Tuesday, June 5, 2012

San Francisco Adventure--Day Two: Two Buena Vistas, Fremont Diner & Lombard Street

J & I started off Day Two in San Francisco with a 2.5 mile run at Hyde Pier and surrounding area. Hyde Pier is just a beautiful spot to spend some time early in the morning and late in the evening. We had a great run, which geared us up for breakfast. We chose a popular San Francisco eatery, The Buena Vista Cafe, which boasts the origin of the Irish Coffee in America. You can view the story here:

Deciding on breakfast was difficult--too many delicious options! I settled on traditional Eggs Benedict, though the Eggs Blackstone (poached eggs over grilled tomatoes) was tempting. The Canadian Bacon was the thickest I have ever seen, with a great smoked flavor. J opted for the Mexican Omelet, and upgraded the toast to toasted sourdough, of course. Papa W had a serving of corned beef hash (he was thrilled to the gills!) and side of sourdough toast along with sharing some eggs off of Mama W's Buena Vista Breakfast Combo (french toast, eggs & bacon). The food was wonderful and the staff even more so. Our busser, a very pleasant fellow, tried to encourage an early start with an Irish Coffee. While J & I would typically take the challenge and bypass the no-alcohol-before-noon rule by justifying with "it's after noon in Ireland", we were still lagging a little from the long day before.  The Buena Vista cafe is a must-stop if you visit San Francisco. It is also safe to say you should visit more than once, as the dinner menu is just as appealing.

After breakfast, we set off for Sonoma, a mere hour from Fisherman's Wharf. We were excited to get to make a trip over the Golden Gate Bridge. It is a beautiful bridge, and is worthwhile viewing from various angles and lookout spots. (More on that further down.)

We had set out specifically for the Buena Vista Winery, California's oldest winery.

It is a charming winery tucked at the end of a long road in Sonoma. From the parking lot is a short walk down a walkway lined with incredibly tall trees and exceptionally large wine barrels.

We spent some time outside reading the placards that tell the story of the winery's origin. We stepped inside for a tasting, and were warmly greeted by the staff. J & I were very satisfied with the wines we tasted, and chose the Syrah to bring home. After leaving the winery, we drove into town, where Mama W & I took some time to score some goods from the fair trade store Baksheesh. Not only do we find interesting and unique items when shopping fair trade, we also are grateful to be able to help support artisans in Third World countries.

Based on a recommendation from the winery staff, we stopped for lunch at The Fremont Diner. Before I go on to rave about this place, I have to be honest and say that we all agreed that had it not come recommended, we probably wouldn't have considered it, as it would not appear to be much from a quick glance while driving by.

Boy did we ever learn a lesson in not judging a book by it's cover! Since it was a sunny day, we opted to sit outside. We were immediately greeted by our waiter, who brought water to the table.

I was immediately charmed as I love old bottles and mason jars. I couldn't help but notice a group of ladies had biked to the diner and had an accessory that I absolutely need.

Once again, the tantalizing menu gave us some tough choices. Most of the ingredients the diner uses are from their own farm out back or from nearby friends and farmers. Mama W & I both chose the grilled cheese (goat cheese & asparagus) with a side salad,

Papa W had the Reuben with a side of baked beans,

and J, as always, could not pass up the burger.

The food was amazing, and to say The Fremont Diner was anything but awesome would be doing a great disservice. Not only is the food great, the staff fantastic, and a great view of a vineyard to the left of the outside dining area,

the diner is full of fun and charm.

Be sure to visit the gift shop for a t-shirt or trinket to take home. The Fremont Diner is a place you want to remember. You know what I remember most? The salted caramel milkshake I had for dessert. That's right--you heard me...

On the way back to San Francisco, we stopped at the Marin Headlands, a very hilly peninsula just before the Golden Gate bridge. There are several lookout points to pull over along the way, providing amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. The photo below is taken at one of the first lookout points. The second was taken once we got back to the bottom of the peninsula, almost underneath the bridge.

The Marin Headlands are also home to Fort Cronkhite, Fort Barry, the Nike Missile Silo, Fort Baker--which is now converted to a resort (reminiscent of the Bedford Springs Resort here in Pennsylvania) and the Point Bonita Lighthouse. Unfortunately, the winds were so strong when we reached the area where we would have to get out and walk to the lighthouse, so I did not get to see it. J & Papa W braved it, and made it over the hill, however Mama W & I opted for the safety of the car. I knew I would be lucky to remain standing, and I figured it wasn't worth it.

Upon arriving back to San Francisco, we decided to take advantage of having the car out and some spare time to drive the hills of San Francisco to see some of the popular tourist spots, such as The Painted Ladies and Lombard Street. Just as I was glad Papa W was driving down the extreme hills of the Marin Headlands, I was also glad he was driving down Lombard Street when we took the plunge. It is an incredibly tight S shaped street and not for the faint of heart. I think the person driving two cars ahead of us had to stop and breathe each bend, as they came to a complete stop before embarking through the next curve.

We were all still full from our late lunch at the diner, that we bypassed officially eating out that night in lieu of lighter fare and snacks. J & I bought a bottle of wine at the Walgreens and set in for a relaxing glass of wine while reading. For as much as we were packing into a few short days in San Francisco, we were sure to allow ourselves some down time, space and freedom to do as we pleased.

Stay tuned for Day 3: Crepes, Chinatown and Cable Cars.

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