Pacific Grove, Carmel, San Francisco Bay Area & Napa Valley


29/12/2012, Saturday, Pacific Grove, CA

L. screamed all night again. She neither slept nor let us sleep at all. I wish we could find a solution for my baby’s problem. For breakfast we had the same problem as last night. The waiting time for decent places was at least 40 minutes. So we went to Archie's American Café, but the result was still disappointing. L. still does not eat anything.

Then, we watched seals sunbathing on the beaches of Pacific Grove.

Seals

Among them, there was an enormous elephant seal.

Sea Lion

Then we went to 17 Mile famous for its forest, oceanviews, beaches, parks, golf course and luxury mansions.

17 Mile

Famous golfer Tiger Woods also trains here.

The beautiful landscape and being the location of choice for rich pensioners make this place very exclusive.The nature in this region is quite different from southern and central California. Instead of intense green and tropical trees, here they have large trees grown in high altitudes. The sky is cloudier and grey.After 17 Mile, we went to the famous city of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Actor Clint Eastwood was once the governor of this town. The Hansel and Gretel fairy tale like houses are a little reminiscent of the city center of Santa Barbara.

Hansel & Gretel House

Hansel & Gretel House

The beachfront homes are worth a visit. However, in spite of all this beauty, it has been enough to see this city just once. It doesn’t make me want to come back again. Whereas, I cannot forget Santa Barbara, especially Santa Ynez...We made dinner reservations in advance at Red House Café. Although not the best place for babies, the food was great.

12/30/2012, Sunday, Haight, San Francisco

We had our breakfast at the French patisserie called Bechler. It was nothing special but at least better than other options. Fortunately L. woke up only once, so the three of us started the day better. We headed to San Francisco.

The first stop was the hippie town of Santa Cruz. A pleasant stop for surfers. I guess for those who live in San Francisco, it is a nice place to visit outside the city. Half Moon Bay was our last stop before we reached San Francisco. This is quite a small surf town. I cannot say that there's anything to see. It wasn’t worth our time.

We rented an apartment in the Haight neighborhood of San Francisco.

A very nice apartment in a Victorian building. Haight is a bohemian, hippie neighborhood.

It corresponds to Cihangir in Istanbul. And the main street to Beyoglu. In fact, there are very nice vintage shops here with old clothes and furniture. There are treasures to be found. If it were not cold and dark, and L.'s bedtime weren’t approaching , I would have loved to browse these shops.

Bar in Haight

We got into a traffic jam worse than L.A.’s, passed through the world's largest park, Golden Gate Park and eventually reached Fort Point to get a view of the famous Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge

This bridge is truly elegant. Lucky for us, San Francisco’s normally foggy weather is now clear and sunny. The view was great, similar to the Bosphorus. The surfers and sailing boats create a great image.

Sailboat by Alcatraz

12/31/2012, Monday, Haight, San Francisco

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As we were approaching the city, San Francisco first appeared to be a large, busy and crowded city. In fact it is not. It is quite a medium sized city. Population is close to 900 thousand. Everything is close to each other. But the colorful and unique, wedding cake-like Victorian houses, the architecture, the hills, the ocean and beaches, a large green area and an exciting social and night life actually make it quite a livable and pleasant city. This city seemed to me the most pleasant and cosmopolitan city in all of America.

San Francisco Tram

Downtown San Francisco

San Francisco Dome

Laurel Heights is a neighborhood of the rich where the likes of Cisco's CEO lives, yet the houses are decent and could be described as modest. The city center is no different than any other American financial city center. However, the Chinatown here is the largest Chinatown in the world (outside of China).

San Francisco China Town

The Japanese Quarter is distinctive with its order, cleanliness and simplicity. The Mission District is also distinctive with its Hispanic influenced famous wall paintings. The Castro neighborhood is known for its vibrant nightlife and gay community. In fact, I liked its vibrancy.

