THREE THINGS NOT TO MISS IN THE MISSION DISTRICT

The Mission. Great culture, amazing food, so much to see.  Really – you’re just bragging now San Francisco.  Granted, not in a Taylor Swift on Independence Day kinda way – more like a Julia Louis-Dreyfus in her natural state kind of way, because you can’t help it if you’re amazing and we get that.  And we love you.  And we love Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Here’s our top 3 things not to miss in The Mission.

1 – The Murals

The architecture of San Fran is gorgeous, period. Even in the late afternoon light it’s stunning.

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The murals in The Mission bring an additional hit of life and colour.  They make the streets sing.  It’s like Melbourne’s Hosier Lane on steroids, if Hosier Lane (admittedly, home to our beloved Movida) was jam packed with super cool, authentic Mexican eateries.

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THE CABLE CARS OF SAN FRANCISCO

There’s something very gorgeous about a cable car ride in San Fran.

Yes it’s touristy. But it’s also super fun.  

The cars are classic and pretty. Full of historic charm. And they go surprisingly fast.

A ride on one will get you a good look at some of the beautiful, colourful San Fran architecture. And you’ll finish up right near the bay (and dangerously close, in fact, to an In-N-Out Burger).

Here’s the start of the line at the Market Street Turntable –

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If you’re in town visiting and staying near Fisherman’s Wharf, the cable cars are a great way to get back to your accommodation from a shopping trip at the Union Square, Market Street and Powell Street shops.

What’s not to love?

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PICTURES FROM ALCATRAZ

A visit to San Fran wouldn’t be complete without a day trip out to this little former prison island in the middle of the Bay.

It’s a fascinating place. Inside the prison quarters are dark and cramped. Outside the natural beauty is stunning.

It’s home to some truly great stories, including the famous escape from Alcatraz tale

It’s also a place where a lot of beauty can be found.

Let’s take a look around.

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Here’s the view as you approach the island. The prison block is on top of the hill.

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SAILING – SAN FRANCISCO STYLE

There are those subjects they just have to teach you in school.   English, geography, maths (they tried and I admit, when it comes to odds and working out potential Melbourne Cup winnings, Beth and I are both totally proficient), the art of playing it cool after your tennis team loses in the district final every year of high school – these are all important lessons.   What I really want to talk about though, is what they aren’t teaching in schools, but perhaps, what we should be teaching ourselves.

Fish tail braids is a need to know. Every bad hair day (and I’m talking even half-Greek girl hair, bad hair day) will be saved by a fish tail braid, which will leave you feeling cool and breezy and bohemian.

When in doubt, always chose red.  People say trust in the little black dress, but those people are wrong.  I should not have to tell you this.  I’m talking a red silk shirt for that job interview you have coming up, I’m talking red racerback togs in summer, I’m talking a slinky 90’s style strappy red dress for your ex-boyfriend’s wedding.  If 8 is the number of power and abundance, then red is it’s colour equivalent.  It’s the only life lesson Tiger actually got right.

You need to be able to drive a manual car.  You do.  This is not a funny suggestion, it’s a real suggestion. You also need to be comfortable driving said manual car in foreign countries on the other side of the road OR ELSE HOW YOU GONNA CALI ROAD TRIP!?

Which brings me to another mode of transport we all need to master, more ancient and definitely more beautiful.   Sailing.   Because when it comes to life goals, there aren’t many higher on both my list and Beth’s list, then learning to be really good sailors.

So when in San Francisco, what better way to explore the beautiful San Francisco Bay, then on a sailboat? Well, I guess you could top that, by getting down to Pier 39 and onto America’s Cup yacht USA 76? Sounds like a plan, because even stunning cities like San Francisco really do look their best when viewed from super fast racing yachts.

Oh. My. God.

Oh. My. God. That. View.  And how about the incredible San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in the background! If you’re driving into San Fran from Monterey then this is the lovely bridge that will take you into town.

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5 REASONS TO VISIT THE FERRY BUILDING MARKETPLACE – SAN FRANCISCO

When in San Fran, there are many reasons why you should get yourself down to the Ferry Marketplace. 

Here are our top 5:

1 – The building & history 

You know how we love a good building? Well, this is an excellent one. And it comes with good story.

Located on the Embarcadero at the end of Market Street, it opened in 1898 as a transport and commuter hub for those coming into the city.

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Its beautiful clock tower was modelled on the bell tower at the Seville Cathedral in Spain

At its peak, about 50,000 people a day used the building when commuting by ferry to the city.

In the 30s, the opening of the Bay Bridge and the famous Golden Gate Bridge meant ferry usage dwindled and the space was largely converted into office space.

In the 50s a freeway was built right in front of the building, sadly making it much less visible. In 1989, an earthquake damaged that freeway and it was removed in 1991.

Happily, extensive renovations completed in 2003 have seen the building’s historical details restored.  The first floor is now a beautiful marketplace, showcasing the bay area’s best produce.

