We left Las Vegas for San Francisco very early on Tuesday morning. The 6.30am flight meant we had to set our alarms at 4am to get to the airport in time. Thankfully I got Matt to set his alarm ‘just in case’ because for some reason my phone charger decided not to work that night and so my phone died… We would have slept right through!
The flight itself was only about 90 mins long we we landed in San Francisco at 9am. Instead of paying for a taxi fare, we decided to try out the public transport. It was pretty easy, the airport is at the end of the train line and all we had to do was get on and wait until our stop. From the station it was a 10 minute walk to our hotel which was situated on Sutter Street near Union Square.
Thankfully even though check in wasn’t until 2pm, our room was already ready so we could take our luggage up and get settled. We were a bit tired from such a early start to the morning so decided to go exploring and keep ourselves going. We walked to the waterfront and then all the way around to Fisherman’s Wharf.
Fisherman’s Wharf is fantastic with a great array of interesting (if somewhat gimmicky/touristy shops) with a boardwalk and lots of places to eat. We were so surprised to find the sea lions and stood and watched them for a while… the baby ones were so cute!
San Francisco and Fisherman’s Wharf is well known for it’s clam chowder in sourdough bowls. Most food outlets seemed to offer it but we tried to pick one that seemed a the most authentic and original. It was pretty damn good but I found it very rich so couldn’t finish mine. We also tried some crab cakes which were delicious
After a little bit more walking around and fun in the mirror maze, we started to head back to the hotel. This time we took a different route and got to see some of the amazing architecture in the city. If only we had a few million dollars and could afford one of these!
That night we checked had a relaxed dinner at a 50s style diner just up the road. Then we did some shopping at Macy’s since Matt had a ‘doh’ moment, sending home all of his dressier clothing and didn’t have anything to wear for more special dinner’s out!
Wednesday was FUN! We started out by walking a few blocks to catch the famous cable cars…it was about an hours wait in line but well worth it and I couldn’t believe you could still stand on the side!
The ride took about 20 minutes (watch some short videos here and here) or so and we got off at the waterfront a few piers down from Fisherman’s Wharf. There we found a bike hire shop and set our for a ride over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito.
It was glorious weather in San Francisco and whilst it was pretty chilly, I ended up shedding all my layers because it was hot work biking around! It was a lovely ride, we were so close to the water and there was a pleasant breeze to help keep us cool. It must have been close to a hour of riding before we got to the Golden Gate Bridge but not before stoping for a mandatory photo! Then totally unexpected, a super sweet fan Sarah came up and introduced herself! She is a nanny in one of the nearby houses and was out walking when she spotted us.
From there we biked across the bridge which was so fun! It was one of those ‘pinch me’ moments where I was thinking, ‘holy heck, I’m in San Fran, biking across the Golden Gate Bridge!’ (watch a video here)
We continued on to Sausalito and after chaining up our bikes, we had a look around the shops and sat and ate pizza right by the water. It was a beautiful view and just glorious!
There was no way I was prepared to bike all the way back (it was 12km to get there!), especially since there was a mega hill between the bridge and Sausalito! So we caught the Ferry back to San Francisco, dropped the bikes off and caught the cable car back to our hotel.
We had tickets booked on the first ferry to Alcatraz on Thursday morning. The bike ride the day before completely wiped me out and I woke up feeling incredibly lethargic and somehow missed getting my morning coffee before landing on Alcatraz. Unfortunately it meant I spent most of our time there walking around like a zombie! I just about fell asleep on a sunny bench outside the main cell block listening to the audio tour…
Despite this, it was a great thing to go to and the audio tour was a really good, easy way to learn about it’s history and incidents that took place. I also really enjoyed the short movie about it’s history as my knowledge before the tour was limited.
After a few hours on the island, we caught the ferry back and headed strait back to the hotel and I slept for 3 hours! I really needed that sleep though and woke up feeling a million times better and ready to go on our dinner cruise.
