Earlier this year Josh and I embarked on a pretty epic American road trip. Although we could only spend just over two weeks travelling due to our jobs, we sure did pack lots into our adventurous trip around California, Nevada and Arizona.
Everything I previously knew about the west coast was very abstract, I have seen the cliché of LA beaches and the famous Yosemite mountains on my computer screen, but the reality of seeing these places first hand was so much more than we could ever have expected, and the journey itself was filled with challenges. I genuinely think our lives will forever be enhanced because of these experiences and I hope you enjoy reading.
First on the agenda was San Francisco, what a brilliant beginning. My first observation, San Fran is pretty hilly, to say the least. We walked most places and for someone of very average fitness levels, I remember it was a struggle at times. Getting to the top of a large almost vertical hill only to be met with another bigger one afterwards. However, the views when you got to the top, well, it is safe to say it was definitely worth the steep climbs. Long stretching roads with no end in sight, beautiful pink hue skies stretching over the city, and my favourite thing of all was the utterly charming rows of houses, each one completely different to the next, different colours, different finishes, different windows, different heights. Viewing them all together was such a feast for the eyes. Coming from England we are just not used to these fun and original designs, I found myself fantasising about which one I would like to live in the most, a life just spent looking out of the bay window, watering my beautiful (imaginary) plants.
The memory which sticks out most in my mind is the time we spent in the famous Castro area. Now, I love a good rainbow flag, and here they have them on every lamp post, rainbow painted walls and even rainbow road crossings. I wish more roads could be like this, it made me so happy, even though we were drenched from head to toe the whole day due to downpours of rain. I am not exaggerating we were soaked. Normally us Brits do nothing but complain about the weather, but our spirits were high, maybe that had something to do with the fab Bloody Mary’s we were drinking?
We were lucky to be there during the Easter holidays and the rain had not dampened the locals’ spirits either, they were getting into the holiday swing, dressing up in big home-made easter hats covered in painted eggs. We followed our feet not sure where to go and walked down a very pretty, blossom tree-lined street. We followed our feet again into the Moby Dick’s bar. Where we were greeted by a group of men all dressed in identical giant white rabbit costumes. They were loving the attention they were getting, and we were loving them straight back, everyone who saw them left with the biggest smile on their face. This is also where we had the aforementioned Bloody Mary’s, every now and then I get a random craving for one. They were much better than we expected, strong, with a pre-mixed juice with all the right spices, impressive for a bar housing giant bunnies.
We continued with the theme of following our instincts to the famous mission district for a burrito, and boy they were good! Josh and I shared one and still felt comfortably full. We opted to be more adventurous and got the cow tongue filling. We never have the opportunity to eat this rare cut of meat and I love trying new things, if you do too I would strongly recommend it. Such a treat to get your mouth around, I challenge anyone to eat them without getting it on your face, it’s too good to care!
We only had the pleasure of staying for two and a half days in total but thinking back now we really saw a lot. The varied performers all around Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 where the very funny/smelly sea lions reside.
Obviously, we walked the golden gate bridge which speaks for itself. I actually wish we would have hired bikes and cycled across, it looked really fun, so there is a recommendation for you. Blazing Saddles was the main company to hire from.
We did have one aim, to see a drag show, just because, well, drag is always fun. What other reason is needed? We attended two different drag shows, one I am sorry to say was quite bad (I won’t say where) so we left. The other amazing. It was at a gay bar called Oasis. They were hosting a Beyonce tribute night and I was genuinely blown away by some of the acts especially the host, Mahlae Balenciaga, every appearance onstage she was in a new fresh outfit, and her lip-syncing was on point. This place was recommended to us by two guys we met while queuing for breakfast. Yes, queuing for breakfast. The American meal of kings.
We had the two best breakfasts we have ever had and probably will ever have, queuing for both was definitely worth it. The one I would really recommend to you being at a place called Brenda’s French Soul Food, where we ate peach cobbler pancakes off the specials menu, the Hangtown Fry a crispy oyster filled omelette, and Crawfish Beignets with cayenne pepper and cheddar cheese. Did that get your taste buds tingling? Be warned though the portion sizes are much bigger than expected, but absolutely mouth-wateringly good. We still think about the food we ate here sometimes and drool.
We enjoyed just walking around and stumbling upon quirky bars and one very good Jazz bar in the Union Square area. We got drawn in by the sound of brass instruments playing and the promise of fun. Here they had a conductor improvising with his band and playing with different sounds, it was a joy to watch a master at work. I am sorry to say I don’t remember the name of this establishment, but maybe you can follow your ears too and get a nice surprise.
We were lucky enough to have a friend in the area at the same time. Carol, she is the owner of a totally gorgeous luxury, ethical, sustainable, you name-it-able clothing company called Seek Collective. Check her out on Instagram and online (@seekcollective / http://www.seekcollective.com). She was holding a pop up store near China Town, so we had the joy of going to say hello and see her beautiful new collection, a chance that doesn’t come along often, I wanted it all.
Carol was nice enough to take us out later that night to officially the quirkiest tiki bar of all time called Tonga Room (and hurricane bar), right at the top of about 3 large hills, but again totally worth it. Here the band plays upbeat tunes while floating in a boat in the middle of a pool, while fake rain falls and thunderstorms rumble. Although it sounds cheesy, I guess that it is, but in all the right ways. The dancing took over, we drank cocktails from coconuts, and witnessed the best dance off I have ever seen; The last woman standing won by sneaking into the middle of the dance floor, and river dancing while balancing her full bottle of open beer perfectly on her head. We were in stitches.
Feeling like we had taken San Fran by storm making brilliant memories and after staying in a pretty ropey hotel with shared bathrooms, we were happy to get on our way. We picked up our trusty car for the next two weeks and set off onto the road, maps in hand.
Let us know about any travel experiences you have had in San Fran, and if you are planning a trip there soon, I hope this helps you. Happy travels
Lots of love, Lottie xx
(All photos by @joshjohnphotography / joshjohnphotography.com)