in deciding where to take finn for his fifth birthday trip, i wanted to do something different....something not new york. so i decided to take finn to san francisco for a couple of reasons: 1) it was closer, easier, and cheaper 2) there are tons of free and/or cheap things to do there with kids 3) dbacks were playing the giants in a stadium that i really wanted to see...and it was fairly cheap for tickets 4) southwest had some cheap tickets and 5) there was a bird cheap, cheaping in my ear that we should go to san francisco. i probably sound cheap.....well, i am. but seriously, i took a 5 year old to san francisco for 5 days, so my cheapness is outweighed by my coolness as a dad. it would be like saying i was cheap in buying my kid a car for his 16th birthday....but hell, he got a car, right?
we stayed at hotel milano - the cheapest hotel i could find near powell and market st. (which was the suggested intersection that i should stay at according to a friend of mine). considering we were in a big city that was basically new to me (i have been there twice - once when i was little and i don't remember the ins and outs of the city and once when i was 17 and i basically used a fake ID and hung out at a bar the whole time.....i know, stupid....but i blame effdorf). so, returning to my thought, since we were in a big, new city, i repeatedly asked finn two questions throughout our trip - what hotel are we staying at? and what is my phone number? "hotel milano....hotel milano.....hotel milano" i originally thought of helping him remember it by using association, like, "we are staying at the hotel that has the same name as an overpriced wafer like cookie that has a thin layer of chocolate and come in a white bag - but they are not as good as the other cookie made by that company that are thin and crunchy....in fact they aren't even as good as the buttery chess cookies....come on finn!! you don't know milanos?!?!" since he didn't get that, i thought of trying, "the hotel is named after a hot girl from the 80's and 90's that i remember alex nocifera talking about in the carpool on the way to school when i was in first grade. oh, and she also made a brief appearance as the MLB girl about 5-10 years ago. what the hell finn?!?! you don't know alissa milano?!?! crap, we are screwed if you get lost." but luckily, by day 2, it became an inside joke because of how often i randomly asked him the name of our hotel, so at least he remembered it without having to reference country club cookies or who's the boss. although i have said plenty about our hotel, let me just add that the hotel room was easily the smallest room i have ever seen, but finn thought we were staying in the ritz, so it was great. there was a jacuzzi (also known as a large public marble bathtub that you had to fill up to use) that finn thought was great.....and after a long day of walking, i also thought it was fantastic.
that is alcatraz in the background. we are standing at the end of pier 39. we basically got into town, checked into our hotel, and went to get clam chowder.....which finn loved.....actually, he mostly loved the bread dipped in clam chowder. but at least he got to check off something from our checklist (more on that later....i sound like ted mosby).
after clam chowder, we went to the aquarium at the bay. we got a city pass (which they have for every major city....$69 for adults and free for kids under 4....i pretended that meant kids under 4 feet, so finn was free). the city pass gave us free public transportation the whole time we were there, and tickets to the the aquarium at the bay, the exploratorium, alcatraz, and a few other museums we missed out on. if you are visiting a big city, i would highly suggest getting one....especially if you have short kids.
the aquarium at the bay had a conveyer belt that you stood on and it slowly pushed you through tunnels of manta rays, star fish, sharks, and tons of other huge fish that were huge and creepy. i have to admit, as much as i hate zoos and sea world, the aquarium was pretty cool. and it wasn't too big, so you could be done before you got sick of looking at fish. finn absolutely loved it. i think we went around the conveyor belt 3 or 4 times.
and then we built "sand francisco". if you see the picture on the right, those are buildings and a pier, and then closer to the actual water is alcatraz (see the tower and the buildings on the island). finn was very proud of our half ass work.....as a side note, i thought of "sand francisco" while writing this and i am still laughing about it. i am a little disappointed that i did not come up with it while we were building it, but nonetheless it is pretty damn funny.
to get the sand off our hands, feet, and jeans, we had a little wrestling match in the grass next to some gothic teenagers groping each other......and then off to ghiradelli square for some dinner and ice cream (another thing to check of the list.....the list quickly became one of "finn's favorite things!!!"). and then we walked back from ghiradelli square to our hotel....not a short or easy walk, but since it was labor day weekend, the cable cars and buses were crazy busy, and finn loved to go on my shoulders and make me walk miles at time....at least the city is relatively flat with not many hills.
