Welcome to my blog. I document my adventures in becoming an American, travel, and my home city of San Francisco. Hope you enjoy!

Exploring SF: Hayes Valley

Exploring SF: Hayes Valley

Despite living in SF for

four years

, theres a lot of the city I haven't seen yet so Lindsey, Alicia and I decided to fix that this weekend with a trip to Hayes Valley. Its pretty sad that it took me this long to get over there since it is so freaking close...like an '8 minute bus ride' close. Oh well lesson learned, onto our Hayes Valley adventure! We were quickly drawn into the brightly colored window display of

Room Service

. Really cute (and bright!) accessories and the prices weren't too bad. Loved all the vases and obsessed with the giant horse head(s)- I have no place for it but I reeeeeally want one.

After dragging myself away from the giant green horse head, we found ourselves at


'just to take a look' <---BAHAHAHAHA yea right. Quick note: I should mention that none of us were hungry AT ALL when we headed off to explore. I just had a delicious birthday brunch with Shiri at 

Presidio Social Club

 and was stuffed. Lindsey and Alicia had just finished their post-race brunch at Elite and were equally stuffed. Just a look? Yea right! Ever been inside? Everything is gorgeous (prettiest cakes ever!) and looks delicious its so hard to leave without buying something. We sampled their lavender shortbread and both Lindsey AND Alicia bought it...obviously its amazing. I ended up trying their ice cream sandwich- blueberry ice cream sandwiched between two of their chocolate wafers mmmm so good.

 After Miette we passed through a cute park...

...saw this sign (both Alicia and I were stumped as to what 'Brig Hterfa Ster' meant - luckily Lindsey was able to let us know it was actually 'Brighter Faster'...good thing because I was about to google to see if it was in another language #blondmoment)...

 ...and ended up at


!!!!! This is the best place ever! I want to spend every Sunday here (while the weather cooperates). Honestly how have I never been to this magical place before?!?! I seriously need to get out more. Anyways, we hung out in the gorgeous afternoon sunshine drinking our beers (besides being so full we almost couldn't stand it) and chatting. I really want to go back and get the giant glass of beer but wisely stuck to the smaller one for my first visit.

After deciding to leave Biergarten because we were so full and walking would probably be a good call, we got about 20 steps and decided we just HAD to try

Smitten Ice Cream

. I mean its made with liquid nitrogen!! How cool (literally- its actually -321 degrees fahrenheit) is that?!? They make each batch of ice cream to order from scratch with all fresh ingredients in a special ice cream machine they call Kelvin. Oh and the whole process takes 60 seconds! Pretty impressive. As they describe it (on handy signs inside the shop): freezing at lower temperatures creates smaller ice crystals which result in smoother ice cream. They were right...it was AH-mazing. I totally regretted just eating an ice cream sandwich because I could have had a giant bowl of this. Instead we were smart and just got the 'munchkin' size to sample their creme fraiche with pear and caramel...soooo good. I'm not a huge ice cream fan but this was a big hit for me...can't wait to come back on an empty stomach.

 After Smitten, we waddled...umm walked...over to


to check out their jewelry section. They have really nice stuff and the prices are pretty good. I totally fell in love with a simple ring with a pretty stone set in it (quartz? maybe-can't remember) and was just about to pay when Lindsey swooped in and got it for me as a birthday present- thanks twin!

 Finally feeling better after all the ice cream and beer we kept going...and ended up in a chocolate store!

Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolate

to be exact and it was pretty impressive. In my defense, I went in looking for samples (can't turn down a good sample) and was sucked in by how pretty these looked. I ended up sampling the macadamia praline (yumm) but bought the strawberry balsamic and raspberry for later. And yes I really ate them later- like today at work later. Strawberry balsamic was my favorite- very interesting flavor.

 After buying chocolate, I got sucked in by

Marine Layer

's sign announcing the 'softest scarves in SF' and had to get one. They really are soft but more importantly the color is this gorgeous blue-violet that I'm obsessed with...plus it was an infinity scarf (love!) so pretty much was a triple win. I've never heard of Marine Layer before but got some awesome details about the company from the back of their reusable bag (they also email receipts- yay environmentally friendly stores!). Fav detail 1: they have a size called 'marge' since its between medium and large (also had a size called 'smedium' but it got trademarked from some guy in Florida). Fav detail 2: they spelled cotton wrong on the first 500 shirts they made (nbd though since people just thought 'cottan' was a new exotic fiber). FYI poor quality scarf pic was done when I was running late to work and about to miss my bus (basically I was doing


) so color quality is crappy and I'm awkwardly posing with my hand in my pocket- aiming for 'casual'.

Sportting my new scarf, we headed down the street in search of more cool stores. There were a ton of fun looking bars but by this point we were so full and so tired we were just ready to go home...I love these signs though!

We quickly stopped in Timbuk2 and I had to remind myself that since I am now on a budget I do not need a Timbuk2 cooler bag 'just because'..but it fits a whole six pack AND looks cute! It was tough...there are so many pretty fabrics and you can make whatever you want. Ugh now I want to go back again.

Lastly we saw some cool stuff in the window at

Zonal Home Interiors

and ducked inside...thank god because we found a man who loves a good Canadian mountie figurine. Its a really fun store- Lindsey described it well by saying it was like walking through the Alameda Flea market but in SF. So true which I why we probably all loved it. Now who would like to give me $1000 so I can buy the giant mirror in the front of the store? Anyone? Anyone?

 After Zonal we were officially DONE for the day (I ended up coming home and taking a two hour nap) so I took a few quick pics of the murals by the kebab place and we jumped in a cab and came home. There were so many places we missed and I definitely want to go back...not sure how to prioritize since they're all food places (Suppenkuche, Hayes&Kebab, Flipper's, Absinthe, Bar Jules, Paxti's Pizza)...hmm any tips/recommendations would be much appreciated (also 'willing to stuff your face and overeat' buddies are appreciated since thats what I plan on doing next time I go).

Lastly, just a warning if you see yourself down there and see signs for The African Outlet and are tempted by the multiple 'coolest store in the nation' or 'best store on planet earth' signs...DO NOT BE FOOLED! It was so bizarre- you walk in the door annnnnnnd thats about it since there is approximately 3 feet of room to move around in so once Alicia, Lindsey and I were in there we pretty much filled up the store.   I'm down with random stuff but I can't handle a bunch of crap thrown into a space with no rhyme or reason...my OCD-ish nature was not handling it well so we left :-)

PS. OH MY GOD!!! I just saw the Old Navy Backstreet Boys commercial while writing this and freaked out...I was their BIGGEST fan...it was ridiculous (embarrassing actually but whatevs). Nbd but I pretty much know that entire dance to Everybody (Backstreets Back)- how? Oh that would be because I owned the Backstreets Back Behind the Scenes VHS (jealous???) which I pretty much wore out watching that thing over and over again. Hmmm did I say 'owned'? Umm yea still totally have it...who has a VCR? I think a viewing party/dance sesh is in order.

#45 Learn How to Two-step

#45 Learn How to Two-step

#18 Go to Disneyland

#18 Go to Disneyland