It happened. I woke up and it was my last day in the US, after two and a half weeks of just all awesome, all vegan, all the time, it was over. But, in happier news, my plane didn't leave until 9.30pm, so I still had the whole day to play!
For breakfast, it was back to Saha to try their vegan breakfast item - a vegan benedict. It had tofu slices, avocado and hashbrowns in a mellow curry sauce. I was surprised it didn't come with any toast. On my way out, I snapped a photo of the brunch menu (not on the website) so I could know exactly what I ate, and according to the menu it should have had toast. I have no idea where my toast went. I would have loved some toast with it, because while delicious it was not hugely filling to my usual breakfast standard.
Thankfully I had packed some snacks in my bag, as I prepared to brave the bus system and head out to the one and only Golden Gate Bridge. To be honest, I was surprised it wasn't easier to get there, it was kind of confusing. Thankfully there were a bunch of us trying to find our way there so we banded together. I caught one bus, which dropped us off at a big intersection and then we had to scurry around trying to find where the next bus left from. Eventually though, we did and were deposited at our destination. And WOW!
San Francisco had put on an amazing day for my last day in the US, and this just took my breath away. So picture perfect and beautiful.
One of the downsides of being a lone traveler, is that you are always the one taking the photos and never in them. I am way to suspicious to give my camera to random strangers and ask them to take a photo of me. So Francesca the travel cat stands in.
I originally wasn't going to walk the bridge. But once you are there, on a day like that day, it is impossible not to. So I walked all the way over, and then all the way back. Dodging bicycles every five seconds! There are a lot of companies that hire bicycles to ride across the bridge, but sadly most of these tourists have no idea of how to safely share was pedestrians. There were some close calls! Anyway, there was also the view, and the bridge. Here are some photos!
I actually took about a trillion photos, but you get the gist. GORGEOUS! If you go to San Francisco, you must go to the bridge. Yes, you can see it in the distance from Pier 39, but it doesn't compare to actually being there.
After my magical bridge experience, I had a mission and needed to get back to the Ferry Building. I had painstakingly planned a trip using Google Maps, but then the bus driver told me it was the wrong bus and to catch the other one. I should have done what Google told me, because this way I ended up on a very confusing two-bus trip. The bus was crowded, and there were actually some super rude people on it, which surprised me because everyone had been so lovely up until this point! The bus did go through Chinatown though, which was nifty to see. I ended up getting off somewhere not quite where I wanted to be, because I just couldn't take the crowded, rude bus situation and I needed some air. I had a map, and in theory wasn't that far away.
The plus side of this random detour was that I ended up catching a cable car, which are very iconic to San Francisco. I hadn't needed to take one previously. At $5 for a single trip, they are an expensive way to travel, but for the sake of a tourist experience, I am glad I got to do it once.
I made it back to the Ferry Building. K and Toby had tried some Scream Sorbet when they were in SF and highly recommended it, and there was a thread on the PPK going crazy for it. So I actually changed my plans a little to make sure I could get to try some. They have a stall at the Ferry Building markets every Thursday morning.
So many delicious flavours! I really wanted to try the Coco Thai Basil, but they were only selling that by the container and that really wasn't practical for me!
I tossed up long and hard, and ended up getting Cashew Caramel and Vanilla Macadamia. Oh my goodness! These were amazing. So creamy and rich, for a second I was worried, but the ingredients are all 100% vegan! I wish I had gone back for a second round - I would have gotten strawberry and guava! A must have if you are in the Bay Area.
I ate my sorbet looking out over that beautiful view of the bay.
Afterwards, it was onto the F Line tram and heading back to the Mission for my lunch mission. I had considered going to Paxti's Chicago Pizza, however they didn't seem to sell by the slice and also had long wait times according to the website. I definitely want to get there one day, though!
Ike's Place had been spoken about on the PPK as a pretty awesome place for a sandwich, so this is where I went for lunch. The shop itself has no seating, and it was packed full. It really is just an order and on your way kind of place. The website has quite an extensive menu of vegan options, though they weren't all up on the menu board at the shop. Apparently you can order off the board, but I couldn't remember what was on the website so just went with a choice that was clearly on offer.
I had the Vegan Ugly Owl, which was vegan breaded chicken, teriyaki and soy cheese, with lettuce and tomato. Each sandwich comes with a packet of chips (which I didn't eat, but did bring home for a vegan friend keen for some savoury snacks), and I also got a bonus vegan lollypop for being vegan, which was nice. The only problem with Ikes is that there seemed to be NO WHERE to sit and have your sandwich in the area. I ended up sitting at the tram station with cars whizzing past eating this. The sandwich was great, but a bit more ambience would have been nice!
I had planned on going into Japantown that afternoon, but that was before I decided to walk the bridge, so I ended up just getting the tram back to the ferry building.
My trip was sort of ending where it originally began, on that first magical day when I arrived in the US two and a half weeks before. Sitting on the benches at the Ferry Building, overlooking that beautiful bay and enjoying the warmth. Here are some cute baby seagulls! I got a Thai Iced Soymilk from Hodo Soy Beanery, and would have gotten a donut from Pepples, except no one was at the stall to sell them to me. The Thai milk was not the greatest, to be honest, their strawberry banana smoothie was my favourite drink from Hodo. I love sitting down at the Ferry Building, I could do that every single day.
By the way, San Francisco, your pigeons are all super plump!
Finally I tore myself away and headed back off to get some dinner. Before dinner, I wandered around Union Square and the Westfield. There were a few cute shops there, but ultimately shopping kind of bores me. Then it was time for my early dinner.
There is a Loving Hut in the Westfield, so I headed there to get some food.
I chose from some of the hot food in the bain maries, because I needed something quickly. I got some yummy noodles and some great eggplant and tofu. It was pretty yummy. However, to be honest, having my last meal of an amazing foodie trip in a Westfield food court was kind of sad! But the Westfield was close to my hotel, where I then power walked to catch my shuttle off to the airport.
The rest of it is fairly unexciting. I bought some touristy San Francisco trinkets while waiting for my plain, then took a 12 hour flight to Auckland. The guy at check in didn't charge me extra for checking my second little suitcase that was full of food, which was nice. The flight was OK, but half of the food the brought out for my 'vegan' meals contained dairy. Ummmm.... seriously? Sigh. I arrived in Auckland at about 5.30am for a four hour layover, and was able to get some sushi for breakfast and grab a quick name in their pod chairs, before finally getting on my flight home to Brisbane. I had no problems getting my food stash through customs, and then it was hello to my parents, into the car and home to those beautiful little kitten faces. It was good to be home!
I will have one more US-related post, mainly just a bit of a wrap up and then a review of the food I brought home with me!