After 3 months in the city by the bay, my time is up and I am leaving this week. It has been such an adventure, I left the UK in mid-October for Istanbul where I spent 2 weeks outside of the Schengen area to comply with the travel ban, and then arrived in San Francisco on 1st November.
Before I head to Belize for the next chapter in this crazy adventure (read this post if you're wondering why I'm going there) I thought I'd share a few of the photos from my time here, taken on my walks, on our outings and at home.
Here is the most iconic of San Francisco icons, the Golden Gate Bridge in all her glory, taken on a glorious California day.
This was my apartment in Istanbul, just outside of the city centre in Sariyer. It had views of the Bosphorus Strait and I had a very pleasant but equally very strange fortnight here.
I went for walks along the water every day and learned a few words in Turkish to get by in shops, but Google Translate was a huge help! It was still warm and felt like I had gone back in time to the summer.
Finally, after 2 weeks I was allowed to fly to the USA. I went through 14 different checkpoints at Istanbul airport to have my temperature taken, check my ESTA, check my flights, check the dates, check check check. It was pretty intense but eventually I got on the plane for 13 hours and then 2 hours of border patrol queues the other end. But...
I made it. This was just after I arrived, a jubilant shot celebrating our reunion.
The covid rules in November were more relaxed than they are now, restaurants and bars in the Bay Area were still allowed to open for outdoor dining and salons and shops were open too. So we had some lovely times eating and drinking in the sun as it was still pretty warm (especially by British standards). I also got my nails done which was BLISS.
We isolated for the first couple of weeks I was here, then both got tested and this was the first meal out at a pizza place around the corner from the apartment.
However, rates started rising and the authorities took steps to stop the spread so in early December restaurants had to reduce to takeout only, and bars and salons had to close. This was our 'last supper' meal out, and we went to the Taco Bell Cantina in Pacifica that is right on the beach. I love Taco Bell. I just love it. And this one is extra special. You can sit on the deck and watch the surfers and even order a margarita. We had a feast.
I also had my first ever Thanksgiving! It was great and Luc's mum went all out with the traditional dishes. Turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potato with marshmallow, the works! I loved it. I also made the pumpkin pie which was nerve-racking but a success. We made a pecan crust and it was delicious.
As you may have guessed, food has featured heavily whilst I've been here! It's been wonderful to spend so much time learning and developing new skills in the kitchen, writing my first ebook and fine tuning my food photography as well.
To balance out all the pasta, I've also done a lot of walking! This is where I go walking most mornings, Baker Beach. It has a great view of the bridge and isn't far from home. Here is a photo from a day when Karl the Fog also chose to make an appearance but I think he adds nicely to the mood don't you think? The fog is a HUGE feature here, he sneaks up on you out of nowhere and will turn a gorgeous sunny day into a freezing one in minutes.
This is not a black and white photo, it's in colour!
There are always lots of people fishing for crabs here, as it has been Dungeness season. We went fishing ourselves too, and then had to eat compulsory crab for many days to finish it all up.
Here is one of the crab dishes I made, crab devilled eggs!
They were very fiddly and rich but delicious.
Anyway. There were also places I wanted to see whilst it was quiet and we were so lucky to be able to explore the Palace of Fine Arts practically all by ourselves.
Normally it is absolutely crawling with tourists. Such a rare treat.
As well as the tourist sites, there is beauty to be found everywhere, even when driving to the supermarket. There's nothing like a California sunset.
The hills in San Francisco make for some pretty insane viewpoints, so there are plenty of surprise sights like this stop sign that provides a stunning vista.
The skyline isn't too bad either!
Before things shut and locked down we also made it up to Napa and Sonoma for a couple of days of wine tasting. We went to Domaine Carneros, where I tried all of their delicious sparkling wines.
Luc enjoyed it too. We bought a bottle of their Ultra Brut to have on Christmas Day and it was wonderful.
And then the beautiful Stewart Cellars in Yountville who had the most divine Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They have this stunning outdoor tasting area and for winter months it has an open fire and heaters and they give you blankets, it's so cosy!
My handsome chap.
We also made it to Filoli historic house and gardens to see their Christmas lights which was such a lovely evening. The whole garden was festooned with fairy lights, it was so festive and magical.
We got there just before sunset so managed a drink by an obliging fire pit before wandering around.
Drinking out of plastic cups has never been so cosy.
Before signing off, I must include this photo from the supermarket. They have EVERYTHING you can ever imagine and everything comes in enormous sizes. Just LOOK at this block of cheese? I couldn't believe my eyes. How would you even fit it in the fridge?? You'd have to remove a shelf.
So these are a just a few of the many many highlights, but the biggest highlight of all was of course getting to spend 3 whole months with this guy.
Being in a long distance relationship means there is always a goodbye in sight and this trip was so wonderful because we had the gift of time. I am so sad to leave but I know I'll be back sooner than I'd hoped and I am ever positive that things will continue to improve and we can press play on life again.
Goodbye bay area, thank you for being my home for the last 3 months, I'll see you soon.