Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Los Angeles

Adam, Stasia and I packed our bags and drove to L.A. a few weeks ago. It was our friend, Stephen's, birthday, so we decided to spend the weekend celebrating with him and his girlfriend. We spent Friday night at Disneyland, which just happens to be one of my favorite places in the whole world. We ate tortillas from the Mission tortilla factory in California Adventure...

And rode the Matterhorn at Disneyland...

And pretty much had the best time ever. On Saturday night, Keri threw a wine party and cooked a huge feast for a bunch of friends. After stuffing ourselves with gourmet BLTs and fancy sausages, we spent the rest of the night bowling at a dive bowling alley in downtown L.A.

The Birthday Boy

It was a great weekend! Thanks, Stephen and Keri!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Weekend Recap

The weather in San Francisco this past weekend was beautiful! We spent our Saturday at Fort Mason, the park where we've spent our weekends before. It gets absolutely packed when the weather is warm, and this Saturday was no exception. We had a picnic, and Stasia befriended a group of kids after trying to steal their breakfast.

But the highlight of our weekend was the brunch we had at the Moonstar Buffet. Adam was nice enough to get up early to go with me to Target. Zac Posen's new line of clothes for Target went on sale on Sunday morning, and I didn't want to miss out. There are no Target stores in San Francisco, so we had to drive south to Daly City, a place we are not at all familiar with. We were starving by the time I was done trying on dresses, and we quickly found that the only place to eat breakfast besides McDonald's was at Moonstar, an Asian buffet we didn't know anything about. When we walked in and saw the cheesy decor and the huge buffet, we had a feeling that it was going to be delicious. We were not disappointed.

Although they served nothing that we would normally eat for breakfast, it was all really good. They had just about every dish you could find in a typical Chinese restaurant and a number that I had never heard of. There was an enormous Sushi spread, and they even had a chocolate fountain for dessert! We ate ourselves sick by noon and spent the rest of the day suffering with stomach aches. But it was worth it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sunshine Wheat

There are a few things that I really miss about Colorado. The mountains, open space, Dixons... I especially miss the delicious, locally-brewed Colorado beer that was so easy to find in Denver. In particular, I miss New Belgium's Sunshine Wheat. Fat Tire is easy to find, and the larger liquor stores even carry some of the company's other brews. But I had driven all over the Bay Area looking for Sunshine Wheat and had yet to find it anywhere.

So, I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that Kennedy's Irish Pub and India Curry House, a restaurant just three short blocks from our apartment, serves Sunshine Wheat. I clapped and squeeled when I saw it on the menu, and Adam and I each quickly ordered one.

We each excitedly took a gulp, and I realized right away that something wasn't right.

"This doesn't taste right," I said.

"It's skunky or something," Adam agreed.

I took a look at the label and noticed that the beer had an expiration date printed on it. December 31, 2009. Apparently sitting for four months longer than recommended makes a big difference in how a beer tastes. Of course we finished the beers, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't still enjoy it. But we stuck to beer on tap for the rest of our dinner.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Another fun tourist attraction we visited while my parents were in town was Alcatraz. Ferries run all day to and from the prison, but we opted to take the night tour, which meant smaller crowds and a view of a beautiful sunset from the prison grounds. A ferry carried us on a 20-minute-ride from a dock in San Francisco to Alcatraz Island in the middle of the bay.

The last prisoners at Alcatraz left the prison in 1963, and since 1973 the island has been a major tourist attraction. Although the buildings on Alcatraz haven't housed any convicts for over 40 years, an air of dread still hangs over the grounds. Seeing the incredibly small spaces where the prisoners at Alcatraz lived was sobering, and hearing about the lengths that men went to in their attempts to break out of the prison was shocking. We were given an audio tour as we entered the prison, and the voices of former guards and prisoners guided us all around the prison grounds. We were even allowed to enter some of the prison cells.

I was surprised by how much I learned about Alcatraz on the the tour. I'm so glad we did the night tour. Being there in the dark added another spooky element to the tour, and watching the sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge was beautiful.

Alcatraz Cruises runs cruises multiple times a day. Prices range from $16-33 per person. See their website here.

