2 days in san francisco-part one

March 21, 2011

People are always asking what I do when I travel. So I thought it would be really fun to start sharing pieces of my trips from a “design” perspective. I love food, flowers, neighborhoods, art, design, and shopping when I go away. We have lived on the west coast for 11 years now and having come originally from Chicago I need neighborhoods when I travel so this most recent trip was to San Francisco to pick up my sister who was flying in from Australia. Basically, two days in the city…What should you do when a trip to the International Terminal at the San Francisco Airport is part of that trip? Well sit back, get your beverage of choice and let me share two days in the city with you.

First of all, we drive to San Francisco, so we travel over the Sierras and Donner Summit, through Sacramento, Davis, Vacaville, Fairfield and the outer suburbs of the East Bay and then cross the Bay Bridge and come to the city where we like to stay in the SOMA District (or South of Market as it is called) There are plenty of great stops along the way which I will devote another post to but for today I will focus on SOMA, Hayes Valley, The Airport and part of the Mission District.

Day One: We are going to be picking up my sister from the airport. She lives in Melbourne, Australia and I have spoken of her many times on the blog. So before heading to pick her up we need breakfast. If you ask any hotel concierge in the SoMa District they will probably direct you to Denny’s or some other very touristy spot. We however, like to go to The Grove– 690 Mission Street. There are several of them in the city, with the original being on Fremont Street (It is awesome but very crowded) so we were excited to see a new location just steps away from our hotel. Upon entering the restaurant, you automatically get a welcoming feeling. Amira greets you and stops and chats with you so you feel right at home. The food is second to none and I highly recommend the cafe au lait shown in the photo above (and I am not usually a coffee drinker-except when I travel) My kids ordered french toast which is made with thick bread and my husband and I ordered eggs. This was a great beginning to a busy day at the airport and beyond.

So what exactly do you do at San Francisco International Airport when you are picking up an international traveler. the first thing is to know that the arrival time posted on the arrivals board is the time the plane lands but not the time that your guest will walk through the doors of customs….Allow about 1-1/2 hours after the arrival time for that to occur. Not knowing that as I am usually a passenger arriving (not picking up) you will need a couple of kid distractions to keep you going unless you pre-plan to arrive later. The great thing about this airport is the architecture and the artwork displays on the main departure level aptly called the SFO Museum. At either end of the terminal are pottery and ceramic displays and in the middle there is a rotating display ( I have seen ballet costumes from the San Francisco Ballet and on this visit their were ancient masks from Mexico and the Pacific) The coolest display I think though is at the back of the terminal and was created by Ik-Joong Kang and is called Gateway. Each piece is a 3×3 painting, wood carving, tile or acrylic cube and each were created on long commutes to and from school and work. The size was perfect to fit into his bag and the time long enough that he could create a piece while he traveled. You could take hours looking at the different pieces and it is surprising how many little details can occur in a 3×3 space. In addition to the museum, there is a satellite shop for SFMOMA that has a great selection of design and art related items (not your usual airport gift pick up here). So after a fun morning looking at art, my sister finally arrived. Hungry for lunch, we headed to one of our new favorites in San Francisco-Nopalito.

Nopalito sits at the base of Haight-Ashbury or Lower Haight- 306 Broderick at Fell. (415)437-0303. This was our second visit here. The last time was with good friends that introduced us to it at Christmas time for dinner. This time we arrived in early afternoon, so we chose from the lunch menu. The staff here is extraordinarily accommodating for food allergies-gluten, shellfish, nuts etc. and everything on the menu is made from organic and sustainable ingredients. Our favorite dish-Enchiladas de Mole con Pollo (aka chicken enchiladas with mole sauce) and to share: Empanada con Deshebrada de Ros- beef in a masa pastry. Note: they do not take reservations here but are accommodating to large parties so call ahead. Great food, just writing about it makes me want to go back…..

After lunch, exploring Hayes Valley was at the top of our list…..But I will leave you there for now..stop by again tomorrow for 2 days in San Francisco-part two where we will explore Hayes Valley…..have a great Monday everyone…

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