When I woke up, I did feel better and stronger. Still non-stop nose blowing though, which was so annoying and making the tip of my nose chapped and scabby. It was a gray day, but no rain and looked like it would be opening up in the early afternoon. We decided to go somewhere fabulous for breakfast (since my appetite was kind of back) and head to the Botanical Garden which was at Golden Gate Park. Then we were going to play it by ear, depending on how I felt.
We went down to the concierge and asked her where we should go, she said “Mama’s” in little Italy was the best breakfast in the area. She said it was only a mile and a half away, so we decided to walk. We also asked her about the best way to get to the Botanical Garden, if we decided to use public transportation, she said it was only 2 buses and so cheap! We decided to try that. We got to Mama’s and there was a huge line, but it moved pretty quickly, the breakfast was AMAZINGLY delicious, everything home-made and they had a lot of baked goods that made the place smell so good! We split an omelette and a stack of pancakes, all so delicious!
After eating we had to walk back towards the hotel to get to the bus stop we needed, the #7 with a transfer to the #47. On the way over we found this beautiful Catholic church, Saints Peter and Paul Church and said a prayer. We got on the #7 bus and there was a really kooky guy with a little chi hua-hua, who spoke really loudly to himself and the dog and was also bald and wearing women’s clothing and jewelry. It was a little sad because he just seemed lonely, like he wanted to talk to people, we smiled and told him his dog was cute. When we got off at our stop to transfer for the #47, we were having a little trouble figuring out where the bus we needed would be stopping. This very nice man came over to us and asked “Do you ladies need some help?” We explained where we were trying to go, and he was so sweet and helpful! He walked us over to the stop and made sure we were all set before going on his way. No ulterior motives whatsoever, just a good Samaritan.
The bus took forever to come. It got so bad, that one of the other people waiting with us started to get exasperated and started yelling out loud, saying things like “OH MY GOD WHERE ARE ALL THE BUSES???” Finally our bus came and this time, the crazy person was the driver! Ay Dios Mio! She was loud and weird and very obnoxious. She talked non-stop, mostly to herself. We decided to get off one stop before the one she told us was the closest to the garden and she yelled at us! I told her, “we really like walking”…we could not get away from her fast enough. It made me feel like we were in NY with all the crazies…
As we walked to the entrance to the park, we ran into even more crazies hanging out on Haight Street, mostly hippie types (like Asheville) and we realized this was probably due to the amount of marijuana dispensaries on this street. We didn’t have to walk very far to get to the gates of the Botanical Garden, it was so gorgeous! Even on a gray day, the flowers and foliage looked beyond beautiful. It was also nice and empty, we felt like we had the park completely to ourselves. The garden was divided into sections of different areas of the world. Australia, Chilé, New Zealand, South Africa all with plants native to those areas. They also have a HUGE succulent garden, we love succulents! After walking for a couple of hours, we decided to walk back down Haight Street and look at some of the kooky boutiques, find a place to eat and head back to the hotel early, to pack and maybe get some ice cream. The plan was to be in bed by 8:00 or 9:00 the latest.
As we were leaving the park, we saw the carousel, which was closed and this really beautiful playground with amazing sculptures made to look like you were at a beach, with sand and everything. There was a plaque that claimed it to be the very first playground in the U.S. built in 1887! There were many children playing and enjoying it, then we saw a sign that read “If you are an adult and not accompanied by a child, it is illegal for you to be in the playgrtound” YIKES! We rushed over to the nearest exit.
When we made it back to Haight Street we browsed around all the stores. The boutiques were filled with eye-candy and very unique items. There was a store with oddities (various animal skulls and taxidermy), a shoe store where the shoes looked like sculptures but were completely wearable and of course a holistic essential oil store right next to the marijuana dispensary. We joked that mom should go inside and get an evaluation done so she could get a lollipop to help her tinnitus, but we didn’t. We passed a tattoo store and Mom said “Let’s get tattoos!” I said…’No!”. We tried finding a place to eat on Haight Street but nothing looked too great, so we got back on the bus toward Little Italy and ate at this place called “Rose Pistola”, yummy thin-crust pizza and salad. It was 4:30 pm and our timing was perfect to stick to the plan.
Mom’s phone rang and it was a San Francisco number, it was Richard Vila and he wanted to know what we were up to. He said he was going to be near where we were in about an hour, picking up his little girl from preschool and did we want to get together? Mom was thrilled, she was dying to see Richard and meet his little 3 year old, Victoria. We finished eating and started walking in the direction he would be coming in. He picked us up and drove us to a place called “Romolo” it was about a 15 minute drive. I introduced myself and it was like we have known him for years! Such a super, friendly guy and so sweet and generous and comfortable with us, so much respect and love for family. It made quite an impression on me and Mom. Victoria was absolutely adorable and very precocious and lively with so much to say.
When we got to Romolo, we were introduced to the owner, who was a friend of Richard’s. It was a very cool bar with a full menu. We told Richard we had just finished eating but would love to get some drinks. Mom ordered a wine and I got some tea, my congestion was getting bad again. I tried so hard to fight through it but really all I wanted was to be back in bed. Such a shame because Richard was so fun and talkative and I was just not 100% myself. He said Jennifer (his wife) was on her way over. When she got there she was just as friendly and awesome as he was, Mom was having a ball! It was too bad we didn’t get to meet them while Juanita and Ces were still here. They finished up their food and wanted to take us to another bar.
We parked and walked a couple of blocks, Richard pointed out a really old, famous restaurant “Vesuvio” which had an amazing stained glass window. He also pointed out a historical building where Francis Ford Coppola stayed and wrote the “Godfather” movies. Café Zoetrope on the ground floor is where he also sat and wrote. Since Richard is in the restaurant business, he knows about all the restaurants in the area and has a lot of connections. The place he took us next was called “Comstock”, in this really great old space that has been a bar for over 100 years, but the newer owner has been there for the past 5 years and is his friend. The man behind the bar is Richard’s business partner for another restaurant he will be opening soon called “The Iron Mule”. I asked him about the logo for it and he said he had just received an email from the graphic designer and showed me the samples, the logo was so cool! I let him know about my business and talked about Elemental Creations. He seemed really excited about it and I was so mad at myself for switching purses and not having a business card with me! He ordered dessert for us to share and got us some more drinks. They could see I was suffering and knew we had to catch a morning flight, so we left around 10pm and they gave us a ride back to the hotel. If it hadn’t been for that he would have probably stayed out with us until 1 or 2 showing us around and bar hopping, such a fun guy! We thanked them for everything and said our goodbyes, it was a great way to end our trip.
When we got back to our room, I slowly realized how much packing I had to do, it was overwhelming. I had lots of souvenirs I had gotten for David and myself and was worried about making it all fit, somehow it all worked out. We packed for about an hour, took hot showers and went to bed (quite a few hours later than I had hoped, but totally worth it!). We set the alarm for 6:30am and just like that, the trip was officially over. 7 days of awesomeness to celebrate Mom’s 70th year on this earth, it was EPIC, unforgettable and was over way too quickly. We laughed, we cried and had the best time ever! We promised each other we would do it again for another milestone birthday, maybe Mom’s 75th… in Barcelona??? YESSSSSSSSSS