Hands down, one of our favorite things we’ve done on this travel nursing adventure is biking across the Golden Gate Bridge!
While we normally take the BART train into the city, last Thursday we loaded up our bikes and drove. It was much easier to drive into the city than we thought! It gave us the chance to cross the Bay Bridge, so that now we’ve driven across all three bridges spanning the San Francisco Bay. We were blessed again with a perfectly clear, sunny day – never a guarantee with the city’s famous microclimates and fog.
Our first stop of the morning was Lombard Street, the most crooked street in the world. We’d walked up this on our first trip to the city, and Charlie has been itching to drive it ever since. Unfortunately, a lot of people feel the same way! Rather than being able to really accelerate through the turns and have fun with it, we had to go slow behind several mini-vans. It was still really fun, but Charlie is a great driver, and it would have been neat to drive it as fast as he wanted. I didn’t mind so much, because the slower pace let me enjoy the hydrangeas that are planted around each of the switchback turns!
We found (free!) parking down at Fort Mason by the water and headed off on our bikes toward the bridge. This was a new part of the city for us. We rode along the water past Crissy Field and the Presidio before reaching the bridge. I didn’t realize before this day that San Francisco has a pretty extensive military history. Fort Mason was an army base for many years and handled most of the cargo for the Pacific campaign of World War II, while the Presidio was Spain’s main military outpost during their years colonizing this area. Crissy Field is a former airstrip that has been turned into a beautiful park with a little beach. All of this made a beautiful backdrop to our ride.
We made the one little uphill turn of the day, and we were at the entrance of the bridge. Pedestrians and cyclists have to share one side of the bridge during the day, so it’s pretty slow-going as we navigated around the crowds on a narrow path next to the cars. However, this gave us the chance to really look back towards the city, up at the massive support structures, etc. We even saw some dolphins swimming below in the bay below. Our camera stayed in our backpack most of the day since we were on our bikes, but we did stop in the middle of the bridge for a few quick pictures.
Once across, we descended a couple of miles into Sausalito where we had lunch at a cute cafe. And, being us, we also managed to unknowingly choose the lunch spot with the largest cookies in town. We must have an inner radar for finding epic baked goods!
Around 2:00 p.m., we caught the ferry back to the Ferry Building at Pier 1. This was our first time actually out on the water, and it was fun to have this unique view of the bridge, Alcatraz, and the city.
We’ve found ourselves at the Ferry Building Marketplace each time we’ve been to the city, and this time I finally waited in the 20-minute line for a cup of Blue Bottle Coffee. Charlie grabbed a maple cream soda, and we were on our way up the Embarcadero to complete our loop back to the car.
Having walked these 40 blocks before, it was so nice to be on our bikes this time! We stopped at Pier 39 to say hello to the sea lions again and navigated our way through the throngs at Fisherman’s Wharf. We then rode past Ghirardelli Square before coming back to Fort Mason. San Francisco is actually a really small city, and our whole loop was only seven miles. It was great to be able to take it slow and enjoy the sights along the way since the ride was not hard at all!
After getting cleaned up, we drove up into the Marina neighborhood and had dinner at a small Mediterranean cafe called La Med. We got a seat in the window, and I had a glass of Greek sangria while we looked over the menu. Since this was a legit Mediterranean restaurant (not your American-ized Greek salads and pita pockets), we ordered a ten item tasting course to share. By doing this, we got to try a small taste of several new things and we loved it all! I think my favorite was this cinnamon raisin chicken dish wrapped in phyllo. I know that sounds like a really strange combination, but it was irresistible. We also really enjoyed the lamb meatballs and the pomegranate chicken. One of our favorite things about traveling is the opportunity to try different cuisines. Back in Auburn, I never would have ordered something called “cinnamon raisin chicken,” but I know if it’s going to be good anywhere, it’s going to be good in a small cafe in San Francisco!
Looking for a little something sweet, we headed back down to Ghirardelli and shared some ice cream. We had only had their vanilla flavor before, so this time we had to try the chocolate. It was, as you can imagine Gharardelli chocolate ice cream to be, delicious!
So our third trip to the city was definitely one of our favorite days yet. Our bikes allowed us to cover more ground than usual, and we enjoyed being in the neighborhoods near the bridge since we’ve formerly hung out mainly on the other end of town. I think if we lived here, we’d be playing in those waterfront parks every chance we got! And, of course, I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the moment soon after riding onto the bridge that Charlie turned around and gave me this grin that clearly said, “Oh my gosh, we are doing this!” There’s no one else I’d rather ride through this fun adventure with!