When we had been walking around the waterfront on the first day in San Francisco, we walked past a MAGNIFICENT boat called the San Francisco Belle. I looked it up to see if we could do a cruise and came across the Hornblower website which seemed to offer dinner cruises. I didn’t read all the details and so we weren’t actually on the Belle but on a smaller version The Empress Hornblower.
It was a really, really fun cruise and whilst pretty pricey, it was well worth it and we had such a fun date. Matt and I don’t really do dates back at home or fancy dinners all that ofter because there’s always other things to spend money on or save for, so this was really quite special.
The first level of the boat had dinner tables around the perimeter and a two piece band at the front. We had a lovely three course meal, although we didn’t know that a Philadelphia Cheesecake meant that it was made from blue cheese so Matt didn’t eat much of his dessert!
After dinner, Matt requested our wedding dance song- ‘Beyond the Sea’- and we got up and danced!
It was a wonderful evening and we had amazing views of the lights of San Francisco and while it was a little chilly still, it was a beautiful evening and sunset.
New York City
Another super early flight, our alarms went off at 3am!
We got into NYC and caught a cab to the apartment we had booked in East Village. My mum is living in Dublin, Ireland at the moment and so she met us in New York for the 6 days we were there. It was so nice to see her after 8 months since she left New Zealand so that night was just about catching up!
Matt, Mum and I all set off to wander and explore. We started walking north up Manhattan Island and visited Grand Central Station which was BEAUTIFUL and then continued onto Times Square.
We had coffee sitting in the middle of Times Square, bought tickets to the Lion King on Tuesday night and then went and had lunch at Bubba Gump! Fun fact- Matt totally thought that Forrest Gump was based on a real person… how cute is that? (shhh don’t tell him I told you!). He was so disappointed when he realised!
That night, since it was our one year wedding anniversary, we went out to dinner to The Russian Tea Rooms. I wanted to go somewhere opulent and decadent and a friend recommended it. I wore my Pinup Girl Clothing Gilda Dress despite probably being way too overdressed… but it was fun and hey, we were in New York!
The meal was amazing! We shared a half lobster to start and then for our mains, I had scallops and Matt had a absolutely delicious duck dish. They also had the exact same New Zealand wine that we served at the wedding so we had a bottle of that.
For dessert, Matt ordered the Creme Brulee and I had a decadent chocolate mousse. Then, Matt wanted to try some Russian Vodka’s! So we had a sampler of 3 different ones. I told the waiter that I wasn’t big on Vodka so he bought one that was berry flavoured and only 20% alcohol and I must say, it did go down pretty easy!
The night was so special and a great way to celebrate our first year of marriage!
Mum had heard about the High Line which is a walkway along out of use railway elevated above the street of Manhattans west side. It was pretty busy since it was Sunday morning but it was a good walk. It would be lovely in a few more weeks when it’s a little more green but since there was snow in New York just a few weeks ago, everything is a bit barren.
From the end of the High Line, we walked across the island towards the Empire State Building. We had each purchased a CityPass which gets you a discount on a set number of attractions. We had to pick up the booklets from one of several outlets and the Empire State Building was the closest nearby. When we got there, it seems very quiet and so we decided to go up it then. I’d heard that most of the time, it was a couple of hours wait to get up the building but it probably only took us 20-30 minutes… it was a breeze!
The view was STUNNING. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it wasn’t even that cold up there. We got our first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty in the distance and a good bearing on the whole island. I also loved the art deco interiors in the lobby and in some of the waiting areas, they’ve done a lovely job at keeping it’s character and history alive.
From there we went back to East Village to eat which become the norm for the rest of our stay. There was a great selection of places to eat on 2nd Avenue, just a few blocks from our apartment and each night we tried somewhere new. On this night, Mum had a hankering for Indian! New Zealand is known for having a huge array of foods from different cultures and Indian is very common. However she said that there’s hardly any Indian cuisine at all in Dublin and she missed it! So we had a yummy Indian meal which was perfect for a chilly New York night.
