Around the World – Pacific Northwest USA (part 11) – San Francisco – Monterey, California

Leaving San Francisco for a 125 mile / 200 kilometer drive to Monterey. Continue reading “Around the World – Pacific Northwest USA (part 11) – San Francisco – Monterey, California”

Around the World – Pacific Northwest USA (part 10) – San Francisco, California

Day 3 in San Francisco: Exploring Point Lobos and the Golden Gate Park

Continue reading “Around the World – Pacific Northwest USA (part 10) – San Francisco, California”

Around the World – Pacific Northwest USA (part 9) – San Francisco, California

Day 2: Quite a walk in San Francisco

route 7 san francisco

After an early rise and delicous breakfast at Le Boulangerie de San Francisco (222 Sutter Street), we walked towards the piers. We encountered the Mechanics Monument on Market Street, which prompted the kids to ask us whether or not metal working is dangerous whilst being buck naked… 😀


After a short stop at The Embarcadero and the San Francisco Ferry Building, we went on to the Exploratorium. The last time we visited in 2001, at its previous location in the Palace of Fine Arts at Piers 15 and 17, it was already great, but its new location at Pier 39 is even bigger and chockfull of great hands-on exhibits that will entertain young and old alike.

You can easily keep yourself occupied for several hours with the abundance of physics, biology or sensory exhibits and experiments, which we did… Consequently, we had a late lunch at Hillstone. A nice restaurant just across Pier 33 (1800 Montgomery Street). Definitely one of the pricier ones we have been too, but definitely high quality and tasty food and great service!

  • Hillstone Cheeseburger: freshly ground beef, with tomato, onion, lettuce and melted cheddar
  • Texas Burger: freshly ground beef, topped with chili, red onion and shredded cheddar served with a tangy BBQ sauce and quinoa salad
  • Pan-Seared Ahi Tuna salad with mango, avocado, mixed greens and a cilantro ginger vinaigrette

What a difference a couple of hours makes!

As we bought City Passes at the Exploratorium, we needed to get bang for our buck (we are Dutch, right… 🤑), so we took the historic tram to Fishersman’s Wharf (touristy to the second degree) and also visited the Aquarium of the Bay on Pier 39. The animals had plenty of room but some reason they still stayed really close together…

Much to the dismay of the kids, we afterwards set out on foot to Lombard Street, one of the steepest streets open for traffic in San Francisco, which obviously turned to quite a hike. As expected there were hordes of tourists, selfie-sticks, and cars that just had to go down the street with the truly spectacular decline. All I can say: don’t mess with SF traffic wardens if they instruct you to drive on…

We took one of the historic cable cars down Hyde Street to Ghiradelli Square – with a great view over the San Francisco bay and Alcatraz – and then took an historic tram car to Embarcadero before heading back to the hotel.

After a try of “the best donuts in town” at Happy Donuts (145 Columbus Avenue) – okay, but otherwise not very special – the kids insisted that we had dinner at Chipotle. We still don’t have a clue how they knew this chain as we don’t have any in The Netherlands, but they found an outlet on the block next to the hotel (211 Sutter Street) where we squeezed in just before their 8pm closing time.

I didn’t think of ever having to quote Ozzy Osborne from the MTV reality soap The Osbornes, but his “Ohhh, this burrito is fucking killing me…” describes pretty accurately how I felt after eating just one third of the delicious calorie-bomb that was a chorizo, pinto beans and cilantro-lime brown rice filled and fresh tomato salsa and guacamole topped burrito. Upside was that I also had a breakfast burrito 😉

Around the World – Pacific Northwest USA (part 8) – Fort Bragg to San Francisco, California

Heading to San Francisco today. A 170 mile / 275 kilometer trip via Highway 20 and back on the US-101. As we were meeting up in SF and would be staying in Napa Valley for a couple of days as well, we didn’t have anything planned along the way.

route 6 fort bragg san francisco

Pomo Bluffs Park
Chantal’s early run around Pomo Bluffs Park was mainly a misty episode.

We skipped breakfast at the hotel and we headed to The Harvest Market across the street to stock up on some fresh fruit, vegetables, bread, snacks, sushi (and wines).

As soon as we hit Highway 20 the mist disappeared and luckily the 30 miles of road to the US-101 was a lot less windy than the first part of Highway 1 the day before. The road to San Francisco was sunny, but changed dramatically in just a couple of miles when approaching the city from Sausalito. We had zero visibility near and on Golden Gate Bridge but luckily it was back to beautiful weather at the Presidio.

After checking in into our hotel, The Galleria Park on 191 Sutter St, and lunch – the sushi and some slices of leftover pizza – we did a short walk in the neighbourhood: Chinatown, Jackson Square and the Financial District. We mainly heard French and Italian tourists, but for the first time in a week and a half we also heard other people speaking Dutch again. After a week of encountering relative few people, let alone tourists, this was a bit of a readjustment for us 😉

We also did a short stop on Maiden Lane to see the peculiar Frank Lloyd Wright’s V.C. Morris Gift Shop building. Back in San Francisco after 16 years and it took only a few moments to fall in love with this city again!

Next post will be about that night’s dinner!

Around the World – Pacific Northwest USA (part 7) – Eureka to Fort Bragg, California

Although the destination of today’s trip was on the California coast, the route was mostly inland, only leaving the US-101 at Leggett to following Highway 1 all the way to Fort Bragg.

