After five years of excessive travel I have adopted quite a few travel habits to improve the journey but one thing I can’t seem to get the hang of is checking the weather before packing. Along with my lack of preparation and dozens of trips to the Bay Area I still seem to think anywhere in California should be sunny and 75 year round. Not the case and especially not the case in San Francisco. My trips always end up with me chilly and freezing running around in a sun dress. However, the weather never dampens my time exploring the neighborhoods and food in the San Francisco hills.
The thing I regret most about my allegiance to American Airlines is that I no longer fly through Terminal 3 to visit my favorite airport food kiosk Boudin Bakery for my favorite turkey & cranberry sandwich. I am imagine there is a way to reach Terminal 3 via sky train but I am usually an hour late rushing to the gate so that is an adventure for another red-eye.
On my last trip I finished a conference in Phoenix on Friday and needed to be in Oakland that Sunday evening so skipped a weekend at home to enjoy a Saturday free to explore. I impressed myself immensely by taking the (very easy to navigate) BART to Oakland and then back into the city to spend Saturday. Without a plan I walked from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf and back to the Ferry Building with a few very fun street car rides in between. The street car may be extremely touristy and sometimes a long wait but I enjoyed it immensely. Whipping up and down the steep streets with your hands and legs flying out of the car is just too much fun. Smiling thinking about it!
Fisherman’s Wharf did not impress me too much, super touristy and busy but the walk around the area was beautiful with plenty of seals to watch and Ghiradelli chocolate to consume. Although the Ferry Building’s location is a bit remote I love the atmosphere. So many great vendors to browse and food I wish I could bring home and cook. I enjoyed a few good meals at the Market Bar including my first taste of seared shishito peppers which were poorly executed at home a few days later. I still have pepper on my kitchen ceiling. The Ferry Building is also home to Far West Fungi which holds a special place in this mushroom marketer’s heart but is well worth the visit for any specialty food enthusiast.
I would have benefited from a local guide because I definitely did not see all of the neighborhoods central San Francisco has to offer but I appreciate a city that you can spend the day walking without a plan and thoroughly enjoy yourself.
After a longer than planned walk from the Oakland BART station to my hotel with my roll-y bag in tow I was delighted to arrive at the nautical Waterfront Hotel. The hotel had beautiful floor to ceiling harbor views in a large, comfy room. Situated right in Jack London Square plenty of restaurants and shops surrounded the hotel for pre-conference coffee and late night ice cream treats. Jack London Square’s Market Hall hosts terrific farmers markets and festivals. I spent a few hours wandering around food and boutique stalls from local chefs and artists.
When traveling alone I usually sneak a Whole Foods trip into my stay for room snacks and easy meals to avoid constant restaurant visits. The Oakland Whole Foods stood out among all my favorite Whole Foods with extensive Made Local offerings. Yet to visit the Austin Whole Foods which I hear is amazing. Enough about Whole Foods.
During my conference Oakland Public Schools hosted our group for a tour of some of their school gardens. I don’t believe these gardens would be open to the public but let me assure you the program is incredible. Students throughout the city are growing and enjoying their own food while learning about California agriculture and sustainability. The vegetarian lunch I ate at Stonehurst /Esperanza elementary was substantially better than half of the restaurants I have visited. Take a look at California Public School’s California Thursday program for more details on their local procurement and education initiative. Very impressive!
My trip to Oakland/San Francisco flew by and I spent most of my time in a conference center but completely enjoyed the feel of the community and people I met. Oakland like all of the other West Coast cities I have visited maintains a unique vibe while also feeling entirely California. Can’t wait to return and will definitely, hopefully bring a coat.