Monday, April 13, 2015

The Perfect Break: Part Two

And we’re back! Let’s pick up where we left off, shall we? This post will cover both Saturday and Sunday, so just be sure to prepare yourselves in advance for the length of this one.

Saturday we let ourselves sleep in a little bit. With the time difference, I woke up fairly early, read a little bit, and then made myself fall back asleep. Though I got about five hours of actual sleep the night before, and then slept some on the plane, I still didn’t want to enter into a sleep deficit. We started moving around 9:15am, threw on some workout clothes, grabbed a quick breakfast at Starbucks, and went to pick up our rental bikes. My one request for this trip was that we biked across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, as that was one thing my mom and I did not do when we were here that had been recommended to me a couple of times over. Mary Ellen had actually never done that herself, so she went ahead and rented bikes for us to use. Which, by the way, is far superior to doing a bike tour. We paid for bike insurance, because flat tires and broken chains would be our fault, of course, dropped a few layers off at Mary Ellen’s apartment, and headed on our merry way. And let me just stop right here and say that the weather in San Francisco has got to be more bipolar than the weather in Houston. We would be freezing one second, and then shedding jackets the next. We also weren’t sure what the weather would be like crossing the bridge, and we decided we’d rather be safe than sorry. But one thing stayed consistent the entire weekend – sunshine. And for that, we were all especially thankful. Especially because we heard that the weather in Houston was not so ideal.

Anyway, we headed in the direction of the bridge, and this was no easy feat. We are all in relatively good shape, and I would consider all five of us to be athletic, but some of those hills definitely got the best of us. I was winded after just one hill, but thankfully we only hit a few more tough hills after that. And the hills getting to the bridge were more than worth it for the views we were afforded while crossing the bridge. Clear blue water, the San Francisco skyline, Alcatraz, and mountains that we certainly don’t see in Houston.

Once we got across the bridge, it was (mostly) downhill into Sausalito, which just might be the cutest little town I ever did see. When my mom and I were here a couple of years ago we stopped in Sausalito, and I fell in love with the place. It’s cute, quaint, and the views don’t get much better. We stopped for lunch at The Trident, only settling for a patio seat. We got what we wanted, and we truly could not have asked for a more perfect day. We laughed, enjoyed some delicious food, and even caught some rays. After much deliberation, I settled on a salmon sandwich with a side of greens, and that was easily one of the best meals I had all trip. But then again, everything I ate was pretty top notch.

Mary Ellen's prized picture

We enjoyed the view for a little while longer before checking out some of the cute shops around town. I love unique, one-of-a-kind boutiques, and that was just what Sausalito offered. We walked around for a little bit before getting in line to catch the ferry back to San Francisco. We entertained the idea of biking back across the bridge, but some of those steep down hills caused us to rethink that idea. We ended up boarding the ferry with no problems, minus the chaos that was removing our bikes, but I think it was definitely the better plan. From that point on, we referred to every hill with a, “Imagine if we had to bike up THIS hill.”

Once all five of us had our bikes, we biked to the other side of the city for some famous Philz Coffee. While I don’t like coffee, it sounded good to everyone else, so I went along for the ride. Though this bike ride tiptoed on the dangerous side, as we were riding through the city with no bike lane, the sports fan in me loved biking by the San Francisco Giant’s AT&T Park – Home of the 2014 World Series Champions.

After a coffee break, we returned the bikes, walked through the Marina District and did a little bit of shopping, picked up some famous Susie Cakes (literally the cutest bakery I think I’ve ever seen), quickly showered and ordered pizza (and a salad for lactose intolerant me), and speed-walked to the beach by Mary Ellen’s apartment so that we could picnic and watch the sun set over the Golden Gate Bridge. We didn’t talk much at first, because all of us were absolutely starving by this point – I think that was the cause of our speed walking – but I think that had to be one of the most enjoyable picnics I’ve ever had. We talked and laughed and maybe had a little bit too much wine (me – I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol), and it made me realize just how grateful I am for these girls. I think we were all feeling a little bit of that at that moment because we even vocalized it, agreeing that no friends are quite like the friends who saw you through high school. And the fact that each of our college experiences were so very different and we were able to pick up right where we all left off, is something worth noting. The sunset was of course, beautiful, but I think the low-key, laughter-filled night was the icing on the cake.

We were pretty wiped after that, but we took the long way home, walking by the Palace of Fine Arts so that we could see it at night, and it was just beautiful. You guys know I love Houston, but there’s no beauty like California beauty. Once we made it back to the apartment, we winded down pretty quick, wanting to make sure that we got a full night’s sleep before Sunday’s Napa Valley adventure. We had a car reserved for six hours, meaning we had time for three wineries. We started off at Artisa, which afforded us some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. I didn’t even feel like I was still in America at this point. We had a personable waiter who shared his accents with us, and of course, tasted some delicious wine, while sitting on the deck on this gorgeous day.

White wine girls

The Chardonnay was my favorite at this winery, but some of the reds were quite tasty, too. We spent a little over an hour at this winery before packing up and heading to Gundlach Bundschu, a winery that had picnic tables and a lake view where we could eat lunch. Instead of tasting, we simply purchased two bottles of wine – one red and one white – and set up shop with sandwiches and meat and cheese and crackers and hummus and celery (that last one was my personal contribution).

What many of our attempts looked like
With full stomachs, we piled back into the car and made our way to Sonoma for our last, and probably overall favorite, winery of the day – Cline Cellars. This one actually let you taste five wines for free, so we grabbed our wine, and walked over to the vineyard and had our own little photo shoot. We were those girls, but with a GoPro, you don’t even have to inconvenience another person by asking him or her to take your picture, so we didn’t feel that bad. Besides, as long as we were happy and having fun, that’s all that matters, right? I really liked this place because it had a very family, country club feel, and the aesthetics were just very pleasing. Though, the aesthetics certainly weren’t lacking anywhere else.

Caught in action with the selfie stick

We wanted to be sure to give ourselves plenty of time to get back to San Francisco, especially because we feared there might be traffic, so we left Sonoma just before 3:00pm. We ended up making great time, and my friends, and our fearless driver, Sammy, allowed me to fulfill my childhood dream by vising the actual Full House House. Remember a couple of years ago when I visited the Painted Ladies? Well, this time I got to see the actual house used in the show. The door is no longer red, and the house has been repainted, but John Stamos was at this house just a couple of weeks ago, so I knew it was one and the same. We snapped a couple of quick pictures, jumped back in the car, and I was on cloud nine after that one.

The sun and wine had clearly taken it out of all of us, so we crashed for a little bit upon our return to the apartment, but soon after we shed our Napa clothes for workout clothes (of course) and walked around the Marina District a little bit before enjoying a light dinner at Blue Barn. This place reminded me of Salata, in that I built my own salad, but I regretted it a little bit when I saw the sandwich that Lindsay ordered. But that really didn’t stop me from eating almost all of my gigantic grilled chicken salad.

We made another stop at Susie Cakes for one last dessert, where I got my parents some H U G E chocolate chip cookies, before making our way back to the apartment one last time. We packed up and talked and laughed and it really was the most perfect weekend. A little escape from reality with some of the very best girls I have the pleasure of knowing. And though it was hard to say goodbye to one of my best friends, and we returned to rain and thunderstorms, I’m strangely excited and ready to go back to school tomorrow. Who would have guessed that I would miss my students as much as I did? But I think the best part of all is that I’m feeling relaxed and rejuvenated and I’m going back to the real world with the fullest of hearts. And on that note, I should probably start getting back in school mode again. Here’s to hoping I had competent substitutes!

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