Posts Tagged ‘san francisco’

Onward to London!

It’s currently around 6:27P and I’m sitting at Gate 98 at San Francisco International watching planes depart. I’m staring at the black lit signage above my head that’s letting me know that my plane is next to leave, in forty-eight short minutes. It’s rather ominous actually. My grandma, dad and sister joined me to say goodbye and although it was a bit tearful, I have to admit that I definitely felt much stronger than I had anticipated. I thought I would be a wreck. So much so, in fact, that I packed cucumbers to use on my eyes to reduce to tear-induced swelling that I thought would be inevitable. As fate would have it, though, I’m sitting here, just twenty minutes after saying my goodbyes, rather tear-free and more excited than nervous.

Forty-six more minutes now. My handy ‘countdown clock’ on my laptop is counting down the seconds until departure, mind you. Tick, tick, tick. I’m armed with my laptop, my iPhone, some snacks (nectarines, cucumbers & baby carrots), the new Dan Brown novel (The Lost Symbol – which, by the way, is already fantastic), Benadryl to knock my ass out on the plane, and some make-up that will inevitably need to be touched up before arriving. The best part so far? My bags were overweight. Both of them. One weighed in at 56.5 and the other weighed in at 60.5, far surpassing the 50 pound per bag limit. All is well, though. I managed to take out a number of sweaters that were not totally necessary. Luckily, I have my family ready to ship a box of goodies over for me so the sweaters will find a home in there. I was actually still slightly overweight (51.5 and 52.5 pounds), but the guy let me through (thank goodness). I think I feel ready to go now, despite the 10+ hours that I will have to sit on a plane in anticipation.

Here I go! Off to London!

Signature Stamp - Shannon


My Top Five: My Favorite Places to Visit

Although this year will likely bring about a number of new favorite places to visit, thus far there are a few hot spots that top my list of favorite places to be: to explore, to marinate & to soak in. In ascending order:

#5: Maui, Hawaii


It would be wrong to not include Maui on my list, but it really (barely) touches the top five. There’s something undeniably relaxing about Hawaii. Perhaps this is seeded in the knowledge that you’re on an island, far, far away. The beaches are gorgeous, the weather is tropical and the sun is shiney. Despite all of this, I find Hawaii, in general, to be extremely overpriced: in addition to flights & accommodations being exorbitant, food and souvenirs will also cost you your first born.

{Note: Travel to the small town of Pai’a and check out Des Amis for the best crepes & curry you’ll ever have in your life!}

#4: Seattle, Washington

After my Independence Day visit to Seattle this past July, I was amazed by the city. I was expecting a big city, similar to that of San Francisco or London, but instead was surprised by a culture that was quintessentially Seattle, a unique culture not shared by any city that I’ve seen. The streets were clean (something that you wouldn’t see in SF) and the downtown area was an amazing blend of city and sea. Pike Place Market is home to the most amazing farmer’s markets in the world — an amazing, bright selection of fruits, vegetables and nick knacks. Add quirky shops, fish galore & niche cuisine and we have a winner.

#3: San Francisco, California

San Francisco is one of my favorite places to just be. There’s a vibe in the city that’s just so amazing. The culture is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, with little districts throughout that house a culture that is unique unto itself. Whether you’re interested in art and exhibits (the deYoung Museum), parks (Golden Gate Park), shopping (helloooo, Union Square!) or amazing eateries, this is one of the best places to be. Due to the amazingly diverse population, there are restaurants and activities for everyone; I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with a visit. The only downside — it’s incredibly expensive. If you want to find a place to stay on the cheap, don’t expect the neighborhood to be the most prized.

#2: London, England


When I revisit this post next year and create a new Top 5 list for 2010, my new home town may very well jump up to #1. After all, I fell in love with the place in four short days, goodness knows how I’ll feel about it after an entire year! London is a city amongst cities. From my perspective, it shares many similarities with San Francisco — a diverse population, amazing eateries, some fantastic parks, wonderful shopping, crisp/less than amazing weather and exorbitant prices! The overall vibe in the city though, in conjunction with the amazing history make for an awesome visit — there are so many things to see, learn & love!

