Tuesday, February 23, 2016

San Francisco Saturday

Saturday was light on pictures, so have some cats
from Neko Atsume!
This past weekend was absolutely beautiful weather-wise. SMS and I decided to spend most of it in San Francisco. The main reason was for a Williams alumni event emphasizing the continuing relevance of a liberal arts education in various disciplines. The San Francisco event focused on Science and Technology but there are other events in different cities focusing on health, finance, etc.

We headed up Saturdgamba our best and I think we stand a fairly good chance of achieving a BQ!
ay morning after I went for a run with the local running club. It was the weekly Saturday run, a 3.5 mile loop that ends at Starbucks. I ran with 3 guys and we ran two of the miles at a 7:30 pace!  I felt pretty awesome!  I'm looking forward to the marathon. I feel really ready training-wise so as long as I feel good on race day, it should be a pretty good day. J and I want to qualify for the Boston marathon. Unfortunately, we're right on the border pace-wise so there's no time to spare which is a little nerve-wracking since there are things like water stations, bathroom breaks and the fact that runners often run a little more than 26.2 miles due to not being able to "follow the line" exactly due to banking of the road.  But we will

Anyway, enough running talk.  We went to Japantown and ate at Kushitsuru.  It was fine.  On the menu it said it was the best restaurant in Japantown.  SMS pointed that out.  Later in the meal, I said that I was so happy we were eating at the best restaurant in Japantown.  SMS was drinking tea at the time and laughed, which almost caused it to come out his nose.  I didn't even mean to be funny!

After lunch, SMS headed to the Kabuki spa.  They have a traditional Japanese onsen, but it's single sex on alternating days so only he would be able to enjoy the baths.  I went to the Korean make-up shops, where I looked at all the character masks and marveled at the incredible mark-ups on the snail goo products compared to the prices in Seoul.

SMS was done more quickly than I expected.  A person can only hang out in hot baths for so long!  We headed to the Financial District and checked into our hotel.  We stayed at Club Quarters, which was very nice.  It was clean, functional and fairly inexpensive.  I booked the trip through Priceline as a hidden 4-star hotel.  Although the hotel is nice, I wouldn't quite call it 4-star.  When I was looking on their FAQ checking regarding parking, there was also a question about the 4-star rating and where it came from.  It was hilarious because the answer was basically, "Not from any outside agency but we think our amenities compare favorably to four star hotels."  Self-rating doesn't seem like the most objective way, but it does show a high level of confidence, I suppose!

We headed over to the Williams event and had a really nice time.  The event was really well-done.  The lectures were excellent and we spoke to some interesting people.  I saw some people from my class and overall, it was a really good afternoon.  There was a cocktail reception afterwards that seemed to go on for awhile so SMS and I left, thinking that I had misread that there would be dinner. Oops, there was dinner.  I feel a little badly leaving when I had been in the head count but really, I thought it was winding down.

Leo's Atrium
One positive for not believing what I read (hey, the critical liberal arts mind strikes again!) is that we had an awesome dinner at Leo's Oyster Bar.  Oh my goodness, it was delicious.  We had two California oysters each and then were treated to a pair of St Simone by a really eager maitre d'.  He was very enthusiastic about oysters and the restaurant.  We had a really nice time talking to him.  He also delivered the wrong order to our table which we didn't realize until we had a bite.  We had been waiting on uni toasts and when we were delivered a lump of something surrounded by toast, we thought it was our order.  It was actually the salmon tartare.  The waitress said not to worry about it and to enjoy it so really, even though we went out to eat, we continued our evening's trend of getting free food!

We also enjoyed (and paid for) the lobster roll.  It was really delicious and the bun was absolute perfection- toasted, golden and with a near-perfect ratio of bread to lobster.  I think the perfect ratio would be hard because can there ever be too much lobster?

We also really liked where we sat. We were on the side of the bar, in the atrium.  The atrium has a very vintage decor feel with high ceilings.  It was nice to sit in an area with the best of both worlds- the energy of the bar and the uniqueness of a creatively decorated space.  Our area was called the "Low Bar," which felt slightly like a kid's table since the seats were smaller and lower than normal bar seating.  It was lovely and unique.  If you want a table, reservations appear to be a must but we were very happy to get in and our seating was perfect.
How do you back-in a dragon?  Very carefully!
Afterwards, we headed out and saw the tail-end of the Chinese New Year's parade.  The highlight was seeing a human-carried dragon puppet get backed into the lobby of a building.  The dragon was super long and navigating the head with the tall horns was a bit challenging.  But they did it!  Then they set off the remainder of their noisemaker fireworks which was really loud.  I feel very grateful to live in a country that is safe enough that when people hear explosions and loud sounds, they look for the fireworks instead of worrying about bombs.

Then we headed back to our four-star abode.  It was a really nice day and we were excited to see a little more of San Francisco the next day.

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