Mini-Travel Diary: San Francisco, CA

San Francisco always holds a special place in our heart for Cecilio and I. Our first time going there together was 4 months before we started dating to an In Flames concert with 2 of our friends at The Warfield. Then, 1 month before we started dating, we drove again to reunite with my best friend, Rebecca, whom I haven't seen in elementary school. Since then, we would drive up as frequently as possible to get away. One day in 2009, it was so unbearably hot in a Sacramento afternoon that we impulsively drove to the City to escape the heat and feel the fresh, cool air. We arrive for concerts, anniversary dates, visits to see Rebecca, or just plain because. For us, this is like Disneyland.

One of my first blog posts was when we went to SF 2 years ago, but instead of driving there, we parked in Vallejo to ride the ferry there.

I grew up in Daly City (aka Little Manila, the neighboring suburb), and I have been blessed to go on field trips to museums and other cool places (like the Exploratorium, except that I was accusing of stealing a slinky toy at the gift shop when I was 8 when I actually did buy it but threw away the receipt). I have fond memories of my dad taking my younger sister and I to Ocean Beach. I will also never forget when I went to the zoo with my older sister and her family (my nephew and niece were 5 and 1 at the time, and I was 11) and we stumbled upon the hippos, and my sister teased me saying that they were waiting for a date with me. I wouldn't call myself a San Franciscan, but Cecilio says I was a lot closer to SF than most people were (think East Bay peeps, Giants and 49ers bandwagoners from Sacramento).

Even though we find our way to the City by the Bay (and even though I grew up in this area for 9 years), this was the first time we stayed overnight in the heart of the city. What a fun, rich experience and a getaway from it all. I will say that it was pretty hectic, considering that we went on Labor Day. It was amazingly gorgeous and sunny, which we all know that SF is full of clouds and fog 95% of the year.

Here's a little photo diary of our excursion!

Relaxing at Off the Grid in Park Presidio, with food trucks galore. It was great to see people of all ages, races, groups (families, couples, etc.)

A lamb hummus dish I ordered from one of the food trucks. One of the most disappointing things ever. I have been craving or a lamb on rice plate (particularly lamb shawarma on rice), and was a bit let down to find that there was no rice in this dish but I decided to give it a try. The lamb was skimpy and there was something about it and the sauce that made me go yuck!

Got some gelato from Luciano's Scoop, a Sacramento-based sweet shop. After my disappointment with that lamb thing, I was super satisfied with my salted caramel gelato! Cecilio ordered the mint chocolate chip one.

View of Golden Gate Bridge and Crissy Field from the Presidio

Our hotel, InterContinental Mark Hopkins, located in Nob Hill.

The inside of our hotel.

The bathroom in our hotel!

Our room had the view of the whole city. I feel so blessed and spoiled. I love you Cecilio, thank you so much for this!

Grace Cathedral, the iconic Episcopal Church in the City. It was near our hotel too!

On the way to dinner at Union Square. This street was super-steep and I wouldn't have minded walking back, but Cecilio was not too keen on it. Plus after dinner we went to Walgreens and bought some snacks and other items. I'm glad we took Uber, especially because I have been nursing an injury from my right shoulder!

Dinner at Bluestem Brasserie, an upscale New American eatery in Union Square with hipster elements and local ingredients.

I was craving for some wine (which I don't really drink a lot of), so the waiter gave me a few samples. I prefer sweet wine, so he brought me (from left to right) Riseling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rosé. I liked them all, but ended up getting Riseling.

Our appetizer, the Butcher's Board with cold cut meats, pâtés, and croutons.

My entree, caramelized scallops. It was delicious, but the scallops were on the salty side. Thankfully the creamed corn and beans balanced it with its sweetness, and the greens gave it a fresh vibe.

Our hotel has an indoor rooftop restaurant/bar called Top of the Mark. It is fabulous and swanky, and it is a wonderful view of the glittering lights of SF at night. Let me tell you, Cecilio does not drink at all. He has had 2 full beers once when we broke up for a few days (don't worry, we're stronger than ever), a glass of wine on one of our dates, and some champagne in NYC after he proposed to me. But he hated the taste of all of them. But he figured, what the hell, he was not going to drive for the rest of the night and decided to order a drink for the experience. So I saw a chocolate martini and had to have it, and he ordered a Manhattan martini. We got some dessert too: chocolate cake, chocolate truffles and macarons. Let's just say that the martini made him almost want to throw up and that he was chasing it down with all of the sweets. I loved my martini, and I was already getting more tipsy, especially from the wine from earlier. Alcohol is not Cecilio's thing, but we had an awesome time and a wonderful experience. We have fun with or without the presence of drinking, but when I do drink, I always have a designated driver to rely on.

We checked out of our hotel 2 hours early to get some brunch by Ocean Beach since we were going to hike on Lands End afterwards. We ended up eating at an American diner, Seal Rock Inn. I ordered an omelette with jalapeños, sausage, and jack cheese. I didn't eat the jalapeños, I just wanted some heat to my omelette.

Our hike up in Lands End. Do not be fooled, it was crowded with people. That's what happens when you visit on a holiday. Cecilio was complaining a little (ok, a lot) at first, but I was pushing him and pushing myself to go a little further. The exercise and the spectacular views of Ocean Beach made it worth it. He was so happy that we went as far as we did! We hiked up 1 mile each way, and let me tell you, it gets super hilly.

Afterwards, we wanted to go to Pier 39 and catch Pokemon. We have been to Pier 39 a bunch of times, and I know, I know, it's the biggest tourist trap. But if you are as serious about the game as we are and hear from others about how much of a hotbed Pier 39 is for Pokemon, you're going to want to scope it out. We could not find ANY parking. We eventually gave up and decided to go to the Ferry Building. We still had trouble finding parking, and it took us an hour to find a parking spot that wasn't tow-away. Ugh, that's what we get for staying on Labor Day! We were still able to find some great water Pokemon that we would never be able to catch in Sacramento. Did I mention that our hotel was a Pokestop? (For those who don't know the game, a Pokestop is a place where you can refill on Pokeballs and potions).

We had an amazing time, aside from a few mishaps (getting stuck in traffic for an hour on the way to the Bay Bridge, that disappointing lamb dish, my painful shoulder injury that had me taking ibuprofen every few hours, and the lack of parking), we had an awesome and different experience. When you're planning a wedding, you know how planners always say that you should have a date and not do or talk about anything wedding-related? That's what we did, which was important especially because we are now 6 months out and almost everything has a sense of urgency (I still haven't booked a hairstylist, and I have yet to send out the save the dates, I barely started our DIY projects, and everything is getting overwhelming). Now is the time to get seriously cracking with this planning. We will plan more trips before the wedding to keep us grounded and to help us remember why we love being with each other and spending time together.

No matter how many times you go to San Francisco, you will always find something new to do. And that's what we did. Usually, we go to Serramonte Mall in Daly City, stop by Ocean Beach, drive to Japantown, each dinner at a new restaurant, and then go back to Krispy Kreme in Daly City. We did none of that (except for Ocean Beach).

I love you Cecilio. Thank you for going on all of these wonderful adventures with me. I can't wait for more memories!

And to my followers, thank you for reading my posts and journeys! Have you been to San Francisco? What are your favorite points of interest? Would you like to come, if you haven't been?


  1. Hi Hannah, I loved this post more than you can imagine! Like I said before, I was a student at Cal for a year and visited SF pretty often. It'll always be my favorite city in the world.

    1. Glad you enjoyed this posts and makes you think of home away from home! <3