#1 Santa Barbara, California

Ahhh… Santa Barbara, the most beautiful place on earth. Everything about this place makes me happy: the weather, the town, the farmer’s market, the people, the scenery. It’s quintessential California and although I have only been there on two occasions, I loved every minute. The weather is perfection (much like that of La Jolla) and the town is pristine; I don’t think I saw a piece of litter the entire time there. If you dream about California, this is the place you dream about. <3.

There are so many other places that I’ve visited that I’ve absolutely loved — El Salvador, Northern England, La Jolla, Carmel, Florida — but those are definitely my top five for right now. I’m sure that 2010 will bring an entirely new list of favorites.

What’s on the top of your “favorite places” list?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

I Left My Heart in SF <3.


San Francisco is, hands down, one of my favorite cities ever. Although it’s not the cleanest and it doesn’t boast the greatest weather, there is a vibe throughout the city that cannot be replicated. The diverse population, the various districts and their cultures, and the fact that you have no reason to ever be bored with the innumerable things to do, definitely make it one of the world’s greatest cities. Although I had planned on spending this weekend in SF to take a jaunt down to Golden Gate Park, the Outside Lands festival that took over the mega-green pushed that idea to the wayside. Instead, my cousin, B., and I stayed in a little B&B in the Marina and spent our evening in the super-fun North Beach area. For anyone that hasn’t had the pleasure of experiencing North Beach, it’s a must! It is by far one of my favorite areas of the city with its Italiano vibe and amazing patrons. B. and I cabbed it the entire weekend so we wouldn’t have to worry about driving, parking or having a few drinks. Our first stop last night was Calzone’s on Columbus Street. B. had been raving about their amazing drinks the entire day, so we had to stop there to test out their fare. After a crostini appetizer & a Moscow Mojito (think normal mojito with limon vodka vs. rum — delish), we agreed that it was a great joint. Additionally, we met the cutest family from England (Newcastle, to be specific) and ended up chatting them up for a bit. They definitely solidified my excitement for the big move!



After a bite at Calzone’s, we moved next door to Figaro’s where we met our super-server/bartender Joel & his version of the Moscow Mojito. Though they didn’t have one on the menu, B. requested that he make something similar. After some bruschetta & another drink, we were happy with our experience. A plus for anyone that’s visiting: they (allegedly) have some amazing gnocchi. Although we didn’t stay for dinner, their food looked superb!


For our last stop of the night, we hit up a tried and true favorite, The Stinking Rose. Chris & I had dinner at The Rose about a year ago & it definitely made me fall in love with North Beach. You can smell the garlic from outside & the food is super delish! B. and I split the gnochetti entree for dinner & left there knowing that we were keeping vampires (and boys) away for life. Word of advice: bring a pack of gum/Costco-sized Listerine. If you’re a huge garlic fan, they even have a plain roasted garlic bulb on the menu! Mmmm?


After a decent-night’s sleep, we hit up a mass Sunday morning at St. Peter and Paul’s Church (also in North Beach) and B. and I were asked to take the eucharist & wine up to the priest — definitely the most involved I have ever been in a mass in my many years of existence. Although I do not consider myself the most religious of persons, the church was spectacular; more European than American in its design. Side note: This was clearly Joe DiMaggio’s favorite place — he was married & had his funeral at this church. Worth checking out!

After mass, B. and I explored a bit of North Beach before our fun-filled weekend was at an end. We popped into a little bakery called La Boulange on Columbus for a bit of coffee and were pretty surprised to learn that they serve coffee in bowls! We got ours to-go in standard paper cups but some of the in-house coffee drinkers were equally surprised to be sipping lattes out of bowls. Pretty cool, though!