Ground floor of the Marketplace, today

Ground floor of the Marketplace, today

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THE BEST AQUARIUM ON PLANET EARTH

If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in the water – Loren Eiseley 

I don’t profess to be an expert on many subjects.   The art of cooking pasticho, yes. Car dancing at red lights, double yes. Professional tennis watching (my professional playing career was limited to an amazing 20 seconds back in 2002 culminating in a reverse smash that I have not stopped reminding people about) – are you kidding me, this is my favourite thing to do, preferably while eating éclairs at Roland Garros. Receiving a JCrew catalogue in the mail and maintaining actual dollars in my savings account – it’s difficult, but I’ve got this people. Winning at Mario Kart on the Nintendo 64? Again yes. I play Peach, to the irritation of many, but I can and will beat anyone, aside from Beth who has a long time history of pipping me at the post.

Of all my weird loves though, one stands out. I love sea monsters and while I am no expert, what I lack in knowledge is made up for in unbridled enthusiasm. I love reading about them. Love a good sea monster documentary. Love youtubing them, not to mention google-imaging-them.   Love sending emails to friends with amazing creatures of the deep sea facts, because I love those facts. Love finding articles about unknown sea creatures washed ashore.  I love them for their beauty, for their mysteriousness, for all that we don’t know about them and obviously, for their amazing names (long before there was North West, there was the Vampire Squid From Hell, which is not my nickname for Kim Kardashian, but an actual real life deep sea squid).

Most of all, I love seeing them in the actual flesh, which of course, is a bit of a conundrum, considering they most often live very deep in the actual ocean.

Enter the amazing Monterey Bay Aquarium. My favourite part of our Cali road trip and the absolute best aquarium I have ever visited.

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THE OLD MONTEREY INN

When I think of Monterey, the iconic Californian town about halfway between Big Sur and San Francisco, certain things come to mind – the legendary Pebble Beach golf course, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (oh so stylish and filmed in and around Monterey), the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium and the seafood, the glorious seafood (if it’s chowder you’re after, it’s Monterey chowder all the way).

So heading to Monterey, the last stop on our road trip before San Francisco, expectations were high.

We left Big Sur after lunch at Nepenthe’s, stopped into the Big Sur bakery for the essential road trip supplies (flat whites, a long black and a jar of seeded mustard, which seemed like a logical purchase at the time), hit go on our playlist and continued up the coast.

Arriving in Monterey feels like you’ve happened upon a real life Cabot Cove (sadly lacking Jessica Fletcher, but happily lacking the dangerously high Cabot Cove murder rate), making the Murder She Wrote aficionado in me super happy.

You know you’ve arrived when you spot the very pretty marina

The architecture and streetscapes really do seem so familiar.

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When in Monterey for the night, there is no other place to stay, no better option, then The Old Monterey Inn (I mean, technically there are plenty of other places to stay but this place is the pick).

Oh! We made it!

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BIXBY CREEK BRIDGE

Oh Bixby!

Let’s talk bridges (not a sentence I’ve ever used before but one that I may use again because more and more, I’m really learning to appreciate the beauty of a good bridge).

Now I don’t mean those bridges where you forgive people and then all is well and I’m not thinking the card game bridge, mainly because our Yiayia thought I was too chatty and my concentration too lacking to deal me into any card game.

I’m talking actual physical bridges. I’m talking Bixby.  The Bixby Creek Bridge to be precise, which I’ve always mistakenly thought of as the Bixby Canyon Bridge, I think because of the Death Cab song.

When embarking on a Highway 1 road trip, there are so many beautiful and unexpected surprises, but Bixby is something you’re waiting for, a sight you’re anticipating and even in a way, something you expect will feel a little familiar, because you’ve seen it so many times in photos.

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YES THIS PLACE IS REAL – THE MCWAY FALLS

The McWay Falls are probably the most photographed sight along Highway 1. And no wonder. They are GORGEOUS.

To get to this amazing spot, head off the highway into Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park when you see this sign –

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Isn’t the bear a nice touch?

The Waterall Overlook Trail is an easy walk, being only about a kilometre round-trip.

It begins from the same carpark as the Ewoldsen Trail, a fantastic hike, which we LOVED and covered here.

Our tip? Do the big hike in the morning, maybe take a break and head somewhere nice for lunch with a view, and visit the waterfall in the afternoon when the sunlight hits the cove in spectacular fashion.

At the start of the trail you will walk though a tunnel under the highway. Soon you will emerge to the incredible view of McWay creek spilling onto the beach.

Behold – the McWay falls –

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OUR TOP 3 PLACES TO EAT IN BIG SUR

You’re living it up in Big Sur. All this hiking, beach-going and general exploring has made you hungry.

You want to eat somewhere funSomewhere with views. Maybe you’d also like some coffee that actually tastes good, while we’re at it?

Wow. You’re really quite demanding aren’t you?? 

Well don’t worry my friend –  we’ve got you covered.

Here are our top 3 places to eat in Big Sur.

1 – Nepenthe – best view

 

Open since 1949 this is a Big Sur institution with views to die for.

Head up to the rooftop area,  pull up a chair at the bench overlooking the ocean and order yourself The Famous Ambrosiaburger – a delicious steak sandwich, served on a french roll with their famous ambrosia sauce.

With bottles of ketchup on every table and happy staff rushing around distributing baskets of golden shoestring fries, this is a picture-perfect US road-trip pit-stop.

Miss A and I and that incredible view

You will find Nepenthes at 48510, Highway 1. This is right near the ‘Posts’ part of Big Sur.

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