Wednesday, June 6, 2012

San Francisco

Since having a baby, we’ve taken two road trips.  The first was comfortable—an hour and a half getaway to San Diego.  We spent the week exploring a different part of the city, slowed down by the demands of a napping and hungry four month old.  Ele did really well, though, so I was emboldened to try something further away.  We picked Angels Camp, which ended up being about an eight hour drive from home.  We broke up the drive by heading to Bakersfield for the night, to pick up my dad, who was joining us for the week.  Since Ele only naps twice a day, now, there was a lot more flexibility.  We spent the week training her to nap when we were in the car, and I entertained her on the drives when it wasn’t time to nap.  It was a success, and Ele is quite comfortable in her car seat because of it!

I won a travel blog contest through Wyndham’s Women on Their Way (Hooray!), and they invited us to stay in a four star hotel in downtown San Francisco.  Who can pass that up?  We decided it would be our first flight with Ele, so we packed our bags—one for us, and one for Ele.  It’s amazing how much gear a baby needs, and we really streamlined things.  Since we had to take a taxi from the airport to the hotel, I played it safe and brought the car seat, too.  The great thing is, since we flew on a Wednesday and Saturday in May, the flights were not full, so Ele was able to sit in her car seat in her own seat both ways.  I’m not expecting that when we fly across the country this summer!

The Parc 55 Wyndham was beautiful, and I really enjoyed meeting some of the other blog contest winners—6 of the 10 of us were there.  I’m honored to be a part of the group, as the other women are pretty amazing.  The hotel provided a crib and refrigerator, so it was pretty easy for us.  We were right by Union Square, so we could walk along Market Street, down to the Embarcadero and back, without any hills.  On Friday we decided to wander, so we put Ele in our little backpack carrier and hit the streets. 

One of our favorite things to do in a city is to just start exploring.  We headed towards Chinatown, checking out the stores and people as we ambled.  Ele absolutely loved being in a city with tons of people.  She had started to say hi to people a few weeks earlier, but with a person everywhere we turned, she adored the attention and responses to her friendliness.  We’ve noticed that people are so much more open and willing to speak to us now that we have a baby.  

For lunch we hit our favorite Chinese restaurant, the House of Nanking.  We ended up sharing a table with a mother and daughter from Tennessee in the city for the first time, and enjoyed their excitement.  Ele especially liked the sweet potatoes on my plate.  From there we headed a little through North Beach, but then through a neighborhood I hadn’t checked out before.  There were some charming boutiques and some really nice antique stores.  It’s been awhile since we’d been to the Embarcadero, and it is so much nicer than it used to be.  The stores and restaurants in there are something we will have to check out again. 

We followed the water front and walked to Pier 39.  We visited the sea lions, but Ele was far more interested in grabbing the attention of all the people that were gathered to see the sea lions.  As we waited in line to catch the cable car, we met a nice couple from Ohio who had driven across the country in their motor home over the past month.  The next day their nephew was getting married in the Japanese gardens in Golden Gate park.  That must have been a beautiful wedding, as the weather could not have been more perfect.  Ele’s first cable car experience was trumped again by her interest in entertaining the passengers!

The next day we had a couple of hours before we had to head to the airport.  After a delicious breakfast at a local restaurant recommended by the hotel concierge, we wandered down Market Street and discovered Yerba Buena Gardens.  It was a really cool area, with museums, a charming French restaurant, and a live jazz concert in the park.  We’ll definitely head back here when Ele is walking, as there’s a children’s park with a museum, carousel, and playground.  Ele was so excited to have a chance to crawl in the grass while we enjoyed the live music. 

I love San Francisco, but it is quite a different experience with an infant.  Traveling with a baby is awesome, but we have really had to rethink the way that we travel, the activities we plan, and the pace that we go.  We’re still trying to figure it out, as we try to plan for taking her overseas this summer!

All photos taken by Rick McDonough 1) View from our hotel room, Parc 55 2) Chinatown Graffiti 3) Embarcadero neighborhood 4) Ele 5) Chinatown 6) Yerba Buena Gardens 7) Night view from our hotel

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