Saturday, March 11, 2017
Suddenly I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone as I tried desperately to keep to myself in a fully stuffed cabin on Southwest Airlines. I flew from New York to Oakland, California and met with my cousin, Stella and her husband, Bob. I spent my Spring Break with this lovely couple and explored the sunshine state of Northern California.
But, to get to California from New York, sometimes you have to save what you can with the flight and Southwest Airlines is the way to go. It can be a bit of an uncomfortable flight. There isn’t necessarily the first class so everyone is going to be sitting next to two other people in tight quarters. There aren’t any charger ports or screens on the back of the seats, so if you fly Southwest to save on the cash, here are some things you may want to bring: gum, headphones and iPod (or phone), book/journal, healthy snacks, a big bottle of water, neck pillow, miniature blanket, and an extra set of clothes.
Southwest also does some things differently. When buying a ticket from them, reserve the Early-Bird Check-In and anytime 24-hours before the flight, you can Check-In to reserve your seat. The earlier you reserve your seat, the more likely you are to be one of the first on the flight. The reason this is important is because when you get on you have the freedom to choose any seat. Sit near the front and on the outside so you can easily access the bathroom and be the first one to get off the plan.
As soon as I got off my flight I was bursting with adrenaline! Even though I had been up for about 12 hours. I can never seem to sleep before trips or on airplanes so I was most definitely sleep deprived but I felt as though I chugged 12 coffees for each hour I was lacking sleep. We grabbed my suitcase and hopped in the car. Oakland, California is about a half hour from San Francisco so that was our first stop. I munched on some grapes and nuts on our way there and indulged in an iced coffee to keep myself nourished and ready to go. My cousin Stella insisted we stop by a bar called, Buena Vista, before our first adventure.
If you’re in San Francisco without a car one of the easiest and most popular ways to reach the Buena Vista is by Cable Car. Any Powell & Hyde Street Cable car going towards Fisherman’s Wharf will take you directly to their doorstep on the corner of Hyde and Beach Streets. The original building was a boarding house in the year 1916 when the landlord at the time converted the first floor into a saloon. Since then the Buena Vista has been in full function and is known for their Irish Coffee. In 1952, Jack Koeppler, the owner at the time, challenged international travel writer, Stanton Delaplane to help re-create the iconic Irish Coffee which was frequently served at the Shannon Airport in Ireland. I was served a beautiful Irish Coffee by the famous Paul Nolen who has bartended at the Buena Vista for over 30 years! (Video: Buena Vista Cafe- Where Irish Coffee came to America: By Stan Linhorst)
Watching the process of making the drink was mesmerizing. First, the glass is filled with hot water to keep the drink warm. Next, the coffee is poured about a quarter of the way up and then the Irish whiskey is poured in. It’s not too much where it’s overwhelming but it’s just enough to where you can taste the whiskey. The heavy cream lightly poured over the top takes the cake! And there ya have it! An amazing Irish Coffee right in the sunshine state of California!
After I finished my drink we got back in the car and went to the Legion of Honor Fine Art Museum. I was fortunate enough to be there just in time to enjoy their Monet: The Early Years art exhibit. The Legion of Honor was originally built to commemorate Californian soldiers who passed away in World War I. The museum is located in Lincon Park and overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge. As soon as you walk in, Rodin’s Thinker is there, pondering your visit. The museum itself is usually filled with art that dates back 4,000 years, European decorative arts and paintings, Ancient art, and one of the largest collections of prints and drawings in the country. We decided to participate in one of their audio tours which are priced at $8.00 a person. The kindly workers offered us a headset connected to a remote. We walked up to each painting, read the script on the side and typed in the number offered at the bottom of the script to listen to that specific evaluation of the painting. It’s a great way to get an artistic and historical perspective on the artwork displayed before you. The Moet exhibit was absolutely astounding and displayed Monet’s work which is rarely seen from the beginning years when he had just started his work as an artist.
Around the end of our tour, it was time for dinner and where else better than The Slanted Door right by Pier 3 and the Ferrie Building. This pier has been history’s primary portal of the city where as many as 50,000 people a day commuted by ferry. The Slanted Door is strategically placed to have a view right out to the Bay Bridge which beautifully lights up at night. They serve a mix of modern Vietnamese food and local ingredients in San Francisco.
The food at The Slanted Door is served in a means to share a traditional Vietnamese meal so it is given to you in large servings meant to share. I ordered a Bera white Moscato, off-dry, originating from Italy. We then ordered a delicious Crispy Imperial Roll as an appetizer. For our meal, we ordered Cellophane Noodles, Seared Ahi Tuna, Jasmine Rice, and Zuckerman’s Farm Asperagus.
It was an absolutely delicious, savory meal. To come to this restaurant is an absolute treat and not necessarily something you could do every day, but it is worth the one dinner while in San Francisco. Soon after our meals, we were rearing for some dessert!
I ordered an herbal blend tea and a lemon icebox cake. My cousin ordered herself the vanilla bean begets which you could dip in a chocolate sauce. We were wined and dined, absolutely spoiled! And I was absolutely exhausted!
Our day came to a close as I looked out onto the pier and across to the lighted Bay Bridge. We traveled back to my cousin’s home and rested for the next day to come full of bright and new adventures!