Thursday, August 14, 2014

California 2014: SF Botanical Garden, Pacific Heights, and the Cliff House

We awoke on Thursday with much hope for a more successful (and far less ambitious) day.  The only real thing on our agenda was making it over to the airport to pick up Leslie at 7:30pm. Other than that, we could do whatever we wanted. So what did we do?  We went back to Golden Gate Park to walk through the Botanical Gardens ... but we took the Muni to get there (ha! we're not that dumb!).  So much easier.

Out front of Nopalito--their menu looked amazing.

I didn't really know what to expect at the Botanical Gardens--again I just figured, "Longwood?" and used that as my measuring stick. But I soon figured out that this was apples and oranges again: the BG was a giant, outdoor Mediterranean garden that reflected each of the five major Mediterranean zones in the world (California, Australia, Chile, South Africa, and ... the Mediterranean).  It's not meticulously planned and trimmed and groomed--it just does its thing, and I thought it was really pretty.  Basically, you know the Mediterranean garden and Silver Room in the conservatory at Longwood?  Expand it to 55 acres and put it all outside.

Also if you don't like plants/flowers, then you will think this post is more boring than the last one.

I later noticed these pompoms growing around the rocks at the Cliff House.

California Buckeye

Redwoods with Ron for scale.  I've been to SF four times and still have not been to Muir Woods. When we were driving back to the airport at the end of our trip, I did notice a giant sign on the highway flashing, "MUIR WOODS PARKING FULL" ... so maybe there's a better time of year to go?

Loved this flowering tree

Bad picture, but I've never actually SEEN a eucalyptus tree!  I've seen eucalyptus pathetically dried out and limp in bins at florists and craft stores, but never actually growing outside.  They have silver leaves like olives ... relationship?

Succulents were outta control ...

I could've taken a thousand pictures of them all.

I used Ron for scale in a bunch of my pictures.  This is an agave or "century plant"--Longwood has one, and a few years ago they had to remove panels from the Silver Garden ceiling to let it reach its full height.

Again, the biggest agave I've ever seen ... stuff like this only exists indoors at home.

Longwood has one of these too (in the Silver Garden, duh).  Theirs, however, isn't on a stump growing like a tree--it's set into a growing/display area--the tree version looks like something out of Dr. Seuss.

"Now you only bring me black roses ..."

I always assumed the color "fuchsia" was related to the plant ... I did NOT know that the plant got its name from a 16th c. German guy!  You should've seen how huge these fuchsia plants were--bushes covered in blooms. You can buy them in this area, but they're super touchy, and typically all their blooms fall off after two weeks and don't come back. They need lots of shade and cool temps, and Philly typically has anything but cool summers.

"Time"? "Inevitability"? "Life"? "So it goes"?

We saw tons of hummingbirds during our entire walk throughout.  I managed to snap this guy resting a few feet away right before we left.

I think this was my favorite of the three places we visited in GGP.  We barely saw half of GGP--the park is so huge!  Also a big Thank You to Longwood for having such a smartly curated Mediterranean Garden and Silver Garden--I was able to recognize so many things here at the Botanical Garden because of everything on display in those (comparatively) tiny rooms at Longwood.

From there, we had to go hat shopping since we had struck out at Goorin Bros. the previous day.  We headed back to North Beach (on the N Train ... duh) to one of the Goorin's other locations, this one even bigger and even more gorgeous than the one on Union Square.

It was hilarious watching Ron try on hats--he's very serious about it.  He's lucky because he has a good looking face, although with such a Roman face he looked like a character from The Godfather a few times especially when he reached for a straw panama hat.  I had to draw a line somewhere: "You look like Appolonia's dad. No."  But even that hat looked good on him--I just didn't want him to pick that one.

I've never bothered with hats because they're always GINORMOUS when you find them at a store at the mall.  I mean honestly, who the hell are they making clothes for these days? You would think we live in a country of giants or something.  I have a cloche from Leslie that my mom bought for her at the Gap, and while I used it to commute back in grad school (it saved my hair in the 50mph wind on the Temple train platform), it was huge and pretty much fell down to my eyebrows.  Here, the hats come in SIZES (HELLO!) and stuff actually fits.

I love that pink and turquoise one, but I'd rather get a brown felt cloche in the fall instead.

Ron bought another straw fedora (he's pretty sure he crushed the last one--a cheapy--in his suitcase last time) and a brown newsboy/Gatsby hat (this one I think). He was quite pleased with himself, especially when the salesperson who hails from New Jersey told us that they're opening on Rittenhouse this fall. (She was like, "Do you know where Rittenhouse is?" Oh Jesus, do I KNOW where Rittenhouse is?  In the words of Sarah Palin, "You betcha!")  So now I can buy Ron something other than olive oil and chocolate for birthdays/anniversaries/Valentine's Day, etc. And I will be going back for a properly fitting cloche as well, but not on this particular day.

