Something excellent about living somewhere awesome is that people come to visit you. Who doesn't want to come to the Bay Area, you know?? Nobody visited me when I lived in Arizona. Ha. Which is too bad, because Arizona has, hands down, the best sunsets I've ever seen.
But best sunsets or not, it's hard to beat the allure of the beach, the trees, the coastline, the fog, the tech companies (if you're into that kind of thing -- let me tell you, I was blown away when I moved here by all the major companies that just happened to be around the corner from me), and the city adventures in San Francisco.
My Chantal came to visit me last weekend (you can read about her here, when I bridesmaided the crap out of her wedding) (was that an elegant way of putting that, or...?) and I looked forward to her visit for weeks and weeks! She had surgery on her thyroid this week (can we all pause to talk about how much we hate medical junk? especially when it happens to people we love? can we just cure it all right now please?), so with that impending procedure, what she really needed was a vacation from her problems.
So, we had one! A vacation/staycation from problems!
She was only here for approximately 36 hours, so we had a lot to accomplish. Minus a little snafu with a minor migraine on her part and a small freak-out session on my part while driving stick on one of those San Francisco death hills for the very first time (June Cooper and I are doing smashingly at that whole "driving stick" thing, btdubs! six months strong!), the weekend was perfection!
We dined in downtown Palo Alto at Sprout Cafe (it's a toss-up between the blueberry pork sandwich and the autumn salad for which menu item I'm bound to get on one knee and lavishly propose to one of these days -- THEY'RE BOTH THAT GOOD), followed by delicious nutella fro yo at Fraiche and a walk around University Ave with its quaint rows of white-lit trees, then headed back to my apartment, where we watched the first 30 min of Love Actually before promptly falling asleep.
The next morning, Chantal woke up and said she wanted to go to the beach! So we headed to Half Moon Bay, a little coastal town that will always have a special place in my heart because I went there during my soul-searching visit to California in May 2013 when I was quite a bit lost in life and trying to figure out if northern California was the place for me. It had an impact on me.
In Half Moon Bay, we began our morning with, oh you know, THE BEST MASSAGES OF OUR LIVES. Hot stone massages at a Cloud9 Spa -- holy how-now-brown-cow, you guys, it was heavenly. The prices were legit, also, which is why we picked it. Can't believe the quality for the price! It's now officially on my docket of "take people here when they come visit." No selfish motive in that decision, of course :)
With all our troubles all massaged out of our bodies, we lunched on cheesesteaks and sweet potato fries, drove through a nearby parking-lot coffee stand for some warm beverages, and headed down for a walk on the beach. A walk that turned into a whole lot of shenanigans -- all pictured below. (Not pictured: when I led Chantal on a perilous riverwalk that resulted in my knee colliding with a rock while she did the splits to climb over a boulder.)
Then it was off to the city!
After that whole "driving stick on a giant hill" and "Chantal got a minor migraine" hiccup caused us both to need a power nap, we were ready to hit the town. We stayed at an incredibly adorable French boutique hotel, Cornell Hotel de France near Union Square, because Chantal happened to have some points from hotels.com that made this all possible without making us both very poor. It was charming, and quaint, and a dog greeted us in the lobby. (I love you, San Francisco and your puppies around every corner!!) The hotel had this DARLING old-fashioned elevator where you had to open the outer door yourself, and then a metal grate closed and up you went, while getting to see all the floors passing slowly by. It was magical! (And also pictured below, as best as I could capture it.) Each floor had a different French artist featured (loved discovering the Chagall floor when we went exploring!), and we lucked out enough to end up on a floor filled entirely with nude portraits of French girls! ("Draw me like one of your French girls!")
ANYWAY. The rest of the night was a whirl of dressing up in our fancies, paying a visit to a very Christmasy Union Square, purchasing a picturesque box of macarons from the French patisserie hidden on the 3rd floor of Macy's (thank you, former Ralph Lauren job, for making me EXTREMELY familiar with the Macy's at Union Square!), after which Chantal talked me into buying a bold new lip color at the MAC counter before we took the train over to the War Memorial Opera House to meet up with my roommate Megan to watch The Nutcracker. Did you know The Nutcracker's U.S. premiere was at the San Francisco Ballet? We just participated in something historic! It was my first viewing of The Nutcracker (my first ballet, in fact!) and I was enchanted by the entire thing. Chantal has seen The Nutcracker like eleventy times, and she still said it was the best she'd ever seen. I have nothing to compare it to, but I was duly impressed :)
This got really long. I just didn't want to leave any delicious little piece out, because this is how you record memories, you know! We capped off the night with a late-night visit to an overpriced Italian joint, after which we hobbled (ok I hobbled -- she was smart and didn't wear heels) back to the hotel in our fancy clothes under a sudden onslaught of rain. It was all very magic and city-like. And, of course, we munched on a couple colorful macarons (get the cherry bourbon flavor. GET THE CHERRY BOURBON FLAVOR) (insert rabid eyes and an appropriate amount of drool) before crashing into deep slumber.
Early the next morning, we rolled out of bed and I took Chantal to the airport so Arizona and her husband and three adorable stepsons could have her back. I can share, I guess. (Also, happy to report that she is alive and well after her thyroid surgery! Gosh so grateful.)
It was the perfect escape, and I'm pretty sure I'd like to repeat the whole escapade monthly. Except, I won't wear heels to walk a few city blocks in next time. I'm such a newb.