge, but it was still cool to see how they make them. We had lunch at a Hong Kong-style Dim Sum restaurant and then split up to do different things. Dad, Hayley, and I went to Westfield mall to go see Unbroken and everyone else went shopping. I wanted to see Unbroken for a really long time and I was so glad I did. I admit it was hard to watch because of the torture scenes, but the story was incredible and I strive to be more forgiving like Louis Zamperini was.

Cuddling with Baymax before the movie.

After the movie (and wiping off all our tears!), we found Mom and got dinner in the mall before heading back to the hotel for a goodnight's rest.

Day 3

As per usual, Dad and I went for a run along the pier and got breakfast. The plan for the day was to drive along the coast and see the seals (we didn't know it wasn't the right time to see them). We first stopped at the Palace of of Fine Arts. Brief history lesson: it was built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition and is one of a few structures still standing. The architecture of the building was beautiful and we saw swans!

Despite my reaction in this photo, I actually do like her.


We drove to the coast and, after realizing the seals weren't there, drove to see some bison. Really.

Pacific coast.

Bison grazing in the park.

Since we were in Golden Gate Park, we stopped by the famous Japanese Tea Garden.

I realize at this point that in the introduction of the blog I said all we did was shop, but we really did do a lot of touristy activities!

I hope this picture conveys how steep this bridge is, because it was mighty steep!

Japanese pagoda in the Tea Garden.

Not sure how this pose relates to Japan...

After wandering around the tea garden, we realized we forgot to eat again so we stopped by another dim sum restaurant. There is no such thing as too much dim sum. The parents went off for a nice dinner at a French restaurant while we kiddos got Chipotle. I did not protest.

Day 4

This time, Hayley joined Dad and I on our run. She, of course, is much more active then I am so I waddled behind them as we ran along the pier. We also went back to Boudin for breakfast and Mom met us there. I had always wanted to bike on the Golden Gate bridge and I had been bugging Dad about it the whole trip, so we finally went. Going from the pier to the end of the Golden Gate and back was 12 miles and I think it took us around 2-2.5 hours. Not too bad! I didn't realize the bridge was so far away from the bridge and that we had to ride up the hill so get there, but with my dad pushing me (literally), I was able to do it. I highly recommend biking across the bridge, but if you don't want to bike that far, you can always bike to the bridge and go back (because the bridge is almost two miles long). There were a lot of people on the bridge so it we had to occasionally yell "on your left!", but I had a really great time.

I couldn't resist.

Dad looking cute in his helmet.

What's a vacation without a jumping photo?

I successfully got him to participate.

After biking such a long distance, I ditched my healthy diet and told Dad we were going for In-N-Out burgers. We then found the Musée Mécanique, which has vintage arcade games. I also saw ANDREW RANNELLS. If you don't know him, he is a film and musical theater actor. He is best known for his role as Elder Price in The Book of Mormon and stars as Elijah on Girls. I also love him so much, but I was so nervous that I just took a photo of him and ran away. Tip: If you see a famous person, go talk to them or else you will regret it! By the way, my sister saw Josh Hutcherson and met Ty Burrell at the airport so I was extremely jealous!

Starving after the long bike ride!

In-N-Out Burgers!

ANDREW RANNELLS (in the trenchcoat).

That night was New Years Eve so we went to McCormick and Kuleto's for a fancy dinner and watched the fireworks on the roof of a parking lot.

Hayley posing with a mustache.

Part of the fireworks.

Day 5

For our last day together in San Francisco, we took a drive to San Jose to see the Winchester Mystery House. If you are ever in the area, you need to check it out. It was the home of Sarah Winchester, a rich lady who built a 6 acres home because a fortune teller told her if she didn't keep building her house she would die. The house is insane. There are stairs that take you around and around, a door to nothing, eight-foot drops, and stain-glass windows in places with no light. It was honestly the coolest and weirdest attraction I have ever seen. After touring the house, we got Italian food and drove to Google for some wacky photos.

Sign at the entrance of the Winchester House.

Aerial photo of the mansion.

The front of the gigantic house.

Door leading to nowhere.

Apparently, she was obsessed with the number "13".

Sis and I riding a Google bike!

The family posing in front of Google.

We went our separate ways the next day. I went back to Pittsburgh, my family went home to Hong Kong, and our family friends went home to Baltimore. This Christmas vacation was the most fun that I've had in a very long time. It's difficult to say what my favorite part of the trip was, but I did love spending time with my grandpa in Seattle and biking across the Golden Gate bridge was an experience I will never forget. Although we though we would be taking it easy in San Francisco, I really enjoyed being tourists and checking out all of those cool sites!

I hope you enjoyed my Christmas Vacation blog special! Make sure to check out Parts 1 and 2 by clicking on the links at the top. Let me know if you've been to Seattle, Napa Valley, or San Francisco and what you love most about them. Ta ta for now!

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