From there, we grabbed a bus at Washington Square Park and headed over to Pacific Heights which we SHOULD'VE done the day before in place of the Sunset District.  So stupid. We should've just done PH the day before. Oh well.

This is sorta lame, but we stopped at La Boulange for lunch which is like a glorified Starbucks, but we were starved and didn't need the whole sit-down-and-dine-for-two-hours-experience. We didn't have too much time when we were done. I went in and out of a few stores, but then it was back on the bus to Union Square--we had to pick up our rental car before the place closed and then head off to the airport to get Leslie.

Wires wires everywhere--they don't bother me.  It's one of the city's hallmarks.

If you take the bus down Union Street to (or through) Pacific Heights, make sure you can see out of the north-facing windows: You'll have the prettiest downhill view of the bay.

I cannot figure out what happened with the lighting here--weird. 

We grabbed the car around the corner from our hotel and encountered the craziest lady EVER at the garage.  At first, I thought she was being sarcastic when Ron asked, "Is this where I pick up a car if I'm Emerald Club?" She went all crazy-nutso, waving her hands around and basically creating a parade to march us downstairs to where we should (apparently) be picking up the car ... I really thought she was making fun of us. (Ron traveled his butt off for two solid years, so if "Emerald Club" saves us even just a dime on anything, guess what? We're cashing in.)  But then after ten minutes of this, we realized Ohhhh ok, this is just who she is and then it became hilariously funny as she sent us off to the airport "to get your sister so you can wine it up in wine country!!!" or whatever.


She was funny.

We had some time to kill before Lesli'e's flight landed, so off to the Cliff House we went.

I didn't get any really great pictures here.

I can't get a read on the Cliff House.  It's a super obvious tourist trap--I doubt any self-respecting San Franciscan would step foot in there, but it's so pretty and there's something about it I really like.  It's always our last stop out of town before we drive off somewhere else.  We grabbed a table and ordered a drink and just hung out for a while before going back outside to see the view.

It's usually foggy and cloudy here--I'm sure many people would disapprove that this and Carmel Beach are the only consistent images I have of the Pacific Ocean. I really can't picture it any other way. Not sure that I want to.

See? There are those pompom flowers.

We hung around for a little and then drove through the fog and mist to the airport.  That's something bizarre: Driving in and out of the city.  You roll through the thickest fog and then it just clears and the sun is shockingly bright. And then fog rolls back right over and it's dark again.  The atmosphere feels like a living, breathing, moving organism out there.  At one point, the fog hung above the cars up in the air, and the setting sun played a million colors over it--it truly felt like driving through an opal. That's exactly what it looked like.

Leslie landed on time, and we headed up to Santa Rosa.  We had barely left the airport, however, and Leslie realized that she was starving as well as jet lagged.  In her head it was 11pm, I don't think she ever went to bed the night before (? ... typical, sadly, so I'm probably right about that), and she hadn't eaten since ... since ... well ...?

So Leslie pulled up google maps and searched for nearby places to eat, and that's how we found Tony Tutto's.

We drive through this residential neighborhood, go around a bend, and there it was: just a pizza place. We knew as soon as we walked up to the door, however, that they were closing and that we would probably get turned away. But no! Well, yes, they were closing, but whatever! Pick something out, and go sit under the heaters on the front porch--it's fine! (Yes, I said heaters, and yes they were necessary. In July.)  So we did.

The best thing about SF? It's a major metropolitan city on a beach. The worst thing about SF? My hair says, "WE'RE AT THE BEACH!! QUICK!! FRIZZ OUT BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!"  So slicked back in ponytail/headband, here we go.

It was the best pizza ever--Tony himself served us.  It made me sad how accustomed I am to being treated like garbage when I'm out places.  He could've turned us away and been like, "Seriously? Get the hell out of here and come back tomorrow if it means that much to you."  But, he didn't.  I was completely ready for it.  Rather he bent over backwards to make sure that the last people of the day were happy.  It was awesome. We sat outside and laughed so hard over the dumbest stuff and Leslie told us about her non-eventful flight out there.  I'm sure I complained about a bunch of stuff, but naturally I don't remember what.

Another hour in the car, and we finally arrived in Santa Rosa (because staying in Sonoma or Napa was so expensive that my hair almost caught on fire while scrolling through the hotel websites in May).  We needed to rest up for our Platypus Tour the next day ... Friday already.

1 comment:

Laurie said...

I've done 2 Platypus tours - one in Napa and one in Sonoma. Can't wait to hear how you liked it!