Past,  Travel & Culture

Biking, Hiking, and Drinking through San Francisco

Dear Annie,

It’s not a family trip if you don’t see your entire family, right? After June Lake and Yosemite, my parents, family friends, and I ended up in the Bay area to hang out with my sister.

You know I’ve always had an almost estranged kind of relationship with my sister. We are very different in personalities, the paths in life we chose, and how we act. It’s weird, though, because you and I are like opposites too and we get along great! I believe that it is because my sister and I just never knew how to communicate with one another. But this trip I could tell that both of us grew up. We didn’t fight about stupid things… heck, we didn’t fight at all. Oh man, we’re growing up. (tears well in eyes)

We arrived at Stanford at around 5 PM to visit my sister at work. She took us on a mini tour, except she hasn’t explored much of Stanford sooooo… yeah. She did take us to a Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden, which was created in collaboration with Papua New Guineans (is that the right way to refer to them?). I don’t remember much of that part of the trip anymore, but it was a very beautiful garden and Stanford has a gorgeous campus.

One of the best (and cheaper!) ways to have fun is to go outdoors and explore, whether it’s hiking or biking or anything else. To quote Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. And happy people don’t just shoot their husbands!”

Hiking

My sister and her boyfriend Jason took us hiking in this small seaside town of Stinson Beach. It’s kind of isolated from San Francisco, and you have to go through a lot of mountains to get there. Apparently, a lot of people go there hiking because there are a handful trails there and you can see the San Francisco skyline after you hike up the mountain.

It was a relatively flat but long hike. It took us about 6 hours in total to complete the trip. It isn’t too hard though, both in elevation and in physical ability needed. We were really hungry afterwards, though, because it was a very long hike. My sister took us to this Neapolitan pizza place called Zero Zero – if you are ever in San Francisco, I highly recommend it!

I would not recommend driving in San Francisco if possible for several reasons. One, parking is a pain. Two, I saw so many cars that were broken into. There was a family that finished dinner and came back to a smashed car. If that was my car (or a car I rented), I’d be so pissed – I mean, I’m already pissed that some jerk dinged my side mirror and I have to pay for it! It ain’t cheap to own a car, my friend.

Biking

The next day we biked San Francisco. This is such a touristy thing to do, but I do it every time I go anyways. There are several companies that rent out bikes, but I’d go with Blazing Saddles because the employees there are so excited for you to get out and bike, and when you get back they applaud you for completing and it makes you feel so good.

The last time I biked SF was maybe two years ago? Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge then was horrifying because it was pedestrians and bikers all mixed in one. It was chaotic. Now they separated pedestrians on one side of the bridge and bikers on the other, which makes the ride more enjoyable.

Most people ride the bike from Fisherman’s Wharf, along the beach and water, across the bridge to another seaside town called Sausalito, and then take the ferry back to San Francisco. I’ve only ever biked through Sausalito because it is a quaint but looks pricey kind of place. The ferry takes about 25 minutes and you pass by Alcatraz.

Wine Tasting at Napa Valley

In my 25 years of living, I have only seen my mom drink five sips of wine, tops. I’ve never seen my dad drink before. So I was surprised when they agreed to go to a wine tasting in Napa Valley. Me drinking + parents not drinking = potential disaster.

Our family friends’ cousin lives in the Bay area as well, and was a member of Castello di Amorosa. It’s an authentically-built, medieval inspired Tuscan castle that took the owner 14 years to build. It’s even got a replica of a torture room!

They don’t distribute their wines anywhere else – the only place you can buy their wines is from the castle. Their red wines were phenomenal. My favorite was La Castellana, or the Queen of the Castle.

As for my parents? They were out after 1-2 glasses of wine. It’s funny because a few years ago, our relatives were telling my sister and I how they could handle their own drinks. But after decades of not drinking, they definitely cannot any longer. Either way, I’d like to think they both enjoyed their time at Castello di Amorosa.

I wish I spent more time in San Francisco so I wouldn’t only be biking around the city all the time. Next time I want to experience San Francisco like a local! One day…

xo

Juliet

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