Most of the city's shores are equipped with piers. Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf are the most famous piers. Alcatraz Prison is reachable through a ferry ride leaving from these piers.

Bay view of Alcatraz

However, tickets to Alcatraz run out days and sometimes even months in advance.

Alcatraz

However, anyone who manages to go there, says it is worth going to and that it’s a different experience.

There are other cities around the bay such as Oakland, reachable through ferries or Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. Of these, San Francisco (I think even in the entire U.S.) has the highest population of Asians.

We also managed to visit the Stanford University campus. For only 11 thousand people, it is a very spacious university; the campus is like a city in itself. Still it wasn’t worth our time –in my opinion.

02/02/2013, Wednesday, Napa Valley Road, CA

As we were navigating the streets of San Francisco yesterday, I was surprised by the similarity of this city to Istanbul neighborhoods such as Sariyer, Tarabya and Bebek with bay windows, colorful, wooden houses, and the sea side mansions.

San Francisco Houses

Of course, it is a smaller, tidier, cleaner and less crowded version of Istanbul.

The famous Lombard Street, a winding steep slope where cars and pedestrians are forced to go down in a winding manner creates a very pleasant and unique image of San Francisco.

Lombard Street

It has also been worth visiting the Mission district in daytime to better see the vibrant and colorful wall paintings drawn by Mexicans.

Mission Street Art

Mission Street Art

Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 are flooded by tourists due to nice shops and seafood restaurants. Best of all, it is possible to watch sea lions sun bathing peacefully in Pier 39.

Seals by Pier 39

In the 80s, there was a TV drama series called Twin Peaks. Its theme score was very mysterious and interesting, but at that time I did not follow the show because I was still very young. Therefore, I did not know that it was shot in San Francisco. Twin Peaks is a neighborhood of San Francisco from where we could get a very clear view of the entire city.

Twin Peaks

It was as if we were watching Bosphorus, the sea of Marmara. The similarity is incredible. Normally, the weather in this city is said to be always foggy but we have been very lucky. It has been always sunny for us.

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Meanwhile, L. has started climbing furniture and dancing. Very sweet. She runs to us, grabs our leg, hugs us tightly and kisses. She is very loving.

Today, we first visited a suburb called Sausalito.

Sausalito

The view of San Francisco and Alcatraz from here is great.

Sausalito Seaside

It’s a very cute town.If you need to live in this bay, Sausalito may be the most peaceful and decent location.On our way to Napa Valley, we passed through the intense red wood and legendary "Petrified" Forests.

Petrified Forest

Even on a sunny day, the tall trees create darkness.

Petrified Forest

In Napa Valley, we went to Sterling Vineyards.

Sterling Vineyards

Of course, it is not the right season to be here now.

Sterling Vineyards

Nevertheless, the nature is beautiful. Still, I realized that I prefer the vineyards and the valley of the Santa Ynez. If one has already visited the towns, vineyards and surrounding of Santa Ynez, such as Los Olivos and Solvang, they do not need come to Napa Valley. On the other hand though Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon wines are very popular and considered valuable.

On our way back to San Francisco, we stopped by Sonoma, another vineyard town, which has the largest town square in the United States.

Sonoma Cinema

I would call this square a park. Sonoma is a very pretty town.

Sonoma Square

01/03/2013, Thursday, San Francisco, CA

We spent our last day in this small city, driving around and visiting Alamo Square famous with its Victorian row houses.

Alamo

We passed through the Japanese Tea Garden and the Chinese Pavillion in the Golden Gate Park, where there are also interesting statues and buildings like the Museum of Science. It was a pity that we did not manage to find tickets to visit Alcatraz. We ended up having an extra free day in San Francisco.

In fact, in this California trip, we should have spared extra time to visit San Diego, Santa Barbara and Solvang. So we could have had one less day in San Francisco (because we didn’t manage to go to Alcatraz). But in any case, Santa Barbara required an entire day.

#SanFrancisco #Carmel #Napa