So one thing I almost didn’t complete this year was posts about my two vacations. I was incredibly lucky to go on vacation TWICE (after years and years of no vacation – trips to Saskatchewan do not count!), which had a lot to do with the fact that I had a very generous boyfriend who helped with expenses.
San Francisco: August 12-18
The trip here was a total surprise. A couple months into dating G, I asked him to come with my to Hawaii for my sister’s wedding. A month or so after that, he asked me if I wanted to go with him to a music festival called Outsidelands. It’s a newer festival – only four years old – and held in San Francisco’s beautiful Golden Gate Park. There were three different stages in total, and some of the headliners were Arcade Fire, Muse, The Black Keys, The Decemberists, Girl Talk, MGMT, Phish, and The Roots. It was my first music festival (I’m not counting Edmonton’s FreezingMan festival in January) and it was so much fun. In addition to the music, they also had a huge emphasis on food and wine. Instead of the usual festival fare – pizza, hot dogs, and beer – they had local restaurants offering a taste of some of their menu’s best-sellers. There was a huge wine tent where you could sample lots of California wines (obviously) but also wines from other countries.
One thing I definitely learned was that just because a city is in California does not mean it will be warm. I also learned not to trust my Weather Network app, which told me it was going to be 15C for the whole week. The first day was cloudy and 10 C and unbelievable cold, considering we were coming from a sunny Alberta summer. After I acclimatized to the weather and dressing in layers, things were great. Even the day G made me walk over 7 miles…from the Ferry Marketplace to the Golden Gate Bridge, and then walking more to find food (and do some shopping) after that.
While there, we ate a lot of food. Our usual method was Googling “best _______ in San Francisco” and then scrolling through the results. In the case of “best coffee in San Francisco” we came up with two options; Blue Bottle and Philz Coffee. Philz was closest to our hotel, so we went with that.
Undeterred by our walk through San Francisco’s most crime-ridden neighbourhood (the Tenderloin district) to get there, we tried two coffees that were talked about most on the Philz Yelp page. One is called Tesoro and was a rich and creamy brewed coffee (it has magical secret ingredients) and the other is called Iced Mint Mojito Coffee, with fresh mint and more secret ingredients. Not being a big mojito drinker, I was hesitant but still adventurous to try. Life has been changed forever since those two coffees. From that point on in the trip, we made daily visits to Philz, frequently getting one coffee to drink with breakfast/brunch, and the other to go.
As for shopping, I was totally bored by Union Square. Maybe other people like it, but I was looking for something similar to Whyte Avenue in Edmonton. The day of The Longest Walk, we took the bus down from the bridge and got off on a street that would get us close to our hotel. As we were walking back, we stumbled upon exactly what I was looking for the entire week, and I ended up spending all of my money (and then some more – thanks G!). Chestnut Street is the first place I’ll go when we eventually go back, because it had the best non-chain stores.
One thing I knew beforehand was that those iconic shots of Golden Gate Park you see on TV or in movies are usually fake, because the majority of the time the bridge is partially or totally covered by clouds and fog. So I was just happy we got to see it mostly unobstructed!
Maui: October 11-21
My sister decided last year that she wanted to have her wedding in Maui. Having been a few times, I wasn’t as excited to be spending a lot of money to visit a place I was very familiar with (Is that kind of a first world problem? I feel like it is…”ugh, Maui AGAIN, I’ve been there like twice before and I want to go to a different tropical island now”…)
And then I started dating G and he had never been before, which made the idea of that trip a little more fun. We went for 10 days, and stayed in Kihei. I rented a place through VRBO, which was kind of disappointing and the first time I’ve ever really been let down by that site. I’d planned previous Hawaiian family vacations there problem-free, so I still recommend the site immensely. We had fantastic weather for the entire trip and had a great time exploring the island.
Our favourite part was definitely Paia, on the north side of Maui. According to my dad, it was an old hippie hideout for draft dodgers or just pot-smokers in general, and Wikipedia says Willie Nelson goes there when he visits Hawaii (thank you, Internet). After the long drive to and from Hana, we wanted to stop in Paia for food, as we’d passed by it earlier. We had the most amazing pizza at the Maui Flatbread Company called the Mopsy. It was pulled pork, mango BBQ sauce, pineapple, goat cheese, mozza, parmesan, and some herbs, and we washed that down with Ginger Mojitos. Our table was at the back of the building, facing the ocean, outside and it was absolutely wonderful. We went back a second time before we left, and I’d make a point of visiting it again.
After a blissful 10 days, we unfortunately had to leave. Little did I know it would be the worst flying experience of my life (thus far – I expect worse experiences in the future). In what I can only assume is a deliberate attempt to make your return to the frozen north the most hellish experience ever, WestJet’s only flight leaving the Maui airport leaves at 10:45 p.m. Maybe they’re trying to make it easier, assuming you’ll sleep on the flight. However, our flight was delayed until 2:30 in the morning because there was something wrong with the plane. Because it was so late, there was little you could do but try to get comfortable somewhere in the airport until the plane was ready to go. We were really worried about making our connection in Vancouver, and ended up making it with just under and hour before departure.
I love traveling – trying new restaurants, navigating new territories, and shopping – so it’s unsurprising that my next trip is already planned. I’m heading back to California in April for Coachella, which will be my first time at that music festival. Hopefully we’ll get another trip in in the late summer or early fall.
(My blog titles are song titles. This one is Back To Where I Was by Eric Hutchinson.)