Now that we had our CityPass booklets, we could start ticking the various attractions off our list. Monday morning we headed down to Battery Park at the bottom of Manhattan Island to catch the ferry to the Statue Of Liberty and Ellis Island. We decided to give the Subway a try and after eventually getting to the right platform thanks to a helpful local, we managed to get to where we wanted to go.
First up was the Statue of Liberty and it was very cool to see it so close up, although Matt and I both thought it looked smaller than we had expected! The weather was stunning again in New York so it was very pleasant to walk around and take in not only the Statue, but also the view of the city.
A short boat ride over to Ellis Island which was where the immigrants to America used to stop into first for screening for diseases. The building was a magnificent structure and we watched a short film on the history of the island. Before this, I had no idea about the island so it was really interesting.
The weather forecast for Tuesday was for rain so we saved the Museum of Natural History for that day. It turned out to just be a bit grey and there’s wasn’t any rain at all apart from some in the early morning. After a few hours in the museum, we walked across the road to Central Park.
I LOVED seeing the squirrels collecting up and burying their nuts! They are just so cute and little and I wanted to catch one and smuggle it home. We were also surprised to see turtles in the lake!
After enjoying Central Park for a hour or so, we caught a cab back to the apartments so we had ample time for getting ready to go to The Lion King that night! As most of you probably know by now, I am a super duper diehard Disney fanatic and I grew up with The Lion King.
I’ve been wanting to see the stage show for YEARS and YEARS so when the opening scene started with the live music and all the animals, I couldn’t help but tear up. The creativity of everything was genius, I loved how they did things like the wildebeest stampede, it was all just really clever!
The show was raising money for AIDS sufferers in South Africa and one of the things they were offering was a photo with the guy who played Simba… so y’know, I had to have one!
From there, we walked to the Rockefeller Center and went up to the Observation Deck at the very top. It was fabulous to see New York City at night and especially the Empire State Building.
We then caught a cab back to our area where we found a restaurant still open along our little strip that proved to be great food. It was a Italian place called Frank and I have to say, quite possibly one of the best meals of our trip! I had a delicious mushroom tagliatelle pasta and for dessert, the best molten lava cake EVER! If you are in the area and feel like some fantastic Italian, I’d highly recommend it!
Our last full day in New York but I was feeling a little travel weary and wanted a slightly less busy day. So Matt and I went off towards Soho at lunchtime, got something to eat and then found the ENZ Pop up store. Their usual store had been affected in a pretty bad gas explosion just a few weeks ago so they had a small pop up shop. I picked up two dresses, one by Stop Staring and one by Fables by Barrie and Matt got a shirt.
That afternoon I had a big long nap (bliss!) and then later on we went out for dinner to the usual block of restaurants, this time to a place called The Mermaid Inn. It was predominantly seafood (I ordered the Calamari) but like most places in the USA, they have interesting sides like Mac n Cheese. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have paired Mac n Cheese with Calamari but I realised it was my last night in the states and I was yet to have any… and I’m a really big Mac n Cheese fan! It totally met expectations and was so satisfying on a slightly chillier NYC night.
Our final day! Our flight wasn’t until later that night so in the morning we headed down to site of the Twin Towers. I was 11 when the attack happened and I distinctly remember my mum waking me up saying ‘history was being made’. There were several times during our stay in NYC when I thought about what it would have been like to see those planes crash into the towers and how truly horrifying and frightening it would have been. Seeing the memorial was quite sobering and my heart goes out to all those who were killed and the family members.
After that, I stumbled across a nail salon that finally answered ‘yes’ when I asked if they did extensions! I’d been into several around our apartment but none did extensions and mine were in dire need of a back fill. So Matt and Mum patiently waited in the park while I got them done and then we headed back home to pack our bags and get ready for our flight to Reykjavik, Iceland!
In the next travel blog, I’ll be covering Reykjavik and Paris!
x Miss Victory Violet
Categories: Miss VV Around The World