the next day, we had some time to kill before mass, so we stopped for a quick picture of finn pretending to hold up the jewish contemporary museum. not sure what is in there, but the building was cool...and contemporary....and apparently jewish.
st. patrick's catholic church - a quick 5 minute walk from our hotel. one thing i love about being Catholic - there is always a church close by and you always feel welcome. plus, we got to go to st. patrick's, just like jack and i did in new york. but to keep with the theme of the trip, i only put $1 in the basket at the offertory instead of the $20 that i put in while in new york with jack.
then we made the obligatory trip to some place that emily found on some hipster blog about random places that you should go to because you immediately feel cool when walking in there and because you feel even cooler when you mention to someone else that you have been there. this place was a toy store called tantrum. we bough a few gifts for emily and goose....but not many, because i am cheap. i even looked away when finn got on the mechanical seal and the owner tossed finn a quarter to ride it. sucker.
and then off to golden gate park for a picnic. yep, check it off the list (but more on that later....because finn thought it was fan - wait for it - tastic). remember, it was labor day weekend, and this was sunday. there were literally thousands of people there. so we just had our food, walked through the park, and decided to come back later to play at the huge playground (also, i didn't see the huge playground this day, but i am glad i didn't, because it was probably crawling with kids that were too cool to ride the mechanical seal at tantrum).
we took the bus from golden gate park to the golden gate bridge. but since you could literally only see 10 feet in front of you because of the fog, we decided to grab a cab to the exploratorium....because hey, it was free. it is basically a science museum with tons of hands on things to play with. the bubble thing was the coolest. but it was all pretty fun, and it is moving to pier 15 soon, so i am sure it will be even better there.
this dome was right outside the exploratorium. it is gold on top. you can see it from many places all over town. but you can barely....and i mean barely see it in the next picture.....trust me, it is off in the distance above finn's head and below the clouds. i am only pointing this out to show you how far we walked from the exploratorium....mostly straight uphill....often with finn on my shoulders.....to get to the top of lombard street. those cars in the next picture were waiting to drive down it. the line was hours long.
then back to fisherman's wharf for clam chowder and oysters. finn did not care for oysters, especially the spicy cocktail sauce, but the people in the booth next to us thought it was hilarious that he tried one. i thought it was mildly funny and then i was a little upset that i let him try one because it meant one less for me.
and then we played a bunch of really old wooden video games in the arcade on fisherman's wharf. very cool. and they all work.....and they are only a quarter. by far the best game was the old school bowling game called "ten strike classic". although it was 50 cents, it was worth it because you got to bowl 10 frames. we played it a few times. and we dominated. this is definitely going on my christmas list next year. and then we walked home....again. my feet were killing me at this point.
monday was the dbacks game day. so we took it easy in the morning, went on a 5-6 mile walk through chinatown (which finn did not care for) looking for a place to eat, and then ended up right back by our hotel at a little cafe. did i mention it was labor day and really crowded? and if you thought yelp would help you find a good place to have breakfast on labor day in san francisco, expect a 2-3 hour wait.
definitely the coolest ballpark i have ever been too. and for a day game, it is great. the views of the bay are awesome.....even if your team's closer sucks and you go into extra innings and lose.
and there is a slide in the coke bottle. finn went down the big one and was very proud of himself.
we sat on the right field wall 4 rows up. great seats with awesome views in all directions. and finn got to wear his jedi robe and bring his light saber since it was star wars day. although there was a slight fiasco getting the dumb "death star baseball", we did very much enjoy star wars day and all the other costumes we saw. i had originally planned on holding up a sign that said, "may the grace be with you" in honor of mark grace. but since he got a DUI about a week before we left and he was on a leave of absence from broadcasting, i thought it wouldn't be wise. plus, i have never really been "hold a sign up at a game" guy.
we decided to take it easy the rest of the day. just another brisk 4-5 mile walk back to hotel alissa wafer cookie, and then we snuggled up in bed and watched sandlot. finn loved benny "the jet" rodriguez....and wendy peppercorn.
well, that is enough for now. i will finish the last two days in a different post.....and i will reveal what is behind the green door that i have never noticed (hint, it's the check list, not a janitor's closet).