Lastly, B. grabbed some goodies for the fam (cannolis & sweets) so she could go back bearing gifts. We had an amazing weekend from start to finish. Although our B&B, Edward II, was not the most spectacular of residences, for the affordable price & the location, it was worth the investment. Plus, we got to enjoy some breakfast before heading out in the AM!

A little weird to think that the next time I’ll be in SF will be when I’m saying goodbye to the US & hello to the UK!

Anyone have any amazing must-sees in San Francisco? Was anyone in SF for the Outside Lands festival?

Signature Stamp - Shannon

To see photos of the many adventures of Shannon & B. from this weekend, check here!

Wonderful Weekend, Part I.


The weekend hasn’t even started yet and I am almost positive that it’s going to be one of the greatest weekends ever. I’m getting a super early start today so I can get in all the amazing events that I have planned. First and foremost, I am heading downtown to Spanish Fly at 9A to get my hair cut, styled and colored. Although I’m sure it’s difficult for the male readers to fully understand, hair appointments are an event. Really. Unlike guys’ twenty minute hair appointments, women plan for this. We schedule our appointments weeks in advance and spend hours trying to figure out what cut and color is going to be best for the given time in our lives (hair is a reflection of personality, afterall). Sometimes we keep it the same (because we’re content), but occasionally we spice it up. This time is a spice-it-up-sesh for me. If InStyle were to do a Transformation outline for me, there wouldn’t be a great deal of difference in my hair cut from about…. 2001 to 2009. My skin color would change (as I go through my tanning and non-tanning stages) and my make up and style would change, but my hair… well, my hair would be pretty predictable. I keep it the same for the most part and play with highlights and lowlights (though my color range typically only knows the span of light blonde to dark blonde… dark tends to frighten me tads.) So, today marks a fairly eventful morning when I touch up the roots and have some fun with the hair.

After that, I get to pick up my newly-hemmed trouser pants and head to the city for some shopping & cool weather! This evening I’m meeting up with my friends Alex and Jasmine (fellow future LSEers) for dinner, drinks and bonding. {Pictures will definitely follow.} It’s fun get-togethers like these that build up my excitement for England and assuage all my fears about being alone (without my family) in a foreign country. All of us American postgrad student are in the same boat; we don’t know many people and we’re all excited to make new friends and enjoy new experiences so it’s great to meet girls who have stellar personalities!

After that, I get to stay with my cousin and her family in San Carlos! It will probably be one of the last times that I see them (if not the last) before I leave, so I’m really excited to be able to see them and spend Sunday with them. I’ll keep you guys posted tomorrow with pictures and reviews!

Hope everyone else’s weekend is equally amazing!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Bon Voyage, California!

As I was getting dressed for my day in the city yesterday, I realized that my trips to San Francisco have become relatively average-ish. Not in the fact that the city is average, mind you, but in the sense that it is so close to Sacramento that a day trip to the city is not uncommon. I decided yesterday to try to enjoy SF for the great city that it is and try and see it as a tourist. {Spoiler Alert: This only half-way worked. I enjoyed the culture, as usual, but the traffic continues to stir some serious ire from within.}

I arrived in the city around 11A, just in time to hit up the greatest Nordstrom in the world. Now, this was amazing because 1) the Anniversary Sale is still going on, so there were a billion things on sale and 2) the Nordstrom in San Francisco is the biggest location by square footage.

Magnetic force, I tell you!

Magnetic force, I tell you!


Floor after floor of amazement!

If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the location in SF, it’s a must-see; it’s floor after floor of amazing goodies. Due to the fact that it’s such a big location, they had tons of stuff that my local store didn’t have. I managed to swoop of a darling grey tank, a super hot brown bomber jacket (better than the one that I wanted initially!) and the cutest pair of trouser jeans EVER! All for under $120. Dream come true. I’m definitely going to curtail my shopping from here on out, however, as I have realized that all my belongings are going to have a really hard time fitting into two bags!