Continue reading “Around the World – Pacific Northwest USA (part 7) – Eureka to Fort Bragg, California”

Around the World – Pacific Northwest USA (part 6) – Gold Beach, Oregon to Eureka, California

Leaving Oregon and entering California today: a 135 mile / 220 kilometer trip to Eureka. Continue reading “Around the World – Pacific Northwest USA (part 6) – Gold Beach, Oregon to Eureka, California”

Around the World – Pacific Northwest USA (part 5) – Oregon: Newport to Gold Beach

Continuing southbound on the US-101 in Oregon. Today a 180 mile / 280 kilometer drive from Newport to Gold Beach. Continue reading “Around the World – Pacific Northwest USA (part 5) – Oregon: Newport to Gold Beach”

Around the World – Pacific Northwest USA (part 4) – Oregon: Astoria to Newport

Starting off with some great shots that Chantal took during her morning run on the Astoria Walkway:

On our 6th day of our holidays, we had a relatively short drive of 140 miles / 220 km today, continuing southbound on the US-101, which is aptly called the Oregon Coast Highway.

Route 2 astoria newport

Cannon Beach
After a quick inventory of the breakfast buffet (we are not big fans) at the hotel, we decided to skip it and stop at an already identified crèperie in Cannon Beach, a relaxed coastal town in it’s seasonal prime, our first stop along the way.

Crèpe Neptune (175 E 2nd St, Cannon Beach) our Nehalem (French brie, pesto, tomato) and Cape Blanco (Grilled chicken, pesto, tomato, spinach, cheese) were delicious. The kids were overjoyed with their Haystack (Nutella, banana, whipped cream) and Agate Beach (Nutella, fresh strawberries, whipped cream; $8), but that can be easily achieved with any Nutella-based crêpes.

After our breakfast, we headed down the beach to look at the Haystack Rock, a 235-foot (72m) monolith. At low tide you can walk all the way to the rock and be amazed by the small creatures in the tide pools. For the movie buffs, also the Haystack Rock features in The Goonies. Today’s stretch of coastal road was clearly one of the most impressive ones we have ever driven and just littered with vista points that have absolutely amazing views. Just posting a few here: The right ones is from Otter Crest and the bottom left is from Neahkahnie Mountain.

Due to our late breakfast, we just had a quick stop in Tillamook, the cheese capital of the Pacific North West. We decided to head over to Blue Heron French Cheese Company (2001 Blue Heron Rd), which turned out to offer much more than just their Brie specialties. It also had wine tastings, a deli section (with a great selection of soups, sandwiches and salads; as you can see, they weren’t skimpy with the quantity of cheeses on our sandwiches!) and a souvenir/gourmet food/cooking shop, with a very nice assortment of truffles and artisanal chocolate (the potato chip one was our favourite).

After our beautiful drive we checked into our hotel, the La Quinta Inn & Suites Newport, and headed to the Oregon Coast Aquarium (2820 SE Ferry Slip Road), which was only a couple minutes away. It is not a huge aquarium, but has very educational exhibits focusing on the local wildlife with a sea-bird aviary with various penguins, auks, guillemots and puffins as well as lookouts onto one of Oregon’s largest estuaries.

Drinks and dinner were down the road from the Aquarium at the HQ of Rogue Nation  (2320 OSU Drive) with their brewery and brew pub located just under the Yaquina Bay Bridge. There are 3 other tasting rooms in downtown Newport and a few in Astoria and Portland as well.

Rogue Nation Ales and Spirits is their full name and is the most inventive all-in concept we encountered on our travels. They operate their own farms growing rye, hops, barley, vegetables, fruits, honey and nuts that either end up in their beer, sodas, ciders, spirits or in the pub grub. The bulk of the cheeses are from Rogue Creamery, which actually is an independent company that has been working with them for a long time.

Also in their brewing and distilling they don’t shy away from experiments: besides the roster of 40 different beers, they also use some pretty unexpected ingredients like soba wheat, chocolate, pumpkins and chipotle. Not without success either as their beers and spirits are raking in awards all over the world. Besides the tasting board, we also tried the and Pendleton Pale AleThe Hot Tub Scholarship Lager and the  Good Chit Pilsner. The hoppiness of their IPAs can be pretty extreme, but their pilsners, hefeweizen and regular ales were delicious.

Already for the design of the bottle alone, we took home a bottle of the Sriracha Hot Stout, but it must be pretty good too as it got a Gold Award in the 2015 World Beer Championships. One to keep for fall/winter!

After making our choice of 7 beers for our tasting board, we ordered the fried cheese curds as a sharing starter and we got a big plate of fresh cheese curds dipped in Mom Hefewiezen beer batter and served with jalapeño jelly. The fried cheese curds were absolutely delicious due to one the best beer batters we had on our entire trip and the jalapeño jelly nicely cut through the richness of the cheese.

I couldn’t decide for mains and therefore went for 2 starters: Rogue Poutine and Kobe Blue Balls. It was a first for me to have a poutine due to the unavailability of the cheese curd concept in the Netherlands. Short ribs stew – slow simmered in Shakespeare Stout – with cheese curds, served over a generous helping of Rogue Farms’ Hopsalt Idaho fries. The picture may not be all that, but I assure you that this dish was pretty darn good!

The Kobe Blue Balls consisted of 3 Snake River Farms Kobe beef meatballs stuffed with – and topped with – Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese, which was very pungent, but tasty and paired nicely with the darker ales. Too bad that the balls themselves were a bit dry.

Chantal went for the well-executed Caesar Salad (Romaine, Parmesan cheese, garlic croutons tossed with dressing) and some roasted chicken breast.

When offering the kids the choice of the 4-cheese Mac ‘n Cheese (Rogue Creamery White Cheddar and Blue Cheeses, Gruyère and smoked mozzarella) from the menu or the plain one from the kids’ menu, they choose the latter due to the lack of blue cheese. Alas, to their disappointment and our amusement, this was the only time that the kid’s size portion was just that.