In the Event of Woop Woop, Please Evacuate the Fairmont

…From the Evacuation Plan on the back of my room’s door at the Fairmont on Nob Hill in San Francisco.

“Woop Woop”


San Francisco & Livermore, CA

A Bit of Background:
We were very excited to visit San Francisco, as it is a city that we both love but have somehow have never managed to visit together. Conveniently, the wedding of good friends finally gave us an excuse.

We had about a week in California, during which we spent most of our time in the city of San Francisco, but as the wedding and wedding related-festivities were in Livermore, we spent two nights out there.I didn’t take as many pictures as I planned. I think this is because having been to San Francisco quite a few times, it feels more like going somewhere very familiar rather than visiting somewhere novel.

On to the Trip:

Day I: Tuesday

Eleven hours of flying, and we arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon.

We checked in to our hotel for the first half of the trip, The Clift, and my husband and I did what we usually do in the face of a bit of jet lag. I went for a run and he went to the pub.

Run and Pub completed, we headed out to do a few errands near Union Square. We then headed to dinner at Ozumo on Steuart Street via a pre- dinner drink at a random Czech-themed bar/ restaurant called Cafe Prague.

The food at Ozumo was very good. I tend not to have much sushi back in London, much as I really enjoy it. As usual, my eyes were bigger than my stomach, but I managed not to point at the menu and ask for, “one of everything”. I also was so enthusiastic that I forgot to take a picture until I was well into the meal. The miso soup was perfect, the fish was delicious, and they had a very good sake list.

Dinner was excellent, but we called it a night shortly thereafter. I was the only one who slept on the flight.

Day II: Wednesday
Wednesday started out bright and early (6am!) thanks to a touch of jetlag and what I have been led to believe is a San Franciscan institution, the breakfast burrito. So much yum.

Unfortunately, that burrito couldn’t help me really ignore the fact that San Francisco is really cold! London takes a lot of abuse for its weather, and this is totally unfair.

There more more errands, lots of wandering, meeting up with our friend Robin, and an excellent dinner at Firefly out with our friends, Kendra & Markus, whose wedding has brought us here. I had an excellent entree of scallops, and the chocolate mousse was superb.

…and after all that eating, it was definitely sleep o’clock!

Day III: Thursday
After being woken up at 5am, we kicked off the day with an Ameri-tastic breakfast at Lori’s Diner. There were eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and no need for a belt. There was also a bit of Darren kissing a cow.

After the morning feast, we took a meandering walk up to North Beach and then back towards the hotel via a visit to the Sea Lions at Fisherman’s Wharf and the Embarcadero.

Swimsuits for much warmer Livermore were acquired ($10 at Marshalls!), and I went for a failed attempt at a nap. The afternoon was spent wandering the city, enjoying the smidge of sunshine that snuck through.

After meeting up with a very old friend who lives in SF, we headed out for Chinese at Hunan Homes on Jackson Street. While I was advised to check out a spot across the street instead, my late arrival led me to not disrupt the plan, and we were pleasantly surprised.

Day IV: Friday
Friday morning we wandered up to Washington Square, joined the mighty queue at Mama’s and mocked these people on segways.

The decision between french toast and omelette was difficult, but we managed. I went for the french toast sampler, pictured here, with an egg on the side. As Robin would say, we, “ate like big dogs”.

Following a much needed post prandial stroll back to the Clift, we checked out and headed to Livermore, where we were a bit startled to actually see the sun.

Day VI: Saturday in Livermore
While I highly doubt I’d seek out Livermore as a holiday destination, we easily enjoyed ourselves. The warm sunny weather was a welcome change, and there was a swimming pool ideally placed for catching up on one’s reeading.Our plans to visit the Livermore Laboratory were more easily derailed than I should admit by a suggestion to visit In N Out Burger. In my defense, I had committed to going to buy sweaters, but after said task was completed, I could hardly say no to a cheeseburger.

After eating enough to fuel a family of eight, I headed to the pool until it was time to head out to the McGrail Vineyards to witness the wedding of our friends, Kendra & Markus.The wedding was beautiful, and much fun was had. We were seated in excellent company, and we had a great time catching up with old friends and meeting new people.

Day VII: Sunday – Back to San Francisco

We returned to San Francisco on Sunday to find that gorgeous weather had arrived. Our change in hotel also meant we had to do some trekking up and down those famous hills.

We walked and walked all day. Many pictures were taken with my new lens, which I managed to get dirty. Nearly every picture taken with it has those two spots on it, as are visible in the shot on the right.

I may post more of the pictures later, but for now, I’m a bit cranky about the lens spots. I always fail to travel with cleaner, and seemingly, I never learn.

In the evening, we met up with our friend Chris at the Fairmont’s Tonga Room, where one can sit by the hotel’s former pool, which has since been converted to a lagoon, completely with thunder and rainstorm every half hour. It’s a bit like falling into a time warp, only better.

Chock full of Tiki goodness, we wandered out in search of Mexican food in The Mission and then, unable to resist the siren song of drinks served in coconuts, we returned for more Tonga goodness.

Day VIII: Monday- the last day of vacation
Despite quite a few trips to San Francisco, I’d never made it to Alcatraz. This remains unchanged.

I did, however, manage to not only ride a Cable Car but also to make Darren take me. Prior to doing so, we wandered around the Cable Car Museum, where one can see the cable mechanism operating the system in the basement.

After a bit more wandering around and even more Mexican food, it was time for us to check out, so we trekked up the hill again, collected our luggage, and headed to the airport.

United Economy

Emarking on our Californian adventure was going to involve one of my longer flights. It’s eleven hours of fun filled cabin time from London to San Francisco.

I arrived prepared, dressed like I was going to gym class, and armed with hours of entertainment.

  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (I heart Gladwell)
  • What Color is Your Parachute (Yes, I am having a midlife crisis. I also lotteried for 2 marathons.)
  • My Laptop with 8 hours of battery, Civilization, and Mad Men episodes.
  • Kit to charge the laptop in flight, if needed
  • Cozy shawl
  • Bottle of Water
  • Big bag of wine gums (suitable for sharing, but I had little intention of that)
  • Nytol (that’s right, to help me get my z’s)
  • Anti-inflammatory Pills for my hamstring

I got on the plane, took the Nytol, and well, it was lights out for most of the flight. I haven’t flown United in a long, long time; however, I think I’d be very inclined to do it again. I had a lot more legroom in economy than I’ve become used to, and it was excellent. That’s not to say it was spacious, but at no point did my knees make contact with the seat on front of me, and that’s pretty nice. I usually empty the seat pocket immediately, and this time, there was no need at all.

Even the flight back was fine, and this was further improved by the assignment of exit row seats.

I also discovered that SFO has an Aviation Museum, which is full of all sorts of random commerical airline stuffs, including this set of Pan Am emergency instruction cards.

Training Update: 9 July 2009

My preparation levels for the big day remains nearly unchanged since the last update.

I did acquire new running shoes, or as they’re called here, “trainers”, but as you can see, they’re still in pristine condition.

I had expected to be back running by the end of June, but unfortunately, I picked up a case of bronchitis while in New York, which led towhat is now going on four weeks of bad asthma and a lot of prednisone.

The good news is that my physio has said that as long as my lungs are feeling OK, I can finally start running some easy intervals to start acclimating my body to both running and hard cardio again. I expect to be giving this a go by this weekend, when I’m nearly off the asthma meds. I also hope to be dragging my bike out, if the weather holds up this weekend.

So, more to follow very soon!