After a few hours of shopping, I worked up an appetite and hit up a little creperie called Crepes A Go-Go on Union Street. Deeee-lish! I happen to be a lover of all things crepe, so the avo, tomato & swiss lunch crepe hit the spot. They had a slew of sweet crepes, too, that looked ahhh-mazing. Icing on the cake: they’re super reasonably priced — think under $6 for a lunch crepe. Mmmm.

Crepe{I meant to take a picture BEFORE I ate it, but I was hungry… you can use your imagination to figure out what it was like as a whole crepe.}

While I was waiting for my friend, Alex, to arrive I hit up the Lush store on Union (across from Crepes A Go-Go) and sniffed the amazing products for about an hour. My girlfriend, Hilary, introduced me to Lush a couple of years back and I looooove their products! They’re rather pricey, but I scored a 7-mini-items-for-$15 deal (which is seriously beyond amazing). All of their products are fresh, handmade and vegetarian (if not vegan). Plus, the girl at the counter hooked me up with some serious testers. I love testers. Well, I love free and thusly, I love testers.


After our shopping soiree on Union, Alex and I headed to Jillian’son 4th Street to meet up with the future gang! It was such a blast. There’s something very comforting about meeting people you’re going to spend a year in a foreign country with. We all meshed really well and I can already tell that it’s going to be a super fun year. We all have an undying urge to travel and have already been dreaming up weekend getaways and summer trips!

LSEI looked a little thrashed after a day of battling the cold and wind, but hopefully my fellow LSEers won’t judge!
(Crossing my fingers!)

All in all, it was a super fun and eventful day and I’m even more excited now that everything is falling into place. As Alex has reminded me, 55 days! Man, time is flying!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Fantastic Florida — Awesome Sale!


Talk about a sweet getaway! Right now from Northern California, you can fly to Florida for as low as $79 each way, thanks to US Airways!

You have to book the tickets by July 26th, but they can be used through NOVEMBER 17th!

From San Francisco:
– Ft. Lauderdale : $79
– Tampa : $89

From Sacramento:
to Palm Beach : $79

We’re digging the Palm Beach one and are looking into a little three day weekend getaway! Such a steal!

Book here before it’s too late!

Signature Stamp - Shannon

Heavenly Haight!

haight st

Haight Street Birthday, 2008

With my birthday coming up soon, I started thinking about my last birthday and our San Francisco excursion! Due to my love for San Francisco, we drove down to the city for the day and focused our day hanging out on Haight Street to do some low-key shopping. One of the reasons I’m semi-obsessed with the city is because there is so much to do! I would imagine that the people who live in San Francisco tend to be tourists in their own city with all of the sights to see! Typically we’ll concentrate our efforts on Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square for some serious shopping, or Haight Street to people watch and enjoy hippy-dom for the day. Last year at this time, I had an obsession with Haight Street due to a little vegetarian restaurant I had come across called the Peace Cafe. This little spot is located inside of the Red Victorian, a Bed & Breakfast on the corner of Haight & Cole Streets. They have delicious sandwiches and vegan cookies and treats! I love the food since I can always find something to munch on, but it’s the atmosphere that makes it so great.

Red Victorian

They sell loads of items promoting peace (like I said, very hippy and it is called the “Peace Cafe” after all) including cool shirts, paintings, pictures and mugs. Plus, it’s in a prime location to people watch — you never know the things/people you’ll see here! Even better, for students on a budget — it’s a very casual cool joint, not too expensive. Typically $5 – 8 will grab you a bite to eat and a coffee to power your day. Plus, when you exit the cafe you’re just a short walk from tons of super fun and inexpensive shops, Buena Vista Park & the famed Haight-Ashbury intersection.


Hanging out at the Peace Cafe!

It’s a cool way to experience part of the city on the cheap. Check it out!

HappyHippy Travels,