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Travel Time: San Francisco, Baby!

Travelling for the holidays is kind of a new experience for me. Most years, Christmastime is spent at home, hopefully snowed-in, surviving the pre-holiday madness and basking in the post-holiday calm. But since meeting The Boy, the holidays have also involved spending some time in California with him and his lovely family and friends. And this year .. cue the drum roll... my parents are coming too. Yes, we're doing the whole big "meet the family" experience.
So far I still have all my fingernails, but we'll see how I feel on the flight out...

Instead of worrying, though, I'm going to celebrate all the exciting things I hope to do in and around San Francisco and the Bay area! Yay!

1.  Chinatown:
Chinatown in lights, from here.
I love Chinatowns - in DC, Chicago, Paris - you name it, I love 'em. I love China, too, sure, but there's something special about these great ethnic neighborhoods - the contrast between them and the rest of the city, the mix of foreign and familiar, the feeling of connectedness. I also love the food, and in the case of SFO, the pink shopping bags. This will probably be the final destination for some of this year's Christmas money, just sayin'.

2. The Parrots of Telegraph Hill:
From here.
Have you seen this documentary? It's adorable. There's a flock of parrots living around Telegraph Hill in San Fran. Despite being completely wild, the birds have formed a friendship with a homeless musician, who knows the birds by name and personality. My Mom and I watched this one together, and she and I both would love to see the birds in person!

3. In-n-Out
The Boy introduced me to this famed fast-food joint last year, and I'm sure we'll make a pilgrimage again this year. He gets his burger "animal style" which sounds incredibly foul, but is actually very tasty. I like feeling like a celebrity who just won her Oscar, and now gets to have her first burger and fries since puberty.

The "haunted" mansion, from here.
This is a creepy fun excursion in the Bay area. The house was built by the Sarah Winchester, heir to the Winchester Rifle fortune. An exceptionally superstitious woman, Sarah built into her home secret seance rooms, stairways to nowhere, and doors opening out to two story plunges. Her fear, some say, was that the ghosts of the American Indians decimated by her family's invention would come to haunt her...and many say she still walks those halls!

5. Alcatraz Island
The Rock, from here.

Definitely a tourist must, Alcatraz island has oodles more history than just the famous prison. From a Spanish territory to a Civil War base, the island has many tales to tell -- be prepared to spend at least half a day here. The cruise out there is also a blast - and a great way to get one of the best views of the city. Don't dismiss it just because everyone's doing it - they're doing it because it's great.

Hopefully, we'll hit a few of these spots and a couple new ones, but to be honest, The Boy and I are mostly just looking forward to spending time together, and with the family, and taking it easy. It's been a busy busy, but great, 2011!

PS if you have any great SFO area suggestions, please share in the comments below!

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