It all started with dinner at Dishdash in Sunnyvale with girlpurple, Bill, and their friend Eric. The food was great, as always, and it was very nice outside, so we ate on the sidewalk. Everything was good, but Ani didn't care for the dessert we all shared which was a stringy and cheesy cake made of shredded filo dough with a rosewater glaze.
After dinner was a trip to Golfland USA, the mini-golf course on El Camino. We played the "King's Quest" course and I got a few hole-in-ones (and also flubbed some easy holes). It was a really nice evening outside, ending with a trip to the pool and hot tub at the hotel.
On Saturday, we headed up to San Francisco. I'd not been there since 2000, and Annelies hadn't been there since she was 12, so it was all pretty new to us. The drive up 101 had us in the City about 9:30, and we parked at the Exploratorium near Golden Gate Bridge with time to spare. The walk around the Palace of the Fine Arts was quite nice, with lots of geese, ducks, and giant fish. We got to see some gulls fight over a fish one had caught in the middle of a lake.
The Exploratorium was an interesting way to start the day. We played with about half of the interactive experiements scattered around the museum. My favorite was the working cloud chamber that showed trails from the cosmic rays; I hadn't realized they hit that often. The mirrors that let you merge faces with a friend were also fun.
After that, we walked out to the beach by the Golden Gate Bridge and Ani got her feet wet. I was surprised that there were people out in skimpy swim suits as it was really cold by the beach, but I learned later that this was a warm day for SF. :)
After this was take-away lunch at Greens, a famous vegetarian restaurant at Fort Mason, where we sat on the piers and watched more gulls, then a walk down to Fisherman's Wharf where there were lots of tourists. I really liked the large sea lion colony at Pier 39, but the best part was the boat trip out into the bay where we went under the bridge and around Alcatraz.
We had dessert at Ghiradeli Square, the site of the famous chocolate factory, then drove over to Columbus Avenue where we walked though Chinatown and North Beach, finishing with the steep hike up to Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. Books were bought at City Lights, then we had dinner with more friends at The Stinking Rose, a resturant that specializes in garlic dishes. That was very, very yummy, especially the asparagus and the dinner rolls with a garlic and parsley table sauce.
For the final SF experience, we drove up to Twin Peaks. Unfortunately, our luck in coming on a warm and clear day finally ran out, as we encountered thick fog on the way up and never were able to get a view of the city. By the time we got back to Sunnyvale, we were bushed and stinking of garlic. :)
On Sunday, we took a drive to Santa Cruz, the beachside community on the other side of the mountains from San Jose. The trip took us through some wonderful redwood forests and to the Boardwalk where we took a couple of rides on the Giant Dipper, their 83-year old wooden roller coaster. We also had a great veggie meal there at Dharma's, a cafeteria-style restaurant that makes a killer tempeh reuben.
The trip finished with the flight back to Austin on an American 757. I was able to get us upgraded to the front of the plane, and Annelies got to experience First Class service on a plane for the first time. It was nice to actually get some food on the flight, and they served everything from warm nuts as a starter to a cheese plate and chocolate sunday for dessert.
It was quite a nice trip, and it's always great to explore new places with my girlfriend. I'm sure she'll return the favor this summer when she's in New York and I visit; I've already heard great stories about Coney Island.