Tuesday, January 22, 2013

San Francisco Weekend

About a month ago, my boss approached me and asked if I would like to visit one of our customers in Fremont, California, to meet with the current team we are working with and other engineers within the company to bring in more projects.  Not wanting to let a great opportunity slip by, I immediately said yes.  I was given the option to fly out on Saturday to spend the weekend in San Francisco before our meetings on Monday and, as luck would have it, my mom was able to find a cheap flight to San Francisco as well.  

Normally I like to plan out every detail of a trip, but that didn't happen for this one.  Thankfully I got a suggestion on where to stay from Erin and was able to find a good hotel in the area.  Since my mom and I were only going to be in San Francisco for about a day and a half, I figured it would be okay to mostly wing it when we got there.  I looked up a few must-see suggestions and made a mental list of things I really wanted to see.

My mom's initial lucky streak came to an abrupt end on Friday night.  At 8:45 pm, I received a frantic call from her saying the her scheduled flight from Dubuque Airport (20 minutes from my parent's house) to O'hare had been cancelled and she was rescheduled to arrive in San Francisco on Sunday night.  That schedule was not going to work out considering she was flying back on Monday morning.  At first, I thought she was pulling my leg because she tries to pull crap like this on me all the time, but one look at her flight itinerary proved she wasn't kidding.  She was on the phone with American Airlines trying to figure out an alternative that got her to San Francisco on Saturday.  After about 45 minutes, she got placed back into her flight from O'hare to San Francisco on Saturday morning with me and got in the car and started the 3.5 hour drive from Cascade to Arlington Heights.  At 10 pm.  Which meant she didn't get to my apartment until 1 am.  That's a late night when you need to get up the next  same morning at 6 am.

Dubuque is a very small airport so I can't say I am that surprised that her connecting flight was cancelled, but it is aggravating that it wasn't cancelled until 24 hours prior to the flight (my mom checked her flight on Thursday evening).  She was also in such a panic that she didn't even think to ask the airline agent if she could get another flight out of a nearby airport, and both the 2 other closest airports (Moline-Quad Cities and Cedar Rapids) had flights to O'hare on Saturday morning.

Thankfully we were both able to make it safe and sound to O'hare on Saturday morning for our flight.  Flight cancellations be darned!

Once we landed in San Francisco, we hopped on the BART train to the Union Square area.  Our hotel was only a block from the station which was super convenient! We were able to check in early and immediately set out to find an early dinner since we hadn't eaten a proper meal since breakfast.

We ate dinner at the Daily Grill which we both enjoyed.  I had a great salmon dish and my mom ordered fries and chips.  After dinner, we explored Union Square a bit and ended up in the Levi's store where I bought a new pair of jeans and a shirt.  Probably not a great idea considering my carry-on bag was already packed fairly full, but I couldn't turn down a $20 pair of jeans that fit great.

The cable car line to Fisherman's Wharf started  right in front of our hotel so we hopped on. Since it was a full car, I rode standing off the back.  I also got to watch the operator crank down on the cable to slow our cable car down on the hills.


He also pointed out the sites including Coit Tower and Lombard Street


I also caught my first glimpse of the Bay Bridge and the Cable Car Museum.


It was already dark by the time we arrived at the Fisherman's Wharf area, but my mom and I walked around to see what we could find.  We also stopped at Walgreen's so I could purchase a pair of gloves since mine were left behind in Chicago.  

Although many people tried to warn me that San Francisco wasn't going to be warm I underestimated them.  The forecast for San Francisco originally said the temps were going to be in the 50's over the weekend, but it ended up only getting to the 40's.  It was over 50 degrees in Chicago when we left on Saturday so it was quite the shock when we arrived in California.  I expected much warmer weather and had only taken a jacket with me instead of a heavier coat.  During the day it wasn't too unbearable, but at night I had to keep moving to stay warm. 

We went into some touristy shops and then headed over to Ghirardelli Square.  This area was previously a chocolate factory and now has several small boutique shops and several Ghirardelli stores and ice cream shops.     


They were giving out free samples of the caramel-filled squares and we definitely took advantage of that.  



My mom and I were exhausted from a long day of travel and not much sleep so we hopped on a cable car heading back towards our hotel.  I tried to catch the end of the Packers v. 49'ers game, but our hotel didn't carry that channel.  Unfortunately the game didn't go well for my team anyways.  We planned out our agenda for Sunday and called it a night at about 9 pm.  Considering that was 11 pm Central time, I say that is perfectly okay.  And we needed to rest up for another busy day on Sunday!
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