Monday, April 12, 2010


My parents and little sister came to visit a few weeks ago, and it was was so much fun showing them around our new hometown! I love it when people come visit because we get to do all the tourist-y stuff we might not otherwise. We were racking our brains for an idea of what to give my dad for his birthday when Adam received an email for a discounted tour in a GoCar, one of the small, yellow cars we see zipping all over the city. Equipped with a GPS unit and an automated tour, the mini cars are lightweight and super easy to operate. We had been interested in them since we'd moved to San Francisco, and with my parents in town, it seemed like the perfect time to try them out. We were very lucky that the day we scheduled our tour was the first warm, sunny day we'd seen in weeks. Perfect weather for driving around the city in an open-aired vehicle! There are a three different tours to pick from, each taking a different amount of time and visiting different landmarks. We chose the longest tour they offer. At 2.5 hours, it started in Fisherman's Wharf and went up near Golden Gate Bridge, then out to the beaches on the Pacific Ocean and through Golden Gate Park. After signing a waiver and watching a quick video tutorial, you are given a helmet and keys and sent off on your own.

The cars are a little scary at times. They don't accelerate as fast as a regular-sized car and have a maximum speed of 35 mph, yet you travel on roads with traffic. Sitting stopped at a light behind an SUV, I could barely see over the bumper of the metal monster in front of me and I found myself wondering whether I'd made a smart decision getting into this little contraption. Luckily, everybody who sees you stops to point and wave, so you know people are very aware of your presence. And we were lucky enough to have Adam escorting us on his motorcycle, which made getting around in traffic much easier. The tour itself was great. It took us to places that I don't think we would have otherwise ever known existed. Because it uses GPS and there isn't a tour guide, we were able to stop for photos and breaks whenever we wanted. Throughout the trip, the audio tour gives you the option to take "detours," so you are able to make the trip as long as you would like.

One of my favorite stops on the tour was a detour we took in Golden Gate Park to Stow Lake. Up a narrow road, elevated from the rest of the park, the lake was full of people in paddle boats, floating around a small island. When you're at the lake, it feels incredibly secluded, and I found it easy to forget that I was in the middle of a huge city while we were there. Adam and I will definitely be returning to Stow Lake whenever we need a break from big city livin'.

We had a really great time in our rented GoCars. I absolutely recommend a tour in one, whether you're visiting San Francisco or live here. Although it can be a bit pricey ($49 for the first hour, $39 for the second hour and $29 for each additional hour), it was the highlight of my family's trip. We're all still talking about how much fun it was. And if you have some patience, Groupon offers discounted coupons for GoCar tours on a fairly regular basis.

GoCars are also available for rental in San Diego, Miami, Lisbon and Barcelona.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

iPad on Star Trek?

I'll bet you didn't know that the officers of Star Fleet have been using the iPad since the 80s...

Adam and I were watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine last night, just like we do every night (because we're super dorks), and we noticed that all the Star Fleet officers on the show use a device (called a PADD or Personal Access Display Device) that looks a lot like the recently released iPad. Apparently, we weren't the first Star Trek fans to notice the similarities (shocking, I know). There's even an application you can buy that makes your iPad display look like a Star Trek PADD. How cool is that?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Tonga Room

The Tonga Room, a San Francisco landmark, may be closing! The Fairmont hotel where the restaurant and club is located will be turned into condos next year, and the renovation plans don't include the Tonga Room. Located in the basement of the hotel, the dining area and dance floor is built around what used to be the hotel swimming pool. These days, live bands play out on a barge that floats in the pool while guests eat at tables and boogey on a dance floor overlooking the water.

We first visited the Tonga Room and few months ago, and I instantly fell in love with everything about it, from the kitchy, Hawaiian decor and the twice-hourly, indoor rainstorms to the enormous Tiki drinks and flower leis. The food is just above mediocre, but the atmosphere more than makes up for anything the meals are lacking. Besides, everything tastes better after a few Tiki drinks, right?

I really hope that the public outcry is enough to save this piece of history, but I plan to visit often in the near future, just in case.

You can even get a flaming volcano full of chocolate lava for dessert. Amazing.