San Francisco: tourist for the day

golden-gate-bridge

“Hey, dude!” When I think of San Francisco, I think of Michelle Tanner on Full House, hilly roads and cable cars.  I spent two nights in San Francisco as the start of a (now annual) girls trip! The final destination was Napa, CA for the Zooma Women’s Half Marathon and lots of wine tasting <– let’s be honest, we really just went for the wine…
San Fran is probably one of my favorite cities. (Chicago summers being at the top of the list right now) If you want the beach, head south a little. Redwoods/nature/hiking, drive north. City tourist-for-a-day and wine connoisseur are fun roles to play.  The food is pretty spectacular and the sights are one of a kind.
This trip was a girl’s trip.  Translation – tons of chatting, wine and laughter.  I had far too much fun and took far too many pictures to post everything so I’ve listed my “top 10” San Fran moments…

1 – Running the Golden Gate Bridge (FOR FREE!)

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It’s not everyday that I get to wake up and go for a jog over one of the most popular bridges in the world ( <— my opinion).  The run/jog/picture-taking-session was amazing!  The San Fran side was very foggy and we couldn’t even see the top of the bridge, the water or the other side!   Parking, running and taking a ton of pictures were all free!

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Once we ran the 1.7 miles across the bridge, the sky cleared and the views were amazing!  The run was a little loud from the traffic, boats and horns and the air was definitely polluted with car emissions, but this is one run I will never forget!  So cool!

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2 – Air BNB

We stayed in the city two nights and most of the hotels we found were super expensive, sold out or yucky.  One of our friends mentioned Air BNB and this proved to be the BEST thing ever!  I didn’t take any pictures of our cute little abode, but it was perfect! The Sunny Apt City View, Qn Bed, Parking from Ms. Rita was wonderful!   Ms. Rita was so responsive and her rental was in a great location. Not too far from the city but far enough to get out of the chaos.  Parking was free and the bathroom was renovated and had a bidet… (google it if you need to… I did!)  I would definitely recommend this rental to others and will use AirBNB for the next trip!

3 – El Techo de Lolinda

El Techo de Lolinda is the a lively, fun, delicious rooftop bar in Mission district with a cool view of San Fran.  It’s mainly tapas and the best La Paloma I’ve ever had!  The atmosphere was so great!  The music was awesome (those great 80s and 90s hits!) and the food so incredible.

4 – Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl from Boudin

I love the piers in San Fran. Actually, I think everyone loves the piers, specifically Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf because I felt like every tourist in San Fran was there.  We tried to visit Alcatraz but the next available tickets weren’t until the middle of July!  It sort of felt like the chaos of Disney World but with the famous clam chowder bread bowl in the middle, it’s definitely worth it!  Boudin Bakery is a must visit while in San Fran.  The bread bowls are like Philly Pretzels in PA… need I say more?!

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5 – Chocolate!

ghirardelli-squareSan Fran tourist won’t want to miss a stroll through Ghirardelli Square, where loving  chocolate is a prerequisite.  Although there’s no formal tour to see, the gift shops have a few old machines (this one in the picture had real chocolate processing in it!).  Of course, the Ghirardelli employees with their hats and aprons are in every shop giving out a sample as you walk in.  There were 3 separate shops in the square.  I found all 3.  <— and yes, had 3 samples of the mini squares!

6 – Cable Car Rides at Powell and Hyde

I wasn’t the only tourist who wanted to ride the cable cars… just look at all these people!  Actually, this line was over an hour wait, and yes, I waited!  The cable cars are so San Fran, they are a must do, but a must-do-early-thing if you’re smart.

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Once we got on a car, we were off to explore the city!  The cable cars went up and up and up (San Fran is very hilly!).  I was standing out back of the car by the driver so I took a few shots of the city… have I mentioned how much fun being a tourist is?!  The cable cars are $15 for a city pass which is good for all day rides on city transportation!  cable cars > walking  🙂

What.A.View.  I was mesmerized!  A few blocks later we got to Lombard Street!

san-fran-view

 7 – Lombard Street – The Crookedest Street in the World

Another “touristy” thing in San Fran is definitely taking a walk (or drive) down Lombard Street.  The sharp turns in this road are said to make this the crookedest street in the world!  Besides being full of tourist, Lombard Street is a great place to view the city and beautiful flowers grow everywhere!

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8 – little corner shops & wine breaks

After Lombard Street, we took a walk to find #1 a bathroom and #2 the next cable car stop so we could continue the trip around town.  Bathrooms were a little hard to find and most the of shops were just small storefronts “without bathrooms”  (<– no customer = no bathroom for you in San Fran)  Luckily, we came across Nook Café!  This wasn’t only a bathroom break, but it was such a cute café and just so happened to be serving happy hour drink specials so… hello my-five-oclock-somewhere-drink!

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9 – Italians

Yes, Italians.  That’s another one of my favorites of San Fran.  Specifically the Italians at the restaurant, E Tutto Qua.  We had dinner here because of the location and the good reviews on yelp.  Those reviews were spot on!  The staff were incredible… so friendly and had (sexy) Italian accents.  The pizza was delicious with a special pepper oil on top.  Oh, the dessert… panna cotta.  Need I say more?!

panna-cotta

10 – The Pacific Ocean

I live on the east coast. In Florida.  The highest thing I encounter are office buildings and bridges (Jacksonville has great running bridges!)  One of the things I really wanted to do in San Fran was take a trip to the ocean.  Breathtaking.  Although a little foggy, the views were still amazing and even though I didn’t get to touch the ocean, I got to smell it and even saw dolphins playing in the waves!

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If you haven’t made the trip to this foggy city, I highly recommend it!  I can’t want for my next trip!

pacific-coast-cassie

 

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…..Love

loveThis weekend I had the opportunity to go to the CHILD Cancer Fund’s Golf Tournament Kick Off Party in Sawgrass.  The event was a kick off and fundraiser for the tournament with a silent and live auction.  Some of the items in the silent auction were paintings done by child cancer patients.  One that stood out to me was this painting for Love by a child we will call Patience.  I initially liked it for the cause, the artist, the colors and the design.

My appreciation for the painting changed Saturday morning as I watched the sunrise at Jax Beach.  Sidenote — If you have been following my blog, you know I love sunrises and sunsets.  It’s probably the most peaceful thing. ever.  I got a coffee from Starbucks, grabbed my beach chair and a towel and just watched the sunrise over the beach.  I love this relaxing time to reflect, pray and just listen to the ocean.  Time seems to fly by faster and faster these days.  When was the last time you stopped and watched a sunrise or sunset?  When was the last time you stopped and watched something beautiful, something fascinating? 

So this was my something beautiful moment, my sunrise!

love sunrise

Absolutely breathtaking!

While I was watching the sunrise I thought about the painting.  Why does it have 5 dots before the word love?  I’ve seen “love…” so many times.  “Love…” makes me think you have love and then what.  And was there nothing before Love? We live in a society that’s always looking for the next step.  The single people want to be married, the married people want kids, the family wants more kids or a bigger house or more _____, fill in the blank.  It seems like love’s just not enough.  What we have in the present just isn’t enough.  Everything comes after love, hence Love…  I think this is the wrong way of thinking and I hope you can see this too.

John 3:16, the famous Tim Tebow scripture, says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  When I think of God’s love for us, I think of the cross and what happened before the cross.  Jesus was rejected by many but was a provider, a healer, a miracle worker, a teacher and our savior.  Jesus poured his love on his people and then pour his love out to us by sacrificing himself on the cross.  What happened before the cross, the dots before the word Love, was the perfect representation of God’s love, which paved the path for God’s everlasting love on us through the holy spirit.  I don’t think of God as “love and now what” I think of God’s perfect love for us, his agape love, and what happened before the cross when Jesus was persecuted and loved us/the people despite their sin and hate.

1 Corinthians 13:13 says “and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  At the end there’s love.  Not in the beginning and then there’s more.  But that you have all of everything you’ve ever needed and love is the greatest of what remains.  So for me “…..Love” says despite all the stuff that happens before love that we don’t think about, love is in the end.  You will love again and be loved and it will be agape love.  Thinking no matter what trials and tribulations you might face, God’s Love overcomes and overpowers everything.

Our love should be the same.  We are called to be Christ-like.  To be Christ-like is to put God first and to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” Mark 12:30. To put others first and to love no matter what the past, present or future might hold.  God calls us to “love your neighbor as yourself” – Mark 12:31 

So when I think about Christ-like love, I think …..Love.  …..Love meaning that whatever happened before and because of what happens, what remains is love.  If we are to have this kind of mentality, I think our world would be a more caring, nurturing place.   God is all about second and third and fourth and so on chances because he’s a …..Love kind of God.

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So are you living life as a Love….. kind of person – thinking now that I have love, X, Y and Z will come next?  Or are you a …..Love kind of person- where you love despite the before and if you’re going through the “…..” phase now, you know that Love will remain?  Through persevering and focusing on God even during the “…..” The love that remains will be great.

So I challenge you to take a simple painting, a picture, a moment and think about its deeper meaning.  Pray on it.  Reflect on it.  Thank you Patience for this beautiful painting and reflection on love!